Monday, 16 January 2017

Have women become the oppressors too?

I was still a pre-teen when I became aware of the battle of the sexes. I was a pre-teen when I saw a world where men were deemed as worthier than women, and where men were fine subjugating women. Having grown up in the 80s even educating a girl was not a priority in many families- the reason, women would always get married!

Fast forward to my late thirties, and I am realising that although there is a conflict between men and women, we as women have bought into the lie.
For example, I constantly hear women blaming the “other woman”, asking how the other woman could do such when their partner has cheated on them, instead of holding the man accountable.
I hear women talking about men cheating as if it’s something that is the norm and something that should be expected and accepted. I hear women being told by other women that they need to do everything in power to “keep their man”.

I hear about gatherings and events that have been arranged by women, for women, so that women can learn to be the woman a man wants the horrific female genital mutilation for example!. I never hear about men arranging or attending forums so that they can learn and understand women and stop antagonising us.

I constantly see articles telling women how to improve themselves so that they can “land the guy”.
"Perhaps after centuries of having these beliefs enforced on us it is now engrained. Have we become our own enemy? "
A lady friend mine used to tell me that I should be powerful but not too powerful as I might scare off men. So did most of my family members.
Even today, I still hear women telling other women to dress a certain way in order to attract the right type of man.
It's frustrating.

These are but a few examples of the oppressive words that women have said and continue to say to other women, but never to men. Most of us are aware of the double standards held in society but why is it the women who are perpetuating some of them?
Perhaps after centuries of having these beliefs enforced on us it is now ingrained? Have we become our own enemy?

It is sad that as women ,we are at war with ourselves. And this is not the way it’s supposed to be. We were not born a problem.
Or can you say that you have never said or at least thought “How could she stay with him?” after a man treated a woman badly? I have, and honestly not thinking about why the perpetrator is doing it in the first place!

Most women have, and it is not okay that we have allowed ourselves to think like this.
The realisation that we as women are consciously and subconsciously looking down on ourselves is saddening.
It is sad to see how we as women continually appease men at our own expense. We always try to justify men’s behaviours, but if it’s a woman, it is their fault. It is sad to see women holding themselves to high standards but allowing men to have no standards.
It is sad that as women,we are at war with ourselves. And this is not the way it’s supposed to be. We were not born a problem. We never became a problem and we shouldn’t see ourselves as a problem.

Sunday, 15 January 2017

Watch out what you say on social media

Social media essentially refers to a range of websites that enable people to interact worldwide using discussion, photos, audio and video.Facebook was the first social network to exceed one billion registered accounts, according to the latest data by global statistics portal Statista. It’s become so quick and simple to offend thousands of people with a single click or even embarrass oneself using smart phones etc.  
In times gone by, if you wanted to send someone a rude message, you needed to find paper and a pen, sit and write down your thoughts, hunt for an envelope and a stamp, take the time to get to a post-box or post office, and finally wait for it to be delivered to your target. This lengthy process gave you plenty of time to have second thoughts, and then decide not to send the letter after all. Nowadays your smartphone is always at hand and with a flurry of agile fingers and a single tap, your message is out in the world. For me it becomes a war unto oneself if the world is made to know of family quarrels etc. In Shona we have a saying (Mombe haivhiyirwi paruzhinji). In English they say one should not wash their dirty linen in public.  Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying sharing is bad, for examples –religious articles, birthdays, campaigns etc, that’s not bad, but when it comes to things like heated family arguments, strong views that demean other groups of people , racism or sexism only to mention a few, that’s a step too far.
A more curious thing about social media is the way people have turned it to what has been called the “antisocial media”. Many people manage to hold two contradictory and highly inaccurate beliefs about these media. On the one hand they assume that the world at large is waiting breathlessly for the latest tantalising snippet of their everyday lives – so they photograph their breakfast or announce their arrival at the mall, as though thousands, all over the world, will exclaim with delight and rush to inform the masses.  
At other times, though, they behave as though these media were completely private, enabling them to vent freely and post wildly inappropriate things as if they were whispering into the ear of a sympathetic friend. They then express shock and horror when the public at large express dismay at the revelation of their inner ugliness.
Part of the problem is the reckless way people use social media, without really thinking about why they are doing it, what effect their words will have, and whether it will be of any use to anyone. Another snag is the way technology has made it too easy to spread your most trivial and unedited thoughts.
Such comments are like “dick pix” – other people are inevitably less impressed than you want them to be, and you can’t take them back, or hide them when a prospective employer or lover decides to explore your traces.
The more urgently you feel the urge to blurt out your opinion, the wiser it is to write a draft and leave it for a while before sending it. You might look at it an hour or even a day later and realise that it serves no purpose and should rather be deleted.
Facebook tips
  • Don’t befriend just anyone. A rule of thumb is to only befriend people you know in real life. Use Facebook as an extension of your existing circle of friends.
  • What you share electronically stays in cyberspace forever, therefore don’t share or post anything you don’t feel comfortable with
  • You can now ask to pre-approve or review photographs or posts you are tagged in (Privacy settings – Timeline and Tagging).
  • Be considerate of your friends’ privacy as well – don’t post anything about them or their photographs without asking them if they are comfortable with the post. Photographs that could potentially cause embarrassment should definitely not be posted. Be careful of how you and your friends portray yourselves – sexy and drunken photographs should not be on Facebook.
  • Don’t post anything such as addresses or cell numbers that make you easy to find.
    Remember some people lost their jobs because of what they post on social media!

Wednesday, 11 January 2017

Can the Film industry help end female genital mutilation?

Researchers frustrated by the deep communication gap between people trying to end female genital mutilation (FGM) and the societies that practise it, proposed a novel solution: film.

An unusual experiment in Sudan showed it was possible to alter people's attitudes with a mere 27 minutes of FGM messaging sneaked into a 90-minute movie, a team from Switzerland and Sudan wrote in the journal Nature.
"The movies significantly improved attitudes towards girls who remain uncut," they reported after two experiments involving thousands of participants.
The team said the findings suggested that "changing attitudes through entertainment could contribute to the abandoning of cutting".

FGM is a practice common in parts of Africa, the Middle East and Asia, in which a young girl's clitoris and labia are partially or totally removed.

The underlying belief is that this will reduce libido and keep a woman chaste.
The procedure – often performed under unsterile conditions – can lead to severe bleeding and urination problems, cysts, infections, painful sex and childbirth complications.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), more than 200 million girls and women alive today have been cut. Over two million join their ranks each year.
The WHO has categorised FGM a violation of human rights. But efforts to convince traditional societies to give up the practice have run into difficulty mainly due to "incompatible attitudes" and "cultural conflicts".
Campaigns against FGM are often perceived as attempts by outsiders to impose their own values on communities whose history and culture they know little about.

Some groups which practice FGM believe they are doing it for the child's own good, as it is perceived to boost a girl's marriage prospects.

Changing attitudes

According to the study's authors, campaigners often err by not taking into account that there might be divergent views even within communities where FGM is practised.
In their experiment, the researchers sought to tap into such differences to stimulate debate.
They created several versions of a movie in which members of a fictional, extended family disagree about whether its girls should be cut or not.
The message was not the main plot, and was designed not to come across as judgemental or preachy.
It portrays, instead, how hard the decision can be for parents who want the best for their daughters in a society where the practice is an accepted part of growing up.

The FGM message comprised less than a third of the running time of the movies, which were screened at community buildings such as schools.
Tested afterwards, people who saw the films showed "large, robust and significant increases in positive attitudes about uncut girls," the researchers concluded, when compared to people who saw a version of the movie featuring the same characters but without the FGM sub-plot.

Something to think about!