If we’re equal sisters, let’s stop demanding!
Today is International Women’s Day and I’m always slightly conflicted about why we need a day to celebrate womanhood. If we are equal then let’s be equal and stop demanding to be special. And just there I lost half of you.
Yes I know that many communities still experience and treat women as second class citizens, and yes we still aren’t paid the same as men, and are still seen merely as sex objects with no brain but sometimes I wonder if we are ever going to move things along.
My personal experience around sexism and gender bias heavily influences my opinion and I know that not everyone has the same attitude as me. I hear a collective sigh of relief.
I come from a generation when women were just starting to have careers outside nursing, teaching and secretaries. I didn’t know any woman who was an attorney, accountant or engineer. When I graduated at university I was one of only two women who got an LLB and was the only one who went on to practise law.
Later when I moved to corporate, I became the highest appointed women in the Mining Industry at the time. So why was I able to do it? Maybe luck had a lot to do with it or maybe I was so hungry for change that I didn’t accept society’s norms.
What I did do was never to make an excuse for being a woman. I played like a man in his world. Menstruation, having babies, being married, housekeeping were blimps on my radar screen. If you told a dirty joke, I could tell one louder and dirtier. Maybe I got there because people were too afraid to say no to me. Whatever it was, it worked for me.
Why am I telling you this?
This week there was a horrific story in the news about a company in Germiston, who treated their female employees with disrespect and humiliation and all because someone had left the toilet dirty. It was allegedly menstrual blood that had not been cleaned up.
Now before we go any further as a human being it is your duty to clean up your own mess.
The thought that you think someone else should clean a toilet after you, whether it is faeces splash, urine or blood is disgusting and you hand should be chopped off. Clean up your own mess you are not an animal.
Be that as it may, a manager in this company (I have it on good authority that she is a woman) then called all the women in the company into the office and demanded to know who had left the toilet in such a state. Nobody owned up – and realistically who would put their hand up and say, I am the pig that doesn’t clean up after myself?
What happened next is stranger than fiction. The manager then got the cleaner to put on a rubber glove and inspect every woman’s vagina to see who was menstruating, including those that were clearly post menopausal. In my wildest imagination this could never happen to me.
I understand the manager’s frustration at dirty toilets but what would she have done if it was splash? Smelt everyone’s ass?
My point is that had I been an employee at this company, no-one would have got close to my vagina regardless of the consequence, which I suppose in a very long winded way brings me to my point, women live in fear.
We fear being humiliated, raped, assaulted, victimised, bullied, financially excluded, abandoned, insulted, intellectually teased, menstrual leaks and being physically exposed, to name but a few. Yes physically some of us are weaker than men and that in many ways give men power until you say no more and learn how to defend yourself. What that does mean that you have to stand up for yourself regardless of the consequences.
Sometime those consequences are dismissal, divorce and assault. Sometimes that consequence is death but if he is going to take it that far make very sure that you take him with you or at the very least make sure everyone knows who he is and what he does. Stop making excuses for abusers.
Women are so afraid of not being loved and abandoned that they would rather be in an abusive relationship than no relationship. This I don’t understand.
Many women don’t leave because they are financially dependent on their partner, again change it, make your own money – that is what being a woman in the 21st Century means. Women have choices and maybe it is easy for me to say, I have an education and a business. But you know what I went and fetched the things I needed in my life to ensure that I had choices.
I have been fired, I have got divorced, I have had friends feed me, I have had a broken heart and lost my house, furniture and car but nobody will tell me how to live my life and nobody is inspecting my vagina without my consent. I also clean my own toilet.
First published in The Saturday Star – 10 March 2018