What do women want?

When I was young, I was always overwhelmed every time my mother asked me what I wanted for Christmas. This is not because I did not know what I wanted, but I had a long list. Prioritising them in less than a minute or so was not always an easy task, especially when I knew that my mother could not afford everything. Asking for more time to decide did not always workout, but I would never want to miss that opportunity. It was a tough moment.

Opinion by Tapiwa Gomo

We are now into the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence season. It should be all about campaign against any form of violence against women and children, including the men around them.

It is a time perhaps, we asked women the golden question: If you were made President of the country for just 16 days, what would be your two key priorities? Will that be easy to consultatively come up with two key priorities and implement them in just sixteen days? I guess it wouldn’t be an easy task either.

The truth is I don’t know the answer to these questions, but I know for a fact that most of the most frequented Zimbabwe women social media groups, none of them is talking about 16 days of activism and how they intend to address issues on violence against them or children. I also know that neither the Locardia Karimatsenga/Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai case, Tinopona Katsande story nor the rural woman who was beaten and punished for blessing herself with a special portion of chicken, found space on most of these social media spaces.

Of course, it raises a lot of questions. If the international community dedicated these days just to campaign against abuse of women and yet the women themselves are not talking about these issues in their closed spaces what is the point?

From the start, I was trying to resist writing about these campaigns as I am aware that there are other spaces where people specialise in these issues. But I was prompted to write about this by two events.

Firstly, a social media post by a lady which landed on the public wall instead of the closed spaces of a Zimbabwe women’s group called Paushamwari Hwedu. Secondly, a female colleague who revealed to me during a social media chat that she is not into rights or women’s rights because it is evil and that it is one of the main reasons marriages are breaking down.

I will deal with the Facebook post first. The post, which was quickly removed upon realising that it had landed on the wrong page, implied that women should not over-react when their husbands or boyfriends cheat on them. It further stated that overreacting does not change the man’s cheating tendencies, but it can only destroy your marriage.

I took that to mean as long as a woman has a marriage, a man is free to cheat or something like that. The post went on to encourage women to take it easy and be a little bit tolerant and patient because “as long the man comes home, feeds the family and respects the woman as his wife, small houses are not a big deal”.

To those who are members of this women’s social groups, maybe it was the main topic of discussion for that day and perhaps this was supposed to be the main advice of the day.

And to a man, it only means one thing, he can cheat as much as he wants as long as he remembers the direction to his wife’s bedroom, brings food home, respects the woman at home as the wife, then everything is fine.

I consider cheating a sign of disrespect to a wife at home and I am not convinced that coming home after cheating is a sign of respect. While I was surprised that such views could come from women in this day and age of egalitarianism and HIV and Aids, I think I am better off leaving this for women to clarify.

What really do women want? And can’t they get it cut and dry without compromising their own lives and integrity? Will men ever stop cheating?

The second case was as equally shocking especially after many years of work on promoting gender equality. According to this young Harare entrepreneur, she does not do rights because it is evil. She went to explain that she believes in submitting to a man as the leader of the house. This, for her, was the only way to save a marriage. I asked her if she was aware that submitting and respect are two different things which should be practiced differently.

I also asked her if she was aware that these days men do not like servant-like women in the house. Times have changed and men too, like to have an equal woman. I also tried to argue that marriage is a shared responsibility for both the man and the woman. Each of them has different, but equal responsibilities, including rights too.

She insisted that in her opinion, even if the man had stupid ideas, they should be allowed to prevail as he was the head of the house. Her last line was that she completely disagrees with equal rights in marriage. Still I was puzzled. Does it mean the work of all the women’s groups over the years has gone to waste?

  • Tapiwa Gomo is a development consultant based in Pretoria, South Africa
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4 Comments

  1. the writer of this article is misguided.
    In shona musha mukadzi means a lot (I advise him to research on this)

    in the english world men are allowed to have mistresses (remember its not in africa that the word mistress was coined).

    somewhere in an eastern country in africa (east of zimbabwe) women marry men, and gues what there are no marriages (too many mvanas). when a man feels bored he simply leaves. and probably get married to another woman (moves with another woman) so easily.
    we africans have the problem of copying everthing. and never to have confidence in what we are and what has been practiced by our forefathers.

    just recently its in the english world that the idea of a woman bishop was turned down. (this is in a church mind you)
    In zimbabwe most women are clever. ignore the mans other (they convenienly call it childish) behavior to leave comfortably.
    on one hand (its the christianity stupid) advocates for monogamy while statitics show women are more than man. and sex is a basic human right.
    taken simply its a world of confusion and women are clever enough to ignore it (these womens rights nonsense).

    In america women have tried to use their surnames after marriage and it has not worked.

  2. blaz gomo apa you need a rethink of your article. it’s very misleading. in the bible rebecca said your people shall be my people, your name shall be my name meaning she was ceding her previous family rights/name for her husband’s. marriage is not mainly about rights but love, understanding and compromising at the end of the day. even God say the church is a bride to Him and everyone who goes to church tries or is supposed to follow His laws to the maximum without questioning. you say things have changed, its the devil who has fed you such mantra as the sister in your article has said. God says he is the same yesterday, today and forever so nothing has actually changed.

  3. interesting article Mr Tapiwa, i am quite interested in the second lady’s position that submission is key to happy marriage on the woman’s part. Depending on one’s personal values and religious ground, i believe if one is a Christian, the good old Bible says a woman is to submit while the husband is to love his wife – as Christ loved the church, so much that he could die for it. Can you then underestimate the power and magnitude of such a love? I will further elaborate and say, with love, Mr Tapiwa, comes respect, comes faithfulness, comes protection and all else of good report. From a woman’s point of view, and to answer you, i say Women need Love…all we need is love.

  4. i’m more interested in the Facebook post. I find it ridiculous that a single post on one woman’s opinion in a group with 8000 women with an average of 100 posts a day, is the only thing that caught your attention. You are basing your whole thesis on that. You make me think of an article (well researched and not based on a Facebook post) on Believing what you want to believe. I think you are a human who already has your own personal notions about females (that’s ok). I’m not even a journalist but i know that all stellar articles are well researched and have valid and accepted references. This, to me, is pathetic (please accept my opinion).

    Secondly, this question you asking has no answer. Dear Tapiwa, what i want isn’t what Mary or Anna want. Women are different. This question has been unanswered for centuries because it has no definite answer. Another thing about this article is that the topic and content are conflicting. If not, then what you are suggesting is all women want are men which is not true. We want many things in life(education, wealth, religion, health etc), men being just one of them, to some women men are a temporary need or not at all.

    Your article should be named “My poorly researched article on what some women want”. i would then applaud your article for its accuracy.

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