International Women's Day Reflection: Take Back Your Body ( And Mindset)
While I was in training in Asia last year, I was particularly mortified by the unrestrained ( sexual) overtures of a couple of Nigerian participants. From unsolicited raunchy text messages to disrespect of personal space to ganging up and throwing insults at the object of their affection when the former tactics did not work, they went the whole hog. It was no surprise therefore, when a few months later, I happened upon the information that one of them had violently groped another colleague- a Zimbabwean- while they were on official assignment. What was a surprise however, was how the Zimbabwean lady handled it. Even though she was traumatised and hurt she pleaded with me not to report it, explained that she understood that he had pent-up sexual energy, she did not want to upset the organisation, it would embarrass him, blah, blah, blah. She was concerned about everything but her own well being. When I tried to press her to take the issue to the authorities both for closure and to prevent a reoccurrence I became an enemy in her eyes. I was thoroughly disgusted; she had imbibed the conditioning that her feelings were less important than that of a man, that she had to cater to male feelings of entitlement even if that meant losing her sanity.
It is the International Women's Day today, and, as much as it would be fantastic to have a party celebrating our strengths and triumphs, it is more important than ever -to me- that we to expend that energy creating the situations and attitudes that enable us thrive. (And conversely, destroying those that do the opposite.)