End Of Week Ramblings

Thoughts # 1, 2 and 3

This week my thinking is disjointed and incomplete. It’s what happens when all my brain energy is taken up by work. The blog gets the left-over ramblings. I have three different thoughts that I’d love to get your feedback on. They emanate from recent interactions and really have no reason for being on the same blog post. Seriously, don’t bother looking for a missing link, there isn’t one. Also I have made plenty of foot-in-my-mouth generalisations, don’t take them too seriously. For instance, not all city women are privileged or rural women disadvantaged. Neither are all tailors in Dakar as ‘creative’ as the one I describe below.

Thought #1 –Dakar Tailors Rule the World

My Dakar tailor stories can fill a book. I recently gave something to a neighborhood tailor for repair, along with extra matching fabric to patch it up properly. He is on my street so I passed there 3 to 4 times a week, and always got the same story, “come tomorrow, come tomorrow.” So on Saturday as I am leaving my apartment building, I see the lady next door putting out her baby’s clothes to dry. Lo and behold, one of them looks exactly like my fabric!! I go to the tailor and after a few threats, he admits that he used ‘a little’ of my fabric to make a baby’s outfit!!!! SMH-Shaking my head, what else can I do, take the baby’s clothing away? You can see why Dakar never ceases to amaze me.

Thought #2 – The cute factor, womanly wiles or privilege of beauty

It’s referred to as the cute factor, womanly wiles or even the privilege of beauty. Whatever you call it, I am convinced that every professional woman has mastered it; when to bring it on and when to turn it off. Let me explain what i mean because they don’t teach us this in school.

I think I come across as pretty assertive. No, not abrasive or aggressive but confident and capable. And I think there’s lots of situations where being ‘compelling’ gets the job done. Other-times, assertion is a huge roadblock, and lowering my chin or giggling while smiling sweetly is way more effective.

I also think that people are more likely to help if you express interest in their lives…in a feminine way. (breaking lots of gender rules here). The way that you chat to a colleague – about their out of office life, children, interests – just expressing interest in them as a person as ‘caring, feminine women’ are supposed to works wonders. It never helps to act like ‘I want you to do what I want you to because I say so’. This is especially true of my west-african experience.

Or let’s say I have a tyre puncture and don’t really want to get myself dirty and sweaty changing it. Please note that I am born into a family of girls who can all change a wheel faster than you can blink. So anyway what do I do? Although I do not pose a picture of your typical damsel in distress, I will bow my shoulders, smile sweetly and look helplessly clueless. And without a doubt, some male passerby will stop and offer to help me change it.

I think being feminine is an advantage in almost any environment or situation. However, am I wrong for knowingly using my femininity to manipulate a situation, am I perpetuating the perception of women as fragile, or am I just taking advantage of the privileges that God gave me?

Thought #3 – Affirmative Action
A friend recently declared that she is sick and tired of all this affirmative action mambo-jambo. Tired of always feeling like the ‘token 30%‘, only selected for gender balance, to keep the numbers equal rather than for her superior knowledge and skills. I get where she is coming from. We’ve gone to school and worked hard to get where we are. It’s dis-affirming to be informed that it is our skirt and not our intelligence that got us here.

On the other hand, we are city girls. Privileged to have gone to good schools and been exposed to the same opportunities that our brothers did. Many rural women don’t get the same chances. If they do go to school, they are strapped with domestic responsibilities and social expectations that obstruct their access to benefits that come with an education. No matter how deserving we are, majority of the world’s women still don’t have the advantages that men do. Affirmative action must persist if we are to tilt the balance in the opposite direction. I was going to define affirmative action, but if you are reading this you probably also know how to use google :-).

So there are my three thoughts. Do weigh in and tell me what you think. If you hit the comment button, I promise to respond.

Song of the Week
The song of the week is a ramble in itself. Kenya is at war. I don’t know that it’s a religious war, at least on the Kenyan government side, it definitely is for the Alshabaab. So here is Anthony David’s controversial song, “Don’t put the blame on me, I’m just doing what God said”. For those that want some background, you can see Anthony David’s comments here.

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4 thoughts on “End Of Week Ramblings

  1. loool at the tailors! I find experiences like the tailor using your cloth for someone else’s clothes just one of those little quirks in life. It adds spice and variety! Calls for a laugh and an ‘awww’.

    Also the negative and positives of being a woman tilt in favour of the good! Being a woman is such a puzzling and beautiful gift all at once!

    • Hi there,
      Just quickly perused your blog, loved it!! Now downloading Contagion for my weekend enjoyment.

      I so agree, i really just wanted to burst out laughing, and i think its part of what makes life in this place so unpredictably interesting.

      I agree being female has got to be the world’s best experiences. But tell me, do you use your feminine wiles?

  2. I am sorry about your tailor experience. The Kikuyus have a saying about tailors. ‘Fundi mwega no kinuthi’ . That means the only good tailor is a barber. This is because he is the only one who completes his job. The others tell you come tomorrow and so it is not just Dakar. It is a test of your ability to forgive and bless those who despite fully use you (Matthew 5). The Lord who gave you that material will give you another one.
    Concerning women and affirmative action. You are right in the view of people who have to be given posts because of their gender rather than their ability. You are wrong in assuming those in rural area are disadvantaged. Feminity is not an issue of geographical location. I think the question I would ask is how balancing is life considering that women take care of the children. Is there a search of fairness that life cannot give and so will frustrate people permanently? We should strive to be the best that God enable us to be and not to compare ourselves with others whose God given purpose is different.

  3. So, you would get your skirt to help out in changing your flat (having a man rescue an apparent damsel…) but you feel distressed at the thought that the same skirt more than your skill/brain got you a job? Contradiction, no?

    As for the tailor, did they get to do what it is you wanted them to do in the first place? Or did they do the little baby outfit first? I wonder though, had they done what you asked them to do and had some pieces left over, what would you have done with those? maybe the end (clothes for baby) does justify the means i.e nicking a lil piece of material…

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