Jackie Wilson Asheeke
SWANU parliamentarian Tangeni Iijambo made sexist comments in the National Assembly. He said, “Women are too dependent and dependency is what brings a lot of problems for men who invest in them.” This elder from another era in time said exactly what he understands as the truth. He is a dinosaur in his myopic views on women, but at least he is honest.
The SWANU man should not take back his comments nor apologize for them. He meant every word. He is entitled to his point of view and must never be shouted down. We must hear varying points of view and understand them. Only then can we plan a decisive opposition to men who would, in effect, fit women with harnesses, put a bit in our mouths and a saddle on our backs.
Sun Tzu tells us: “If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.”
Iijambo is not a once-off; his points of view are not singular. From all that I have heard and seen, his is the MAJORITY point of view amongst men and women in Namibia.
The SWANU MP and his generation and those even older than he is, epitomize why women in Namibia have decades to go before we are seen as full human beings. His beliefs give a green light to the abuse of women. Men younger than Iijambo who believe in the silly myth of male superiority, are indoctrinated by their fathers, elders and uncles to see women as workhorses, baby factories, cooks and servants – UNDER their rule. All men who believe this to any degree are the heart of the problem.
These men hate it when a woman earns more money than they do or who are more educated than they are. They give lip service to all the right statements about gender equality, but live a completely different lifestyle.
Iijambo and his ilk do not want to see women as landowners, business moguls, top politicians, or heads of families and communities. Remember, Iijambo said “women are too dependent” and (most telling) “men invest in them.”
I am more offended by the latter statement. He believes that women are a commodity in which men invest. Women are to be traded, upgraded, manipulated, and bought and sold like any ‘investment.’
When women were side-by-side with men fighting to free this country (on different kinds of battlefields), the men felt we were ‘serving’ them. THEY could be independent and free, not us. Remember, the chant was, “one man, one vote.”
Here is the larger irony.
Iijambo represents a position that implies that men want an independent woman. Men want a smart woman. They want a woman that is hard-working and industrious. They want a woman who can run the home successfully, engage them in stimulating conversation, and earn good money. They want a woman who will raise/educate the kids, get food on the table, and keep everyone healthy and satisfied.
This is a lie; dependency is EXACTLY what men want.
Men want their accomplished, intelligent, competent woman to be a brainless sheep. Many men want her to be their emotional and physical punching bag. They want her to be ever-forgiving of their repeated adultery and children born to girlfriends. They want her to have no problem with drinking bouts and offensive friends. Men want their working wives to spend their earnings only on what they approve. Far too many men feel that when they say jump, their women should never ask, “why?” but “How high?”
The Iijambo-type men out there – you cannot have it both ways.
A woman smart and industrious enough to get out there and earn a good salary and pay the household bills and make the home thrive, will never be a door mat. She has skills and a brain and will use it. Men must know they have an equal PARTNER in bed beside them.
With a loving, competent partner a secure man can drink delicious ice-cold champagne with the stars! Instead, an insecure man abuses such a woman and drinks warm beer in a dusty, rural bar all alone.
Worse than Iijambo, many women ACCEPT the role as a sheep in their man’s herd. They defend a culture that values women as subservient. These women will talk a good gender equality game, but they will not play.
Don’t be angry with any one articulating their sexist viewpoints. Encourage them to talk more! Listen well, remember Sun Tzu and make a plan.