I am a 21 year old female. I have been subjected to the stereotypes of society and on some days I am stuck on how to go about it. Being a woman is so much more complicated than you can imagine hence I will break it all down for you.

As a woman, I am expected to submit to everything society expects of me. For instance, I shouldn’t stand my ground and reply to a man, who insults me because society perceives me as inferior to men so I am supposed to be submissive and respectful to the male gender regardless of the circumstances at hand. Additionally, we have to cope with men touching us inappropriately in public and private places; for example, it wouldn’t come as a surprise to feel a hand on your butt, waist or even your breast when you’re in public transit, in a crowd or even in a queue. You are supposed to remain calm and let it pass like it never happened at all. Society has normalized this whole thing of touching women, and some women take it as privilege but those who understand that its wrong end up being rejected and picked on. Once I was in Nakawa market, and a man touched a lady’s butt, she turned and slapped him so hard, but if you got the opportunity to hear the outrageous reaction of the crowd towards the lady’s act of self-defense, you would be highly disappointed in our society. This made it even more evident that people need to be educated about civilization and morals, because there is still a lot to learn.

Being a woman calls for strength to take in all insensitive comments from the male gender as you walk alongside roads or go through crowds. These men literally describe your entire body and will not mind about their hurtful or embarrassing statements. Take an example passing by a boda boda [Luganda for motorcycle] stage, it may go just like this:

Boda guy: “muwala akanamba” [girl, what’s your number?]
Muwala :(ignores them)
Boda guy:”Kalabe obugulu, oli mubi,
asobola Kukwana,tubade
tukuyamba buyambi. “
[translation: you’re ugly you know, just look at yourself so proud over nothing!]
The shame that comes with all this is under estimated. I would call it the walk of shame.

Being a woman is so complicated. You cannot say you are attracted to a certain man or wish to be with a certain man, because society doesn’t support women to be proactive in relationships, and because of this, women miss out on the right man they want because they are waiting for men to approach them. People will refer to you as a “bitch, slut or even go ahead to call you cheap” simply because you find a man handsome. Women are constantly shamed for expressing their desires because of society’s stereotype that women, and to be more specific, women’s bodies are objects of men’s desires so reciprocating just like expressing this desire has pretty much become a taboo.

Being a woman means you cannot dress the way you want to, the moment you wear anything that doesn’t fully cover up your body means that you’re inviting men to come after you and take advantage of your body. This has been the long standing excuse people use to blame rape on women, but guess what! men will even rape a woman wearing a hijab. people need to understand that women dress for themselves. Take an example, amidst the pandemic, ladies still wear lipstick or lip gloss beneath their masks, that should be able to communicate to society that they dress for themselves and their own comfort.

Being a woman calls for being extra careful during menstrual periods. We have to go keep checking if the shape of the pad doesn’t go through the cloth just to make sure no one notices that it is that time of the month. We are scared of staining our clothes in public because women having their periods are still considered unclean .Everything during this time starting with the symptoms that come along with menstruation to trying to hide it from the world, it becomes so overwhelmingly frustrating for us; women myself inclusive literally just want to stay indoors cuddled up in bed till they feel fine again. Periods are nature’s calling and should be considered normal. Women should be helped as they go through this, they shouldn’t be considered weak or even dramatic just because they have period cramps. Only women understand this experience, so nobody should judge them without even trying to understand just how difficult it is for us. Parents, teachers and society at large should teach boys these things at a tender age so that when they notice such, they are able to help the girl child or even ladies older than them.

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As a woman, it doesn’t come as a surprise that you are a sex puppet to men; a source of relief and pleasure for them. For instance a group of men will try their luck with having sex with you, it even goes as far as placing bets with you as the mega prize to be won; with you as a mere medal to prove a man’s virility. Even in relationships, marriages inclusive, sex has for long not been an act of love but an attempt to keep a man invested in a relationship hence women are always expected to satisfy their partners’ sexual needs regardless of whether they want to or not. Women’s views on sex should be considered and a woman having a view on sex doesn’t make her less dignified. Sex should be a choice, not an obligation!

Being a woman means that society is willing to put boundaries between you and whatever it is you want to achieve. Women cannot do certain things because they are considered to be exclusively for the male gender. Take for example, recently I was holding a conversation with a male friend and he was asking about my friends who do sports. The first thing he did after I told him was asking if they are tom boys. His reaction clearly put it that society considers women who do sports to be masculine and therefore ‘not woman enough’. This kind of perception has put a blindfold on our eyes and is holding us back from attaining the kind of civilization that open minded societies have because anyone should be able to do sports without judgement.

Sometimes being a woman all feels like a scam. But I wouldn’t trade it for the world because being a woman is beautiful. And every woman should be proud of who she is, how they look like or how they feel. It’s all natural and okay. It is now up to us to take each and every opportunity or platform we have in order to take a stand on societal stereotypes that we’re inferior to our male counterparts.

By Nankya Josephine