It has been hard to ignore the overflow of grief, insults, insensitivities, demands and counter demands during the last months.
Between January 1 and April 15, over 50 women have been murdered in the confines of intimate relationships. These >50, are the cases that have been reported in the media. If we know Kenya, there are many other cases that never reach the mainstream media, because families, relatives, and friends of the families collude to hide the real reason a woman died.
Aren’t intimate relationships the spaces where women should feel safe? When women are being murdered by their partners, husbands, and husbands’ lovers, exes, stalkers etc, the opposite beomes true. We fear intimate relationships! And the fear affects all of us! Those women who are not murdered, prefer to kill themselves. They are citing stressful domestic conditions, abandonment and abuse that suffocates and kills all hope.
Love and Money
The Nobel Peace prize winners Denis Mukwege and Nadia Murad mentioned this in their Nobel speech. They mentioned Kenya by name. According to a United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime report, over 70 percent of all women intentionally killed in Kenya, in 2018, were killed by intimate partners or other family members. The report indicated that little progress has been made in preventing such murders.
Bloggers and even radio presenters have been quick to comment and speculate on the WHYs of these murders; some even going as far as to predict that this is just the beginning. It will get worse if women don’t follow the rules the men are setting. High on this list of rules is Money, specifically, the exchange of money between women and men. If a man:
- offers you money, any amount of money; and you accept the money.
- invites you for a meal or a drink and you accept it.
- loans you money. The amount is irelevant.
- buys you a gift. The price doesn’t matter.
- takes you on vacation, and pays for it.
- pays your school fees, whether you requested it or not.
In the 5 scenarios above, you should be aware that you have just sold sex which quickly puts you into a catch 22 situation. You cannot win.
- If you do NOT want to pay with sex, you are dead. Many men and women have said.
- You pay with sex, you may inadvertently have declared a commitment with said man. In which case, you are required to remain loyal for life. Same men and women say.
It does not matter whether you have married the man or not – the rule applies as soon as money moves from his mpesa account to yours. Or from his mpesa account to something that you consumed or enjoyed. Whether you requested for it or not.
The phase or depth of your relationship does not matter either. You may be dating, courting, cohabiting, married, divorced, separated, or, he may just be stalking you.
Men as a threatened species
In recent years, men’s plight has been described as stressed, neglected, ignored, and un-considered. Men claim that their lives are threatened by women, alas, I cannot find any proof of it. Searching for statistics of Kenyan men murdered by Kenyan women during 2019, I came up with 1 murder case in Ndhiwa. Plus the highly publicized case of the murderous beauty queen in 2018.
Did I miss something?
Some social analysts and opinion builders have commented on the neglect boys have suffered in the last years. Immense focus has been placed on the girl child, leaving the boy child exposed, un-protected and un-supported. Fathers have been too busy chasing younger women, and mothers too preoccupied with the bitterness, ignorance and shame caused by the same neglectful older men. Mothers are barely equipped to teach young men about the new emerging society. Because they themselves are raised in another society – where women were women, and men were men.
Women, especially young beautiful ladies have been blamed for using and misusing men for luxuries the young ladies would not afford by themselves. Or for cheating with sugar daddies who provide the luxuries the young men cannot afford.
Those young ladies that have their own income and are not dependent on the men’s favours are blamed for their independence. Freedom. They are insulted as slay queens, or, feminists who just lead men on without needing the men in the long term. If you reject the money or gifts the man is offering, he is hurt, injured, devastated too –
“who do you think you are?” They ask.
“So you can imagine a life without me.
A life with someone else?!”
Both men and women have made jokes about femicide. Women who are mothers to daughters. Sisters. Friends. Adult women are playing patriarchy-princesses who will do anything to please the men they want to please. Men who have wives, girlfriends, sisters etc are displaying all their patriarchal and misogynistic values and opinions.
Parents and loved-ones have had to endure lies being spread about their murdered daughters – everything from infecting with HIV, to them being money-grabbing sluts. Gold diggers out to ruin innocent men
Change is Brewing
In all this, we all know that the truth, the whole truth, lies in-between. Change that went too fast – not fast enough for women, and not slow enough for the men. Change has been brewing for a while and it is change that cannot be stopped, avoided, ignored or trivialized – just like the women’s right to vote, to divorce, to have their own Identity Cards (ID), to own property etc.
There is a feeling that many are very scared and intimidated by change due to the fact that they do not feel ready to adjust to the new expectations. Change always alters the rules of engagement. In some cases, change means the loss of privilege for some. Power is privilege and men have always held power.
In a society where many women are marching towards equality and equity, the female becomes the male’s enemy number 1. And women easily turn against each other when the male gaze rests on them.
Progress is colliding with culture:
We are all in agreement that women are not as they used to be. We are all positioning ourselves in our different roles. Some women helping to keep women in the roles they always held. Other women adding fuel to the fire that is “fear-of-change.” The rest of us are embracing the change and pushing the buttons that will move it forward and fast.
Feminism is becoming Women who:
- will work outside the home.
- earn their own money and have their own bank accounts.
- won’t cook for their men.
- will not obey the men.
- are not as submissive as our mothers were with our dads.
- do not patiently wait for men who leave.
- have no in-born respect for men simply because hey are men.
- do not stay with abusive men for better or for abuse.
- are unafraid of men’s violence or rejection.
The global community, Kenya included, is undergoing another change that will not be stopped, not even by violence.
Actually, violence may aid the quick progression of this change.
Do we all want to preserve our culture?
Culturaly, women persevered, forgave and enabled men in co-dependent relationships, while men provided, abused and misused the women’s perseverance.
A friend tried to explain to me how his mother was beaten, silenced, and neglected by his dad. But she still stayed. For the children. Because she was totally dependent on her husband, she had no income, she owned no land, she could not educate her children or offer the boys an inheritance. She could not bare the shame of a broken home. Currently, she can take pleasure in seeing her grown-up kids, though her relationship with her lifetime husband is still estranged. They meet at weddings, dowry parties, funerals etc
Her joy in old-age, is knowing that she fulfilled societies sole expectation on her. Find a man. Have some children. Live or die for the children.
Most women do not need to make these sacrifices anymore. They definitely do not put the church and its attendees, traditional values or bible verses before their own progress.
Hence, a collission with men.
I end with questions, not answers:
- I wonder what happens when women become the objects where men can direct their frustrations, hate, despair, fear, disdain?
- Will men be happy when they become womens’ worst fear?
- are we capable of moving from status-quo to the unavoidable new world without soaking the road there with women’s blood?
- is this the lost generation, or the inevitable crossroad of change?