Break the ‘woman’s role’ shackle for true empowerment

Some women still endure untold disrespect from their partners. FILE PHOTO | NMG

Most men’s ideal romantic situation is to enjoy a variety of consecutive relationships. Why can’t women today accept to share their men? Our fathers and grandfathers managed their many partnerships successfully.

No, our fathers, grandfathers, and great-grandfathers were not successful at it. They owned all the property there was to hold, and in most cultures, that included women and children. They could have a polygamous lifestyle because women had no means with which to challenge them. They beat those who tried into total submission and subservience. That was not successful management of multiple partners. It was tyranny. Without much choice, the womenfolk fell in line. It wasn’t acceptance of the situation.

The children raised in these homes watched and learned in different ways. Most of the boys wanted to be just like their fathers when they grew up - to enjoy total control; from the comfort of an array of bosoms to choose from without opposition to choice cuts of meat at the family dinner table and every privilege in-between. Most girls watched in scared, pained, and tortured silence for their mothers’ suffering and made themselves sacred promises - that; they would lead better lives than their mothers.

The reason why most women challenge polygamy is that unlike our mothers and grandmothers, we are more financially independent, we significantly contribute to or wholly fund our families. The tide has, to some extent, changed course. There are unfortunately too few of these women to provide the rest with everyday inspiration to better their circumstances. Sadly, even women who are of equal or higher means give partners money, take public transport while their husbands shuttle their young lovers around in the cars that these women work to pay. These women still endure untold disrespect from their partners, submit beatings if and when they challenge them, not to mention the possibility of disease. It is the new age version of polygamy.

It continues unabated because most of us women are yet to make the mental transition from the era of the women who raised us to the financially, socially independent persons that our world today has enabled and empowered us to become.

Young, intelligent, beautiful women with bright futures are dying in the hands of men because in no small extent; most women are yet to arrive at the opportunity that their current realities present. As women, we stand today on the shoulders of the few brave ones who sacrificed their lives and endured all manner of ridicule to pave the way to the more enabling personal and professional experiences that we can have today.

Phoebe Asiyo, Wangari Maathai, Grace Ogot, Sally Kosgei, Wambui Otieno, to name a few, cleared the path for us. It was so that we could go beyond going to school and get jobs to earn a living. It was so that we would go further to shift the paradigms that we have of ourselves and pass that forward to all the women that we raise.

To move our thinking of ourselves from that of the weak, second-class human beings whose role is largely in the kitchen with children tied to their backs to the more informed, exposed, empowered and educated (even if only to primary school level) people.

People capable of thinking of themselves as independent individuals, capable of charting their lives and future rather than appendages of others that we are socialised to revere as superior to ourselves.

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