Sometime ago, a friend asked me “if you had the chance to reincarnate yourself, choosing to be either a man or a woman, what would you be?” Without a moment’s hesitation, I replied, “I’ll remain a woman.”
In my community, it might be easier to be man. You can smoke cigarettes without being called a rascal, you can be forty-five and unmarried and still have respect, you can be unfaithful to your wife without being the most terrible person to have ever lived, and you can sit at a gathering while food is served, without worrying that you might be called to assist because you are a woman.
If you are a man, you could be sure that if your wife died, no one would ever ask you to explain how much money and property your wife had, nor would they try to take it away from you. You could, freely, marry a second wife or get a child out of wedlock if you wife were childless. You would be free to get all the education you wanted in the world without worrying that no one would marry you because you were too educated. You would not fear that no one would ask your hand in marriage, that which women are taught to want more than anything in this society as it brings protection and respect, because you would do all the asking. You could pour all your strength into your career knowing you would never be forced to cut back on your working hours, because you got pregnant and had a baby; the woman’s career can suffer and, by the way, you make enough money for her to stop working altogether.
Yes, it would be advisable to be born a man.
So why do I want to stay a woman? I don’t know. Perhaps because I know I am not a lesser human being now. Perhaps, I know that I can do anything I want to do and being a man has nothing to do with it. Perhaps because I refuse to live in imaginary fences built by condescending and narrow-minded people. Perhaps because it is easier for me to express myself and my ideas without fear of bodily harm. Perhaps because words do not hurt as much knives.
For there are women in other parts of Cameroon and the world are not so lucky and often pay dearly, sometimes with their lives, for thinking differently. This is why we continue to fight for gender equality and women’s empowerment. This is why we shout it however way we can that, be you man or woman, boy or girl, you have the power to be whatever you want to be. This is why we shout this message loud enough to silence those who would have us shut up!