The women activists can keep it to themselves

Saturday May 2 2009

By GITAU WARIGI

Maybe it is a sign of the refreshingly progressive society we have become that a group of women approaching middle age would call a press conference to announce a nationwide stoppage of marital copulation.

You know, it’s like the way Muslims and Catholics fast during particular months. I tried it briefly in a Catholic school only to find out how badly I needed food. Sex is the same story. Those who go the whole hog against it probably never get it.

When I was a teenager, I could observe that the most unattractive girls were the ones who were the most rabid against sexual flirtation. It is a defence mechanism of some sort, when you know no boy will come looking for you anyway.

At the same time it was a given that these same uglies tended to be the keenest in attaching themselves – as “friends” – to the lovelies we were dying for. Us boys found this very annoying because these bad-looking types were basically spoiling our chances with the beauties - by dragging in their negativity.

The pushy activist women must be commended, if not for their looks, at least for clearing away one timeless illusion: that sex is some magical thing that wonderfully blossoms between two people who love each other.

Alas, they have reminded us that, like sugar or goats, it is a commodity that one trades with. Koinange Street is the most visible example of this trade.

Now, our women are being told they can use their bodies for political goals. Koinange Street gives, the other side denies. But at bottom, what is the difference?

Sex is being bargained for. Whether for money or for activism does not matter. Both types are sex workers. One camp can call a press conference. The other side prefers to work in the dark. I would rather the one who asks for money upfront that the other who wants to indulge in some empty political intrigue.

Trade-offs of this nature must be measured, like any business, on their success or failure. I don’t want to speculate how many women in this country broke the boycott. But from a casual survey in Nairobi on Friday night, I could sense there was going to be a fairly high failure rate. In any case, even if you go on a conjugal fast, who cares?

If it was Lucy Kibaki doing it, that would be something. But if you are a frustrated so-and-so with a string of divorces, why assume State House will care for your aggravated spinster state? Do you sleep there?

Some of our activists are best advised to look at the mirror more closely than they do at TV cameras and ask themselves whether anybody would want to share a bedroom with them, anyway.

Considering that now we are on the path of turning sex into some kind of political business, like the haggling over who will be the Leader of Government Business in Parliament, a question or two is in order. What exactly will be the monitoring and evaluation mechanism?

I know political activists have an abundance of excess – if misdirected – energy, but not even they have the capacity to peep behind every bedroom in the land to ascertain whether their edict is being followed.

I invite them to come to my house at their own considerable risk. But at the outset I can assure those I saw on TV that there is nothing I saw which would make me physically motivated.

Not all of our women, after all, care about politics. They care about their children, their work, their lives, and their husbands. Many of them don’t care a hoot about sex either.

In any case, the priesthood has an old tradition of celibacy. It goes about its everyday business despite the fetishes of some female activists seeking attention.

I got a phone call on Friday from an elderly aunt whose first question was to wonder why the newspaper was carrying on the front-page a ridiculous story about a sex boycott.

A similar thought had crossed my mind when watching TV news the previous night. What was most saddening was to see a lady of the stature of Mama Rukia Subow, of Maendeleo Ya Wanawake, sitting alongside non-entities who don’t know what topics are taboo.

* * * * * *

Going by the spirit of the National Accord, what would happen if President Kibaki resigned, or something happened to him? The Accord is silent on Succession.

What sort of “consultations” would occur between the partners, if any? Since we are told the Accord supersedes everything else, does it mean the Vice-President cannot become acting President? Besides, aren’t we hearing that he is just a “guest” under the partnership? Holy Lord.