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Shall we change our reading habits?

While reading Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Buea, one of the arduous tasks was selling our student publication ‘The Chariot’. Apart from submitting articles each student was expected to sell at least ten copies of the newspaper against marks.
I recall that I had to virtually ‘beg’ people to purchase copies at 250CFA each. My retention is not perfect but I can candidly say no woman bought any of my copies for three years running. Once there was a convocation ceremony and the campus was jam-packed with guests and like every other student I estimated I was going to sell speedily. The majority of guests were couples and each time I drew near them with the newspapers, the men made efforts to read the headlines as they contemplated buying or not. While they did this, the ladies either gave me a snobbish look or simply whisked off their men.
And so I get to ask this question: Are they only attracted to beauty magazines? But then, I am tempted to think that if there was a secret you wanted to hold back from women just go on and write.


Maria de Chirikof's picture

interesting observation

It makes me wonder how woman can feel so separated from each other.

I can imagine if they are students themselves they need every penny for books and supplies so have to prioritize what they want vs. what they need. For me, I had to budget carefully to afford a snack lunch or a coffee so can understand hesitating on buying the school paper.

If they are already in a career then they might not think the college paper can offer them anything they don't already know. I can imagine they also need to budget carefully to afford the work clothes needed too. And trying to always have enough they can afford to go to a lunch with someone that they did not plan for. I know I was embarrassed a few times when I ran into a friend who wanted to meet for lunch or right after work to catch up and could not afford it!

And if they are a married woman/housewife they could be feeling so many varied things, like envious of your chance at a better education! It is easy to feel isolated and like other woman look down on you when you are a married woman who does not have a strong social network in place. And again, budgeting is another thing to always keep in mind no matter what it is you do. Even if you make enough money to survive there are many things that the money goes too fast! And I can imagine them viewing a college newspaper as more of 'that might be interesting' type of thing then 'oh, I really want to get that new book or magazine'.

I think it is something we all need to work toward so all woman can feel embraced by the global woman's movement. I know for myself I do view some types of woman as different then "me" and need to work to improve that and view them as having the same sort of thoughts, ideas and dreams as I do instead of labeling them in my mind as a certain thing and then not thinking of them again.

For too long we allowed ourselves to be separated by things that are not real like young vs. old, career vs. mom, educated vs. uneducated, wealthy vs. poor or rural vs. city. It is why we still suffer through trying to build and empower each other. Looking past our differences is hard sometimes, especially when you feel your own ideas and viewpoints are "better" and I am as guilty of that as the next woman!

I thank you for posting this since we all do need to wonder why we still see separation between us when so many are working so hard to change it!



Dear Edithlum,
as chance would have it, I was also a student of Mass Communication at the University of Buea and I was also forced to sell those papers to snobbish parents and uninterested wives. On one hand it is a fact that Cameroonians do not have interests in reading, be it newspapers or books and the ready excuse that comes to mind is lack of finance. In some cases, lack of finances is a valid excuse, just like Maria said she had to budget carefully. And just like Maria says, the school paper can hardly be of interest to visiting parents.

The school paper should be targeted towards students on campus and not parents but when students do not have the money to buy these papers as is the case with Cameroonians students those selling are forced to hawk the papers off to parents who buy out of pity than of interest. In this case I can understand women shooing students away from their husbands. Not that I did back then, when I was a student. Actually I would spend days cursing the lady for delaying my sales and probably for forcing me to dip into my meagre pocket allowance to replace the money for the papers.


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