Patriarchy Drains Our Confidence
By Kloranne Kambou
Like some Westerners, a woman in my country — the Republic of Congo — may see a man as a financial plan.
Maybe that’s not surprising since our culture lifts men above women and gives us fewer opportunities.
When a woman births a boy she gains respect. He will become head of his own family — which he will rule and provide for. Only boys can pass on the heritage of their fathers.
Growing up, I saw women arise early to do laundry, cook, clean and work in the fields. Men slept as long as they wanted. When the men finally did wake up and come for breakfast, they were served first. They were also served first for every other meal.
If a group of women were sitting and talking and a man walked in — but there was no chair for him — a woman would stand and give him her seat.
At school girls swept floors and cleaned the classroom — while boys supervised us.
Boys who got high scores on exams won scholarships and were given prominent places in the front row. Girls were just congratulated.
I guess it’s no wonder that men are more likely to be hired for good paying jobs, and that women are less likely to even try. Men and women both grow up thinking that men are much better than women.
A Man Is Not a Financial Plan
So many women end up seeing a man as her financial plan.
For a price: She loses strength, autonomy, and an ability to cope. Or worse, when “he” then feels entitled to boss “her” around. And what if she loses him and his money?
A Congolese woman may even resort to “evil rituals,” sacrificing something to get something back. Maybe she will sacrifice the chance to have children in order to gain the notice of rich men in the Village. In the ritual, she puts some kind of herb all over her body — exactly as the priest orders, lest she die or be cursed for life.
Whether or not you believe in this magic, it’s sad that some young women are willing to take these sorts of risks and make these sorts of sacrifices.
Or, girls with money are more respected and popular. By the tender age of 16 some drop out of school and take partners for money, beautiful clothes and jewelry, and trips abroad.
And here’s another price: when women are denied opportunities, when they are told that they are inferior and inept, they may lose confidence in themselves and their abilities. So they may not even try.
It can be difficult to work to rise above it all. But rise, we must.
This was written by one of my students who gave me permission to post on my blog.
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