HOW MANY ANIMALS CAN YOU SEE?

Bernadette Muyomi
Posted November 30, 2015 from Kenya

HOW MANY ANIMALS CAN YOU SEE?

Recently in my country Kenya, one of the powerful female cabinet secretaries resigned because of alleged massive corruption in the ministry she is heading. It elicited a lot of public reaction and online discussions. I felt that the attacks on her were too much and too personal. My recent reading of Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead opened my eyes to understand why this was happening. ‘When a woman excels in her job, both male and female coworkers will remark that she may be accomplishing a lot but is “not as well liked by her peers”. She is probably also “too aggressive,” “not a team player”, “a bit political”, “can’t be trusted ”or“ difficult”.’ Today I read a post on World Pulse and remembered something.

On 14/11/2015, In one of the leadership Whatsapp groups, someone posted a photo shopped picture of the cabinet secretary in a bra and pant captioned “Ninakula pesa yenu mtafanya?” (I will eat your money, what will you do? )

It disturbed me that the person who posted is a national youth leader of one of the political parties in Kenya. I decided to reach him via his private whatsapp: Here is my conversation Tom (Not real name).

Me: I posted the photo he had posted on the group of a hundred or so members

Tom: Haha

Me: What value does an individual gain from derogatively sexualizing a woman online?

Tom: wawah …madam pls…eat slowly, we wont do anything (At this juncture I think he was imagining that I am excited by the photo he shared)

Me: ????

Tom: It is all over imagine

Me: My understanding of respect for women is that when an individual shares such it speaks a lot about their personal character and attitude towards women. Being all over is no excuse for an individual to further such unless the mind is being remote controlled by crowds.

Tom: I’m sorry dear

Me: To avoid your mother, wife, sister, daughter to face vulnerability to sexualization, you have to practice the same towards other women. Change begins with individuals and men more so a leader like you needs to set the example. That’s where social change is anchored. We seem to have a long way as Kenyan youth but it’s never too late to set a new trend

Tom: Sent me the famous photo with an elephant, horse and other animals: The one where you are asked “How many animals can you see?’

Tom: Chemsha bongo (Tease your brain)

Me: I am not going to Chemsha bongo(Tease my brain) when you and I are supposed to be having a serious dialogue as leaders who respect women on digital platforms and our collective role as young leaders

Tom: The picture was posted by **** and the youngest member of the county executive committee in **** County on **** forum

Me: I am referring to you reposting. Not the other person. We as leaders cannot just do queer things because other people are doing them. I have seen the post that you, Tom has posted. Is this a copy paste story of monkey see, monkey do? Then what are you spreading as a youth leader?

Me: We as leaders must respect ourselves and stand up for our actions. On matters of respect for women, we can’t say that we didn’t do it coz others didn’t. Otherwise we will rape, maim, etc coz others are doing it.

The conversation ended on 22:35 hours. I have never had from him again, nor have I seen him post anything derogative on a woman. I hope that my message to him got home and he will be able to serve with a different perspective towards women. Tom is in his thirties probably 33 or 34 and is in various Whatsapp groups where he can influence directly or indirectly.

Every leadership opportunity gives everyone a chance to promote and protect the rights and dignity of women.

Comments 9

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Kristina M
Dec 13, 2015
Dec 13, 2015

Dear Bernadette,

Thank you for having the courage of your convictions and standing up against behavior you thought was wrong.  I agree that for women to receive more respect in this world, men need to treat women they do not know with the same respect as their mothers, sisters, aunts, etc.  I also hope Tom's silence online is due to his eyes being opened to the responsiblity he carries being a leader. 

Bernadette Muyomi
Dec 24, 2015
Dec 24, 2015

Hahhhha Kristina.

I really hope he got the message. I have been a victim of such nasty online issues, I guess that makes me feel for the cabinet secretary and be able to tell Tom off.

Krysie Bright
Dec 14, 2015
Dec 14, 2015

Hi Bernadette!

I really hope he was able to reevaluate his perspective of women too. I am thankful that you were able to call him out on what he was doing in such an informative way. One day, there wont be a need for people to fight for women's right, but until that day, keep voicing your opinion and making a difference!

Krysie

Bernadette Muyomi
Dec 24, 2015
Dec 24, 2015

A luta Continua KrysieBright

Pushpa Achanta
Dec 15, 2015
Dec 15, 2015

Hello Bernadette,

Admire and appreciate your vital and courageous response. Thanks for sharing and inspiring. Best wishes for your activities.

Warmth & love,

Pushpa

Bernadette Muyomi
Dec 24, 2015
Dec 24, 2015

Thanx for the encouragement Pushpa

rhania bensafia
Dec 19, 2015
Dec 19, 2015

Hello Bernadette

Thank you for standing up and for speaking on this issue. It takes a lot of courage to call this  individual on this type of behavior and I am glad you did. Also share with us the conversation.

We all deserve respect even if we dont know each. Especially in this case. Being able to reinforce these values is important.Thank you for doing that.

Anita Kiddu Muhanguzi
Dec 22, 2015
Dec 22, 2015

Dear Bernadette You are truly courageous. No one wants to stand up but someone has to ensure that the work is done.

Continue with the good work that you are doing.

Stay blessed

Bernadette Muyomi
Dec 24, 2015
Dec 24, 2015

Thanx Anita,

I like the fact that I get angry at biases against women.It is the anger that makes me to speak without fear or overly analyzing whether or not I should stand up fo a woman.