dear men of the world

Hello from Tanzania.

As I was sitting in a small cubicle at the office where we are working from, the conversation from a few people sitting at a table next to me sort of wafts over.

Older muslim man (OMM): Bring me water
Jason gets up to fetch a bottle of water
Older muslim man: No my man, let the sister get it (referring to the other woman in the room)

I jump up from my desk and engage in a conversation with him, my husband and a young christian man (YCM) about the disrespect that they are showing to women.  Both African men say that they are showing respect to the women:

“In Africa, we show respect to the women by allowing them to do their duty” -YCM

“You known, women work in offices today, things have changed” – Jason

“In Africa, this is how it is and it will not change… ” – OMM

Our voices (mine) were raised as I complained about their backward ways telling them that them assuming that the duty of a woman is to serve men is disrespectful, while they defended their stance.  I might have said a few other things in the heat of the moment… I felt like I had been punched in the gut…

A few nights ago we went out for dinner with some of the main presenters at an agricultural conference in Tanzania, I was the only woman in a sea of 12 men, 10 fat african men and 2 skinny white guys.  I hated it… and then we began talking about traveling in the middle east, and different cultures, etc etc etc… and then one of the skinny white guys says:

In 1983 when I was in Morocco with a well endowed friend [makes universal sign language for breasts] she would wear skimpy shirts and she would then complain about men cat calling….

Another tense exchange ensues…

Dear men of the world, WHAT THE FUCK?