Who is a woman? Guest Blog by Tumusiime Deo

Kampala, Uganda, 19.3.2018: It’s Monday morning, exactly 8.24am, and a song plays on Sanyu FM. The song goes like, “My woman is my property”. Hmmmm! And you find multitudes miming the song and dancing to the tunes like this, and living according to the message. But do we really ever take a moment to reflect deeply about some of these things or we simply take them for granted?

The notion of women as property is clearly ingrained in our cultural practices, which require of men to pay hefty prices for their wives in from of bride wealth. In some cases nowadays, men actually sign cheques and hand deliver liquid cash to the woman’s family in exchange for their daughter’s hand in marriage. We have accepted this monetization of women, just as is with items purchased from shops and supermarkets.

With all this skewed mentality about women, is it therefore surprising when a Member of Parliament makes statements like, “It is okay for women to be beaten”! But how absurd! Yes, the way women are viewed in society may not be our own making, as some of the cultures we grew up into existed hundreds of years before we were born, but need we just follow sheepishly? How can we who have at least been exposed through school, accept the habit of treating women as mere property worth so much in Million Shillings or items bought from shops as we see at introduction ceremonies?

I have a feeling that many men do not actually understand who a woman is. During our school days, the girl children had special sessions with senior women, who coached them on a wide number of things that would help them to appreciate themselves as women. While of course these were exclusively female only sessions, we later got to learn that among other things, the girls were taught about issues to do with personal hygiene, pregnancy risks as well as the world of boys and men. The boys on the other hand were left on their own to find their own way to becoming real men and understanding women. In the end, we missed the opportunity to understand our female counterparts, and to date, boys and men continue to make the same age-old mistakes towards women. The perception of women as property is chief of those mistakes; women as sex objects being the other disturbing aspect.

When men do not clearly understand who a woman is, then they end up setting wrong or overstretched expectations of women, leading to the endless fights we see in many homes. They expect this, their “property” not to exceed a certain time of the evening before getting home; not to speak to any other man; not to make any decisions in the home; to always seek permission before doing anything or going anywhere; to sit down on a mat while the men sit up on chairs; and in some cultures, women were barred from eating certain delicacies like grasshoppers, liver, chicken and so on. One just wonders how society could be so fooled into accepting all these inhuman tendencies as normal. Our failure to understand and appreciate the gender differences between men and women, has been responsible for the perpetual perception of women as men’s property, which I find grossly deplorable.

So who is a woman?

Whoever marries a woman, must never assume as though her only identity becomes “My wife” or “My property”. In fact the “My wife” identity is only a very minor component of any average woman.

A woman is someone’s grand daughter
A woman is someone’s daughter
A woman is someone’s mother
A woman is someone’s sister
A woman is someone’s cousin
A woman is someone’s Auntie
A woman is someone’s God-mother
A woman is someone’s O.G
A woman is someone’s employer
A woman is someone’s employee
A woman is someone’s customer
A woman is someone’s Workmate
A woman is someone’s ex-Girlfriend
A woman is someone’s Best friend
A woman is someone’s patient
A woman is someone’s friend

With all these identities, men must understand that no woman in the world can or should ever be treated as their property. Women are too big to be owned by a single person considering the myriad of importance they bring to the world. Everyone on their long list of responsibilities and attachments above, needs a woman’s attention, and any attempt to curtail any of the woman’s responsibilities, causes unhappiness. For that matter, provided a wife is above 18, meaning that she should ideally be fully responsible for her actions, men must let women be.

If she’s home late, she has a reason; if she wants to visit her mother or sister or brother or friend she has a reason; if she doesn’t want you, she has a reason; if she wants a moment alone, she has a reason. A woman has a reason for every action or inaction and men must LET WOMEN BE.

To this point, the men may say that whatever a woman is as highlighted above, the men are equally the opposite and they too should be treated likewise by their wives. The Doctrine of equity applies, that “He who seeks equity must come with clean hands”

Tumusiime is an Independent Writer/ International Communications Consultant
Mob. (+256) 785 783 554