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Lola Huete Machado

These men who think they are doing you a favour by harassing you…

Por: | 02 de junio de 2016

Por Edwige Renée Dro (*)

Texto traducido al español 

We will call him Alan.  I know him in a professional capacity; we work on a project together although he is slightly senior than me.  Alan has also decided that his eyes must see what I have between my thighs.

Alan harasses me.  I know I can use a word that is less heavy, a word that does not exaggerate the good mornings he feels the need to text me.  Let’s not forget the good nights.  I know some will say, “He is just being nice.”  To that I will say, I don’t need his niceness.  I don’t need to check to know that other male colleagues of him don’t get such care.

In my twenties, I would have told him to fuck off.  I would have called a meeting and told him in no uncertain terms that he wasn’t all that.  I would have seen red and in the process, I would have raised my perfect blood pressure up.  And who would have suffered ill health and ridicule?

I’m now in my thirties.  I have learned a few things.  Shouting or giving someone a public dressing down does not a great woman make.  And since my ambition is to be what we call here in Côte d’Ivoire a grande dame, a woman whose presence commands and holds the attention of any space where she is.  Since it is to grande damehood I aspire, there are some behaviours I simply refuse to have.  One of those behaviours is lying, especially lying as a tactic to build some kind of a fence around me.

Alan and I first met at a déjeuner d’affaires for said project.  He asked after my husband as soon as it was suitable to do so.  I replied that I didn’t have a husband but an amoureux.  I hate the terms “boyfriend”, “partner” (one has business partners), “other half” (I’m very much whole, thank you!), “better half” (because what am I?  The worse half?), “man” even if I much prefer the French term “mon homme”.

 “So why do you wear a ring on your wedding finger then?  Or is it a tactic to keep us men away?”

I dabbed at my lips with my napkin.

“I didn’t know a tactic existed to keep men away,” I replied then turned to face him and said, “But since I wasn’t born with a finger set apart, I thought I could dispose of my fingers as I saw fit.”

He laughed.

“You’re funny.”

“I know!”  I smiled.  “In fact, after my TEDx talk, I was asked if I was a stand-up comedian or wrote for comedians.”

“Ah bon?”  But he was on a roll and he could care less for social niceties.  “And l’amoureux is not scared to let a beautiful woman like you out?”

“Because you think that my relationship is synonymous with prison?” I smiled.  “But, now that the conversation has veered onto the personal, tell me about yourself.”

He told me about his marriage, his age and his five children.

“I hope you will be the mother of the sixth.”

It was my turn to guffaw since etiquette now allowed it.  The business talks had now ended.  Our boss looked across and said, “You and Alan must be having the greatest of conversation there.”

“Well Sir, I don’t know about that, but Alan has just told me that he hopes I will be the mother of his sixth child!”  I shuddered, something that made the whole table laugh.  

Alan of course didn’t.  

“How did such a conversation come about?” Boss man asked, puzzled.

 “Sir, never mind how that conversation started, but just imagine, won’t that be the height of failure?  Sir, are you sure that Alan knows he is dealing with an intelligent woman?”

But of course, as I knew that would be the case, the penis shrinkage had no effect on Alan.  The next day, he sent a “hi”.  But unless they related to the project, I did not reply.  I was not obliged to wish him a good night too, or tell him whether I had slept well or not.  

SEXUAL-HARASSMENT-700x459

Imagen de la web sudafricana Inspiring Women que habla sobre violaciones, en http://www.inspiringwomen.co.za/south-africa-and-rape/

I was at the Ake Arts and Book Festival in 2014.  A conversation during lunch after the panel on feminism raised the topic of why some questions are not asked of men.  For example, how do you manage your career with your family?  I think we were two in saying that we would answer that question and I would answer such a question because I would be having in mind that 16 year-old girl watching whose ambition is to have a glittering career and have children.  I would speak about this harassment case and I would candidly mention that I did not go to the police with it.  Or HR.  Or to the big boss even.  Because let’s be honest, it wouldn’t have achieved anything and in this case, it wasn’t needed.

I know that we need effective laws against harassment and for that, we need a critical mass of empowered women; we need those women in our homes and offices and our parliaments even.  This is not about feminism but self-esteem.  In the meantime, let’s have candid conversations about how we deal with harassment in ways that make us grandes dames and shame the Alans of this world.

 (*) Edwige Renée Dro es marfileña. Periodista, escritora, traductora, bloguera y pluma seleccionada por el proyecto Africa39 como uno de los 39 mejores escritores menores de 40 años en África subsahariana. Dirige un club de lectura en Abiyán, centrado en literatura africana y denominado Abidjan Lit (Abiyán lee), y forma parte de incontables proyectos de creación y difusión literaria panafricanos. Lo suyo es el 'writivism', una mezcla de escritura y activismo.

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Sobre los autores

Lola Huete Machado. Redactora de El País y El País Semanal desde 1993, ha publicado reportajes sobre los cinco continentes. Psicóloga y viajera empedernida, aterrizó en Alemania al caer el muro de Berlín y aún así, fue capaz de regresar a España y contarlo. Compartiendo aquello se hizo periodista. Veinte años lleva. Un buen día miró hacia África, y descubrió que lo ignoraba todo. Por la necesidad de saber fundó este blog. Ahora coordina la sección Planeta Futuro.

Chema Caballero Chema Caballero. Llegó a África en 1992 y desde entonces su vida giró en torno a sus gentes, su color y olor, sus alegrías y angustias, sus esperanzas y ganas de vivir. Fue misionero javeriano y llevó a cabo programas de educación y recuperación de niñ@s soldado en Sierra Leona durante dos décadas, que fueron modelo.

José NaranjoJosé Naranjo. Freelance residente en Dakar desde 2011. Viajó al continente para profundizar en el fenómeno de las migraciones, del que ha escrito dos libros, 'Cayucos' (2006) y 'Los Invisibles de Kolda' (2009), que le llevaron a Marruecos, Malí, Mauritania, Argelia, Gambia, Cabo Verde y Senegal, donde aterrizó finalmente. Le apasiona la energía que desprende África.

Ángeles JuradoÁngeles Jurado. Periodista y escritora. Trabaja en el equipo de comunicación de Casa África desde 2007. Le interesa la cultura, la cooperación, la geopolítica o la mirada femenina del mundo. De África prefiere su literatura, los medios, Internet y los movimientos sociales, pero ante todo ama a Ben Okri, Véronique Tadjo y Boubacar Boris Diop, por citar solo tres plumas imprescindibles.

Chido OnumahChido Onumah. Reputado escritor y periodista nigeriano. Trabaja como tal en su país y en Ghana, Canadá e India. Está involucrado desde hace una década en formar a periodistas en África. Es coordinador del centro panafricano AFRICMIl (en Abuja), enfocado en la educación mediática de los jóvenes. Prepara su doctorado en la Universidad Autónoma de Barcelona. Su último libro se titula 'Time to Reclaim Nigeria'.

Akua DjanieAkua Djanie. Así se hace llamar como escritora. Pero en televisión o en radio es Blakofe. Con más de tres lustros de carrera profesional, Akua es uno de los nombres sonados en los medios de su país. Residente en Reino Unido, fue en 1995, en uno de sus viajes a Ghana, cuando llegó su triunfo televisivo. Hoy vive y trabaja entre ambos países. La puedes encontrar en su página, Blakofe; en la revista New African, en Youtube aquí o aquí...

Beatriz Leal Riesco Beatriz Leal Riesco. Investigadora, docente, crítica y comisaria independiente. Nómada convencida de sus virtudes terapéuticas, desde 2011 es programadora del African Film Festival de NYC. Sissako, Mbembe, Baldwin y Simone la cautivaron, lanzándose a descubrir el arte africano y afroamericano. Su pasión aumenta con los años.

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