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Opinion | Jul 18, 2016

Societal Prejudices Against Women

The recent loud condemnation by society of the supposed sexist statement by an MP. about an important member of our society has gotten me thinking about sexism and largely the matter of societal prejudice against women particularly.

In fact, societal biases against women have been with us since creation. Even at the time of Christ, discrimination against women was much prevalent. You might have read that an adulterous woman was brought to Jesus for him to pronounce judgment on. I am sure that Jesus' greatest difficulty in making judgement on this matter is the fact that the people wanted to invite him into their negative prejudice against women. If two persons were supposed to have been caught committing some sexual sin, why push only for the punishment of one, in this case the woman?

It is in the nature of the male to seek power through domination of the other: especially the weak.Women have generally been seen as weak beings.

And thus, it is not surprising that the male would want to dominate the female to satisfy the male ego. But this short article does not want to concern itself about prejudices against women as perpetrated by men ; but I would rather want to focus on the female herself being active participant in entrenching biases against the woman in society and also working to transfer such biases from one generation to other.

My first child is a female; I do not want to wake up tomorrow to see society make little of who she is as a human being because she came a female.

I must say that women have contributed to the prevalence of biases against them throughout time even though men have always masterminded such prejudice against women. I heard of a myth explaining how Female Genital Mutilation came to be an accepted practice in some cultures of the world ; and in particular the northern region of Ghana where I learnt this practice is prevalent. You know that men took as many wives as they desired in the past.Chiefs were notable for such practices as taking many wives as it would please their stools and skins.But men even in those era had their own inadequacies in bed. It became practically impossible to go round all these concubines satisfying them sexually. Men feared they might suffer the humiliation 'of carrying the grass whilst other ruminants feast on them behind their back'. I hope you know what I mean.

And so to reduce the temptation of having any of ones sexually unsatistisfied wives sleeping with other men behind the husbands, someone came with a brilliant plan to from thence get all the young females circumcised. The people then somehow knew that the clitoris of the woman played a large role in the sexual arousal of the woman. And so when a woman had her clitoris cut off, it reduced her sexual libido. It meant many of the women then eventually lost interest in sexual activities even with their husbands ; and so if the husbands were unable to attend to such women for some reasons, these women had no inclination to cheat on their husbands.

Surprisingly, women then somehow bought into this dehumanizing cultural practices against them.They would themselves encourage and force their young girls to undergo FGM.Even as at today, women would want their young girls to undergo the practice. They would threaten those girls who would resist undergoing the practice that they would suffer the lack of the will power to control their sexual desires which might ruin them.That girls who refused to undergo the practice are destined not to have their own husbands.

They would in the end become prostitutes. It is believed many of our young girls on the streets of our cities from the north are here to escape the practice . And yet when you go to these places, women are at the forefront wanting their girls to yield to this negative practice. Mothers would insist their daughters go through it because they also went through it.This is how women help to carry on negative practices against themselves.

I strongly believe if we were to win against gender disparity, women must be made to act positively to bring the expected end.In most cultures, women play a large role in bringing up children : boys and girls into adulthood ; especially in this modern world. Fathers hardly have much influence on the child upbringing these days . They are pre- occupied with making money to pay the bills. And so women are at the right place to act to change the gender biases among the next generation. If your two children come from school, and you allow the boy to go and play football, whilst the girl is asked to come to the kitchen, we will still have the future man coming back home from work earlier than the wife, but he would decide to relax in the sofa waiting for the wife to come back later tied , to cook his meal.

But if the girl and the boy of today take turns in the kitchen before going to their individual games, the boy would grow as a man tomorrow not believing that the kitchen is for women. As I said earlier, women have the power to change the future in respect of gender roles and its biases. But the fact is women themselves love the male dominance culture. Take for instance, a mother in- law who visits the son and the wife and finds the son washing the dishes.

However enlightened the mother in law would be, she would think the wife of the son has ' cooked something ' for the son.She would not be excited about the way things are in the son's matrimonial home. They say ' women are their own enemies '. Women contribute to biases against them by the way they act wrongly to stereotype the female gender.

Women seem to have a higher standard of morality for themselves when it comes to sexual perversion compared to the male.Women believe they are supposed to be seen as more proper in sexual responsibility as compared to the male. A woman is seen leaving one relationship to another a couple of times, and the fellow woman would insult her as a prostitute in a disagreement because she had I a couple of times decided to change sexual partners which she was not satisfied with. Women would prefer to stay in very bad relationship for the fear of being labeled as not capable of maintaining a relationship .

But the man never sees it as a condemnable act if he finds his fellow man having exploits with different females. . Men actually envy their fellow men who engage in such way- ward behavior. Men do not find any need to jeer at their peers who engage in such waywardness; but women wouldn't hesitate to tag their fellow with the derogatory ' prostitute ' word if the fellow is seen moving from one relationship to other.

Finally, I would like to talk about how women today are tacitly helping to entrench our negative perception about women on the media. I do not know what the modern female gender activists in our country make of the use of females in sexually provocative dances to promote every music in this country. The most culprits are the hip life artists. These female dancers in these videos as compared to their male dancers are undressed than dressed .They are with zeal showing all the parts that would excite the male to love the video and to some extent the song.It does look like some people believe that getting some women to flaunt their sexual selves in a video is the way to sell one's song.

I know these naked dancers see it as their jobs by which they can feed themselves, ; but I hope that these women would know that their actions though in their rights to do are putting a clog in any efforts others are making to change the perception society have about women as representing sexual tools . The media is a powerful tool to sell perception. In the past, the whiteman had used films to paint the black man as non- intelleligent and weak. I am afraid these videos with the female in sexually provocative dances would only make the next generation see women in a light that is not progressive.

Today, we are beginning to know that the girl is as equally good in everything as the boy . These girls had actually beaten some of us boys in class. Society must accept that there isn't much difference between a man and a woman. And if we are making this call to society, women must begin to rise above pettiness, ignorance and selfishness to help this course. The woman should not be her own enemy.

PAUL ZOWONU.
TUTOR -ACCRA

Paul Zowonu
Paul Zowonu, © 2016

This author has authored 51 publications on Modern Ghana.
Author column: PaulZowonu

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