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February 23, 2019

Njoki Chege's ideas are trite

Njoki Chege's ideas are trite
Njoki Chege's ideas are trite

I think Njoki Chege’s column is, in a word, trite – stale, clichéd … basically lacking in freshness.

Take last week’s column for example, where she talked about sheesha-smoking women and called them a cheap date. She even went as far as to joke that a man does not have to spend Sh5,000 on dinner, in fact he can wait for her to pass out in his car and have his way with her.

I am paraphrasing, but you get the gist of this joke – it is after all a lacklustre take on the old ‘chemical warfare’ perspective. The idea that if a man spends money on a woman, she is obliged to thank him sexually is hardly new.

We do after all live in a patriarchal society where dowry is routinely paid to allow a man to have sex with a woman, and for his family to name and raise the product of that woman’s uterus. In this vein, the idea that women should pursue ‘the male gaze’ and not appear ‘cheap’, falls effortlessly into place.

After all, in a society where the only career available to women was ‘wife and mother’, a wandering eye was dangerous to a woman and her children. Keeping a man’s gaze fixed on her was paramount to career success.

This is not the reality for many literate Kenyans. The girl child has been recognised as equal and worthy of investment in many Kenyan homes, which is why Njoki Chege can read and spew her vitriol.

Which brings me to my point: Ms Chege’s language is hers to do with as she pleases, and she is free to hold all manner of perspectives, archaic or otherwise, in her mind. What bothers me is her publisher.

In a world of social media, bloggers and WikiLeaks, print is dying. What keeps it alive is its accountability. Readers quote newspapers with confidence because we imagine what is printed has been vetted by an editor or two; that facts have been checked and ideas have been interrogated by more than one brain.

How then does Ms Chege’s hate speech against women get published? A few weeks ago she was shaming fat women. Last week she implied that a woman’s right to her body disintegrates as she gets intoxicated or inebriated. Njoki? Seriously?

According to our law each Kenyan’s right to sexual consent is absolute. In fact as we become less reasonable and unable to make decisions for our own well-being, the rubber of law rises to meet the road of consent. This is why even the sexual rights of a retarded Kenyan are sacrosanct.

Dear Nation Editor, can we please have some fresh ideas? Women’s bodies as commodities? Pursuit of the male gaze as our be-all-en all? Fat women as unattractive? If she spoke about any one tribe in these terms you would not hesitate to brand her a bigot and deny her a public platform. Why then do you allow her to spit her venom into the public space?

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