Right off the bat, this is not a dose of political correctness, but a much needed clap back to the vitriol some women have had to bear on the Internet streets.
First and foremost, I want to address the comrade Boniface Mwangi, who is on a meteoric rise to leadership in this country, and who’s an acquaintance. Because you represent the emerging crop of leaders from our generation, be knowing that we will be here to celebrate and admonish you in equal measure. This right here, is a much needed dose of the latter. In warding off Esther Passaris from his timeline, the comrade opted to bring in her relationship status into the argument. I suppose that was with the aim to put an end to that discussion, have the final say? Whatever the case, Boni, that was uncalled for, and is bad manners.
The incident to which I refer has its genesis in your framing a visit to Othaya around the former and current MPs. For whatever reason, you decided to introduce Mary Wambui into the discourse as a mistress. I know, freedom of speech, and no one is here to police that. I’m here to shed insight on the (un)intended consequences of descriptive language. As far as I can tell, Esther questioned that framing, and you invited her to look into other tweets you shared about Othaya; having checked those, they entailed visiting your former teacher, Mrs Mucheru, among other things, none of which justify the mistress reference/framing. It is not lost on anyone who looked that evan in an inquiry about kutaka shamba, you felt the need to once again introduce Wambui as wa Kifaki.
Where you took things after that, however, hapana pris, as we say. This was unnecessary and reeks of sexism, plain and simple. You went to some lengths to frame Esther’s intervention around her private life. Why? To what end? As someone asked you on that thread, do you need to attack a woman to feel powerful? It’s interesting to also note that of all the comments you responded to, it was one by a brother who rightfully stated you are better than that. To which you said, you were responding using her line of reasoning. C’mon son, really?
How was she policing your tweets by questioning a very problematic framing of another woman as a mistress? If anything, Boni, it is you who’s adopted the stance of moral police for women of political prominence. Na it is bad manners. In a later response to Madam Passaris, you then referred to Madam Wambui as Kibaki’s successor. Now what was so wrong with using that framing from the onset?
I’m not going to bog you or anyone else down with literature on sexism. I’m sure you can find that of your own accord. But homie, it is unacceptable to reduce women to their choice of partners, or to any indiscretions in any argument. Disagreements can and should happen. However, there is no excuse for what are not only low blows, but sexist ones at that.
Of the injustices you choose to speak up and fight back on, you must realise that justice for and dignity of women is very much intertwined. And you are failing. You owe the two women — and indeed all women an apology. Your Twitter bio says you’re living your life to make a difference. Surely, it can’t be perpetuating sexism. So, if it’s unlearning the script on how to ‘handle’ women who stand up to an argument or confrontation with you, settle that based on logic, not one’s choice of life partners. You are better than that.
As for the explosive screenshots that have been, it is heartbreaking just how many women were casualties. From the descriptions and rapey comments within the screenshots to the names of women that were dragged in the Twitter mud, it has been a sad display of the simmering and unwarranted hate on women. The comments–my word. I can only hope that you are in safe spaces to deal with what must be traumatic and haunting. Poleni sana.
To all the women affected, your choice of sexual partners should have had nothing in those ego trips. The Internet became very unsafe for several of you this week, and my heart goes out to you. I salute yours and all women’s presence on the Internet. Most often than not, it is a form of protest, to hold your own, and to bear the risk of knowing that what is a great resource today, can so easily be used to tarnish your name. In dusting off this blog’s cobwebs to comment on this, it is in a bid to keep pushing back against the patriarchy, for it is a strong and malignant force.
Finally, for all the brothers who’ve called out these bad, sexist habits, thank you. I hope that you continue to see sexism in its many manifestations, and call it out.
A luta continua. Stay woke, for sexism lurks in all corners.