The Kenyan Nomad

The Kenyan Nomad

Monday, May 9, 2016

Don't Put Me in Your Box

Don't put me in your box, don't assume that because I'm a 24 year old Kenyan woman of Indian origin, I must fit a certain stereotype. I'm ambitious, and I want a lot more out of my life than you think I'm aspiring to. No, I don't need to 'think about settling down' because 'women should start planning their family around the age of 28'. Marriage, a family, all that- they're not unimportant, but they're not all that a woman can have. Don't measure my success by where you/your daughter/your neighbour's daughter were/are at 24. That's their story. And I'm writing my own. 

When you look at me, then find out what I studied/where I studied/where I've worked and say something like "Wow, I had no idea you were smart!", don't expect me to take that as a compliment. If you're willing to judge someone at face value, then I'm more than entitled to judge you for the person you just showed yourself to be. When you find out that I'm planning to undertake a workout programme and you say something like "Be careful or you'll get muscles!", don't be surprised when I look confused. 

If you learn about my accomplishments and say something along the lines of "Wow, that's so awesome for a woman/girl!", be prepared for me to look at you like you just sprouted another head. Does being a woman exclude me from aspiring to success? Does being a woman mean that I'm automatically less intelligent than everyone else you know? 

I remember being asked at a job interview "You have a really impressive background, but wouldn't you rather just work in the beauty industry? You know, being a woman and all?"

I won't apologise for not laughing at your racist, homophobic, and/or sexist jokes- no matter how uncomfortable that makes you. No, it's not funny when you say that someone is 'not a man' because they chose to stay home with their children instead of going out with you. If you're the most loving, kind and supportive spouse, and you both have an awesome relationship, but when you're out with your friends you make jokes about how women 'nag all the time' or how 'men never get anything done'- that's not funny either. It's not funny when you think that just because your skin colour happens to be lighter or darker than someone else's, that gives you automatic superiority- it doesn't. You know what makes someone 'better' or 'worse' than someone else? Who they are. NOT the colour of their skin.  

If you laugh at people for being 'stupid and closed minded' but the last time you bothered to learn something new was when you were in formal education, and you dogmatically reject all that is unfamiliar to you... yes, I probably will say something. 

Nobody's perfect- but I think that those with the ability to make change happen almost have a responsibility to do so. If we don't grow, if we never improve- how meaningful are our lives really?

This is my life, and my story, and I want you to realise we can be different without being at conflict. Don't put me in your box- allow me to forge my own path. I'll make mistakes, I'll fail, I'll do stupid things more than once in a while. But I'll learn. And I'll grow.

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khadija said...

What a great read! I couldn't agree with you more, I realized instead of dumbing myself down to be understood by ignorant people I correct them. I am studying civil engineering so i do get that top comment! and I always correct the person!

Unknown said...

Well said... The world had come a long way in setting and defining roles for women. Sad thing with the generation gone is they are unaccepting of the new roles that women are embracing. We are educated as well as educators, we are home makers as well as bread winners, we are go getters and also want to leave a mark on this planet no matter how small. I say ignore the naysayers and go out and be a badass slayer!!

Nats said...

My chin is on the floor! A job in the beauty industry?!

Speaking up and speaking out are big steps in changing attitudes. I'm sure people often think they are being helpful or honest or not offensive. Speaking up is one of the few ways to helps us realise how close minded we are.

Keep being bold and badass!

Unknown said...

Excepetionally Fine! i love it! Keep up The Kenyan Nomad,Looking forward to more of this!

Shikha Vashisht said...

why does it matter if they put you in a box? everyone does that. some what ur doing the same. they cant put u in a box unless u allow them. unless u give them the importance to have an opinion. and if they arent important they wont matter. the only person putting u in a box is urself! sorry if this might offend u. ur writing is great!

The Kenyan Nomad said...

Thank you everyone!

Very true, Shikha! And I'm not offended at all :) That's a great point of view, and I wish more people thought that way. On the other hand, sometimes to create change in society, you need to realise what limitations they put on you, which is when you can figure out how to change them and help yourself and others. Thanks for sharing! :)

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