Sunday, January 10

My encounter with male chauvinists

My encounter with male chauvinists: "According to the Transportation law, women are not allowed to sit by the door of a car. Only men are allowed". This is the word of a park guy who wanted to convinced me to give-up my seat in a public car for a man.
In response, I immediately asked him: "..in order words, that means women in this Country aren't allow to drive too?"
"No! No!", he replied. "..women driving is different but in the public transportation, women are not allowed to sit by the door/windows". "This is for their protection"
"Protection, you say", I replied. "...so this man is boarding this bus because he wants to protect all the women in this bus. What a charitable job!".
It was Friday, January 8, 2016 at around 3pm at Tiko bus station (Park) when one man came towards me and arrogantly asked me to leave my seat for him because he is the man and must be the one to sit by the door. When he told me that I should leave my seat for him, I asked him if it was written on the seat that "door / window seats for Man".
Man 1: "hey - you cannot sit by the door because you are a woman while a man should sit in the middle.... shift inside because you cannot put me inside."
Me: "..I think seats are taken according to they who cames first. And if you wanted to sit by the door, maybe you should have come earlier".
He was not the least happy with my reply and decided to look for a different seat behind.
While I thought, I was done with the seat debate, behold, here comes another man, who in his defense told me that it was his rights as a man to sit by the door.
After almost 4-5minutes of him cursing me on how bad and disrespectful I was, how I dare insist on sitting by the door he finally got inside.
As we drove to my destination, I couldn't stop thinking about the irritating experience and how each day, women will have to pull up with such arrogance, discrimination and abuse from men taking public transport. My experience of Friday also made me to reflect on how in the 1990s, women couldn't travel without the consent or permission of their husbands, whereas there was no law or a written text which said that women must take permission from their husbands in order to travel and yet, it was practiced until research by some gender activists revealed that it was not written anywhere.
It is high time we begin to challenge some of these stereotypes - no matter how little our efforts may be, we need to put an end to women’s oppression. Inasmuch as I felt relieved by my reaction but I was somewhat unhappy because these men didn't still understand the point and the reasons for my behaviour / reaction. They were all blinded by the fact that as a man, they are the ones to seat by the door/window and this was a right. While l, being a woman, I had no right but to succumb to their perspectives.
The journey for equality in Cameroon is still far and until we take a stronger stand and act boldly against all these injustice at all levels, women and girls in this country will continue to be oppressed.
This is why we need feminism every day.