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Analysis: Where Might Is Not Right -The Woman’s Predicament 

By Peterkins Manyong

"Conditions in a society have to be extremely bad before a large number of people undertake to overthrow it by revolution".

This observation by British historian, Herbert L. Peacock, was made in reference to the French Revolution of 1789. It applies in a moderate sense to what we can conveniently term "The Woman’s Revolution" which is exactly what the International Day of the Woman is all about. We must, however, in fairness to women, first admit that society and the centuries have been in conspiracy against them.

The Holy Bible opens with the recognition of the woman as the companion of the man when Adam refers to Eve as "the flesh of my flesh and the bone of my bones". This egalitarian perception was unfortunately not shared by the Greeks. During the early Olympic Games, the first prize for the best athlete was a beautiful woman and the second a horse. To Aristotle, a woman is "a domestic animal of a slightly more consideration than a cat because her offices are higher." The moroseness of Aristotle was a source of inspiration to the Roman writer Seneca, who wrote; "Bring a woman up to your level and she automatically becomes your superior".

The satires of Juvenal, another Roman writer, were only superseded in the 18th century to those of the Augustan poets to whom a woman was "full of form and affectation with no character at all". To Shakespeare, a woman is the personification of weakness in Hamlet; "Frailty, thy name is woman!" says, the tragic hero, Hamlet. Moslems and Christians, who dislike the idea of equality, find enough justification for subjugating the woman on the authority of the Bible and the Koran.

Christians happily cite the First Letter of Peter 3:1-6 and Ephesians 5:22-24, recommending the woman’s submission to men, but not the verses that immediately follow recommending both love and support for her. Moslems marry four women with the backing of the Koran We have the extreme case of a Moslem faithful in Nigeria who wedded 82 women! Even white Americans, with all their yelping about equality, would rather be ruled by an African American than a woman of their own colour.

Women have, however, contributed in no small way to the blows they often receive. Widows are maltreated by   elderly women, most of them widows, who see no justification in sparing others the rites they themselves went through. Domestic violence often emanates from women who don’t reflect that the tongue, although it leaves no physical wounds, is more injurious in the psychological sense than a knife. Women’s rights crusaders are at a loss in the face of a custom in Beti land where a husband’s love is determined by the frequency with which he batters his wife.

In fact, violence in most homes is generated by women who, like Chaucer’s wife of Bath, think marriage is not worth it if they are not in control. Ntumfor Nico Halle’s recommendation that a man who batters his wife should be confined to a zoo is equally applicable to those Amazonian women who batter and even lynch their spouses. Most men find their wives governable only after impoverishing them.

Self-marginalisation, another feminine habit, is seen in the domain of elections. A woman would rather vote for a man than a fellow woman because she doesn’t want to be governed by another female. But soon after the damage is done the very woman would shout from tree tops "women are marginalized". Women dress skimpily, exposing parts that should be concealed and are the first to shout "sexual harassment!" or "rape"!

The frivolous nature of most women can be determined from the substance of their discussions. Wherever two or three women are gathered, love and marriage constitute the subjects of their discussion. You seldom hear them discuss politics and other serious business. This is the origin of that Byronic concept that love is to a man a thing apart, but it is a woman’s whole existence.

Above all, why does the average woman, who has the means, consider it unusual to give a drink to a man even after he has given several rounds of drinks to her and possibly her friends with all the accompaniment of "soya" and roast fish?

Exceptions To The Rule

Fortunately, there are exceptions to the rule. There are women like Professor Uphie Melo Chinje, Director of MIPROMALO, who are not contented with the above self marginalisation. Within the last one month she has been criss-crossing the country to bring the fight against poverty to the rural masses. First she brought Korean agricultural engineers to Ngoketunjia to see the predicament of rice farmers. The Koreans before leaving promised to do everything possible to assist the women. Next, she created the Women’s Creative Centre in Ndop, after a similar one in Babessi Subdivision, to provide loans for petty projects for women.

To the FCFA 10 million in the scheme, MC2 micro-finance in Bamunka, Ndop, added FCFA 5 million. We also have Comfort Musa with her very creative idea of fighting women’s marginalisation through her media women project. The list of progressive minded women consists of women like Beatrice Ndoping, President of Northwest Women’s Forum, Pauline Chateh, Northwest GCE Board Coordinator, Elizabeth Mofor, GBHS Bamenda Principal and Veronica Morfaw, Coordinator of Tankah Village Women’s CIG.

The International Women’s Day was created for more lofty reasons than drunkenness and lascivious tendencies of women, most of whom can’t even recite the theme of the celebration which is Equal Rights, Equal Opportunities, Progress for All". Women frequently boast about their numerical superiority (52 percent) as if that is an achievement in itself. The woman can only transform might into right and prove that she is the man of the future by being more positive and less confrontational.

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