“No sweet angel, a girl should never raise her voice in the midst of men”
A mother will be heard telling her daughter of six years.
“Learn to be gentle and only speak when spoken to.”
The young girl will reply
“Mama, but he is wrong and he took the book you bought me and I also want to read right now”
And the mother replies
“Let him finish, you can read when he is done.”
This mother has just taught her daughter to play second fiddle in any situations she might find herself in even when they are in the right. When this young girl blooms into womanhood she will always shy off from opportunities that would have propelled her to positions of influence and those that would impact the lives of others positively all because her confidence to speak up has been eroded by her own mother. This problem stems from her mother teaching her daughter ‘humility’, that she cannot speak up and demand for what is hers from her own brother because he is a man.
Depending on your gender certain expectations are pegged on you by society. A woman will be expected to dress a certain way while men will be expected to be providers. Even in the millennial generation this trend has continued yet millennial’s said to be more mentally liberated.
Various communities in Kenya have continued to practice traditions such as female genital mutilation (FGM) in the name of keeping their ladies in line and humble. FGM in the past was a rite of passage from childhood to adult hood .Medical research over the years has however revealed the dire consequences that this procedure has on the girls once they get to the child bearing age and thus the need to abandon it. Some communities however are hell bent on continuing with FGM at the expense of the girl child’s health and comfort .They see FGM as a way of ensuring that a lady submits to her husband, as she does not enjoy sex anymore like other women after the procedure .It is the tool that ensures women do not cheat on their husbands (but how do this communities ensure the husbands do not step out of their marriages?). Refusing to undergo the cut is seen as arrogance and women who stand their ground and say no to the circumcision of their children are regarded as outcasts.
Secondly its saddening that Stereotypes such as a ‘woman’s main purpose is to please her husband’ and that ‘a man’s comfort tramples a woman’s’ are still uttered and upheld in this day and age .It’s also baffling that in our times society a girl is expected to always dress up and always look pretty. Do her nails, put on makeup, cook and do laundry while at home. Do not get me wrong, all this things are good, I mean who does not want to always have their nails manicured or to wear that expensive mac make up? But they should be done at every lady’s discretion not because it’s the only way a man will notice you or because it’s the only way you will get and keep a husband (because marriage is still seen as the ultimate success determinant in life and single women are shunned)
Looking at these circumstances, The society is continuously telling girls to take second place that they do not have a say on what happens to their bodies or the paths they take be it career wise or in life. This creates a crack in their confidence. A crack that may be irreparable as it is made early on in their childhood. Humility is a noble virtue when possessed by any person man or woman. Women however should not be forced to settle for less in their life endeavors in the guise of humbling themselves.