My brain does this thing where it worries, nay, panics about the wrong things.
I would like to say the reason I don’t smoke is because I’m health conscious. I worry about my health like I worry about my phone screen; constantly but vaguely and only because I know how expensive it would be to fix. So I dot on my health, not because I’m concerned about staying alive, but mostly because I don’t want to get sick. Believe me, it’s not always the same thing. I digress. The reason I don’t smoke is paranoia. I’m convinced smoking will affect my reproductive system. I don’t remember much of my standard five science to judge on the validity of this worry. I do know however, I should worry about my lungs more. But somehow, my brain worries about my uterus more than my lungs when it comes to smoke inhalation, never mind that I recently just realized that I don’t want children.
A while back, I had a really nasty cough. Objectively speaking, I should have been in hospital the moment the humming in my chest sounded like the dying engine of an old, beat up truck. But like I said, my brain worries about the wrong things. I ended up in hospital only after I got it into my head that I had typhoid and that every second I spent on my bed laughing/coughing/chocking about Schmidt’s verbosity, my intestines were tying themselves into a noose that would somehow travel up my digestive truck and strangle me. In case you’re wondering, there’s little to no correlation between a cough and typhoid. (Take my words with a pinch of salt though. Remember what I said about standard five science?)
So I ended up in hospital, insisting I get tested for typhoid. You guessed it, I was good on that front. I just needed cough medicine. The cashier knew my mum so she suggested I just leave and she’ll remind her to pay the next time she sees her. I didn’t mind paying as I had a bit of cash in my M-pesa. All I had to was grow a third arm to operate my phone as my usual two were busy covering my mouth due to my incessant coughing and rummaging through my bag for a handkerchief, my phone and creating space for the cough medicine. Somewhere between the seconds it took to realize I wasn’t going to get a third arm, I had to work with my two(again! Story of my poverty-stricken life), I caught my reflection in the mirror. Maybe it was how inadequate I looked, or the m-pesa message informing me of my deplorable account balance, but standing/hunching there, it hit me with a startling urgency just how badly I needed health insurance.
I’m an adult now. I’m off my dad’s medical cover. Cue chest pains and migraines.
Fast-forward to about a week ago. Specifically, to the fuckery that is the Kenyatta National Hospital. I’m not proud of this, but the moment I read about the allegations of rape, my immediate thought was, “I need very good health insurance.” I know it’s selfish to make this about me, but for the life of me, I couldn’t imagine just having given birth and then getting raped. And so I thought, maybe if I have good health insurance, then if it comes to it, I can give birth at the Karen hospital. It’s less likely I’ll get raped there. And then it escalated to, “you know what, heck ‘em. I’m not having kids.”
The absurdity of that thought isn’t lost on me. Okay, to be fair, the decision to not have children was already in the pipelines. The KNH rot just catalyzed it. Believe me when I say this however, I am not the only woman who has ever thought they could buy their way out of rape and gender-based violence in general. Even as I write this, I can’t help but think, there is a thirteen year old somewhere thinking, if I just stay in school, if I don’t go home for the holidays, maybe I won’t be married off to forty-five year old so and so.
Seriously, every single day, women are forced to live by a rape schedule. We have this list of things that if we do, then maybe, just maybe, we won’t get raped. Use your keys as a weapon, don’t walk alone at night or in certain places, don’t enter a matatu that doesn’t have women, don’t go to his house, don’t wear a short skirts, don’t flirt too much. Society is constantly telling women how to not get raped, and not doing nearly as much to teach men about consent, about not raping women.
Just stop raping us. You know?
Women have been forced to give up experiences, to rearrange their lives into schedules that will less likely result in violence. Maybe if I go out less, maybe if I don’t date as much, maybe if I’m not as friendly. But it’s all just maybes. Because even when we’re minding our business in our houses, you still break in and dehumanize us. I’m not very conventional, so giving up motherhood isn’t particularly weighing on me, especially if it reduces the risk of suffering male-cruelty (because let’s be honest, marriage is an extreme sport for women.) We’re married to you, but you still beat us up and cheat on us. It doesn’t matter that we give up our autonomy, our dreams, our desires.
It’s just heart-breaking that male-cruelty is a defining experience for womanhood. Think about it, every single woman you know, has been mistreated in varying degrees by a man.
Stop! Just fucking stop it.
You might remember I mentioned a few posts back about a project my friend and I were working on. It’s going to be published in the next seven-ten days so please stay tuned for that. It’s going to be a periodic journal and our first issue is focusing on sexual violence against women. Please tell a friend to tell a friend. We’ll let you know on it’s accessibility once it’s available.