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Rita Oyier

Strong? No Thank you.


Maybe I should explain what I meant when I said on International Women’s Day;

“I don’t want that ‘strong’. Don’t hurt me, Abuse me, Misuse me, Dishonor me, Underpay me, then call me strong for surviving your Crap. Do not fail to step up on your responsibility then call me strong for making the extra sacrifices to do what we should have done as two. Who told you it is my ambition to NOT REST so that I wear your tattered badge of ‘Strong’?” On Face book last week.

This backhanded compliment really gets my goat. It is a platitude that comes from every other corporate, In-laws, partners, spouses, that exercise their patriarchal limpness of spirit for over 300 days a year and somehow congratulate you for surviving their antics.

So many times, we say our mothers were strong and if it were not for them a few things would not have happened for us. The short list of what she had to endure will range from a philandering spouse and its attendant consequences, a physically abusive marriage, financially crippling entanglements (yes, whole families have been auctioned for a debt the mother never knew was taken), hostile and vindictive in laws, having to compromise on choice careers not deemed fit for a proper wife (teaching was high on the list of appropriateness whereas nursing was not because night shifts and darkness don’t go well with the fragile patriarchal ego).

How did this obvious pain inflicted amount to a word string trophy of ‘strong’? 

Look here, let us just stop with the Lip service and Do Good and Right by our womenfolk. I am increasingly having an aversion to posters and forwards on such days. ACT. Come with one bullet each of what you will do different on that day. Make it an announcement day even.

If you don’t have an announcement to make, we accept your silence, your vacuous words are not soothing us but setting us up on that ‘strong’ cross for more thorns, piercings and even death.

Please believe WHO when they say “Gender specific risk factors for common mental disorders that disproportionately affect women include gender-based violence, socioeconomic disadvantage, low income and income inequality, low or subordinate social status and rank and unremitting responsibility for the care of others. The high prevalence of sexual violence to which women are exposed and the correspondingly high rate of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) following such violence, renders women the largest single group of people affected by this disorder.”

“My oppressor sent me this yesterday. I'm strong because I survived him” shared Jenny. “Not sure whether it's a very fitting shoe or those of the abused women I deal with. Fantastic!!! In fact, I never know how to react/respond to the flood of today's messages, even from abusers!!!” said Njeri. “I keep telling people I have finished being strong. For the next 40 years, it is my turn to be weak. I don't have strength anymore.” Leslie.

Which father on this day showed their daughters a piece of land and said, “here you go my child”?  Which corporate placed free sanitary pads in their washrooms to increase monthly comfort for their female staff? I know I should rather ask, has your senior management ratio shifted from 1 woman to 6 men? Which man said “I am sorry I have put you through so much the past few years, scarred your body or your heart and I will do better”?

Keep your lip service darlings.

May every woman continuously and slowly find their own path to healing. Even if it is full of tears, mucous, a lot of giving up, anger and loud prayers. Take your time, take what you need till you feel yourself again.





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