I sat in my chair hoping for the red in details of my dress to blend so well with the red in the cushion of the chair such that I’d be camouflaged and protected from the stares that wanted to drown me. I remember purchasing that dress. Amina in her usual talkative and extravagant way had said, ‘You must stand out. You are the wife of the CEO. If you don’t stand out, who else will?’ I had laughed and mentally agreed with her. I bought the dress at a ridiculous price. The dress bought me.
Listening to my husband spew his words on stage made me hate that I chose to stand out. I thought about how I would give anything to wear the rags of a slave; just so no one knew he was talking about me. But wishes are not horses; and so this one did not ride. I sat there with a straight face listening to my husband go on.
He was supposed to be giving a ‘we did a good job this financial year’ speech but there he was saying, ‘I’m glad I worked with everyone in this company to achieve what we did this financial year. Indeed, I am grateful to God. I imagine sometimes if I did not have you and all I had was my wife at home to hear me out when I got stuck on some report, imagine what a disaster that would be?’ He laughed, clearly not realizing that he just shamed me, and continued speaking, ‘Not to say that my wife is dull. No! She is skilled in more ways than I can tell on this stage. But it is safe to say that her expertise are bound within our living room, her kitchen and my bedroom’ All the men laughed and looked at me. Some women laughed as well while the others merely moved in their seats uncomfortably.
I knew my husband was as misogynist but I did not know that he’d take it to to a public platform.
I mean, I know he hates when I try to engage him in company discussions and whatnot. But I did not know that he needed to let the company know that.
I listened to his words over and over and over and over and again even though he had moved on.
They kept playing in my head, messing with my mind.
My 16 year old daughter was somewhere in the hall as well, listening to her father’s description and objectification of her mother.
Young women who secretly want to be me were listening as well; most likely confused as to the exact role of a woman in a marriage.
Young men who subconsciously needed guidance on how to treat women were listening.
But most importantly, I was listening.
I am still listening….
This is what is called emotional abuse.