Left-wing politics from the US to Nepal, via Zimbabwe, South America and Palestine.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Women, Men and Sexism in Zimbabwe

Wonderful post over at Acoustic Motorcycle. Reproduced here for your reading pleasure...

Punchbag Chandelier

There are some days I am so angry, I think I could punch someone’s teeth in. Like today, standing in the queue to buy some bread, the man in front of me was busy on his cell phone. Tall and slim, dressed in a suit, I recognised his face from the papers as a Zanu PF Member of Parliament. He was so busy on his phone he couldn’t greet the teller. When his items were rung up, he thrust a wad of $50,000 notes into the tellers hand, and waved dismissively, as if to say “You count it. I’m far too busy with more important things.” His more “important things” included a call to a woman to organise where he was going to see her tonight. And confirming that yes he wanted a double cab. On the weekend, The Standard newspaper announced that the government has agreed to spend ZWD 600 billion on new 4 x 4 twin cabs for Members of Parliament. Never mind the poverty, the inflation, the recent shortage of birth control tablets, massive hikes in school fees, water rationing power cuts, and all the rest.

Walking home from the shops, I passed him standing by his other double cab, finishing off his sausage roll, and on yet another call. I fantasised about a leap in the air that would impress even Jackie Chan, kicking in his windscreen, stomping on the bonnet of his bakkie, and pissing on the radiator.

I wonder some times where all this anger comes from. And what to do with it. I recently finished Reviving Ophelia, Saving the Selves of Adolescent Girls. As the Teen Ink review of it states:

"'Ophelia' represents a universal teenage girl who tries desperately to fight against society's status quo that, 'A woman's success is determined by her beauty, whereas a man's success is determined by his capability.' Her struggle to reject this popular theory is found in over 50 real-life stories of the young female patients Pipher treats. These are stories of young woman who range in ages from 11 to 21 and cover topics from drug abuse to violence, sex, sexual abuse, divorce, rape, depression and the plague of eating disorders."

One of the young women featured has a punching bag installed in her basement to help her deal with her anger after she is sexually assaulted at a party with her fellow secondary school students. I don’t have a basement in my flat. But maybe I could replace the lights in the lounge with a punching bag. And invite other women around for punching parties. It needs to be something that immediate. Something to capture and channel the rage before it dissolves into depression or despair. And something satisfying. No matter how unfeminine or unwomanly it seems. My colleague recently said she was reluctant to write something that sounded vaguely violent in an article, because she thinks that non-violent action is seen as so much more acceptable, and she didn’t want to be rejected by her peers. And I agree, in my more Zen moments, that violence merely perpetuates the problem. I know that expressing my outrage at violence, abuse, injustice, cruelty, prejudice and sexism through violent means doesn’t solve anything. But I don’t want to lose that edge. I don’t want to temper the anger with softness or hold my tongue and pretend it doesn’t exist. Because somewhere at the core of that outrage is the power to resist the daily injustices, and transform them into something completely different.

When I got home, I found a text message from the one woman who really knows me, reminding me of the last lines of Duiker’s The Quiet Violence of Dreams: “In keeping still we hear more. In choosing less we are given more. In trusting more we trust ourselves. I know where my greatest treasures lie. They are within me.”

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1 Comments:

Anonymous ggernst said...

hello--thanks very much for that, and for introducing me to your blog. ive long been interested in the Palestinian issue. i think we can learn so much from that here in Zimbabwe. Visit

http://ggernst.blogeasy.com/article.view.run?articleID=315825

for a recent piece on an article I read that you might also be interested in.

Wednesday, May 31, 2006 6:53:00 AM

 

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