People talk about occupational hazards. Risks that are inherently associated with certain types of jobs. If you’re a construction worker for example, you’re supposed to wear a hard hat because there’s a real chance that a brick might fall on your head.
Doctors, dentists, nurses and other medical professionals wear protective clothing including gloves and ear-loop face masks to shield themselves from infection. They walk into medical centres everyday knowing that they might walk out with a disease.
Even celebrities face risks that are inherent to their industry. They go in knowing that their lives will play out on centre stage, picked apart by anonymous folks in social media’s peanut gallery. To deal with that, they have to grow a thick skin.
But if you’re a woman in elected or appointed office, it’s a bit harder to protect yourself from an occupational hazard that isn’t unique. In fact, it’s something that’s as old as the ages. Something that grown folks do all the time.
Yet for some reason, if you’re a woman you can’t lead and have sex in your spare time. In fact, you’re not supposed to be having sex at all. Not in the way that most people understand it.
If you have children, it’s assumed that you reproduced out of duty to God and country. That you lay on your back with the republic on your mind, national anthem on your lips and Holy Spirit in your heart as your husband did what men do.
Indeed, if you’re a mother in public office, you must understand that copulation is your husband’s conjugal right. His to enjoy. Yours to endure. His for recreation. Yours for procreation.
For women in leadership, sex is like a monthly period. People think of it as hidden, dirty and shameful. So you don’t talk about it. You pretend that it doesn’t happen. While folks might be aware that you do have sex, they can only be comfortable in that knowledge if you are having it with a man you are married to.
God forbid you have sex out of wedlock, worse still that you conceive children in that uncertified union. And if you have sex for fun? Oh, horror of horrors. Surely the sky will fall on your head and the world as men know it will come to an end.
If you’re a woman leader, you can only present as a wife and a mother, where those two things are concurrent. We don’t want wives with no children, because hey, sex is for procreation. We don’t want mothers with no husbands because single mothers were obviously having sex for fun. If you’re divorced, you suffer the additional humiliation of failing at marriage, which means that you have failed at life.
The bottom line is this: if you’re female while leading, sex is like a red pen that will be used to place a permanent mark against your character. You are not allowed to be a sexual being because sex is dirty and shameful. You are the portal through which children enter this world, therefore your body must remain holy and sanctified.
So women in office, and those aspiring to leadership, find themselves in a position where sex is used as a weapon to cut them down, something for which they often have no defence. I say this with reference to Miguna Miguna’s daughter Atieno. The only reason her sexual history made the headlines was because of her father’s political ambitions. Her personal choices were used to cut him down.
Going forward, whenever both their records are pulled up, that permanent mark will become a subject of debate. Aspersions have been cast on the characters of both father and daughter. Which is not to say that Miguna’s character was unblemished to begin with. He is the very same one who attacked Esther Passaris on the basis of her alleged sexual activity, which only goes to prove that on top of being commodified, female sexuality has also been weaponised.
It’s about time women stopped using false modesty as a shield, and started using their sexuality as a sword. The ‘sex-is-dirty-and-shameful’ narrative is old and tired. It’s time to flip the script. Like it or not, your mothers, sisters and daughters are having it and loving it. Sex is a risk inherent to being alive. End of story.
ILLUSTRATION | THIRSTY ROOTS