Whenever I arrive home before dusk, I pocket my boda money and walk down a path that cuts through a beautiful hill. I love this shortcut because it gives me a workout and speeds my transition from an office drone to the happy, cheeky Mildred they know at home.
After a downpour though, the path becomes hell. Shoe-swallowing ponds develop, frogs jump unexpectedly out of the thick grass and the mud becomes treacherous. I use the path regardless and every time I survive a fall, ask myself, “Mildred, are you secretly suicidal?”.
Recently, I slid badly and in the process of steadying myself, looked behind to find a man watching me. I think he wanted to pass, but didn’t want to speak to me, so he just stood and waited. My first thought was, “what kind of MAN stands there silent when a WOMAN is falling in front of him?”
This was followed by a shame that hasn’t left me yet and a realization that I need to spend more time working feminism out in my head. I wouldn’t have had the same expectation of another woman. I’ve been conditioned to believe that a man owes me protection and compassion, just because I’m female. Is this equivalent to the way random men feel its normal for them to approach me with a sexual agenda on the streets of Kampala? Or is a society judged by the way it treats its women?
This brings me to the study recently conducted at Makerere which revealed that 6 out of 10 campus girls feel obligated to sleep with a man who has “spent” on her. Sadly, I recognize this impulse. I condemn it in the strongest terms possible.
Chivalry has become a sexist trap. It is “expected” that a man will foot the bill when he’s wooing a woman but today’s guy, when he does this, feels like he’s paying both for the food/gifts and rights to vagina-time. I advise that dates be subjected to thorough discussion beforehand. Who is paying? Why? What are the expectations of both partners? Relationships need to be negotiated like business deals.
I struggle with the name of this column (Stiletto Point) because of the shade it casts on my content. Before reading me, people assume that I only write about ‘cute’ and sparkly, ‘girly’ things.
It also attracts weirdos.
At a party one time, a stranger recognized me from Barongo’s excellent caricature. I was happy until he started to complain about how all women writers are irrelevant man haters. This is the moment I should have walked away.
He then said that women are not equal to men in the workplace because they’re less productive due to periods and maternal leave. An argument ensued but I soon realized it was useless and proceeded to order cocktails and to point the waitress in his direction. Small victories.
Women’s bodies are not considered their own. Abortion isn’t frowned upon because fetuses are being denied the right to life. If that were the case, children would not be denied the right to life everywhere around us! Hunger, war, apathy and abuse has done more damage than abortion ever will. We’re perceived as baby-ovens and not human beings with the right to be selfish with our space, bodies and finances. All the rabid pro-lifers in Uganda need to dedicate more energy into healing those broken, irresponsible, badly-brought up men who yell “Kill it!” at confused, scared and emotional women. Let’s start with that.
Feminism is a cry for social change by people who are fed up of being abused and treated like half-humans because of the sex they were born into. I need feminism and so do you.