“Legs together, face sideways” that could soon be law regarding how women should sit on motorcycles (bodaboda) or bicycles in Kisumu County and maybe the entire nation. A member in the Kisumu county assembly has proposed a motion to have women from the county barred from sitting on boda boda’s with their legs apart facing the rider.
This is clearly what I call, a country of double standards and I see it as a move to demean women. Does it mean that women will always be the passengers? Did we ever imagine that the said women will one day be the “riders” and men the “passengers?” Just thinking aloud!
From early childhood, girls are taught that their well-being and ultimate success is contingent upon acting in certain stereotypical ways, such as being polite, soft-spoken, compliant and relationship oriented. Throughout their lifetimes, this is reinforced through media, family and social messages. It’s not that women consciously act in self sabotaging ways; they simply act in ways consistent with their learning experiences.
This is indeed what Kisumu County is saying, by proposing a motion that seeks to discourage women from sitting on motorcycles astride.
I personally look at it from many angles. I am not surprised that such a motion will pass and maybe, not only for Kisumu County, but implemented countrywide. This is a country of double standards where there are clearly set ways of how women should behave and how different men should.
My country Kenya, or should I say, Kenyan citizens, espouse double standards, on a different scale altogether. This is a country that has a clear mindset, that women will be the passengers and not the riders, and therefore, let’s goes ahead and set a motion that explains how women should sit on motorcycles.
Many a times, these boda boda riders have no helmets to say the least. The issue of protection for me is key. However, no one really cares about that, but why?
If the women were the riders, will the same motion apply? If the women in this case wore trousers, will the same motion apply? But, hold on, this is the same country that has areas where people think it is wrong for women to wear trousers because it is culturally and morally wrong. I pause to ask myself, “wrong, according to who?”
The answer that always comes up is, “wrong according to our society.” So wrong according to the Kenyan society. Isn’t our society changing over time?
When men cook, they are chefs
Listening to a Gender Analyst at a public forum a week ago, Baraza Nyukuri said, it is sad that in Kenya, this is where we say, free cooking is for the women but when men are cooking, they are specialized chefs and need to be paid.
I agree with him. This is the same society where we condemn women for engaging in commercial sex and term them immoral, yet, we never see the other side. The truth is, “Behind any woman prostitute, lies a man prostitute” and that is not something we can debate about.
This is the same country that fought against an advert that advocated for women using condoms as a way to protect themselves and their loved ones against sexual transmitted diseases (STD’s). The advert, which had female characters, went viral with Kenyans and church experts coming out to condemn it judging it as promoting promiscuity and morally wrong.
Now, we have a similar advert on our televisions, with the same message, the only difference is that the characters are male. So what are we saying?
Two men have signed an agreement to share a woman, and that makes huge news in Kenya, Television, Radio and News papers giving it prime allocation, because this is really huge news. Howcome, we never report it and term it morally wrong when a man is being shared by even four women. I know your answer; men are allowed to be so! Again, why the difference?? Double standards!!
It is time we refined our debate about gender. It is time we figured out that GENDER is about roles, responsibilities given to each one of us and not necessarily our biological differences.
“Power for women is not going to be by invitation, but by inversion. Responsible goodwill will not come from nowhere; it must be done by choice”, remarks Professor Maria Nzomo.
Women have been fought since then, and they continue to be fought. It has been a long journey for women, but the struggle continues….aluta continua.