F is for feminism


NO doubt a trending topic this year, feminism was all over as a result of Beyoncé.

The pop star in one of her songs sampled a largely unknown speech from acclaimed Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and Feminism 2, was born.

Adichie argues that “we should all be feminist” instead of just human rights activists because women’s issues are specific to being a female human. I agree.

I didn’t at first. I thought it was another attention seeking event from women as much as I am a gender equity advocate.

Women and even young girls being seen as sex symbols is the primary problem. Think Makanaka Wakatama. The former ZBCtv personality was a young sex symbol. Growing up, she was the apple of every young man’s eye and – as it turned out – older man’s desire as well.

Such beauty and brains made her a very memorable and well liked broadcaster. Ask any young Zimbabwean man if they didn’t have a crush on her! She should have been our version of South Africa’s Bonang Matheba.

The then 15-year-old suddenly went off air and next thing she was pregnant and married off! The gift – or curse – of her apt name set her up to become a premature housewife. Her mother, according to reports, gleefully and arrogantly complied. Naturally, all parties’ involved – her mother, ex-husband and Wakatama herself – now wish things had gone differently.

She has been back in the spotlight for her new career as a gender activist regretting it all. The problem isn’t Makanaka. The problem isn’t even her mother or ex-husband! The problem is about self worth – rather its lack.

Hands up if the elders in your family have never pressured you to have a child or children!

You see, the problem in most societies – especially black – is that our self worth as individuals is defined by our ability to reproduce.

It’s primitive like that and it’s an inter-generational problem. How many times have you heard elders gushing about a woman’s fertility?

I’ve heard my mom and aunts ask me about grandkids. . . My quickest answer is that I’d sooner plant a peach tree if I’m feeling reproductive! If I’m annoyed or not that quick, I best tell them to go try again – themselves! Not now. Not unplanned.

My point is, in this day and age, don’t get married or have kids young. Most young people don’t understand that permanently waking up next to someone is unnatural.

You have to learn how your spouse grunts, snores, farts in bed, drools all over pillows, how their feet stink and so on! As for raising a brand new human being. . . !

In my gender class and as I wrote in this paper early this year, I teach about consent. There are two types of consent – there is informed and then there is misinformed consent.

Many – misinformed – young people get pregnant and get stuck in unplanned partnerships with play dates. It child’s play that ends up with marriage and children involved! It’s a vicious cycle all over the world.

“Many young people get pregnant” as opposed to “many young girls get pregnant” because there is a male involved as well! See the need for feminism?

It has become natural to think that only a girl gets pregnant while the male apparently becomes a rolling stone hopping from one girl to another.

Any woman that sacrifices herself to be a man’s baby making machine usually regrets it at some point later on because you know what, it becomes apparent in life that anyone can actually have a child!

Most girls willingly want to get pregnant for the thrill of it and most boys show up only for the fun part of making the baby. If boys will be boys then girls will be girls – the two can never be exclusive.

When we look at Makanaka’s case, we should understand that she now realises how misinformed she was and especially how her mother was just as misinformed. They all were. They all consented.

There are children involved and it’s good that their mother has realised that she put her life aside and now knows better. The point is, she is now trying to improve her life and if there is anything I have learned in life, it’s that people will crucify you for trying to improve your life. Improve your life anyway.

Sonny Jermain writes in his personal capacity. This piece is an excerpt from his book I Deserve To Be: Selfworth Is A Silent Killer that is due 2015.