How deeply odd, that the day Ghallywood’s favourite lover boy, John Dumelo, is announced to be “off the market” would be a day masked by the rage surrounding a tasteless unsolicited Facebook announcement of the said engagement by one of his industry friends.

For me, that was the first sign, that something was “bigly” wrong somewhere. But we will leave the entertainment gossip sites to dabble in that business for now.

By now, I’m sure we have all been privy to a Facebook post by “ace” Ghanaian TV/Radio show host, Kweku Okyere Darko, popularly known as KOD. The post sought to:
1. Show his excitement for this all-time important decision John Dumelo had made.
2. Congratulate him for it.
Which was all fine and cozy, even amidst the overly pretentious alignment of himself with JD as a “friend and brother.”

This seemingly harmless post was immediately marred by a short paragraph that needlessly roped in a jab at single Ghanaian women whom KOD generously referred to as “women who are all over.” According to KOD, who also ironically self-identifies as a “Women and Children’s Advocate” per his current Facebook profile, John Dumelo’s choice of a woman who isn’t “known” or in the public space, should teach women an important lesson on how to earn a ring from a Ghanaian man.

The post was immediately attacked head on by both male and female Facebook and social media users including his fellow female colleagues in the industry. I personally wouldn’t have even bothered to comment on this issue had I not seen with my own eyes, KOD consistently defend that post, ignoring the magnitude of trash it made him appear.
My agenda today in this article is to use KOD, his unfortunate and overly-simplistic post about Ghanaian men and women and the general reactions of Ghanaian Facebook users to once again expose our looming gender crisis in our society, even amidst numerous strides chalked over the years with Gender advocacy.

If you would all recall vividly, late last year in September, a group of passionate, vibrant, and intelligent young women surfaced on our social media landscape generating candid conversations on gender under the hash tag #PepperDemMinistries

The group’s attempt at exposing how toxic our long-held narratives and socialisation rules are, adopted an approach called the “Flipped Script” where normalised sayings and societal expectations of women (and men) are reversed and “flipped” to get us all to “rethink” and “rewrite” our gender narratives.

As a refresher for our discussions today, why don’t we pass KOD’s post through the Pepper Flipping Test:

Just got off the phone with my friend and sister, Grace Dumelo… My sister’s actually getting married and I’m invited! Unbelievably true oo!
Handsome Man too

Got me wondering why most WOMEN in the public eye settle for quiet/unknown MEN and not the ONES ALL OVER

That could be a lesson for some of our BROTHERS ooo
WOMEN want MEN who can MAKE A HOME and not be ALL OVER

I wish them well and can’t wait to see them on Saturday

(Emphasis all mine).

In the wake of Pepper Dem Ministries, this was one script we were very passionate about; that deeply troubling tendency to subject every single girl/woman to the marriage test, thereby placing women’s worth in marriage and domestic affairs, in a way which doesn’t play out same for men. Kindly note, this wouldn’t even be as much problematic as it is, were it same for men.

This imbalanced expectation of making women aspire to marriage is why there will always be a daunting imbalance in the institution from the onset because it has been made to mean more to one party (women) than it does for the other (men).

And so it is that a woman can be anything in this world, but if she isn’t married, she isn’t fully woman yet, or isn’t worth basic respect or accorded mentorship status for younger women. And despite a woman’s achievements, if she doesn’t pride herself in domestic affairs or project that side of her more, she doesn’t earn the respect of society. So for many Ghanaian women, our lives and existence remain a life-long “audition” for marriage. And since Pepper Dem Ministries is here to help you connect the dots, here are some by-products of this societal expectation:
1. Women end up dimming their lights so not to appear intimidating to men in society.
2. Women are forced to lower their standards to meet the mediocre and overly simplistic expectations of men in the society. 
3. Women, more than men, tend to give up equally fulfilling feats such as higher educational achievements and career opportunities, just to appear “marriageable” to men.
4. Finally, this feeds into a culture of silence on domestic violence and abuse because women are pressured to endure all manner of things in their marriages to maintain the “Mrs” title and married status.

These may sound a bit too off-the-chain for what appears as a simple “opinion,” but that is exactly why Pepper Dem Ministries exists.

We are here to draw connections between our toxic mindsets/opinions and how they enable and shape larger socio-cultural issues that are of huge concern to Gender advocates not just in Ghana, but the world over.
It is important to note, that KOD is not alone in his thoughts. Inasmuch as many have come out fiercely to set him straight, there was also a sizeable number of commentators who either “agreed” with his comment or “didn’t see anything wrong” with his views and how it denigrates women.

It doesn’t come too much of a surprise as KOD and his sympathisers are all operating within the confines of Patriarchy; a socialisation that teaches and enforces the “domination” of men and “suppression” of women; conditions girls to shrink themselves to earn validation from men; and holds women to higher moral standards than men.

This is exactly why KOD, a man who remains “scarred” from featuring in the infamous sexual encounter between KKD and that 19year old, can even have the effrontery to offer any form of relationship advice to Ghanaian women. If we held men responsible for their actions, there is no way he should even have a job that still puts him in the public eye.
Also very worrying, is how he even positions himself, John Dumelo and his colleague male public figures who have, till date, more scandals than Kim Kardashian, Bill Cosby and R Kelly combined; as some kind of beacons that women need to aspire to, thereby cementing the fact that:

1. The actions (or inactions) of men have very little repercussions on their lives/reputations. Men move on quickly from scandals in many ways that women can’t!

2. In our society men are seen as default “marriage materials” and so don’t have to put in any work to qualify for it as men’s worth are judged by their professional output and achievements more than how they choose to “use” their bodies or with whom they choose to “sleep with.” 
Otherwise, in what universe is KOD a more honourable person than his female colleagues in the industry? How does an “all over the place” man like himself, get to have an opinion on how women should live their lives? How is he of all people, more deserving of true love, a faithful partner and a mutually benefitting and empowering relationship/marriage than single women in Ghana?


And let’s not forget, this is the same guy who reached Nana Aba Anamoah’s hips live and on stage in another tasteless joke to ascertain whether or not her hips were real.
This, and many more reasons are why we insist it is time for a collective re-orientation of mindsets because KOD and his crop of “educated” and “exposed” men who may often times even appear “sensitive” to the cause continue to prove that there is still a lot of work to be done.

As an agenda, we have largely and widely faced many unwarranted condemnation even amidst several provocations, and this case study is also a good time to expose our hypocrisies as a people.

It was very interesting to see people who opposed our approach of “Pepper” aka “fierce rebuttals” to drag KOD in the same manner. This goes to show, that the approach was never the problem; the truth and message of Pepper Dem Ministries which subjects every single opinion to rigorous scrutiny is what many couldn’t stand. The truth is always uncomfortable, just like pepper!
There are many who still doubt the import of online advocacy and struggle to weigh the potential impact but to such, I hope the past couple of days get you to re-assess this stance:
1. For the first time in a long while, people didn’t call on feminists to come and “handle” the situation. They took it up themselves, armed with vocabulary that a very honest observation will prove only surfaced in the past couple of months from the rigorous intellectual debates social media feminists have sustained.

2. Secondly, one of our core tenets and goals is to ensure a “Gender Sensitive” and “Gender Responsive” environment. And as you can see, the rigorous debates have helped impact people’s circumspection on gender commentaries. Even our “dear” Manasseh Azure Awuni attested to this claim in his recent epistle to Christiane Amanpour. Although his biases coined it as some kind of “right” and “privilege” feminists have somehow robbed men off. But then again, it is “Manasseh,” and his ignorance on gender issues no longer amazes me.

In retrospect, it will be useful for us to see gender stereotypes for what they really are: they are HYPOCRITICAL in their double-binds and double standards; they are DANGEROUS; they DISCOURAGE the use of CONSCIENCE and regard for BASIC HUMAN RESPECT because people become only guided by what society accepts, condones or gives them a pass for. And since we are aiming for a JUST and EQUAL society, we can no longer risk dabbling in them. Gender stereotypes are trash and need to be kept far behind us!

You can follow the work of Pepper Dem Ministries by liking and following our official Facebook page at Pepper Dem Ministries or follow the conversations under the hashtag, #PepperDemMinistries

Also join us unlearn toxic gender narratives by tuning in to our talk show on Class fm 91.3 every Thursday at 7pm.

The journey remains forward!

The Writer, Efe Plange is a Ghanaian blogger and social media enthusiast. She is a founding member of the Pepper Dem Ministries with keen interest in gender discussions. Connect with Efe Plange on social media.