You’re getting too educated you won’t find a husband”
“You’re a girl! Don’t dress like that! You won’t find a husband!”
“Let’s have sex. It’s no big deal. I’m a man, I have needs!”
“Look at my secretary isn’t she a worthy decoration for my office”
“You’re perfect for this job! Your nice body will attract more clientele”
“Girls cook, sweep and clean or else you won’t find a husband”
“No man will accept this!”
“Make me a cup of tea”
–Male corporate Director to female Director
These are just a few of the objectifying and sexist remarks Zambian women are faced with day to day. Being treated or perceived as objects as opposed to equal beings has persisted within the Zambian society despite education, religious awareness, or social exposure. While it should be noted this in no way insinuates that this problem is exclusive to Zambia, nor is it practiced by every Zambian; it is important to note that it is especially dynamic from a Zambian/African perspective in that it comes from both men and women therefore having negative impacts on our society.
Generally objectification and sexism are a cultural norm in Zambia. This is often times justified by many aspects, most prominently culture and religion. Both have many facets, with the main ones being:
- Culture: Passed down from our great grandmothers to date they unknowingly perpetuate it unreservedly. A woman knows to present herself, modifies her body, behavior and character with the aim of pleasing the male. Even within the context of marriage, a woman is groomed to please her husband and the results are presented to the man for approval. Young girls, even before they reach puberty undergo “training” imposed by women.
- Religion: In the Christian context (Zambia’s dominant religion) Woman (womb of man) is created for his pleasure, beneath man, at mans disposal and to his benefit. The fact that the Bible praises her and presents her as an equal helper; a smart, multitasking, productive and proactive being is continuously overlooked (Proverbs 31).
While being submissive in nature is subject to the individual woman, the act of enforcing it through objectification is detrimental. An article recently published claimed that almost every African woman remembers the first time they were objectified of sexualized. Beneath, countless women reaffirming this fact.
Objectification is nothing new. While there has been a surge in the number of women excelling and taking control of their lives (much against cultural beliefs), it is shocking to witness that most women still succumb to dominance and inequality and take an active role in this. This misconstrued mindset is passed down from generation to generation, which now women are suffering from. Different times same struggle. Active participation by women is a phenomenon that exists within this context. While men are becoming somewhat “woke” and less obvious in misogynistic and sexist objectification, woman have now over subjecting fellow women and girls to this. So much so that many say women are more sexist than men! “Don’t be too educated!”, “Don’t talk too much!”, “Don’t dress like that!” Subjecting women to the consequences of the general assumption that they need to please men. Result? Psychological captivity! The saddest part? The women see no wrong it what they’re passing on. What misconstrued powers have brainwashed today’s African woman to justify this? Are men really the problem now? What upcoming generations of girls will we raise if their objectification by men is now normal and the women they look up to justify this? How many women suppressing emotional turmoil have to kill before we acknowledge the problem that is the ill treatment and objectification of the Zambian woman? Is there really hope for the Zambian woman? Or should they bow down to the medieval guillotine that is the perception of what a Zambian woman should be? Only time and the women themselves will tell.