Sequins and Sapphires, Series

Sequins and Sapphires: On Feminism

By Kathryn Kazibwe, Uganda:

According to a friend of mine, the reason why relationships do not last is because 'the female' thinks she can be equal to the man. He says the natural form of things is that women are below men in the human hierarchy, and that is how it should stay. This statement shocked me because we are in the 21st century, and gender oppression should be something our children read about in history books.

I'm so sick of hearing about how feminists are so disrespectful and willful 'these days', and want so bad to be equal to men. Quite honestly, that is the last thing on my mind. I don't go around thinking, “must wake up like a man, must eat like a man, must walk like a man…” My only aim, and all I can hope for, really, is to be better than I was yesterday. So when someone tells me to stop wanting to be a guy because I can change a car tyre, and a bulb, or because I'm looking to make sure I'm self employed by the time I leave the university, I lose it. And if a boyfriend of mine ever expected me to be at his beck and call, damn right I'd run from that relationship without looking back. My brothers don't treat me like that, and neither does my father, so the bar is set quite high for any other man that might want a part in my life.

I don't understand why some people still believe that the greatest accomplishment for a woman is getting married and birthing a litter of little ones, at which point she can say she has done something in her lifetime. I may not be too sure about the marriage thing, but I do want children of my own. That doesn't mean that I must drop everything else and turn myself into a floodlight attracting males to myself to gain some self worth. Contrary to popular belief, some women do have other plans in line ahead of that, like studying, figuring out their career path, visiting faraway places just to write about them, politics, starting businesses, and simply living. I don't think that makes them inferior in any way to other women.

I had a conversation once with a female friend of mine where she told me to stop being so ambitious, and in her words, “aggressive”, because at the end of the day, I will have to bow to my husband and live my life to make him happy and proud of me. Yes, this was a real life conversation, and no, she wasn't an apparition from 1812. Well, here's willful for you, I live my life to make ME proud of myself. And it's not rebellion or disrespect, it is just the way I live my life. Anyone who knows me knows this.

I feel like this should be a done topic, nothing to talk about because we have all seen, and still see how awesome women are, with or without men, and while we are different, men and women are actually equal. It is high time everyone, male and female, respected that, got over themselves and just lived their lives as best they can.

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2 thoughts on “Sequins and Sapphires: On Feminism”

  1. Kathryn,

    It’s so refreshing to (virtually) meet another African woman who identifies as a Feminist. Growing up in a matriarchal household, you could say that I was born to be a Feminist but in hindsight I’ve always had the social justice persuasion, and therefore Feminism seemed like the logical fit. Like you, I have been accused of being ‘aggressive’ and a ‘man-hater’ by ‘brothers’ and while in my youth I might have wanted to prove them wrong, I now have to teach myself to dialogue, rather than argue with these misguided individuals. Feminism has NOTHING to do with wanting to be like a man, it has EVERYTHING to do with women being treated as humanely as men. That takes some institutional paradigm shifts from the historical African patriarchal belief system to a more holistic egalitarian system. Yes, some women can be aggressive in asserting this position but not all women who question the narrow and flawed understanding of womens’ role in society should be labelled as disrespectful either. Being a Christian Feminist in her late 20’s adds an interesting dynamic as I’m perceived as being ‘defiant to the will of God’ by being opinionated, educated, independent and, dare I say, SINGLE. Yes, I would like to have a life-partner and children but not at the expense of my humanity before God. As blogger Hannah Paasch says about Feminism “You can’t be a powerful daughter of the most High AND a damsel in distress”. It doesn’t make sense. Society can’t tell me that I’m a half a person, when God my creator and Jesus my Saviour INSIST that I’m a whole and full person. I think men, and some women, find it easier to box women as lesser beings instead of facing up to the reality that we (women) are just as whole and just as human as the next man.

    I wish you well in your endeavors because you sound like a spirited woman and I hope that that passion you have never fades!

    1. Thank you, Simangele.
      Indeed, the power in a woman cannot and definitely should not be ruined by the whole ‘damsel in distress’ nonsense. I’m glad to know you think so too. Hopefully everyone will, sooner than later. 🙂

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