Lived Experiences / Maisha ya kila siku

Apart from the kitchen, where else do women belong to?

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I am a woman.

A 24 year old woman.

With a bachelor degree in Mechanical Engineering.

And i am trying to find my place, where i can be accepted, live like i belong and not feel like an impostor.

When i was in college, 1 of the 5 women in a class of 120+ men, i felt out of place.

I was told that i was out of place as well.

And that mechanical engineering is for men, not women, you should see how people respond to me, when i tell them that i did mechanical engineering, some are shocked, some are in awe.. but i respond the same to both, because i don’t know what to expect.

‘I know right?’.

My response every time.

There is a saying that,’ a woman’s place is in the kitchen’.

That explains why women are validated by their talents in the kitchen. You can have a masters and PhD in something, but as a woman, if you don’t know how to light firewoods, you are useless.

As a woman, if you don’t know how to make rice, you are bringing shame to your family.

I can cook, the skill i learned because i love eating. I don’t like cooking though, but that’s for another day.

Oh, wait, i don’t know how to light the firewood, something that happened today.

There was no lighter fluid/oil at home and i had to light it using some waste. Well, i was asking for some money to go buy lighter fluid because am just not about that life, when all of a sudden it turned into something serious.

The way it was discussed, it is as if, i am useless, because I don’t know how to light the firewood with waste. People laughed distasteful, as if to make sure i feel bad for that.

People started imagining how my husband will take me back home in our two weeks of marriage, because I don’t know how to light fire woods WITHOUT LIGHTER FLUID.

These are the people who have accepted that the woman’s value is based on what she cooks, I don’t blame them, that is one smart coping mechanism.

Also i don’t know why whenever i do something wrong, it is always talked about in relation to the husband that I don’t have.

‘What if your husband won’t like that’?

‘You will be fighting with your husband everyday because of that’.

I don’t have a husband now, also how do y’all know what he likes and what he doesn’t like while y’all don’t know him?

Drifted from the point a little bit???. Anger issues.

Well, they also say ‘This is a man’s world’.

Oh woow!

So half of the population doesn’t belong here? Wow.

I was in a meet and greet event yesterday of female creatives in Dar, Tanzania.

And we started talking about different issues, and some women talked about how frustrated they were to work with men.

I was shocked.

They also talked about the harrasment that they get from male creatives, especially photographers. Who look at women as if they can’t do the job.

That is what led me to this question, i thought it was just when a woman decides to be an engineer that men feel threatened and harrass her, but y’all even photography??

Where can we go then?

Just the kitchen?

No, i want to understand where do y’all envision us? Half of the population of the world?

If we just stay in the kitchen that is half of the population’s workforce, brains, solutions and creativity not brought into the table.

What field is okay for women to get engaged with? Just cooking?

I didn’t know that we deserve to be harrassed just by being out of homes, away from kitchens. Just by working with you.. just by our presence threathening your ego.

It is as if they are making sure to let us know we don’t belong here, we are out of our comfort zones, we shouldn’t be here.

I am just a girl trying to find my place in the world, men.. and the world.. apart from the kitchen, where else do women belong to?

Eunice

4 Comments

  • Elizabeth Aber

    I love the article, clearly laced with emotion. My kind of stuff. But as much as I do understand your frustration it made me think about something else. We do this to men as as well, judge their “manhood,” according to what they are supposedly meant to do. So, yes…you are angry but I think the anger is misdirected. Our parents and elders behave the way they do because of how they were raised, I am not saying that I am on their side but with the way things are, how can we expect different. It will be up to us to raise our chir different. To show them that a woman can do more than cook and clean and if she can not, she needs support…not because she is a woman but maybe because like you ,she likes to eat and has to survive especially if she can’t afford simply buying already cooked food. Otherwise, I did enjoy this piece….and feel free to let me know what you think of this.
    I have gone through the same thing several times, but I had to “woman” up early in life so now, I can do a lot of the basic woman things but there is still a lot to learn and irrespective of the bias in gender roles and everything, I do enjoy it. Taking care of myself and those I hold dear.

    • Eunice Tossy

      I have loved it when you said that we judge men as well. I have actually started to notice my own bias towards men as well, how they are victims of social construct as well..

      So true, our parents and elders behave the way they do because of how they were raised, i think i am at stage of learning that as well. Let me ponder on this dear.

      And the action you suggest is really good, raising our children the way we want to see the world turn out. And maybe in their time, what we think is the right wau now, would still be at fault you know.. things keep on changing.

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