Barely a few hours after reading the article on the new Kenyan law which enables Kenyan men to marry as many wives as they want... ,let's talk about this law first. From my understanding, Kenyan law has always supported polygamy, on the condition that the husband must first have the consent of the first wife to bring in a new wife or other wives. The men, not satisfied with this sought to pass to law a bill that would dispense with the clause which provided for this, so that the wives' consent will no longer be needed in taking other wives. Well this bill was passed into law and women, enraged, displeased, dissatisfied "staged a walk out". I'm quite surprised that they are not protesting against the existence of that law in its entirety.
While still thinking about this law and the general state of the world which is a big *YIMU* to Beyonce's Who Run The World-GIRLS, I got to the cafe/restaurant where I was to have drinks/dinner with friends, we were four in number, all well-educated, well-groomed, independent young career women. We sat at our table and immediately started catching up. After a few minutes not one of the numerous waiters had approached our table to give us menus or take our orders. I split my attention and noticed that the young men who came in some minutes after we did, were already popping open their bottles. I noticed that a couple (male and female) who came in after them were giving orders to a waiter, and while I was trying to control my fury, trying to convince myself that it wasn't what I thought, another couple came in and the minute they sat down, a waiter rushed to them to hand them menus and take their orders.
Somehow my friends and I sitting very conspicuously almost at the centre, four in number, were invisible. It was when I had to call a waiter that we were finally noticed and attended to.
Was I surprised? Hell no! This has happened way to often. When I was a frequent visitor in Abuja it happened EVERYTIME I went to the JEVENIK in Wuse 2 alone, except once. And in so many other places too.
I don't get it... What's the mindset of the waiter/waitress? Is it that a woman cannot pay for her own meal, or a woman must be waiting for a man to come and join her/pay for her, or a woman/women who come(s) alone to a restaurant came there with the sole purpose of getting a toaster or a customer? Or is it that women are just not priority and therefore there's no need to hurry and attend to them?
Last week I was chatting to my friend's boyfriend and he said that something strikes him as very funny in Nigeria. He spoke of how he'll go out with a lady and after (dinner) the lady pays and the waiter will turn to him and say "thank you sir". Or a begger comes along and begs for money and the lady gives him some and the beggar turns to him and says "thank you sir". Or when he goes somewhere with a lady and she asks a question and although it was she who asked the question, the person will look at him and answer him like he was the one who asked.
I knew very well what he meant and it's very infuriating. Seriously, why would I come to a bar and tip you when I'm leaving from MY very hard-earned money, you see me bring out the money from MY purse and I give it to you with MY hand, and you turn to the man beside me and say "thank you sir"? WHY?
The last time someone did that to me, I asked him to return my money and ask "Oga" for money, since it's Oga he thanked when it was I who gave him the money. My friend did not even acknowledge him...so the silly guy lost out.
Or when V and I used to go for drinks at our favourite bar and every evening I would greet the bouncers and they'd turn to him to reply the greeting. Or the night that I tipped one bouncer with 1500 Naira and he ran to V to say thank you.. That was the last time I tipped anyone at that place.
These seemingly little things call to mind how far away we are from achieving that gender equality we so often boast about. It makes it glaring how little progress has been made from thousands of years ago when the Bible insubordinated women, put us far below men and on they same level with children. Or do we talk about how women are little better than sheep in the Middle East and how you dare not have a voice even at the depth of pain, misery, sorrow, suffering, despair, hopelessness, molestation, violation, violence ....
In the corporate world, women still need to work twice as hard as their male counterparts for the same privileges or even less. Some women still find theirselves sleeping with men half as smart as they are, just to get ahead. Some (law) firms are reluctant to hire women for reasons beyond my understanding.
It is for these reasons (and several others) that I believe we must never cease in our struggle for gender equality. It is for these reasons that I think some feminists are fighting for the wrong causes and need to remind theirselves what feminism really is and why it is important. I hope that my daughters live in a world where they would not be seen as lesser human beings because they have a pair of breasts.
This is not at all what I'd planned to write about, I was going to rant about last night and I will in a subsequent post but this is far more important.