GREY MUTTER lance fredericks The baa nana brigade
IT ALWAYS puts a smirk on my face when a grandmother insists on being called Nana by the new grandchild, and then requests a kiss from the baby.
Baby language is not sophisticated so “kiss” is often substituted with the easier to pronounce “baa”. And for a grown woman to repeat the phrase: “Baa Nana … Baa Nana …” is hilarious.
It could have been behaviour such as this that prompted Saudi Arabian Sheikh Saad Al-Hijri, in his recent lecture on “the evils of women driving”, to suggest that women are a danger on the roads because women only have half a brain to begin with, but when they go out shopping they “end up with only a quarter”.
As can be expected, there was a huge outcry, and the cleric has since been reined in.
And though Saudi Arabia has long been criticised for the treatment of the kingdom’s female population, we can relax. In an apparent move to rectify this the government has established a “girl’s council” … consisting solely of “men who know better”.
Now, as we sit here on our high horses pointing a finger of condemnation at a country or a sheikh or an ideology, men everywhere can ask themselves if they have not bought into that same mindset … and women can question whether they also have embraced this belief that they are inferior.
Because of hormones, body structure and muscle mass, men are generally physically stronger than women … I say “generally” because I remember being beaten up by girls during karate classes a few decades ago. But for now, let us go along with the idea that men are generally physically stronger than women.
So if we were to imagine a society without laws and boundaries, this means that the weak would be at the mercy of the strong.
Men would be free to dominate, manipulate and abuse the weaker sex; however, they would also be free to uplift, serve and help them … it would all depend on the man’s mindset – how he believes power should be wielded. What bothers me is that we are living in a society that has laws, boundaries and an apparently glowing constitution and human rights charter, and yet women in our free country are still being mistreated, abused, even dehumanised.
The silence around this form of terrorism is alarming. All around our country women are fair prey to any man who needs to gratify his desire for domination. Girls in dormitories at universities, colleges and boarding schools are targets of molestation and sexual abuse; and being far away from their families and their support systems where can they go for justice? When the first question you are asked when reporting a sexual assault can be, “What were you wearing at the time?” … a girl may be duped into believing that she was ‘asking for it’.
Sadly, it’s not only strangers that harm the ‘weaker sex’. Jealous boyfriends, demanding husbands, cruelty on an unimaginable scale is the daily lot of women all over our free rainbow nation. It is monstrous when a woman is abused by one who is supposed to protect her.
And abuse can take many forms … ridiculing or berating a woman, speaking about her flaws to your gossip-loving pals, depriving her of resources when she, in your opinion, ‘misbehaves’, nagging and complaining about her ‘stupidity’ instead of engaging with her in a one-on-one discussion … this list is probably endless.
Men should also be wary of another danger to which they are exposing the ‘weaker’ sex … the danger of over-protection and over-serving. What I mean is that sometimes the stronger man does everything for his wife, and over time cripples her, because she never realises that she has amazing strength, abilities and potential trapped inside a perceived weak exterior.