I am still recovering from the disbelief I experienced earlier today when I read an opinion piece forthrightly titled ‘Why women Hate Pokello’.
An anonymous writer, a Zimbabwean woman I presume, enters into a long narrative about why ‘we’ Zimbabwean women HATE Pokello Nare, one of the Zimbabwean representatives in the Big Brother House this year.
We hate her because she is full of herself and her good looks a la Kim Kardashian, the writer states. We hate her because she isn’t humble and constantly affronts us with her palpable sex appeal. We hate her because she is a ‘porn star’ (such a myopic and misguded perspective), or ‘Pornello’ as she has come to be derisively referred to since the sex tape she and Stunner made was publicly leaked a while ago.
Summarily, the author writes, the women of Zimbabwe hate Pokello because “we love humble women that play down their beauty and sexuality and play up their intellectual talents and abilities!”
I am a woman of Zimbabwe and I take great offense to this article and how it orders women, women who dare to be different in our pseudo-conservative environment, as active detractors to some imagined unifying cause to save – and serve – Zimbabwean womanhood.
The greatest irony for me is in that the author chooses to remain anonymous and yet speak on behalf of a nation. Whose opinion was sought in the writing of this article? Was a sound sampling technique employed to arrive at the conclusion that the majority of Zimbabwean women felt this way? If the writer is so convinced of their findings, why have they chosen not to tell us who they are?
One of my biggest peeves in addressing women’s issues is the perpetual homogenisation of the African woman’s experience. The African woman, if we are to accept this representation of ourselves, uniformly thinks the same way as all of her other ‘sisters’, reacts to issues in the same manner and needs exactly the same kind of intervention(s) regardless of her location, socialisation and experience of her feminine identity – which, mind you intersects with a range of other factors such as race, ethnicity, class and religion.
For me, this is what is wrong with this writer’s logic; that s/he chooses to believe that because a few women s/he may have had an intense discussion about Pokello with felt negatively about her, this represents the totality of Zimbabwean women’s opinions.
No, it does not.
And it is these collective and blanket sorts of utterances that patronisingly position women as being unable to be free thinkers and doers, as Pokello obviously is.
The author of this article at one point states that we women (all 6.5 million + of us) feel cheated by Pokello because she uses her sexuality to get ahead. The author then goes on to call on the female doctors, lawyers and engineers who “work so hard to get recognition in their fields” as people who should feel especially disenchanted by Pokello’s ‘get rich quick’ strategy.
I am not a doctor, lawyer or engineer and I can appreciate how much work it takes to get recognition in these codes which have a historically male dominance. But I will speak from my own experience here being a woman in media, a sector which is equally male-dominated. The fact that I work so hard to get to the top of my field is NOT affected by Pokello; and I don’t think anyone’s livelihood should be. How exactly? Has she taken us a step backward in the fight for ‘equality’ by having sex, not by herself, but with her man, for her pleasure? How come whoever leaked this tape gets off without so much as a rap over the knuckles? Isn’t that the person we should be harping on about?
This is not Hollywood so I doubt Pokello has enjoyed a direct and monetary windfall since this sex tape leaked. And the last time I checked, I thought she ran a boutique anyway.
It is also really interesting that the writer chooses these three professions as markers of women’s success because this orients success towards technical and historically male-dominated spheres of operation. And this just adds weight to holier-than-thou judgement scale that says success = being a doctor/ lawyer/ engineer. Failure = Pokello, Bev and I suppose any other woman who embraces or owns her sexuality.
Most Zimbabwean women aren’t doctors, lawyers, engineers, or Pokello or Bev… so once again, I ask, who are these women who have been claimed for the purpose of this article?
And then we are to hate Pokello for the sake of her son, and the sake of our own daughters. We are told that Pokello’s 10-year-old will have to “… live with the fact that the world has watched his mother not only having sex but having unprotected sex with a man that is not his father.”
Three problems here.
Unless Zimbabwe became the world, I don’t know about this statement. I for one never saw the tape.
Secondly, the issue of unprotected sex. Remember, it’s not like Stunner and Pokello were making a PSI advert about safe sex. It was a leaked video; as in it was not meant to go public or viral. And if our writer’s concerns with their unprotected sex have to do with the viral (in terms of HIV) health of the couple, this really has nothing to do with us. This was a private affair, as sex usually is. And we have zero context to understand or pass judgement on their lack of use of condoms.
The third point is the biggest for me. We are to feel our hatred towards Pokello roused even more because her child will live with the fact she slept with a man other than his father?
I bet no one would pass that judgement on Stunner if the child was his, not Pokello’s.
So in essence, are we saying that a woman who has a child/ has had sex with another man is banned from further sexual endeavour? Because this is not just about Pokello, but a lot of Zimbabwean women – single mothers, women who’ve fallen out of relationships, women who aren’t interested in settling down, women who want ‘no strings’ sex (yes, this type of woman lives among us).
Writer, you may find that in speaking on behalf of all Zimbabwean women, you have just demonised a large proportion of your supposed constituency.
I don’t usually spend this much time on issues arising out of Big Brother. This is because I do not follow the show and have no interest in it. But this fanatical and emotional response to the show is really counter-progressive, especially when it is cloaked in patriarchal and pseudo-conservative speak that only reveals a deep rot in women’s perceptions of each other.
We do not live to, or subscribe to, the same moral codes. We are different in our thoughts, actions and world views. We are individuals with individual experiences of the intersections of our Zimbabwean and feminine identities.
If you seriously have time to hate Pokello, you have chosen to other and discard her experience of these identities. But more importantly, you have reinforced the status quo that so many Zimbabwean women are riling against in pursuit of an authentic self, in search of the ‘I’ who is often lost amid the collective cultural norms and roles that have been used to identify us.
It’s high time people stop speaking on behalf of others, but for themselves. Writer, I would not have felt so compelled to articulate my thoughts in this response had you just been transparent enough to write as you, and not hide behind an amorphous collective of Zimbabwean women who do not necessarily agree with you.