When you think that you have known enough, life finds a way to teach you. I will share my lesson with you. The lesson of life from the classroom of experience. The class where I am the only student and I have created clones of me to fit in my class.
My name is Taptuei, the daughter of Kapngátip otherwise The Sharp. I was born to a proper Kalenjin home. Proper in all sense of the word. We have been going to church since I was born. I am told very good things to be proud of. I am told I was baptized when I was only two weeks old and by Fr. Boyle. Fr. Boyle is a good man. He died like a Marty. He did good things to people, he preached and fed the hungry. Since then, I also wanted to be good. I wanted to be of help even when it was unhealthy for me or even when it meant dying and even when I lost myself. It fit perfectly well in my already existing story of a woman to submit and to serve a man. The silent voice in me translated this to ‘I am useless, incapable and unworthy’ Then it became about trying to prove my worth while expecting failure. Every time situations brought themselves to confirm this to me. I not only saw this in myself but saw it in my surrounding. Is it confirmation bias? – I do not know. I remember one time my cousin who is almost my age told me that women will always be stupid. I remember we were in a river and I was trying to get Chepkina; an insect from the water that bites nipples and make them bigger. He said that no matter the education a woman has, we will never have a woman president. He told me how stupid Martha Karua looked being on the front line and how undeserving. And I got so angry, I wanted to fight, I wanted to change the narrative. I wanted to challenge his view and point. I proved it everyday in school with my good performance, with my public speaking skills. I became the best mathematician in school because women can do mathematics just like the men can. I wanted the big jobs only men had. and as they say…the mind heard it enough times. It saw the ugly images I created of women situations that I wanted to change, the big challenge of Patriarchy, the sounds, the pictures, the narration of a stupid useless woman. Every voice of feminism I met had this same narrative. I did not realize it when they became chains, when they bound me to an helpless position and knew not where I stood. I had been crying wolf and no one was listening any more. I was bound, stuck, trapped , caged, held down and I was drowning in the bottomless pit of darkness the black hole. I screamed on the top of my voice to get the attention of the world, I lifted girls up to be seen, I shouted about violence, I shouted about FGM because it was a pain I related with perfectly perceived or real. I entangled myself with the many voices of feminism, some who were managing directors, mathematicians, engineers, CEOs, Doctors, Professors, mothers and powerful speakers while their voices gave me hope. But the news had another side to show; the Nyeri man being beaten by wives, the woman stripped on the streets, the man with chopped penis and other disturbing stories of angry women and defensive men. That scared me and I woke up from my anger. I woke up to self realization and that is why I am telling you this story.
Feminism is an emotive discussion but today I will tell you the rational bit of it. Feminism is a philosophical view that holds that people should not be discriminated on the basis of their genders. In practice it aims to promote access to equal opportunities for both men and women. It does not aim to ignore their differences but to understand these differences in genders while aiming for synergy. It came as a result of affirmative action when women were indeed considered lesser beings. The society defined roles differently then. I like to give the perspective of my people who had different roles clearly taught to the men and women. They both underwent traditional practices like genital cuts for both genders. Information is powerful drive for the evolution of cultures and slowly we have become different. Gender roles are not the same but then again no one is taught what their role is. We are always talking about the negatives, the what is not yet we do not have a voice of what is. As an empowered woman born from the efforts of feminism, I have accessed education, I can speak for myself, I can choose to cook and not to. I surround myself with civilized men who do not treat me just as a woman but above all as a human. I did not realize the helplessness these efforts created in me. I had an advantage to getting access to university education because the women had a lower pass mark. I was praised for beating men in exams. I was given opportunities while the boys were told how they were being defeated by a woman and the women rep position to help women balance the gender imbalance. It fed my anger and I strive higher. I became reliant on this and forgot that men were humans too. It is the problem feminism faces today. It is a problem of a beneficiary who does not understand the principle. It is an entitlement problem.
Picture by Radianteyepictures:
Every feminist has a story that made them who they are. What is your story?