If you’re serious about women’s equality, watch what you say
The Setswana idiom, “Mosadi o tshwara thipa kafo bogaleng” — meaning a mother grabs a knife by the blade — has always sent a chill down my spine. It is repeated in a number of languages — including Sesotho and Sepedi — and is often quoted during difficult times with the faintest sense of pride, implying that good women are strong, resilient, and will risk life and limb to protect their children.
But the expression is also a profoundly violent one — signalling that simply being a woman in our country is a dangerous business. To be a woman is regularly to survive life-threatening assaults on the body; femininity in SA is invariably coupled with the expectation of brutality, and the best women are seen to be always ready to meet this head-on. ..