Thursday, November 17, 2016

Sex and reading the tea leaves

Drain the swamp It means originally “to get rid of the malaria-carrying mosquitoes by draining the swamp. Figuratively, 'drain the swamp' means 'to exterminate something that is harmful; or anything that most of the people hate such as corruption or government waste. (
I have written of Miguna Miguna on this blog on previous occasions, and I find myself doing so again in the wake of a very short video of Mr Miguna, Esther Passaris and Jeff Koinange on the set of Mr Koinange's eponymous TV show in which Mr Miguna makes very misogynistic and sexist statements as Mr Koinange and his TV crew snigger like schoolboys. Mr Miguna is filmed saying,
 "You [garbled] me? Everybody is raping Esther. Esther is so beautiful, everyone wants to rape her. Esther, I'm not one of these men that you can chase around. Chase around, chase around. Chasing men all over, Esther, nobody wants you to! You're too old. Who wants you? Who want you? Esther, nobody wants you! You think you're beautiful; you are not. It's just colour, Esther it's just colour! Without your colour, you're nothing. It's not racist. I'm telling you the truth. You're absolutely zero! You are zero. You're not beautiful, you have nothing going for you. "They" think you're beautiful, the cartels. The cartels think you're beautiful, they sent you here."
In a previous appearance on Mr Koinange's TV show, Mr Miguna behaved with the same degree of chauvinism, sexism and misogyny against Ms Passaris and Margaret Wanjiru, the former MP for Kamukunji. I called him out on it and his "team" let me know exactly what they thought before he came in for the intellectual coup de grâce, pointing out my cartel credentials and my biases against the only principled gubernatorial campaign in Kenya. Suffice to say, even then, Mr Miguna did not see anything wrong with the violent language he had employed against Ms Wanjiru or Ms Passaris.

In this case, Mr Miguna states with obvious satisfaction, "Everybody is raping Esther. Esther is so beautiful, everyone wants to rape her." I wonder why Mr Miguna would imply that beauty in women invites everyone to rape them, and why? In one sentence, Mr Miguna dismisses Ms Passaris's gubernatorial candidature and reduces it to a sexualised dismissal. At that moment, he doesn't see her as a political equal; he sees her as the object of sexual violence unworthy to be in his presence. By his own words he reminds millions of Kenyans that women are not to be taken seriously; their only worth is their beauty and their only use is as sex objects, fit only to be raped.

Mr Miguna is not the only Kenyan politician who has dismissed women in such a sexist and misogynistically cavalier manner. Kenya's second Minister for Justice and Constitutional Affairs, Kiraitu Murungi, in response to the US and EU governments' insistence on anti-corruption credentials for Kibaki's first government, likened the western governments' insistence to "raping a woman who is already willing." Mr Murungi later apologised for his choice of words but it reminded millions of Kenyans that very many Kenyan men do not understand the concept of "no" when it comes to sex. This was reinforced in the debate on the Sexual Offences Bill in which many male parliamentarians deliberately refused to recognise that rape in marriage required a separate provision of its own; to their minds, a married man could never possibly rape his wife.

Mr Miguna's victory is now being foretold along the lines of Donald Trump's victory in the US presidential elections. Mr Miguna is being likened to Mr Trump for his no-apologies, tell-'em-like-it-is, blunt-talk, no-bullshit, I-am-your-saviour style of politicking. His sexism and misogyny is being whitewashed as the feeble attempts of unnamed cartels and faceless cartel agents to derail his principled campaign for Nairobi's highest political office. While Mr Trump may have won in the United States, Kenya need not join the bandwagon of nation-states that need to feel the warm, disapproving embrace of sexual monsters who will save us from our weaknesses, mistakes and stupidity. We must show the world, just as our world-beating marathon champions have shown, that sexism and misogyny have no place in our politics.

Mr Miguna could say what he said to Ms Passaris because he was comfortable in his surroundings: an almost all-male TV, other male guests, a male host with a history of sexual-offence allegations, and a permissive Nairobi that seems to have accepted the anything-goes-to-get-ahead mantra being peddled by thieves, murderers, rapists, conmen and wife-beaters. I doubt whether Ms Passaris will be a good governor; I am sure that she will make a better one than Mr Miguna. If the choice were between him and her, the choice would be very, very easy. In the video clip, Mr Koinange is heard sayiing, "Drain the swamp." I think the swamp of Nairobi politics would benefit from removing Mr Miguna's odious and malignant spectre from it.

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