Why am I still fighting this battle? Friday 06 April, 2012

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Guest post by Nanjira Sambuli Stereotypes. That word that makes us all draw a long sigh. Female stereotypes. That phrase that sparks all manner of debate, evokes all manner of sensation. Not to say that stereotypes are unique to females, we just never seem to catch a break, especially with the negative ones. The old-school […]

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Guest post by Nanjira Sambuli

Stereotypes. That word that makes us all draw a long sigh. Female stereotypes. That phrase that sparks all manner of debate, evokes all manner of sensation. Not to say that stereotypes are unique to females, we just never seem to catch a break, especially with the negative ones.

The old-school notion that “women were simple-minded and basic” has evolved into “women don’t know what they want and are overly complex”. While the latter draws away from one stereotype, it shoots for the extreme opposite. Is there no in-between for us? Yes, it may well be informed by experience, but when it informs the collective conscience, when it’s the final verdict for all women, it’s almost impossible to put up a case against it. There’s often no room to plead one’s case. Not too many of us, and by that I refer to both men and women, stop to ask ourselves what informs these notions that we are often born into, that we eventually contribute to, one way or another.

Our foremothers fought to be part of the decision-making process in the household, in the community, in politics and leadership. And now that the world has seemingly listened to that cry, while given the chance to sit at the high table, we still have to do the thing we do best: Nurture, cook, and clean. Couple that with the expectation to look like wonder-woman until the day you die, to always be upbeat and positive. Of course, complexities are bound to emerge in the struggle to balance it all physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually! And I often wonder, where is the balance expected to be? If I spell out what I would like from my coworkers, boyfriend and community down to the “t”, I am then labeled intimidating, demanding and domineering among other -ings that spiral into several other problems.

I want to live unchained: As a young woman, to pursue ambition, in no small way, without having to defend myself every step of the way. Without having to figure out where the satisfactory balance between “overly emotional” and “ice queen” lies. That we are still fighting this battle as young women is an indictment on society at large. The struggle goes on. I can only hope to make a damn good case against these as I forge my way!

Nanjira Sambuli was born and raised in Nairobi, Kenya. As a citizen journalist, new media strategist and member of one of Nairobi’s most exciting bands, Ma3, she is a committed artivist (artist-activist). Nanjira was recently listed as one of Concept Link’s “20 Must Follow Women Discussing Africa and the Social Good Sector.” Keep up with her on Twitter for important news on Africa, technology, women and the arts.

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