Something happened to me not so long ago that got me obsessed with control, well more so than usual anyway. Because I’m certain the reader knows it so well I will not mince words elaborating on the meaning of power. We’re all well versed on the issue; nor am I here to argue against it. I don’t even think there’s any escaping it, we are meant to change the world be it for good or bad and the least functional of us still produces waste. Everything we’ve achieved as a species derives from our need to change what ails us but I feel few would disagree that the exertion of control and whatever form it has to assume has to be moderated to fit the circumstances.
I was attacked. On a personal level and it was caused by and based on my gender. I felt disrespected by it, and it’s this fire in my belly that has moved this action. I speak partially and must disclose it; mine is a voice of frustration, but I still feel it needs to be heard. Of the dwindling and yet multitude of battlefields we face each day, the weak premised yet somehow still relevant fight for the respect between genders persist. And while the solution is extremely simple and the resulting ‘battle of the sexes’ quite unnecessary, when you least expect it, when it’s most irrelevant you are reminded of your womanhood. I say womanhood because men are rarely such victimized. You’re reminded to send the message that because of your sex, your manner is wrong. Your beliefs are somehow compromised by it, that you should be acting differently. That outrageous claim is lopped on our heads where we dare challenge and stand out. Where we stand up for ourselves…
Gender relations being what they are in Ethiopia, I personally prefer girls for friendship for the very simple fact that with them I’m always perceived as a person. I have a name. I will have a personality and accomplishments when they get to know me. I excel them in a way and in another, I lag behind. With some luck, I’ll be trusted and liked by some and not so much by others but their opinions will almost always be justified. Most importantly respect, and I can’t stress this aspect of inter feminine interaction will be a given, enough. Unfortunately, this is not always the case with male acquaintances.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to paint with a broad brush here, there are men who know how to respect women and I would like to extend them my gratitude but they are a minority, and the lion’s share of the opposite sex bears an agenda or others against us females. And it’s not a rare occurrence to find ourselves marked for a fight along with other wild forces; all manner of beasts, tempests, the cold and darkness. The subconscious and at times overt attempt to seize and clamp down upon our minds and bodies, paints us in the minds of our attackers to be challengers as a third person; a ‘them’, separate and different from their perception of kin creating a psychological barrier that eases the offensive or altogether terrible acts they would proceed to inflict. A war such waged is weak and baseless. Any good fighter knows that the way to engage in a war intended to be won has to respect his foe enough to look at him, assess his strengths and weaknesses and most importantly identify if he is an adversary at all. Gender-based attacks and the thought process that inspire them, ignore this cardinal rule when they engage an actual human being in a fight while meaning to lash out against their imaginary versions of her. Can you, like me, see a sleepwalker who hits those trying to help him?
So thoughts and attitudes in this vein are both ridiculous and lame, but they are damaging and enraging all the same. They could take so many forms we women recognize a mile off; The name calling from the sickeningly molasses honey or princess, “miti” to the abusive end of that spectrum where the words bitch, whore, gold digger, come in (the word woman forms the neutral point of that line, of course). To the absolutely unacceptable discussions on the preferences of women. For crying out loud, we don’t swoon at the sight of cash, we don’t flock toward shiny objects. Just like you, we have different preferences; some of us like brains, others looks, some enjoy piggy back rides and others are simply ass-women. Other jobs take the form of stupid questions wanting to know the range of activities we can do. Everything is the answer. Everything skeletal muscles attached to bones can do and giving birth and keeping our cheek muscles in smiling position as so much nonsense is spouted at us so we don’t seem rude or heaven forbids, scare them. But the most irritating is the move where they attempt to get to know you only for as long as it takes for them to identify a minor flaw that they will identify you by. This one is a major doozy because the battle is ongoing. Your tolerance is tested through time and again as he designs a specific set of rules he is going to treat you by. There was a co-worker of mine who thought I was spoiled irrespective of the fact that we’ve had similar experiences and interests and whose skill-set I matched and often exceeded. Yet another who thought I was immature and literally spoke to me in a softer tone of voice, like a toddler! And these unfortunate circumstances transpired yet again when recently I was similarly patronized.
These moves share the common aim of seizing our will. The key word here is dominance. Be it through shame or submission, emotional hurt that could lead to rumination or fear they sap out our confidence, peace, sense of self and even our capacity for patience and tolerance. The perpetrators want us to accept our internment as normal, to play second fiddle to them, they expect us to bow and offer up our palms. The journey of mankind has taken us far and in this age where the call for freedom echoes in all domains both natural and manmade, how is this tolerable?
So I’ll offer up some free advice from the depth of my bruised soul passed through my bloody knuckled fingers. Respect is key. To win, to control and most importantly, peace and coexistence. With it comes the recognition that what’s facing you, be it acrimonious or not it’s is sovereign in its existence, has individual properties that can be negotiated with for your aims to be reached. Open your eyes before closing your fists for you would be surprised at the amount of control given to a hand opened in supplication. The same rules apply with people. A simple assessment of an individual, any individual is enough to identify them as friend or foe so, begin with that. And more often than not, you’ll find a person just like you and only probably with something different to say.
By: Rahwa Tesfaye