For us women, growing up was laced with important lessons. Some you had to get right and others you had to get completely right. While sitting, you pass your hands over the dress or skirt you are wearing(I do this when I forget I’m on a pair of trousers as well) and when rising, you smooth the same over. To become a lady of society that could be looked up to, you had to eat, walk and to crown it all, sit tight with legs crossed. Once you got this latter very well,you were ready to conquer the world.
This is why our caregivers strained so much in ensuring that this lesson was well understood. They did not want to face embarrassment from visitors (they could be potential future in-laws) or reports from the school. Hence, while you were digging the fertile earth with sticks to find valuables to spice up kalongolongo, a terrified auntie, mum or shosh will shout,
Quickly, surprised how you had let your guard down you ‘close the shop’ now that the managers have informed you it was not time yet to run business. You keep playing, your thighs tight against each other knowing the pinching they will receive hapo karibu na duka failure to follow the first warning. It was a painful affair. The other alternative being a handful of soil hitting the ‘shop’s guard’ then a glare enough to crack your skin. Such a simple lesson.
While we were learning these basic necessities of womanhood, the opposite sex was left to play till darkness set in and come in looking like a casual labourer from mjengo, eat quickly spilling particles everywhere (the sister will clean up) and then go to bed without a care in the world. There were no lessons to learn.
The women of the house referring to him as baba. This little praise slowly grows over the years to become a sort of worship. And like all dictators, the male child becomes afraid that he might lose his power. Therefore he looks for ways to keep up the ‘respect’ accorded to him and what better place to look than from the father(if there is none then the male figure who graces the house)? A life long experiment begins. Very successful from where I stand.
The young men observe their fathers who learnt from their fathers who learnt from their fathers before that. I hope I didn’t lose you there and you got the drill. They learn the most important form of dominance. Unlike the girl who needs tutoring, their counterparts are self educating. Gradually they learn manspreading.
What is manspreading? This is the act of sitting with one’s legs wide apart. I’m guessing I don’t have to tell you which sex is famous for this. It might be the only problem women are facing that is actually man-based. And this time it isn’t in the plural form(please tell me you get this!😂)
Manspreading is the only way a man can sit. I hear they need air down there. If they don’t manspread then they get sweaty, hairs touch and it is not easy going back. Eewww, I’m sorry about that. This is one of the commonest propaganda. One of the many theories to support this domineering habit. If a daring lady sits with her legs wide open to ‘air’ her ‘particulars’, first unapproving stares will question her then unsolicited comments will follow from strangers. She doesn’t need to air her honey pot. Besides she shaves hence there will be no event of tangling if she crosses her legs and her inner gear is dried under the sun. That is all the hygiene she needs.
What I am getting at ladies is as much as that man wants to spell out his dominance using his legs, don’t let him encroach your space. In the matatu seats, public benches or his couch at his place or yours, don’t let him crowd you so that he manspreads. You don’t have to look small so that a man takes up the space he believes belongs to him and not you.
Again ladies, let us not create movements to counter manspreading. We have been brought up with dignity and it would be lovely to tackle our issues with the same. Simply tell the men in your life to manspread with consideration. Let there not be a repeat of My Dress My Choice. Mercy y’all..