Why I "get out of hand"
"Your feminism is getting out of hand.”
A male colleague told me this, in November 2012. For the previous weeks, I had focused on only women’s stories and on writing as many opinion pieces as I could to talk about issues that affected women. I wrote about a priest whose sermon was not gender-sensitive. I wrote about men paying women’s bills and wondered what that meant for the feminist movement. I analysed everything using a gender-sensitive lens, and he called it “getting out of hand.”
My friend’s view of women is uncomfortable. He always finds that one woman who slept her way to the top. I counter with three stories of three women who have failed to get into school because of societal expectations, cultural and otherwise. Almost every day, I open a chat and start from where we stopped the previous day. I look forward to the conversations because they challenge me, and although he has not taken away my fight, he has given it a much fuller outlook.
In February, we revisited the “getting out of hand” business.
“Do you have nieces?” I asked.
“Would you want your nieces to be vetted for a job on their looks? Do you see them sitting in bars getting men to pay their drinks? Would you want them to be the women you tell me about or do you want them to be people, like you and me?”
“I want them to work hard and to never be limited by their sex. I want them to go as high up as they want.”
I told him then that that was why I wrote and wrote and wrote about women’s issues. I told him I did it because I wanted my nieces and their sisters to have a world that was better than what their mothers and our mothers had. I was in a better position as a woman to raise issue because what I wrote about was my story, my every day experience. As a woman, I could relate to other women when I interviewed them, their experiences not very much different from my own. With the resource that I had in a newspaper audience, I was going to do everything I could to be my sister’s keeper. For our sakes and our daughters’ sakes.
Then in late March, I stumbled upon a Facebook post about World Pulse on a friend’s wall. It appeared on the newsfeed and I clicked on the link. I emailed one of the community members, Anitah, for more information as I looked through various journals and met more women with similar interests. I knew I wanted to be part of this community so I signed up.
Before I wrote this, I sent him a message asking if he still thought I was “getting out of hand”. Reply: “No, I don’t. It’s how you look at things. But few women here think like that.”
He obviously needs to meet World Pulse women.