A letter to the male Peace Corps Volunteers

Dear Male Peace Corps Volunteers,

As much as I don’t like to admit it, we need you. As much as it pains my independent feminist streak, we appreciate when you’re there in all your macho glory to save us from what is another cross-cultural fiasco. You’re big, burly, and can lift heavy things. For that, I am thankful.

You see, the Peace Corps is not like America. In America I would never ask you to step in. I’d never look your way and with pleading eyes mouth “help me!” I’m strong, I’m smart, and I don’t put up with bullshit. In America, I would threaten to sue for sexual harassment and emotional distress and watch as the men slunk away with their tails between their legs. But like I said, this is not America.

This instead is a place where I fight every day to not be treated like an object. I tried to count the marriage proposals, I really did, but even the best of us lose count here. What even happened to the days where ‘I love you’ really meant something? Just yesterday I rebuked a man who told me it was love at first sight while riding in what amounted to be the worst car I’d ever sat in. You should have seen him pout when I told him I would under no circumstances give him my phone number. “But I want a white wife! And white babies!” Ashia, my friend.

… and we both know that’s a milder situation. Remember the time that chief put his hand on my leg after you left the room and told me how beautiful I was? Or that time the man wouldn’t let go of my hand at the bar? Or when that guy told you he had plans to come and profess his love at your house because he knew I’d be there? Oh, and jeez, what about that man who told me he would bomb me because I wouldn’t be his 12th wife? Or how about that time a woman told me that she liked the comfort of a woman’s body, and that I was going home with her or else she would steal my fake fiancé, become pregnant with his baby and force me to raise their lovechild? Most all, remember how you were there all of those times to tell them to stop, leave, and never treat me like that again? I do.

I am a tough lady, but in a world like Cameroon my lack of a Y chromosome effects me in a myriad of unfair, stressful, and
disrespectful ways. You are our heroes out there, and we notice when you stick up for us. In the country you are our brothers, our best friends, our protectors.

So, when we’re walking it is okay to put your arm around me. Sit next to me at the bar. Walk me home, check on the door for me, and when noises happen when you come for a visit, grab the closest heavy thing and head towards the dark. I fight all day, every day when I’m here. You fighting for me sometimes makes all the difference.

Thanks,

A Female Peace Corps Volunteer

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5 thoughts on “A letter to the male Peace Corps Volunteers

  1. You go girl. It’s also worth mentioning those special male volunteers who acknowledge that life as a female volunteer can be so much more difficult–they are the BEST. I really appreciated my male PCV buddies who would offer encouragement and support whenever it had been a particularly frustrating, exasperating, exhausting day dealing with local men. Miss you, be glad you’re not here to deal with all this Limbaugh birth control shit (have you been reading about that?). Hugs!

  2. I am so sorry you are having all these problems,honey. If it was only possible your dad and Uncle’s would
    have their hides. And I would be behind them with a ball bat. If this gets worse, report it and let us know. You deserve to be loved and respected. You are loved dearly.

  3. too much Cameroonian wahala. Cameroonians dem like nga dem go pass, especially sara nga. i be sure say all camers dem way don waka go reach Etas, any person get like ten sara nga or dem de chat nag dem wo wo.
    Ashia, de more you take dem toli serious, the more e go gene you.

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