I know folks are going to be irritated by this brazen claim. But it is a true story. I did discover feminism. In fact, I discovered feminism in a trotro a year ago. And it wasn’t in a moment of calm contemplation, either: no! The discovery came in the midst of a loud argument in which all the passengers in the trotro from Mallam to Madina had joined together in a single armed column against my lone self. Alone, against the ‘madding crowd,’ I stood up for common sense, and thereby, single-handedly, I discovered feminism. The story goes like this:
I’d closed from church at Auntie Aku. I’d gone to see my mom at Gbawe. I was returning to Legon. You can get a Madina trotro from Mallam Junction if you manage to go across that flyover. At 6pm, we were all listening to the news on Peace FM. One of the news items got everyone excited. It was about sex. A married woman had been caught having sex with her lover in an uncompleted building. Nobody was interested in the other news stories. Why should we, when we can all condemn that shameless woman who had disgraced herself and her family!
Given my usual diffidence, I hardly strike up random conversations in the trotro, much less if that’s going to put me in the middle of a raging debate. But I did just that. Maybe I did it because there was a stately woman sitting next to me, and a pretty lady close by. Anyway, forget about the motive! What matters is that I spoke.
‘Men also do it,’ I said.
A man sitting close by rashly brushed my statement aside: ‘But it’s a disgrace for a woman to do this!’
‘It’s a disgrace for men too,’ I said, expecting to soon get support from the stately lady next to me. She didn’t bring support. None of the women in the trotro did. Meanwhile, the rash young man next to me was gaining more allies to his side. They said if men do it, that doesn’t mean women should also do it. I said none of them should do it, not just one person. Else, all of them should be allowed to do it. They said a good woman doesn’t do cheat on her partner. I said a good man doesn’t cheat. They said yes, but it’s not as bad if a man does it, as when a woman does it.
‘Don’t women have the same feelings as men?’ I asked.
To my horror, the stately woman sitting next to me turned and asked me to stop the kinds of things I was saying. But at that point, I was too deeply engrossed. There was no turning point. I said the desires which push men into doing it isn’t an exclusive property of men. An old man asked me if I’m married or I’ve ever married. Hearing that I haven’t, he said I don’t have the necessary background to talk about these matters.
If at this point, you’re visualising a calm, polite debate in which I present my case and my combatants present theirs, then I’m sorry to say that the narrative above has failed to capture the bedlam into which the trotro had been thrown. This was no ivory tower analysis of gender equity. Every passenger in the speeding trotro wanted to be heard describing how stupid, unchristian, wayward and crazy I was. And they all wanted to be heard at the same time. One man reluctantly dropped off when we got to Lapaz; he hadn’t told me all the things that he wanted to say to me. But he shouted a rude comment to me as he jumped out of the trotro and scurried across the street.
And although I stood alone, in some way, it was kind of cool. You might think this is arrogant, and maybe it is: but it was nice to know I was in the right, and all those poor suckers had no clue what they were talking about. I mean, it’s also kind of sad to think that such a large swathe of humanity is misguided about such a basic thing. I’d never thought of myself as a feminist or whichever label folks prefer to use. But now, I guess I was one.
Anyway, the moral of the story is that discovering feminism can be very dangerous.
11 comments On Trotro Chronicles Part II: I Discovered Feminism by Guest Contributor Agyakoo
Agyakoo this post made my day. I laughed so hard as I read it, and I could just visualise you in the trotro looking for support from the stately woman. Ha! You wanted her to agree with you and be accused of being a cheat herself? You lie bad. And that old man who asked if you had been married before? Sigh. That is just a way people have of shutting people up when they are speaking truth to power which is what you did. Ayeekoo my fellow feminist
You make a wonderful point @ Nana Darkoa. At my last job in GH, the women were always the ones to complain about how all this ‘equal rights’ weren’t good & that women should know their place etc. I think it’s a mixture of being so oppressed that they believe they should be oppressed (happens to all oppressed groups of people, they start siding with their oppressor like black folks who hate themselves & gay people with internalized homophobia); wanting to score points with men & win their approval & thinking that by supporting men & throwing women under the bus they’ll get brownie points; being scared that if they champion women’s rights, they’ll be accused of all the vices ‘independent’ women are accused of ie: being loose, lesbian, a bad woman, barren, a witch etc.
Nana and Ekuba, I like this point about internalisation of oppression. Reminds me of sometimes hilarious I read a while ago: New Yorkers are so used to the noise and bustle that when they go to the countryside, the silence oppresses them. Maybe tradition endures because we all have a penchant for self-punishment 🙁
I had a similar experience in a ford bus from cape coast to accra. The male radio presenter was. Going on about how more women were asking men to marry them these days instead of traditionally vice versa. And an old man sitting in front of me asked in twi “is there anything wrong with a woman asking a man to marry her?” . It resulted in a lot of argument..till we took a vote. I think it was 50% for both sides. But surprisingly i was the only woman who found nothing wrong with it. All the other women were against. About eighty percent of the men agreed with me!
Agyakoo in fact if it wasn’t that I’ve gone off men and I’m more into the ladies nowadays I’d have asked you to marry me lol. Well done for Standing up for women and doing it on a trotro too.so sad that the women in the trotro were so filled with self hate and so oppressed that they think they should have less rights in society than men. And shame to all these radio stations who are so misogynistic. Funny how Ghanaian Christians will preach against the “gay lifestyle” & even masturbation but turn a blind eye to men’s adultery. Reminds me of my very married male Prof in law school who is always ranting on the news about how we need to pray against “gayism” but who has been chasing me for 3 years and still counting. More soon on my blog series to be launched in 2014 called sex and the church.???? (free advert heheehee)
Hmm Sex and the Church: that should be super interesting. I have a theory that the greatest purpose of the church (and by implication most religions) is to control sexuality, especially the sexuality of women.
I could picture the trotro scene as i read. Na you Agya Koo, which woman should support you and end up being labelled as promiscuous? please oh!
I just beg, next time make sure we both board the same troski so i can have front row seat to your troski palavers and laugh well well.
Oh dear me! I laughed out loud! I can simply see and smell all the sweaty participants in this melee. Well done you! It’s never easy to blaze a trail. We all thank you for discovering “feminism or whatever label folks prefer to use”. 😉
Ignorance is a bliss and sometimes people will argue their shame until they believe it to be right a.k.a justification. I think that they acknowledge that it was equally, morally and spiritually wrong, but it was more frown upon a woman. Which, I have to agree because we will always have more to loose in this man’s world. It’s just the facts of life and I don’t think that feminism will eradicate that fact, but more power to the trail blazers.
Nevertheless, your encounter was memorable, but can you imagine the amount of women in some parts of the world that are stoned to death over fallacious accusations of infidelity or witnessed adultery.
I saw on TV a woman and her lover being stoned for an adulterous affair. They dug 2 holes and made the woman’s hole deeper than the man’s. If they can get out the hole, their lives would be spared. Obviously the man got out, but the woman had no hope and was stoned to death in a stadium full of cheering women.
Your story is one of many to come as the world keeps evolving and gender differences become less discriminative. In the heat of all your solo argument, you can surely believe that you really irritated someone enough to make him realize that 2 can play that game. He will forever remember you and you will be a story repeated by them for life. Good for you!
What I don’t understand is how men’s cheating is justified like they have super charged libidos that are non-existent to women, ah noooooooo! Agyakoo, you experienced what I mostly experience because of my allergy to silence where patriarchy dominates and is openly supported. Keep speaking out and share more “standing alone” stories! Both men and women can cheat and either way it carries the same weight of cheating unless u are a patriarchal gatekeeper, lol!
Haha. Well written article. Literally like watching a drama. Agyakoo you’ve always been controversial since your Legon undergrad days..LOL