So a few weeks ago, my brother got some guys to repair my TV. Since then, I’ve had a few problems with it. Like, for example, it has a tendency to hang.

My brother has the same model of TV, so I asked him if he was having the same issue. He said no, and suggested I call the repair guy. Okay.

I requested a weekend appointment, since I’m at the office most weekdays. They called me after half an hour and gave me troubleshooting instructions, which I couldn’t follow since I wasn’t in the house at the time.

When I finally did get back to the house, I got a call from the repairmen, saying they were in the neighbourhood and asking if they could pass by. I was irritated because I had specifically asked them to come over the weekend. But I figured if I postponed their visit, they’d never come back, so I let them in.


The two men stood and stared at my TV for a few minutes, then asked me to explain exactly what the problem was. I did. They then unplugged the TV, re-plugged it, and announced that the problem was solved. I hmphed.

They asked why I was making such a dismissive sound. I said, ‘Well, I called you to fix my TV, you’ve barely touched it, and now you’re telling me it’s fine.

From that point on, I’m convinced the repair-men and I were having entirely separate conversations.

What they said:

Madam, huwezi sema hatujafanya kitu. We have fixed your TV.

What I heard:

clueless woman can’t tell we haven’t actually done anything. After all, we fiddled with the wires at the back.

My response:

You switched it off and on. I’ve been doing that for two weeks. That’s why I called you.

On and off
Yes. I have.

What they said:

Madam, this is a very good machine. And it’s brand new. Don’t ask for a replacement.

What I heard:

We gave you a bad machine. Don’t tell our bosses.

My response:

Who said anything about replacement? I just want you to fix the damn thing.

What they said:

Madam, the old machines were Cisco. They came under the old management. Now we have new management, so we use a new brand. You got a better deal.

Did he say Sisqo?
Did he say Sisqo?

What I heard:

Let’s confuse her with big words. After all, that lying video says liars use unnecessary detail in their fibs.

My response:

I’m not talking about Sisqo or Dru Hill or Microsoft. I just want it to work. And, again, who said anything about replacement?

What they said:

Madam, if you call after we leave and say the TV isn’t working, they will send you a substandard replacement. This is the best machine there is!

What I heard:

Don’t get us in trouble lady. We fucked up and we’re doing you a favour by giving you inside info.

My response:

So if the TV gets spolit after you leave, I should NOT tell the office?


What they said:

We didn’t say that. You see … the last time we came here, we found a man, and he said you were getting a HDMI TV. It works better with this model.

What I heard:

Stupid woman. We’re better off dealing with a man.

My response:

You want I should call the man for you? Because little old me can’t deal with big complicated words like HDMI ABCD.

What they said:

Hapana madam, sio vita. Tunasema tu …

I didn’t hear the rest of the statement beause I was trying to figure out which part of my statement was confrontational. Hadn’t I spoken in a calm, quiet voice, and even acted blonde for good measure. Plus, I don’t know what HDMI ABCD is.


My response:

Listen. That guy you met, he’s my brother. This is my house. If you would prefer to deal with him, then I’ll get him for you. Because this conversation simply does not make sense to little old me.

What they said:

Madam, that problem with your machine, it’s a very small problem. It’s not worth a replacement, especially a substandard replacement that will …

At that point I heard a knock so I excused myself in the middle of his sentence to go check on the door, then spent five minutes chatting with the new neighbour’s five-year-old. Rude, maybe. But she’s cute, and the repairmen were annoying.

When I got back, they resumed their arguments about HDMI and men and my TV being fine, but I wasn’t listening anymore. I guess they noticed I wasn’t bothered, because they changed tack. They started explaining all the additional benefits of this excellent piece of machinery. For example, I can record live TV. All I have to do is buy their special hard drive at 5,500 and …

What I heard:

Woman, shut up and give us your money. And while we’re at it, why are you so comfy on my couch. I don’t remember saying you could sit!


Eventually, the repairmen left my house and said if there was any problem, I should call their personal lines rather than calling head office. I said I would, and that I’d make sure the ‘man’ was there to deal with them. Then I called ‘the man’ and ranted for half an hour. Thank heavens for tall baby brothers.

I’m sure the repairmen went to their car grumbling about crazy feminists. And I suppose I did take every word they said personally. Here’s the thing though. Every time someone says … ‘As a black man/white man/single mum etc’ they get accused of being defensive and myopic.

But … if I am a black man, how else would I look at life? Would I see it through eyes of a blue cat? How can it be wrong to present my natural perspective?

Men often accuse women of demonising them during rape discussions. A part of me understands that as a man, it’s impossible to understand what rape means to a woman. And yet these men have no problem understanding rape when it concerns their mothers or daughters.

The men that do rape women know exactly what they’re doing to her body, mind, and spirit. The rapist may justify himself and make excuses, blame it on her clothes, or her drunkness, or her being alone at night, or her consent on prior occasions, or her having a vagina. But what he’s really doing is overpowering someone else’s will. It’s the main reason why they do it.


Whenever a man dismisses me, it targets the same region of my brain that is triggered by discussions on rape. To him, it’s about putting a woman in her place. To me, it’s about showing me that my space, my world, my decisions, my very point of view isn’t valid. All because I’m a woman.

And so, naturally, there’s a big part of me that gets upset when a man dismisses me. I bought that TV, but when said TV gets spoilt, I still need to call a man to fix it. And when I do, he dismisses my gender, even though I’m paying him to work on the TV.

And then … the only way to get said man to stop dismissing me is to get another man to deal with him on my behalf. All because he has a penis.

Look, I can be reasonable. I don’t mind men opening doors or paying for dates or leaving toilet seats up. But when I call you and pay you to do a job, can we please leave my vagina out of it?

I suppose – the TV repairmen couldn’t see me as anything but a difficult woman. And I couldn’t see them as anything but shifty chauvinists. One thing’s for sure. The next time my TV hangs, I’m letting the man deal with them. It’s easier for everyone.

♫ Burn ♫ Ellie Goulding ♫

112 thoughts on “Lost in translation

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