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He still believes it’s important for his wife to kneel when handing him his food. One would think a highly educated man who has been living in a western society would adapt to his environment.“It’s being respectful and following her culture,” he said. I recently interviewed Shona women for research on my upcoming book that documents the lives of women in Harare.When I opposed his views he called me “an uncultured disrespectful woman”.According to him, a woman should never say what she really thinks if it opposes her man’s views.I got some myself when I was dating a 27-year-old Shona man last year.A successful businesswoman in her 30s told me to never air my views and opinions to a man because he will feel disrespected and challenged.“A good African woman knows her place and keeps quiet no matter how much anguish she may be festering,” she said.I did try to take her advice but I couldn’t sell my soul to the devil known as the “subjection of women”. I ended my relationship with him because he thought it was normal to subject me to societal norms I had not been accustomed to.
He pays all the bills and even gives me a healthy allowance but he openly has a mistress.
Many of them spoke frankly about their marital problems, problems that sprouted from subjection, a lack of independence and their husbands’ refusal to accept them as equals in their marriage.
One woman had divorced a Shona man after living in Canada with him for ten years. When she suggested getting a housekeeper, her husband accused her of being “indoctrinated” by western culture.
Shona women are forced into submission by patriarchs in many Shona families where the man is regarded as the head of the household.
When I was ten years old my paternal grandmother warned me: “You better learn how to cook and clean because if you get married and can’t perform your duties as a wife, you’ll be brought back to the family.” To be returned to your family for not being submissive, for not kneeling, for having a voice, would heap disgrace on them.