In the spirit of women’s month, a few days ago, the women of South Africa took to the streets, partaking in a shutdown march. The march sent a strong message to the nation, that ‘no more violence, enough was enough’. We witnessed various social media tags saying “#MyBodyIsNotYourCrimeScene”
Women rights movements have heightened in recent years, and we applaud the massive progress made, both on a global and national scale. However, I found myself asking the question, ‘if so much awareness and hype is being created around women’s rights, why do we still witness a rise in the violation of these rights?’ As I was reflecting on this question, I saw something in the book I’m currently reading (The purpose driven life – Rick Warren). The author quotes, “We don’t see things as they are, we see them as we are” – Anais Nin
I realise that on an individual level, the work of shifting how women are perceived, is insurmountable and may not be a war we can fully conquer. My conviction on the last statement, was sparked by a discussion I had with a gentleman recently. This gentleman is educated, successful, wealthy and you would think these things would equal open mindedness. Our discussion got heated because I found his perception of what a woman is and should be to be primitive and oppressive. Post my discussion with him, I engaged different women around challenging primitive and oppressive opinions about us, but I was shocked by the responses.
I thought all my ‘sisters’ will embrace a more ‘liberated’ view. I am no feminist, but I do not believe that a woman’s role is to cook and clean. I feel both genders can actively partake in those tasks for the home to function optimally. I was rebuked by some women, who insisted that is how things should be. They even went on to say that, ‘we’ (‘we’ – are the women who question things) are the problem in our society. Apparently, it is ‘us’ who drive men to abuse and cheat. Wow! Such statements from my fellow sisters made me realise that indeed, “we don’t see things as they are, we see them as we are”. If you embrace the ideals of kindness, fairness and open-mindedness, you will approach people and life that way. If you embrace the ideals of tradition, patriarchy and maintaining status quo, you will approach people and life that way also.
All along I have been thinking I am pro women’s rights and empowerment, but I have realized that, I must be careful of not wrapping an individual truth as a collective idea. The only collective truth that we should all uphold, is one that does NOT tolerate abuse in all forms imposed on women.
Yes, women’s roles are shifting and maybe it’s okay for some people to still hold on to what some of us may deem as ‘primitive’. As long as women are not abused and murdered, we need to allow people to live life according to the ideals they uphold without forcing our own on them.
I realised that the gentleman I was having a discussion with, may have valid points and I took my opinion as the gospel truth, but really our opinions can never be used as the ultimate ‘be all and end all’ because they are shaped by how we individually view the world.
We all struggle to see things as they are, it’s a constant battle for those thriving towards progress. However, the more self-aware we become, the more we able to make these small but significant changes.