Home | 2007NEWS | Women in Zimbabwe talk 'Three Times More'

Women in Zimbabwe talk 'Three Times More'

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Theodore Roosevelt had it right when she said, It is not having been in the dark house; but having left it that counts.According to a study by Dr Luan Brizendine, women talk three times as much as men, with the average woman chalking up 20, 000 words in a day, which is 13, 000 more than an average man.

It is however noted that the amount of talk is influenced by other factors. The results of this study do not exclude the Zimbabwean woman.

And yet we generally find most Zimbabwean women suffering in silence, being sexually abused in silence, dying in silence.

The other day my mind was drawn into thinking what a difference we would bring into our lives, what a difference we would make of Zimbabwe only if the woman was to exploit this God given trait to her advantage, and save herself from suffering and perishing as a specie.

The Zimbabwean society has generally tended to acknowledge the meek, submissive and quiet woman as the respectable woman, as the woman who is polite and worth marrying whilst the open minded and vocal one is viewed as wild, impolite and uncontrollable.

One then finds that most women strive to meet this quality so as to conform to the societal expectations, to the detriment of their lives of cause. The culture of silence amongst Zimbabwean women is so loud and distinct.

It is pervasive and appears to act as a safety mechanism against various types of abuse. It is only a few daring women in Zimbabwe who have since broken this culture of silence, to cite a few; the vocal young Zimbabwe's only female artist to release protest music, music with a strong message denouncing the ill governance of the Zimbabwean ruling party, (www.viomakcharitymusic), Tambu Kahari who has written controversial articles denouncing sexual harassment in the media, and other female political activists.

These women have however faced resistance not only from men but also from other fellow women.

What benefits has the Zimbabwean woman yielded out of the culture of silence, other than sheer agony and turmoil? So often we hear about a woman keeping silent about her husband sexually abusing their daughter.

It has been argued that a woman would prefer to shelter her husband for fear of having him, who may be the sole breadwinner facing prosecution and imprisonment.

Are we choosing to allow that beastly man to continue with his behaviour and subject our daughters to death, death which will come after severe suffering or do we choose to have him face prosecution even if it means we will struggle to solely fend for our families?

I find the second option very realistic more so given that the Zimbabwean woman has always stood to contribute immensely towards the Gross Domestic Product through her sheer hard work, despite getting very little recognition for it. I cannot help but admire the inert capacity vested in most Zimbabwean women, both the educated and the uneducated.

As an uneducated individual, she stands to be the main engine in the unpaid household sector. Against this background, then to a certain extend women are therefore responsible for alienating themselves from happiness.

How often has a woman been subjected to sexual harassment at her work place and could not gather the courage to expose it? How often has a woman allowed a man to make love to her when she was not willing, and yet she could not express it to her husband?

For how long is the woman going to stay in that marriage with her husband never satisfying her in bed and yet she can never dare raise it to her husband? And yet proceed to vent out her frustrations on innocent workmates.

How often has a woman failed to open her mouth to negotiate for the use of a condom when she made love with her boyfriend or unfaithful husband, thereby putting herself at the risk of contracting the HIV virus? Is the woman then not ceding her life into the hands of a man? For how long is the woman prepared to live in agony, for how long will her soul be continuously seared?

This is the opportune time the Zimbabwean woman to be explicit in her condemnation of all forms of sexual abuse.This is the opportune time for us to be more vigilant as women and break the culture of silence, to make it patently clear to the men that we have voices and are prepared to be heard, to make it clear that child abuse will not be stomached.

To make it explicitly clear to that unfaithful husband that it is sex with a condom or non at all, and thereby save herself the risk of contracting the HIV virus. As women we have a tendency of living separately from our own truth.

We look at truth right in the eye so squarely that we cannot miss it and then we go on to deny that which we see.

If the story we read about Tongai Moyo's women is anything to go by, then such a story provides an insight into how as women we can really in some instances be responsible for alienating ourselves from happiness, how we can be possessed by these 'big machines' even if we are successful in shaping our own careers, how we can still pick up the telephone and shout insults at the other woman as we fight for Muchina Muhombe's love.

Thereby abusing that God given trait of us being the specie that has more brain cells set aside for communication, a specie that utters a staggering 20, 000 words a day on average as compared to men's paltry 7 000.

How we fail to think beyond a particular day's event, how we deny the truth about the risks that polygamy can pause on us in this day and age, as you never get to know what the other woman in the polygamous marriage is up to when it is your turn to be with the man.

Apparently in Zimbabwe this form of polygamy is very common, amongst both the educated and uneducated.

As we are currently at a turning point in the Zimbabwean history, why not have the Zimbabwean woman taking advantage of this opportune time to identify herself and as Tambu Kahari argues in her article entitled 'People get the leaders they deserve' which appears on ZimDaily, as Zimbabweans we do not yet know ourselves, we are lost.

It is only upon identifying ourselves as individuals, upon getting to understand our missions in lives that we can as women stand to defend ourselves and our children from being sexually abused.

This includes understanding one's role as a parent, discovering oneself as an individual and then living in conformity to your wants.

Quite a big number of Zimbabwean women have to realise and acknowledge that they are privileged to be part of a generation of women who are now empowered through education and exposure.

Whilst in my article I have drawn the reader's attention into the silent Zimbabwean woman, I need highlight that we are well cognisant of the inescapable fact that there is quite a great number of Zimbabwean men equally being haunted by the culture of silence.

In homes, at the hands of their wives, where they are battered everyday; for coming home late, for over drinking, for looking at another woman in the presence of their wife, for a whole lot of issues.

And because culturally it is not expected that a man can face such torture at the hands of a woman, these men shy away and prefer keeping such issues to themselves.

At some work places, some men are also facing some form of sexual harassment from their female bosses, who are in most cases older than them, who express sexual demands which the men have to oblige to or else they are victimised.

Even though there are also these types of cases befalling some Zimbabwean men, because their number falls far less than that of women, more focus has been given to the woman in this article.

Now, if this culture of silence is haunting both the Zimbabwean woman and man, how can it be broken? The solution lies in the home.

This calls for us to redesign our homes. The responsibility falls on us parents, to teach our children to grow out of this silence, and express their mind.

It starts from there and then these children grow up to be a different generation, to be adults who speak out their minds.

After all, speaking out one�s mind is surely healthy. And democracy, which we are all longing for can only thrive in an environment where people speak their minds.

(Tapuwa - Masters Student in International Politics writes from Europe. She visualises a new Zim where the woman is capable of discovering herself as a specie capable of standing to defend herself from all forms of abuse and harassment. She can be contacted on tapuwa2007@yahoo.com).

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