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Feminism and humanism …

I think I have mentioned this topic in a precious post but yesterday evening I felt I needed to bring it up again.

Year and a half ago I went to Lunga Lunga in Kenya to work as a volunteer. The project From One To Another houses different sub projects like supporting young women and men to go to high school, computer classes, sowing lessons for young women who can’t afford going to school or have been married at young age and teaching women in five different villages to read and write. The latter was the one that got to me most.

Women of all ages going to school once a day learning math ad how to read and write. First time we met theme was given to introduce ourselves and given the opportunity to ask questions. The cultural differences was obvious. Men not being married and living on my own was the most odd thing they had ever heard of. Their identitfied themselves By the following criteria.

Being married – married or widow, there are no other options
Having children – many

Their lives being so extremely different from mine we still found common ground. Unfortunately that wasn’t a very positive one.

The way men treat women.

Of course there are differences in behaviour in different countries and cultures but the tone is the same. Apparently everywhere in the world if you read the news.  In Russia domestic abuse is not illegal anymore. In America womens health is put at stake with new lagislations. (article on the danger of saying no to a man) In Turkey the government wanted to make child marriage legal. Do I need to go on. Daily we read about women being attacked, raped, being forced to marry their rapists, killed by their ex boyfriends because the women broke up, women held as sexslaves during war, trafficking. You get the picture.

Both locals and other travelers have given me warnings. Don’t go there, not then, stay inside and so on. But I am traveling to explore not to stay inside being afraid I tell them. These warnings have all been given to me by Men. That itself is interesting. These six months I have been on the road nothing bad has happened to me. I was never attacked, groped, touched inappropriately or in any other way been physically mistreated.  Not once.

But it hasn’t been easy and has definitely tried my patience at times.

Talking to middle aged white males often is seen as if I am flirting. It is sometimes difficult to have a casual conversation.  Especially if I am the one to initiate the contact they straight away think I am after them.  Just the way I do with any other person. Being nice is not the same thing as flirting.

Local males who don’t understand why I don’t want to have sex with them since I am from such a liberal country and single. I have friends who told me to lie about me being single. Women shouldn’t event be thinking those thoughts, constructing an alter ego in the purpose of just being let alone. A tuck tuck driver told me his life was so miserable because he doesn’t have a girlfriend. Implying I would save him from his miseries.

Yesterday evening on my way back to my accommodation from dinner, walking on my own, I counted to at least 30-40 men making different sounds and saying things to get my attention. Harmless one could think. But small problems always grow big if you don’t put an end to them while they are small.

Lately media have reported stories about young women not accepting and resisting being cat called, sent misogynistic messages or being talked to in a diminishing way. I applaud their resistance.

Sometimes, when I get tired of receiving this sort of behaviour, I wish me and all women in the world would swap places with men. To see how they would react to not having the same freedom, not being let in everywhere, always being urged to cover themselves, being interviwed about their outfits instead of their achievements.t

I love traveling and I will not stop because of this. And I will not make up stories about who I am or in any way be the good samaritan when it comes to men’s need for attention.

Feminism is humanism. Men and women should treat each other like fellow humans. Stand up for each other.