By Helen Ovbiagele
Right from the early times, being female meant being a zero-class human being with no rights whatsoever, in any area of life. Maybe it was punishment for mother Eve, who not only disobeyed God by eating the forbidden fruit, but added to her sin by giving the fruit to her husband Adam to eat.
We’re told in the Bible that part of her punishment from God, was that she would experience excruciating pains before giving birth to her babies. Even though women may choose ‘epidural birth’, ‘Ceasarean section’ etc, to attempt to get around this, childbirth is still risky business for both mother and her child.
Moses’ breakdown/his own personal expansion of the commandments handed him on Mount Sinai by God, was heavily unfair to women and eroded their human rights e.g. If a married woman was accused of adultery, the priest would give her a concoction to drink. If her thighs begin to rot, it meant she was guilty of the charge, and she would be stoned to death.
If a woman committed fornication, she would be stoned to death because she had brought disgrace to Israel. In both cases, their male partners in the crime would go scot-free! Women had no inheritance until Zelophehad’s daughters (of the tribe of Manasseh) protested to Moses that since they had no brother, they ought to be allowed to inherit their late father’s land, and not let it pass to a male relative in another family, as was the practice then.
Moses took the problem to God, and in His wisdom, God said the ladies were right, and they should be given their father’s land. This shows vividly that God is not in support of discrimination of any sort against women. Moses, on his own, then said Zelophehad’s daughters should marry within their tribe so that the land they inherit would not go to another tribe when they marry.
Even if you don’t believe the Bible’s story of creation and choose to believe science which claims that human beings came from some sort of larvae, the picture of the caveman in history books shows him dragging his wife around by her hair; a club in his other hand! Zero human rights for the wife!
Women from generation to generation will always be grateful to all those brave and courageous women, who in their corners of the world, did their bit/are doing their bit, to promote the cause of women and raise their status in all areas of life.
Thanks to their efforts, in many countries, women have rights that ensure that they’re not considered second-class citizens any more, and in a few countries, they may even have equal rights with the men; paid the same wages as the men for same work done; have control over their bodies and motherhood; can be found in most professions; can vote and be voted for, etc.
Emancipation of women is growing by leaps and bounds, even though there’s still a lot to be done to allow them the full human rights they’re entitled to, and make them live a qualitative life.
However, as we rejoice in the growing success of our cause, an ugly phenomenon has been rearing its head to demean/degrade what womanhood stands for! Women have always been the butt of jokes and insults in songs, in films, etc. Most musicians like to portray women in a bad light in their songs.
On stage and in films, particularly in Nigeria, women are mostly cast as quarrelsome, screaming and demented creatures! I know that women in these professions need to get parts in order to earn a livelihood, but a troublesome character can be effectively portrayed in films in decent ways; not the raving and ranting women we’re always shown. I know this raises a laugh, but the average African woman is not like that.
Recently, more and more weird things are being done to vilify womanhood, and sometimes with the aid of the women themselves. I was shocked when I read in one of our weekly papers, the headline, ‘Stop AIDS!, Squeeze A Breast!’ There was a picture of a young Japanese lady with her T-shirt raised to expose her breasts, smiling down delightedly on a man (his head blanked out) who was feeling them with both hands.
With the picture was a small article ‘A Japanese porn channel, recently hosted a breast squeeze benefit as part of an Érotica Will Save The World’ programme. To win a chance to squeeze the breasts of one of ten Japanese adult film actresses, participants aged 18 and above, made donations and sanitized their hands. All donations were given to STOP AIDS, an organization that promotes AIDS awareness treatment, and prevention.
What a degrading thing to subject the female body to! I’m all for supporting a good cause with time, money and resources, but was this a decent way to solicit for funds to battle AIDS, or any other ailment?
This year, this headline appeared in the June 21st issue of the British The Mail newspaper – ‘Psychic ‘persuaded women to strip for seances because it pleases the spirits!’ ‘A Fraud psychic brainwashed women into stripping naked and performing sex acts by claiming it would improve their chances of contacting dead relatives, a court heard.
The 49 year old male psychic is said to have persuaded his victims that nudity would enhance their psychic powers at his seances because ‘the spirits are also naked’. The man who claimed to be the reincarnation of Jesus, told two female clients, both in their twenties, that being more outrageous would please the spirits,and that sending naked photos of themselves to him would increase their psychic abilities. Police were finally called after the man told one of the women that for further progress to be made, she should allow him to touch her, it is alleged. The trial continues. ‘
Well! Well! I’m sure this psychic must have male clients too, but it wasn’t mentioned that they were required to strip naked before the dead could be contacted on their behalf.
Here in Nigeria, about four weeks ago, I began to receive some unsolicited derogatory texts on women sent to clients by an indigenous mobile phone outfit. Sometimes, up to three times a day, a text would come in, cracking some dirty jokes about women. I was baffled.
It wasn’t a matter of money being deducted from my credit for them, rather, it was the fact that I hadn’t subscribed to this unwanted service. I was pondering what to do about it, since it must have been coming from an automated machine, when a text dropped in, saying, ‘You have been subscribed to this service.
If you want to unsubscribe, text ……. to …… ‘ I quickly did that, and a reply came saying I had been taken off the list. I’m sure other users of that gsm service provider must have had the same experience, and perhaps this led to the unsolicited texts being made optional. Funny enough, I didn’t receive any ‘joke’ about the menfolk, let alone any deriding them. Such deliberate insulting bias!
I think women should strongly oppose anything that tends to degrade them, by protesting very loudly, and refusing to be part of it. They should also bring up their children to respect the female-folk. After all, we are the home-builders and child-rearers. We deserve great respect so that we can be encouraged to do the work meaningfully.