HomeOpinion & AnalysisColumnistsOh shucks it’s patriarchy!

Oh shucks it’s patriarchy!


It is interesting what is going on at party political level in Zimbabwe.

Grace Chirenje

I recall a while ago when I had the privilege to serve as vice- chairperson of democracy, human rights and good governance-focused civil society network Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition.

It was a bitter-sweet experience. There were many things I loved on most days, but I just never was able to fully unpack the testosterone-induced fights that made me wish I could serve in other spaces.

However, it was more than hormonal-induced standoffs; it has and still has more to do with how men choose to play out within a system.
It is not just that space, it is everywhere around me, around us – actually the system known as patriarchy defines our daily lives.
Sometimes the system is harsher compared to some areas, but one thing for sure, it has unleashed its ugliness in Zimbabwe’s party political spaces.

Thriving on ignorance
Any system is made up of what one can see and what one cannot see or even understand.

Generally, reading is not the strength of many African people and Zimbabwe is no exception.

It is when we read that we get to learn, understand and delve into worlds we might not necessarily interact with in our waking lives.
So patriarchy thrives on ignorance. Once one just observes and lacks understanding, it is very easy to be abused.

In the political parties, there are many unknowns even after one being part of the system for however long and that makes the political parties thrive.

The secret meetings, the plottings and all that negative energy that facilitates for dog-eat-dog is appalling.

Moreover, when the political parties have vested long-term interests and not friendships, it is rather scary as to what lengths people will go to protect that power and “influence”.

So in the end, no one really does know the next person’s heart hence the mistrust and chaos.

That, dear reader, is what many women struggle with in these political parties and today, we shall not name the very many who have been victims and survivors across party political lines.
It is high time we learnt this system and defend our integrity as women who champion a culture of insight, intelligence and learning. Let us know all we can so we do not end up being victims to a system.

Fear paralysis
Imagine having anonymous calls, being trailed and threatened in many ways than one.

Just think for a while what it would mean to be constantly getting threats on your security of person and being induced with fear so real your heart can almost stop beating.
This is reality in political parties as they seek to lure the many servile followers to whatever side that deems itself as the one most deserving your support.

They will threaten, push, shove, pull and do whatever it takes to make you so afraid you are supposed to give in to their demands.
Well, this is not the time or the way to go, but they still do it anyway, without respect of person, humanity and freedom of choice.
Fear in patriarchy is a tool that paralyses you from acting.

It says it’s either my way or the highway and this highway may include many realities including death.

In the end, people just quit and let go in search of other “better things” to do with their lives.

Now, is the time to say enough is enough and seek alternative ways of voice.

There is hope in the future and we need to refuse to be bullied by cowards into submission especially as women.

Yes, fear is a real emotion, but I guess what is even more real is this reality we have to live with which clearly points out to a country in shambles.

We can stand up to our fears and even utilise this fear to catapult us into action.

Let us seek the necessary numbers and stand up to what we do not want to see.

We urgently need to mould the kind of Zimbabwe that you and me can relate with and to so we leave a lasting legacy for our children and their children’s children.

Malicious damage to the person
Have you ever gotten insight into something said or done in your name and it is so utterly untrue?

It could be a rumour on how many men you have slept with or how many women you have abused, or how you are a bad child or whatever form it comes, you feel violated.
It is like someone is slowly sapping the air out of your lungs.
It leaves you wanting to crawl into a hole and you keep asking yourself why?

That right there is malicious damage to the person.

Malicious damage to the person is a form of control of especially women and we even hear that those who were once being praised as brilliant fighters were very absent in the wars they were purported to have fought.

It is about conferring high status to this one, only to wake up tomorrow with that status evoked. What a shame.
It has to do with destroying someone’s spirit and soul so much that they end up questioning their very core, who they are and what they stand for.

Now is the time as women we come together and refuse to be used against each other.

We will not stand by and let a system fight us against each other whilst we are relegated to the sole pleasure of our male counterparts in the name of politics.

What kind of politics creates such rumours and destroys the very women who fought bravely side by side with their male counterparts in a bid to chart a new narrative for Zimbabwe?

This rumour-mongering should stop and we hold hands to build each other for a better Zimbabwe.

It is not about factions, who is wealthier, has a longer history, a mafikizolo or whatever madness this malice brings.

It is about men and women being equal partners in these political parties and each experiencing a personal reward for a devoted contribution in charting a new course for Zimbabwe.
Objectification of women’s bodies

I am more than my vagina, breasts and bums. Patriarchy as a system has okayed the abuse of women in political parties in the name of comradeship.

This is unacceptable. When we come around a table and deliberate on national issues, it has nothing to do with what my body looks like.
It is about my intellectual capacity and ability to make a difference in yours, others and mine lives.

So hear me right here, yes both men and women, as there are women who are perpetrators of this ugly system.

It is about my skills, strength and what I can do to contribute meaningfully to the trajectory.

It is not about creating an affirmative action where you appoint women as an after thought.

It is about what I can do with whatever resources.
Please, let us not even get started on capacity as some of the male political leaders are either, sleeping in the meeting, are too ignorant, impotent or simply clueless.

I am more than my body, I am also my brains and so as Zimbabweans we need to look beyond women’s bodies, but also appreciate their brains.
Patriarchy is a system that seeks to control, abuse and facilitate for those with power abusing those they lead.

Today, we say no to the bullying, fear, sexual abuse and abuse of the person.

We surely have come a very long way as Zimbabwe and have borne the brunt of hardships.
We refuse to let a very old system destroy what we have worked so hard to build.

Let us chart a new course for this country’s politics. No fear, excuse or favour, let’s do this!

l Grace Chirenje writes in her personal capacity and would be excited to hear from you. You can contact Grace on graceruvimbo@gmail.com, follow her on twitter @graceruvimbo or Facebook Grace Ruvimbo Chirenje

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