THE EDITOR: Imagine sitting in a tertiary-level classroom and the lecturer instructs his students, while discussing a group project, that the group leaders must be male because he doesn’t like female leaders. Everyone — at least those in his class for the first time — looked at each other with raised eyebrows and lowered enthusiasm.
You see, women have been oppressed, throttled and disrespected since time immemorial. Almost every religion and culture portrays women as being weak and irrelevant, simply because men decided that was how it should be.
Centuries later, women still struggle with sexual harassment, the freedom to express themselves and the right to be free from violence.
Firstly, many women are faced with sexual harassment where they are touched inappropriately or are on the receiving end of offensive and suggestive remarks by male co-workers, who are usually in senior positions.
Their options are to keep quiet because they need the job, find another job and move on, or report it and face the consequences.
Whether in the workplace, educational institutes, Carnival fetes, or while walking by on the streets, it appears that men believe it to be their God-given right to harass women.
Secondly, almost all women can attest to the fact that a large percentage of men are not mature enough to handle rejection and are therefore faced with the brunt end of their crushed egos.
How many of you women have been cordial to the opposite sex to spare their feelings, only to be told that you are leading them on?
And, how many of you have bluntly refused their advances only to be told, “She like she sh--ting ice-cream,” or “She feel she too nice.” For a woman, especially if she’s young, attractive and single, it’s always a case of damned if you do and damned if you don’t… so don’t.
Thirdly, a woman’s right to walk on public streets, go about her daily errands, or attend a Carnival fete without being violated in any way should be respected.
The constant referral to women as “bumpers” is a clear indication that they are seen as objects, rather than the beautiful and intelligent daughters, sisters, friends or mothers that they are. In fact, if any bumper will suffice, then men will be much happier in the parking lot.
This persistent attitude by men may be the reason why women are raped, assaulted or murdered because, through their eyes, looking good means you’re asking for it.
And finally, it’s time that women raise their voices and be heard that they have the right to work without harassment, refuse advances without repercussions and to enjoy their free will.
In addition, it’s a sad, sorry state of affairs when those who are supposed to be leaders and exemplars contribute to the timeless plight and struggles of women.
You see, it’s not always the woman who chooses the wrong man and brings him into her bedroom; sometimes it’s the man who chooses the woman… and finds his way in…
VASHTI BOWLAH via e-mail