There were things that we grew up being told were important for the full realisation of our womanhood.
Inside Track with Grace Mutandwa
These were things we were told by our aunts or grandmothers, that if we did them they would make our husbands happy and love us more but everyday I meet women who are beginning to question some of these things.
After a discussion recently with some colleagues about how they had been encouraged to do all sorts of things to their genitalia in the mere hope that one day they would marry and make some man happy, I sought more views from other women.
I heard stories of how some of them ended up pulling wrong bits of their genitalia because sometimes the instructions were vague.
Most women were not raised to feel comfortable with exploring their own bodies, which explains why in some cases young girls were not sure what their aunts or grandmothers really wanted them to do.
All the teachings were specifically meant for the gratification of men and not a thought was put into how the young women felt or what they wanted.
You can imagine just how disappointed a lot of women were on discovering on their wedding night that their men were not even aware of the “so called goodies” nicely prepped for them courtesy of the aunts and grandmothers.
I also found out that apart from using their fingers to pull down there, some were given burnt bits of bats (the winged kind) crushed into a fine powder, which they were told made the pulling easier while others were given herbs to smoke.
The girls would be expected to continuously measure the length of whatever parts they were pulling until they had achieved the length of their middle finger.
I was both amazed and amused by the number of women who confessed that they had carried out the orders but were not exactly sure how that made men happy.
But I also thought it was disturbing for any young woman who went through all that only to discover that her young man is not even interested or aware of the use of the massacred genitalia!
I was told that young girls were put through this because some men were entertained by fooling around with the pulled bits. I am assuming ancient African men were not very exploratory and only had two entertainment hotspots — the bust and the underworld. Could it be that some of our men only discovered kissing, caressing and other forms of foreplay much later in life?
Women pretend they know what’s good for men
Since time immemorial, older women have given sometimes mad and weird advice to younger women about how to keep a man sexually interested and how to safeguard one’s marriage.
The reality is that all those women never bothered to ask the men what they really wanted — they merely assumed they knew. We continue to enslave ourselves as women just to try and please men and we are willing to do even harmful things to our bodies for the pleasure of men. When have men ever done anything painful or possibly harmful for our simple pleasure? Men will only do things to their own bodies because it suits and pleases them, not because women expect them to.
Some women who have daughters are stuck between the traditional and modern way of raising them. We now live in a world with more options for our daughters — they do not grow up thinking of marrying the boy next door anymore. Our daughters want more out of life and sometimes they also end up marrying a boy from a different country and culture. Our children know more about their bodies than we did when we were younger but they are still human and they would be traumatised if they discovered that we have fostered upon them things that only make their chosen partners want to run for the hills.
People ask me all the time about tips to help their marriages last. The truth is I am not privy to how anyone can make a marriage not only survive but thrive. I do believe that a marriage premised on wrong values and aspirations is highly unlikely to survive.
Each marriage is different and so are the players involved. Some unions are meant for the long haul, others are just a stopover.
What I do know for sure is that even when we get married, the reality is that we are all individuals, although some try to suppress that individualism in the hope of creating marital harmony. I also know that, married or not, we all have a lot going on in our heads, so at times it is hard to stay on a clear course.
I have said this before but I will say it again: most couples that find happiness are usually those who have a strong friendship bond, respect each other’s space and fully accept the other person’s need to retain their identity.
If you allow yourself to be swallowed in your partner’s personality it puts major demands on you and squeezes life and happiness out of you — you develop unrealistic expectations of your spouse and that is the fine makings of a relationship made in hell.
If you are not already one, maybe one day you will be a young girl’s aunt or grandmother and the advice you give her might build or destroy her marital confidence. Things that might have worked decades ago do not necessarily work today and any sensible person would appreciate that simple logic.