By Kathryn Yule Mweupe Kazibwe:
A woman's strength is in her silence. Even when she is suffering, going through hell, a woman has all the power in the world only if she bears all without a single peep from her mouth. That is the message the traditional woman holds on to, and passes on dutifully to her young daughters. It is what is supposed to make her feel better in hard times. It is what she tells her older daughters when they come home, their hearts in tatters, and their dreams blown to nothingness by some spawn of Adam. The Man who fabricated it must be somewhere sniggering heartily, clutching his well-rounded belly. Silence indeed!
Well, I have my own definition of a strong woman, and I am not afraid to ask: why should I die in silence? Why should the Man complain of a single crease on his shirt, a speck of dust on the floor, a tad too much salt in his food for the first time since we met… Why does he have the right to ask why, and I don't? Why should his strength spring from speaking out, while mine drains all its meaning into a deep dark abyss that looks suspiciously like oppression? No, I must speak, and with a loud, firm, (masculine, if you like) voice.
A certain man, educated, no less, once told me, “The problem with you emancipated women is that you now want to be men!”
I somehow managed to overlook the way he spat out the word 'emancipated' to focus on what he meant by that statement. To ask you to lift your foot from my lips, and your vice-like grip from my hands; to step out of my crouch in the shadow cast by your larger than life frame, and stand instead beside you, that translates into wanting to be a man? Then I will need to make some space in my pants.
Because my silence has failed to give me strength. Instead, I have become a door mat, a lavatory brush, to be used and discarded at will. The more I keep quiet, the more you twist my kindness into weakness. Enough. A man I shall be, then. For my freedom, just a little of it, hear me, a man I will be!
And when you are done turning me into a man-wannabe, when my father is done lamenting (through my mother) that he shall never smell the dung of the cows of a suitor, when all the gossip and pity and shock and hatred have died down, then I will find strength in my words.
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