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Our social lenses blurred by misogyny

Sunday August 18 2019

Kwale Woman Representative Zulekha Hassan.

Kwale Woman Representative Zulekha Hassan. She was recently ejected from Parliament for showing up to work with her baby. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

SCHEAFFER OKORE
By SCHEAFFER OKORE
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Let’s pretend that it was a man who walked into Parliament with his toddler because he couldn't find someone to watch over the baby but still had to come to work.

Imagine how he would've been welcomed. The flood of endless admiration he’d receive, outpouring fondness, trending hashtags and the pedestal he’d be on.

Then, lastly, imagine headlines and the sensational way media would run the story. If in your imagination you saw that a man with a baby at a workplace would be received and treated differently, ask yourself why?

Ask why childcare – I’m not talking about paying the bills, but the tedious task of taking care of a child – is still gendered.

Ask yourself why childcare is not part of professional workspace policy and why women taking care of their children publicly is disgusting.

These are the many questions that crossed my mind watching the unacceptable way in which male MPs treated a colleague who took her baby to the House.

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FEMICIDE

If you ever second-guessed misogyny in professional spaces of work, this was a perfect example of how entrenched it is.

Male MPs affirmed the extent of misogyny regardless of a woman’s position in society. It’s why I insist that we must all fight patriarchy and its manifestations.

A woman will be subjected to biases no matter who she is as long as the lens we use is misogynistic.

Misogyny is the reason femicide was on the rise in the first four months of 2019 and it was ridiculed on radio stations and social media.

It is the reason the media continue to run stories victim-blaming women and it is why Zulekha Hassan was treated as if she wanted to collapse the regime for having brought her baby to Parliament.

The sooner many of us start to see Kenya is deeply misogynistic, the better because inasmuch as we want to change, it cannot happen while hatred for women is rife.

We cannot change while we still don't see women fully as people and understand everything they need to thrive.

REWRITE CULTURE

It’s saddening that in 2019, breastfeeding areas and crèches are still not at workplaces and that truly caring for women and their children is a reserve of those within our blood relations only.

There are questions we have to ask ourselves. The biggest of them is the role of those with the power to shift the misogynistic culture but keep on making it acceptable and leaving it unchecked.

I do not like the fact that I began by asking us to pretend and play scenarios for us to see just how unjust the world is towards women.

And that only in pretence can we have a glimpse of the realities of women's lives and how we constantly fail them.

Then again, in reality, a male politician would never walk into Parliament with his toddler because this too would be the fault of the woman for not doing her childcare work. It’s exhausting to be this exhausted about misogyny.

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