Today is National Women’s Day here in South Africa; a day through which we honour the women who, in 1956, marched to petition against discriminatory apartheid legislation regarding the movement of Black people. On this day, we celebrate women.
As I woke up today, I, for the first time, really thought about what it would be like to be a woman…from birth, through life, and to death:
If I was a woman….
If I was born a woman, I may not have gone to the schools I went to. In fact, I may not have gone to school at all. Many families still raise their daughters differently from the way they raise their sons. In those families, my brothers would have had way better lives and opportunities than me.
If I was a woman, harassment in the streets by men is something I would have to suffer almost daily. From wolf-whistles and slaps on my backside, to pulling up my skirt, insults or even beatings for my choice of clothing.
If I was a woman, I would be more likely to be raped than learn how to read. After all, in South Africa, a woman is raped every four minutes.
If I was a woman, I may be dishonoured by my family for getting pregnant out of wedlock. Oh and whilst on the subject of marriage, I would probably be labelled a whore, bitter bitch, or directionless loser for not wanting to get married.
Still on marriage, in some countries I would have acid thrown in my face or have my genitals mutilated because I didn’t accept a marriage proposal arranged by my family to some man I have never met; a man probably older than my father.
And if I was married, there would a 33% chance (higher in other countries) that I would be a victim of domestic violence at the hands of my spouse.
Forget marriage, in some parts of the world, I would just be sold for money. After all, women and girls make up 80% of those trafficked for sex and slave labour.
If I was ever pregnant, in some families, I would be killed for not giving birth to a boy. If I’m one of those fortunate enough to be allowed to give birth and keep my child, there is a high chance I would be a single mum, what with so many men abandoning their children.
If I was a woman, I may be passed up for promotions at work simply because I’m a woman. I’d realise the glass ceiling was actually a solid lead opaque ceiling.
If I was a woman, political participation and economic empowerment would always be conveniently (for men) out of my reach. Sexist jokes, chauvinistic comments, gender based salary gaps; all of these would be daily obstacles for me.
If I was a woman, the so called “economy of care” would expect me to look after the children, the elderly, the husband, the home. When men are dedicated to their jobs, they are respected, but if I, as a woman, did the same thing, I’m a bad mother and/or selfish wife.
If I was a woman, in some parts of the world, I wouldn’t be allowed to drive a car, wear a pair of trousers, or even leave the house without a male companion.
If I was a woman, in some parts of the world, at the funeral of my spouse, I would be forced to drink water which has been used to wash his dead body. Others would jeer me, push me around, or even beat me if I failed to cry for him loud enough or for long enough.
If I was a woman, in some parts of the world, you wouldn’t be allowed to cry for me when I die. After all, I’m just a woman right?
*just scribbling my thoughts*
ps: We all have a duty to protect women. Especially us men; we need to protect women from us. Because everything I’ve written in this post is all a result of ancient patriarchal establishments that continue to destroy our societies today. It must stop now.