230 high school girls in Nigeria were kidnapped by Boko Haram. Depending on what you read, some escaped, some were forcefully married, some were taken across the border, and some … well … we don’t know what happened to them. What is STILL happening to them. And their families are driving themselves crazy thinking about it, wondering about it, imagining what is being done to these girls.
These are reasonably educated girls, seeing as they were taken from school. So it’s not just their bodies being broken. Their minds are being broken too. In addition to what is being done to them, they are questioning where their God is, where their government is, why they ever bothered going to school.
Some time last week, a story did the rounds on twitter. Some guy posted a photo of a semi-nude sleeping woman as proof that he had just gotten lucky. I didn’t see the original tweet or the photo, but it did disturb me quite a bit. I don’t know how many women think about things like this, but I know that every time I’m intimate with a man, I wonder if he has his house rigged with cameras, or if he was taking photos in my sleep.
In rom-coms, it’s sweet when a man watches you sleep. In real life, it’s far more likely he’s ‘watching’ with an internet enabled phone, and it’s a very scary thought. Of course if he keeps the pictures to himself, then there’s no harm done. But when you
snoop accidentally see the shots on his phone – or worse – online, then Houston, we have a problem.
It’s understandable that some men assume women enjoy flaunting their bodies. After all, lots of us willingly give nudes to complete strangers. Even more of us use our bodies to get ahead, either directly by sexually transmitted promotions, or indirectly by using feminine charms to get out of tricky situations. Continue reading
A story was published in the Daily Nation last week. The headline implied that women were exchanging their bodies for fish. I shook my head in sadness, but I didn’t read the full article until the next day. Basically, female fishmongers in certain parts of Nyanza can’t BUY fish unless they first have sex with the fishermen.
I love her smile. I hope she didn’t have to.
I’ve said over and over again that I’m not a feminist. I am – however – a woman, and this article maddened and saddened me on about a hundred levels. It goes beyond prostitution. It goes beyond simply selling my body for cash. It delves into a much darker region.
You see, these are not just women working on their backs. These are businesswomen, with business plans, and capital, and sales strategies. These are women with money. Their plan is to invest this money into products which they mark up and sell at a profit. Which is perfectly logical in this capitalist economy.
But no. They can’t buy these goods – which they have the money to pay for – unless they sleep with the sales people. So in effect, they’re paying for the goods AND for unwanted sex. They’re paying for it. Do you get that? They’re not being prostituted. They’re paying for sex that they don’t even want. What depravity is that?
Oh, and it’s not just sex and fish they’re paying for. They’re also paying for STDs. Diseases that can kill them, their husbands, and their children. Because some of these women are married. And they’re being forced to have sex with strange men in order to BUY fish to feed their families. So on top of everything else – pun fully intended – they’re basically paying to be infected by AIDS.
People are often reminded to stick to their lanes, and yesterday, somebody returned me to mine.
“How can you talk about being broke?!?”
“Shut up. I’ve seen the payslips in that place.”
“Hey, I’m in matatu and I’m still paying rent so-“
“Nkt! You work in advertising. You don’t get to complain.”
Life is all about context. Not everyone who takes something without asking is a thief. Not everyone who makes a sex joke is a chauvinist. Not everyone who is nice to a white person is a racist. Not everyone who makes sarcastic comments is an activist.
Let’s talk about my friend Sam. He lives in Lang’ata and spends a lot of time on Twitter. Last week, he went out with online friends. After a fun night out, he called a cab, came home, and blacked out. The next day, he woke up on his sofa in his underwear. Apparently, some thugs had followed him home and carried everything except his sofa, because they couldn’t get him off it.
Being a normal middle class citizen, he went to the police. They laughed as he gave them receipts for all his electronics, complete with serial numbers. They took his statement, and told him he was the third guy in the building to be robbed that week. They asked him to fuel their car so they could inspect the crime scene.
There’s been a lot of talk about the Marriage Bill, so while I’m ambivalent over nuptials, I figured I should at least read it. One particular section left me in stitches.
Where do I even begin? Okay, let’s start here. For that clause to be included in the bill, it must have happened more than once. I mean, one assumes our learned friends don’t just pull legal articles out of their nether regions, right? It’s like those insane warnings on the labels of
Chinese consumer products. By the time you’re warned not to stick wires up your nose, at least three people must have tried it, yes?
Okay. Now, at what point do you take your spouse to court for refusing to sleep with you? How does that conversation even begin? And even if you DID take them to court, would you really want to be in bed with someone who’s only there via court order? Wouldn’t that take some of the enjoyment away?
Also, where’s your pride? Wouldn’t it be just a *little bit* embarrassing explaining to a judge, lawyers, and witnesses that you’ve gathered them all in that serious-looking courtroom because you’re not getting any? Wouldn’t it be easier to bribe, charm, or entice your spouse into bed with gifts, cash, or porn?
But then again, maybe it’s just me. I don’t see anyone else complaining or even remarking over that particular sentence. Maybe for the rest of the population, it’s perfectly okay to get a court order that demands marital sex. After all, wasn’t that the reasoning behind the Mututho Law?
♫ Before tomorrow comes ♫ Alter Bridge ♫