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February 20, 2019

I will not shrink

I will not shrink myself
I will not shrink myself

As you know, I write a sex column in this paper on Friday. I have heard repeatedly that it intimidates men. Recently though, I have come to the conclusion that it is not the column, rather it is me, the writer that is intimidating. I have long believed that each of us has certain qualities and they lead us to what we do for a living. Maina Kageni for example, is hilarious and he loves talking about sex and relationships; I think he would be bored stiff if he had to collate the news. I write about sex because I am fascinated by a very human part of our lives that we all pretend we know exactly what to do when in reality, we all struggle with it at one point or another. I am also comfortable discussing this uncomfortable subject and others like money, so I do.

When I have mentioned to people that I would love to get married and start a family, several of them have said, “give up the sex writing”. I will not lie; I have considered it and even discussed it with my bosses. Recently though I have found that the people who suggested that, and me who considered it, were wrong. Even if I give up the column, I will still be the woman who wrote about sex in a national space. I will still be the person who is not afraid to speak openly about things that terrify most of us, including me, because I think they matter. Just like my friend who tried to shrink herself and failed; I too would fail.

I have never heard a man being told to shrink himself and achieve less or express himself more silently so that he could be appealing to a wider range of women. Yet we say these things to women and girls. I understand that who I am is unappealing to a lot of men who have been socialized to believe that women should be somewhat silent. The truth though is that the guy who cannot speak around me or worse, has to posture and beat his chest so that I can recognize his masculinity, is just short of abhorrent to me.

Why aren’t we raising boys into confident men who do not need to be surrounded by the quiet and acquiescent to express themselves? Why aren’t we celebrating confident women? Why haven’t we taught our boys and men that a confident and expressed woman is a thing of value?

In a recent chat with one of the bosses at Radio Africa, it was casually mentioned that while they can easily find women to be on radio, they cannot find young men who are articulate and confident enough. Kenya is slowly becoming known for her women – Wangari Maathai started it, now Lupita Nyong’o is the most beautiful person in the world, and Ory Okolloh is on TIME magazine’s 100 most influential people on the planet. Yes Binyavanga Wainaina is also on the list and I’d bet you money they will all end up with foreign men. Isn’t it time we started teaching our boys that the power couple is a desirable dynamic?

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