April 17 , 2021
By Kidist Yidnekachew ( Kidist Yidnekachew has degrees in psychology and journalism and communications. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. )
About a week ago, in the neghbourhood known as Bole Brass, close to Bole International Airport, two young women were talking about their aspirations - it shocked me to the core. I am not a flag-waving feminist, but women are indeed fully capable of taking care of themselves.
These two women, who seemed to be in their early twenties, talked about their friends’ lives and how they “made it” after becoming mistresses to wealthy men. As their conversation progressed, they were clearly not looking down on the setup but rather wishing they could find a similar situation for themselves.
Such a view tallies with viral social media videos of “Gold Digger Pranks.” They have recently been imported into Ethiopia. The premise behind the international versions is a man that is initially rejected by a random woman he catcalls while someone films with a hidden camera. But he walks to an expensive car indicating that it is his, by which point the woman suddenly becomes flirtatious.
The cars in these videos are Ferraris, Lamborghinis or some other over-the-top supercar. In the Ethiopian versions, the perpetrators use a 2,000 dollar second-hand Toyota, which costs a lot more here due to high import taxes. Most of the videos are staged - the acting is not even that good.
No less delusional and insulting are the comments to these videos. The most common is that it belittles Ethiopian women's image, which they state would never stoop so low as to sell their dignity out for money. This is laughable. There is nothing about these videos that is new or has just been introduced into Ethiopian society. The only difference is that it is exhibited in these videos in too ostentatious a manner, without the wrappings of respectability that the age-old practice of ‘marriage of convenience’ has had.
This is not to suggest that the unsavoury but very solid relationship between marriage and socioeconomic status should be acceptable. Neither does it mean that every woman marries for the sake of ‘convenience.’ Many men too often generalise and label all women as money-loving creatures. That is not true. There are plenty of women in relationships out of true genuine feelings for their partner.
Women do not deserve to be viewed as “gold diggers,” but the way to achieve this is not by denying the existence of marriages of convenience or suggesting that it is an inherent sign of societal corruption. In more ways than one, marriage as a means of attaining socioeconomic status is, for many women, the only way to climb up the social ladder.
What has made this possible is the flawed distribution of resources and opportunities that has created a gender gap in education, workplaces, and leadership positions. Compounding the unfairness is that under patriarchy, women are shut off from socioeconomic and political institutions while at the same time being accused of “gold-digging.” It is a much more complex problem than the commentators on those videos let on.
Better ways of addressing this problem is to do what many men can not be bothered to and work to close wide-ranging societal and institutional gender inequalities. And corrections start from where many feel uncomfortable.
Why do we allow TV programmes to have beauty as a prerequisite for being hired? Should talent and skill not play a larger part in the hiring process than looks? Why do most TV stations choose to make the female anchors dress in skimpy clothes and just be the silent co-host rather than having a smart woman that can add something to the shows other than laughing at the male anchor's jokes?
The sooner we can accept our flaws, the faster we can work on rectifying them.
PUBLISHED ON Apr 17,2021 [ VOL 22 , NO 1094]
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My Opinion | Aug 22,2020
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