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A Matter of Presumed Inferiority

Senegal Sangalkam, Senegal  |  Jan 08, 2009
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The limits and expectations imposed on women make the 95% Muslim population demographic rather depressing (though of course there is the chance this presumes too much about the individualization of Islam; perhaps in Senegal and elsewhere women are granted a certain autonomy and independence they might not be granted in certain fundamentalist Muslim circles...which cross-applies to fundamentalist Christian and Jewish households, as well...which is perhaps the largest dent in my corrolation above to depressing-ness).
Yet the question persists in my head--how can a population that avows women`s hardworking-ness and strongwilled-ness....that prioritizes women for loans because they`ll pay them back, that spports the women in their endeavors...also debase and demean and view women as inferior?

(Senegal – January 7, 2009. El Hadj will ask me to grab a folder for him that is equidistant from both of us. Why should I get up to get him something when he could get up and get it himself? Maybe if it was within my reach, but it is not. Is it because I’m a woman? When I tell him that it is a ridiculous thing to request of me, he gets all puffed up about how “that’s enough.” He told me yesterday he didn’t know what “stop” meant and then just kept saying the same thing a million times to me. I just can’t stand it.)

It is in response to such audacious arrogance that feminism ever bubbled to the surface constantly throughout the heavy history of patriarchy! This doesn`t mean I don`t sympathize with all of my guy friends` joking about an over-emphasis on patriarchy, rape, oppression, etc., but when I`m here, immersed in the illogic and nonsensical inequity pervasive in the daily life and treatment and perception of women, that I see--well, remember!--why feminism and a plea for equal treatment, equal roles, a view of men and women as equals, excepting certain glaring/obvious exceptions and impossibilities, had to arise, what it was so virulently responding to... and I see how my lifetime despising and intolerance for intolerant/irrational American males looks so petty in comparison to the cultural conditioning of Senegalese males...
Do they (Senegalese males) not work so hard or as seriously/dedicately because they are men and expect women to do everything for them (otherwise they are perceived as bad sisters, wives, friends, mothers?). Is it because of Islam? Because TRIBAL LIVING equates to egalitarian living, and how far this has disintegrated in Senegal, the urban settings, at least, which I have experienced, speaks volumes for the rapid decline of the tribal livelihood and speaks even more to my disillusionment about not travelling deeper into Senegal, into smaller-scale, more traditional villages where at least animism is still alive, and "bio-construction"/natural building, too, to see if that means tribablism is still even half-alive there, too, perhaps on its last legs but still kicking --?
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