A woman’s private’s parts could be her undoing in a patriarchal society. For a reason difficult to fathom, this organ is easy to discuss particularly in perceived behavioural tendencies and these discussions proffer conclusions as to honour-ability or lack of it thereof. It is not a surprise therefore that the Sunday Mail found it easy to go personal with Dr Joyce Mujuru, an all-time familiar low that instills ‘fear and despondency’ in women in general and cowardice in women in politics.
The power of social pressure
The above referred article on Mujuru proves that hostility to women is easy to manufacture. The nature of humanity is that the social connects us. We are social beings and in most African societies, women unfortunately bear the brunt of the social. The power of social pressure makes it difficult for individuals to be able to withstand constant attacks. This is why it is used to criticise and denigrate. It is used to escape critical issues at hand and silence an individual. Ultimately this is why it is a weapon for sexism and misogynist attacks.
The downed helicopter
This is the next likely headline in mainstream media in the near future. There is so much confusion on what happened on 17 February 1974. The story of who downed the helicopter and how was never clear. There is no clear record of it anywhere. Its account seems to be in the heads of an unknown few. What make it even more confusing is the recent mention of the relationship of the downing of the helicopter to a sexual liaison, an immoral one for that matter committed by a ‘benevolent’ Teurai Ropa. ‘In Zimbabwe we love re-writing history to suit the day. When Mujuru was still in Zanu PF she was praised for her outstanding role during the struggle, today we are told she was an errand girl.
On the 2nd of December 2014 The Herald gave a Chronicle of how Mujuru lied about downing the helicopter and a list of the downers was given as Dick Joboringo, Kabanje pa D level, Brian, Long Chase, Dangarembizi, Masweets, Gabarinocheka, Norest, Shungu and the late Bazvoka Chidemo. The Sunday Mail reports that it was Chipembere. I personally am interested in finding out who really downed the helicopter-but that’s an issue for another day.
Mujuru is said to have ‘caused the death of some people because of her love for men-unfortunately some comrades like Chipembere were naughty’. The blatant sexist attack on Mujuru here is depressing. She was loose and her male counterpart was apparently just naughty. The Sunday Mail reporter goes on to say ‘the facts’ were confirmed by an unnamed senior war veteran. Where is Mujuru’s voice in this story? Nothing is lost on the reader, this is one of those tired (fictitious) narratives were a woman cannot be said to have achieved something individually. Roof politics always have to come into play.
The contradictions of Mujuru’s character bring one to question the credibility of all sources that decide to speak for her. The first lady, Dr Grace Mugabe was quoted accusing the media of lying that she had said Mujuru was sexually immoral-clarifying that she had only said her dressing was inappropriate. At some point it is recalled her saying, ‘pavarume-handidi kuvanyepera, Havana hunhu iwowo,’ (When it comes to men, I do not want to lie-that is not her character). Today the narrative has changed and suddenly the same papers are reporting the opposite. What happened to balancing stories, if there is a story at all.
If these are costly to the success of an individual, what more to an entire country? The past is lovely to talk about, but there is a necessity to talk about the future. It becomes unserviceable to talk about the past-using acres of paper real estate on sexual affairs. An accurate history of the past and particularly the liberation struggle is important, it was an important time in Zimbabwe and thus it matters to most people who identify as Zimbabwean. When this history is used for personal attacks and to vilify women on the grounds of sexual immorality then it surely is being abused.
Surely a more progressive approach towards war time reportage is to look at sexual crimes against women and girls other than documenting personal liaisons of adult individuals. The likelihood of more important events that happened during this time is high; pacesetter manufacturing is definitely not at the top of that list.
There is surely no doubt that leadership comes with such close introspection into the personal world-over. It is the nature of this personal however that is most important. When the personal clearly wears a face labeled, hate, sexism and in bolder letters a high probability of FALSEHOODS then the cause is lost. We write with the hope that today or in the near future, women in politics live without the fear of having their sexuality violated in ink so difficult to erase.
Main image: Teurai Ropa (Joice Mujuru) during the liberation struggle. Image taken from www. twitter.com