You’re a woman? That’s your fault!

Two or so years ago, my rants about men used to be a regular thing. I used to get pissed off over the littlest of things, and then go on about how annoying the opposite sex is. I would either scribble about it in my journal, or mumble to myself in my head in between train journeys or while walking home or wherever I was going.

I’ve calmed down a lot compared to then. Really. I’ve gone from considering all men to be assholes, to not all men being assholes. And that is a huge, huge step. And believe me when I say that, because I am going to be using the phrase ‘not all men’ a lot in this rant.

But then, as it so happens, there has to be that one man or a bunch of them, that strike a chord in me, and I get upset and worked up really fast. And a little more than I even should. I am just like that, I either don’t feel anything or I feel things too deeply.

Over the past couple of months, I have learned to keep my silence. To stay put. To let any man say whatever he pleases, because I simply do not want to get involved, or because there is so much stupidity in what they’re saying that I cannot believe they are actually saying that.

Let’s talk about a few of these instances.

A while ago, someone told me that if a woman wearing a short skirt or a tiny top goes up to him and tells him she has been raped, his response would be, “well, what did you expect?”

I tried for a while to wrap my head around their stupidity and ignorance, and then I became angry so I decided to remain put. Because my anger often leads to me choking on my words, tears, and some swearing.

I wish I had said something, though. Just to shut the person up. Just to see what they had to say when I told them a woman is never, will never and should never be held accountable for her rape. Rape is the fault of only one person: the rapist.

The person then went on to say that a man’s natural instinct was sex, and so if a woman walks around dressed half naked, they can’t help themselves. At this point, I was absolutely gobsmacked. Because, in an attempt to prove their ‘manhood’, this person was instead making men seem so fragile that they cannot control their urges or desires. I mean, he is basically saying that, “we men are so weak we cannot say no or we cannot control ourselves so please, please, PLEASE, cover up!!! I beg you!!!” He is just admitting that all men are rapists, that all they need is for someone to push that hidden rapist button, and voila! the rapist will appear. Not all men are rapists, and I know that. But that statement, well, it just implies that all men are rapists. That being a rapist is just another part of a man’s personality.

He further went to talk about women in Kenya looking like hippies. Firstly, so what? What is wrong with looking like a hippy? Buddy, I am sorry to burst your bubble, but not every woman looks like the expectations of women drawn up by society. Women are beautiful in more ways than society can even imagine. Women are beautiful in more ways than you can even imagine. Women are beautiful and so much more.

This was weeks ago. And then today, I came across a video, in which a young Kenyan man is talking about what men look for in women. And believe me when I say all his points are just loosely based on the following:

1) Do not dress up in tiny clothing 2) Do not pout 3) Do not have sex with multiple partners, but its ok if a man does it! 4) Respect yourself  and be honest 5) Do not show your legs 6) *Insert any other point that takes away a woman’s right to her own choice*

It is irksome that the Kenyan youth happens to be stuck in the patriarchal era where men told women what to do. And you know, unfortunately  we still do, patriarchy is still a part of Kenyan society, and people like this add to it.

This man’s perception of women is simply that she should look ‘decent’, and she should ALWAYS keep her legs closed. Because women are just that right? People who dress up for men, and later satisfy them. And while he talked about how women should not pout, should not wear short clothes, should not ‘sleep around’,  I hope as hell he doesn’t watch women on screen that do exactly that. Because, boy, is he being hypocritical then. I hope he doesn’t drool over Deepika Padukone or Beyonce or whoever, because, well, that’s not what men like…right?  You can read my full response to him here.

These people are adding to the culture of misogyny. They are feeding off bullshit, and they are feeding people bullshit. They all seem to have this false-male-pride-ego thing going on. And they are pissing me off.

A woman is so much more than what she wears. A woman is much more than the amount of men she has slept with. A woman is her own individual being with a story to tell.  A woman is strong even with her vulnerabilities. A woman can tear your world apart, and she can put it back together. A woman is a birth-giver. A woman has the right to make her own decisions. A woman is half of this world’s population – she’s a mother, an aunt, a sister, a daughter, a wife,  a pilot, a doctor, a home-maker, a dancer, a fighter, a survivor, and so much more. A woman is anything she wants to be. A woman is much more than what she wears.

 

 

Misguided Ghost

envelope-back (1)Songs and scents are like bookmarks. Or at least I think so. A single song or a single scent can awaken all the memories hidden in that part of my mind that says don’t enter, do not, do NOT.

After you left, I tried to forget about you. I tried to forget your scent, the sound of your voice – the warmth of it and the comfort of it. But I couldn’t. You had left your mark everywhere, your hand print in my journal, the rhythm of the clock you gifted me, your pictures on my cell phone,  everywhere, you were everywhere. On the palm of my hand, in between the strands of my hair, in between sips of water, in between the systematic beats of my heart, everywhere. I didn’t know how to hate you because you taught me how to love. I didn’t know how to forget you because in just three years, you gave me memories of an entire lifetime.

You left a year ago, and to this day, I still struggle to hate you.

Two days ago, I listened to the song we sang the day we realised our love for each other. We blared The Only Exception in between our study break that Wednesday evening, devouring each word of the song and finally understanding the beauty of having someone to run with you, to walk with you, to share your sadness, your happiness and the last slice of pizza with. “This is our song”, you said, playfully interrupting me as I explained to you why Volunteer Tourism isn’t always the best idea. And I just smiled in response. “And this,” you said typing ,’Misguided Ghosts’, onto YouTube’s search box, “is my song”.

As I listened to the song, its words attacked me with an explosion of memories of you, memories about us. I reached for the leather-bound journal your sister gifted me on my birthday. I untied the various knots I made around it  –  my feeble attempt at locking you away – seven minutes later, the knots had finally come undone. I sighed, set the journal down, and got myself a glass of water. I knew opening the journal meant dabbing salt into the wounds that had taken refuge in my life after you left, but I did it anyway.

Skipping the first few pages, I landed onto the 17th of March. The day we both smoked your father’s Lonsdale cigar, I choked up within the first few drags, but you went on and on and on. Blowing out clouds of smoke towards the off-blue ceiling of your bedroom. You tried to blow out rings, attempting to impersonate Gandalf, but you failed miserably, causing me to burst out into laughter with each failed attempt. I knew what came next so I decided to skip it, and jumped all the way to the 3rd of July. The day we spoke endlessly about our childhood homes, “what a dump it was”, you had said about your neighbourhood and I sarcastically sighed telling you that you were definitely exaggerating. Then onto the 14th of January, when we rode the train all they way to your neighbourhood, just because you needed to prove to me “it is still a dump, believe me, will you?”. Then onto the 9th of May, when I cut my hair, and you joked that, “oh look, you’ve finally met with your life long dream of being a man!”, to which I shot you the most disgusted look I could muster. Then onto your birthday when we danced around to Water Prayer on repeat. Then onto my birthday, when we visited the largest second-hand bookshop in the whole of England. Followed by the bar with worn-out walls and the monotonous host trying to crack what he thought were hilarious jokes about his old and greying wife, we laughed anyway, sipping the bitterness of Vodka mixed with orange-juice and ice. I stopped reading after that entry, and shoved the journal in the trunk under my bed, and pulled out an enveloped addressed, ‘I love you’.

I left my room with the last letter you sent me, making my way outside. Outside the white-walled, overly  mismatched furnished apartment. Down the unnecessarily oversized elevator. I sat down on the second-last step of the building’s entrance. Before opening the envelope, I bent its edges hoping that by some magical fold, the contents of the letter would change.

I began to focus my attention on the puddle that was beginning to form just a few feet away from me because of the rain. I watched as the water, like our love flowed and eventually, over-flowed. I opened the letter and began to read for the 100th time that you had to leave because, ‘I am saving us both by leaving, I am sorry, I am sorry, I love you, I am sorry, I love you, I am sorry…’

You broke me, you broke us. All the promises you made, all the plans we made, all the things we talked about, seep from my body as tears, anger and my inability to forget you, as I try to comprehend what went wrong. I let you into my life without a warning, and you left without a warning. Your last letter to me was scribbled with sorry’s, I love you’s, and barely a valid reason for your departure. Misguided Ghosts was your song, and that’s what you became – a misguided ghost, my misguided ghost.