It’s been quite an interesting last few weeks for the gender called “Female”. I highly suspect it must have something to do with the change of seasons or the solar eclipse that happened just yesterday; but something has got to give. Let’s start off with 7 things women aren’t allowed to do around the world. Thereafter we can swiftly move on to other interesting #NoWomaning incidences that have happened more recently.
There is the #BurkiniBan that went down on the beaches of Nice, France. I’ve been looking at the image of those grown men standing over a woman asking her to undress citing she was not wearing “an outfit respecting good morals and secularism.” with such sadness. I mean if that’s not abuse of basic human rights I am not sure what is anymore. Granted that as we speak there is currently great fear in France due to the recent attacks. But there is nothing right at all about how everything went down on that beach and thereafter. The ban is something the French authorities are fighting against, so we can only sit here, watch and pray that our sisters in the Muslim fraternity can find a way to get through this one.
We then move on down to our young sisters in South Africa. I am sure as a natural haired African woman, you’ve been following #StopRacismAtPretoriaGirlsHigh keenly mainly because it hits a raw spot on so many fronts. For me seeing 13-year-old Zulaikha Patel with her fist up in the air and then to read what her sister had to say was even more heart breaking, “My sister has gone through a lot of bullying, she’s had to change school three times because of her hair. Other children would laugh at her and say, “Oh my god, your hair looks like a cabbage”. It broke my heart.” Amira Patel to the Daily Vox. The whole incident is just honest to God bullying. What does the state of someone’s hair have to do with the dispensation of education to a school full of girls?
I honestly thought enough protests have been staged and enough battles fought so that Zulaikha could just be going about her teen business of doing whatever teenagers do. Not for her to be on the streets protest for her right to be herself, to wear her hair as she pleases and as God intended. As Anibe Idajili of She Leads Africa aptly puts it, “We live in a world where black women and girls continue to defy the odds and accomplish feats in business and career, our hair cannot continue to define us. It’s been a decade since India Arie reminded us that we are not our hair.”
Two great articles have been penned in the last week regarding this topic which are worth reading: From Slavery to Colonialism and School Rules: A History of Mythes about Black Hair and Do not remove the kinds out of your hair, remove them from your Brain by Nali W Imende, Afrinado
It also turns out that the #BraBurning of the 60s (which apparently is a myth) which was described as “the revolution that will affect everybody” by LIFE, September 4, 1970; didn’t do enough for the black women in the US of A least of all Alicia Keys as she attended the 2016 VMAs with #nomakeup. Here are some of the comments that she got sadly from fellow women and also a Huffington Post summary of events. Goodness! You’d think she went into someone’s home and stole their soul! Her husband Swiss Beatz had to come to her defence and is quoted saying, “You can do whatever you want to do, she didn’t tell you to wear no make-up. She just said she’s not vibing with the make-up, all the way, 100 per cent. That’s her thing that she wants to do.” When and how did her face become public property for others to decide what she can and cannot do with it? I need to know, because my face might be next!
All this just harkens back to #MyDressMyChoice street campaign that ran in Nairobi in 2014. Kenyan Women were being stripped on the streets, raped while someone nonchalantly recorded it on their phone and being harassed for deciding to dress as they pleased. Nairobi women decided to have non of that and took to the streets in protest. Only to be met once again by men threatening to get into the protest and show them what they thought of their opinions. Right there! In front of the watching public, men threatened to physically and sexually abuse women for expressing themselves! Yet not one man was chastised or arrested for their words. Classic!
It’s not that much has changed despite the protests 2years ago. We’ve had several reports in the news of male partners hacking off limbs of their women for various reasons. One recently being pulled into a pot of boiling food, that he’d requested be made. She suffered 20% burns on her thigh and groin area. While abuse is unfortunately rampant and nothing new in Kenya and much is yet to be done across the board; it’s clearly wrong and dangerous to woman around in this day and age.
Then to tie it all with a nice big pink bow they went a gave a man “Woman of the Year” award for 2015. Slowly but surely, we’re not wanted on this planet, least of all if we don’t want to play ball with what they define as being a woman. Personally I am confused and miffed, and really need some clarity. I’d like to know your thoughts on this. Feel free to share in the comments below.