Late in my high school years I was a rebel without a cause. After listening to some Millie Jackson I reasoned I could develop a feeling bitchy attitude like her. Or look like her in that cover jacket where she is seated on a toilet bowl with her pants down. Certainly there was nothing I was to achieve by acting Millie Jackson. Anyway being a bitch and grumpy was part of the attitude, but such could not survive around my full of life and well, bitchy mother. So it was only sometime after I joined campus that I decided to become a rebel again, this time with a cause.
I had gone to university very psyched up to “change the world.” However it didn’t take long to realize that most of the comrades were more interested in sex, parties and CATS than in changing the world. And the students who were changing the world didn’t seem like true believers; they spent time in meetings; all talk no action and only pretentious anger at the “state of things”. After watching Holy Man, a feel good Eddie Murphy film, I was inspired to go solo. My cause was ambiguous; a combination of human rights, going green and protecting the ozone layer. I started by vowing never to take tea because I had read somewhere that tea workers were paid peanuts. It didn’t matter to me that one cup of tea might not make much difference. I believed ” It starts with you” the catch phrase of those in solo protests. Then when I told my mother about my tea boycott she laughed and informed me in jest that a cup of coffee at Starbucks was $ 2 while the farmers here were not getting even a dollar for kilogram of cherry. I boycotted coffee too, not sure how that was going to make farmers get better prices.
Around the same time I read about farm to fork. A campaign to ensure that what is eaten is produced without harming the environment, and all those in the production chain are adequately rewarded. My farm to fork campaign involved creating a lot of fuss whenever I went to buy greens, fruits or sometimes even eat in a hotel. Of course few in this country have the patience for such fuss. So I relented. But to compensate for the guilt I felt for failing to trace the food I ate from the farm to the fork, I decided to recycle polythene bags in a big way; carrying my own papers even when going shopping in supermarkets.
Well the first protest lasted only a few months. The fire ebbed because I could not see the reward of my protest, and well I missed tea. Lets not talk about principles. But I still wanted to change the world. I still wanted to be a rebel of some kind. Thus after some few months I decided to take on the sex cause. As a woman I felt I needed to do something about our lot. I reasoned there were two ways to go about in approaching sex as a cause. One was to campaign against the portrayal of women as sex objects. And two was to empower women sexually almost literally; women to use sex as a weapon. There were already people doing the former so I settled on the latter. My mantra was simple: If a woman was to have sex with a man she should not only get the pleasure but also some material gain. The challenge was how to communicate the message without sounding a sort of desperado. And well we were in university where sex just for the kick was part of the experience. The idea became a cropper. But to make up for my failure I vowed not to have sex with men and engaged in a lesbian affair.
All this came to mind yesterday when in the process of doing something else I saw my university notebook that I used to plan my causes. I had even toyed with some slogans for the sex cause. When I read them now they seem a joke: A condom & a cent. V for Value. Don’t just open your legs: Open your bag. You make a weapon every time you part your legs. Sex is power. Then there was the classical : Women of the world unite, you got nothing to lose other than your….. . I couldn’t come up with a punchy phrase to capture what I intended then.
So much has changed in the world and in me since then. At the moment I have a different opinion about that sex is power cause, and I am not sure I would advocate for it. But thinking of it on a lighter note and in light of how I earn my living, I didn’t sell out. I am leading from the front. I am one of those rare hands on rebel leaders. 😉