Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Don't Know What You've Got Till Its Gone?

"One key question for example is why mainstream women and feminist groups are happy to claim Wangari Maathai and Wambui Otieno now when they did the opposite at the times when both were most challenging gender dynamics and the patriarchy."- Jetsetter.

I have some ideas, but let's start with the Vandana Shiva thing: her ecofeminist philosophy has certainly influenced me and continues to do so. However after watching her during an IDS speakers series I realized we have bad chemistry. There are a number of men and women whose work I admire immensely, but whose person I can't really stand. And there are a number of "controversial" types whom I find immensely to my liking. What to do?

Re Maathai and Otieno, complicated. I see a combination of factors: part of it is just Kenya, which has its own rules about what happens to people who take on the patriarchy. Another stems from the conservative habits of the 'sisterhood': conformity matters, don't rock the boat, women are the transmitters of tradition even when those traditions work against them, women are rarely rewarded for individualism esp. in SSA where that is seen as getting above yourself or trying to be like a man... and so on down the list. And the worst sin of all: aggression. Displaying aggression in public on the part of a woman is still a huge no-no.

So when women come along who break these rules in pursuit of something different, perhaps better perhaps not, they don't get lauded as the strong leaders that a man might be in a similar situation. They get cast in the role of villain, get called 'crazy' or any other form of deviance that will stick. Only the ones whose spirits remain unbroken who survive to eventually become feminist icons (preferably after their controversial selves have departed this life). The implication being that we like our feminists quiet, or dead, broadly speaking. Heh- broadly speaking...

But if we get deeper into this, each SSA country has its internal dynamic on how they handle women of power. Some do better than others.

No comments:

Post a Comment

No biting, spitting, trolling or ugly insults- only pretty ones allowed.

A little birdie told me...

Follow MikocheniReport on Twitter