Men here usually let women go before them when standing in line, or when walking through a doorway. I find it kind of nice, but that is because I’ve lived in Norway for four years and have gotten used to getting doors slammed in my face all the time. But this gentleman’s gesture is not appreciated by everyone.
I was at a seminar when I heard a man offering a South Sudanese woman to enter a building before him, by smiling and using the well known words: ”Women first!”. The woman looked at him and answered: ”That’s what men do in South Sudan. They let women go first to take the first bullets in war or to clear an area from landmines!” Then she smiled back at him and walked through the door before him.
She was harsh and strong, and truly made an impact on me.
I don’t know if what she said was true or if she was exaggerating, but she made an important point. The situation illustrated so well the double moral in treating women ”well” or as “more important” by letting us go first in line but at the same time refusing us our rights. It also reflected a part of the struggle that South Sudanese women are facing, a subject I’ll definitely get back to.