Are women weaker today than they were a century ago?

This morning I was listening to a television interview, in which a women's rights activist was clamoring for easier and more affordable access to sanitary wear, especially for disadvantaged and vulnerable girl-children.

In the midst of this impassioned, and obviously justifiable, plea (or, we can even call it a demand, for this is an integral part of every women’s health care right) – I could not help wondering why, decades after gender equality became a “front burner” issue, that shook the world into action, our female counterparts were still begging for recognition and respect.

As a matter of fact, what made this matter even more perplexing (at least, for me) was the fact that, since women constituted over half the global population, should they not, by now, be calling the shots – as they used their “majority rule”.

When black Africans decided that enough was enough, in their subjugation and segregation by a minority colonial population – they knew of only one way of rectifying this anomaly – to push for majority rule, in which they could hold the reigns of power, and determined their own destiny.

So, why are women not doing exactly that?

Why are they failing to actively put themselves out there (in their large numbers) for positions of power, and supporting each other in the process?

Why are they still calling for “quota systems” and affirmative action?

However, from where I stand – unfortunately, I do not see this miracle happening any time soon!

What I have tragically witnessed over the past two or so decades, is a new generation of women that actually appear to be taking the clock of gender equality a century back!

Whenever we discuss this topic with my wife, Tinta, we agree that it appears as if the only bone of contention that women had with their plight of a century back, was being forced to be subservient or subject to men.

The operative word here being, “forced”.

As the issue of women’s rights, and gender equality took centre stage in recent times – there seemed to be a new trend in which these “rights” were exercised mainly in “freely choosing” to be subservient and subject to men.

Whereas, in past years, women were manipulated or even forced (either by circumstances or directly) to regard men as their masters, whom they should look up to for sustenance and survival – these days, they freely choose this way of life.

When in decades ago, women felt portrayed and abused by men as mere sex objects – today, they (women) worryingly appear to love painting this image for themselves, about themselves.

Otherwise, how else can anyone explain the glorification of the “slay queen” image of women – or others, who may not necessarily strictly fall into that category – who flaunt themselves as nothing more than sexual vessels for men, as long as they can be financially taken care of?

How many times, have we come across women – whether on our streets, in social media, music videos, so-called “beauty pageants”, movies, or television programs – readily parading themselves as objects of male sexual pleasure?

Yet, in this day and age, it is regarded as an expression of one’s freedom and independence!

How, then, are women supposed to be viewed seriously – when, wherever our sons turn, all they see are their female counterparts proudly “marketing” themselves as available sexual objects, (whether by their dressing, appearance, or behavior), as long as certain financial or material terms are agreeable?

What, then, happens to equality, and women being empowered enough – so as not to look up to men for their upkeep?

What happened to women rejecting the notion that they were sex objects?

Was that just a passing phase – that was motivated by a “spark in the pan” rebelliousness – yet, possibly, these ideas had already been fully entrenched in the very depths of their psyche?

How then, do women seriously expect to be masters of their destiny – when they appear to be willingly winding the clock backwards to the nineteenth century – whereby, men were the masters?

I have never made a secret of my desire to be blessed with a daughter – and, I am confident that God Almighty will answer my prayers – whom, I earnestly intend to inculcate a sense of self-confidence and pride, that trains her to stand on her own, and understand that she is complete as she is, and men only come into the picture as equal partners.

At least, in the last century, we were raised by women who were truly independent, who married for pure love – and, as my own mother proved (despite being a general nurse with poor education) she still used her freedom to purchase for herself whatever she desired, from a suburban house, several cars, and so much more.

Yet what we see today, the opposite is true of a huge population of women – in spite of them being highly learned, and some even occupying high positions.

With such a breed of women as my mother’s generation, there is nothing to stop them from taking charge and being masters of their own destiny.

At such a time, they will not need to beg a government of men for sanitary pads!

@ Tendai Ruben Mbofana is a social justice activist, writer, and social commentator. Please feel free to contact him on WhatsApp/Call: +263715667700 / +263782283975, or Calls Only: +2637788897936 / +263733399640, or email: [email protected]

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