Let’s start this blog with a confession. At University I took Gender Studies as an elective and I used to cringe every time someone referred to me as a feminist. Mostly because I always imagined feminists to be a group of bare foot women with big placards stating how bad the other gender was. Also, because I never liked the idea of being boxed, I have metaphorical claustrophobia.
I’ve always said that if one works hard, patriarchy can be void. Feminism is not necessary. I’ve maintained this belief for very long. Dear reader, my belief has been shattered. This is not one of those discoveries that happen at once, it’s been happening quite incrementally.
Firstly, I come from a very traditional family. My dad is the headman of Zihlahleni, whenever I am in the Eastern Cape and there is an “elderly” conversation involving my dad it’s always about which eldest son inherits which part of the leading roles of the Teyise Family. There’s no talk about female’s inheriting leading roles. Secondly, I’m a Christian (by choice), I love GOD. I’m His number one fan, but if you grew up reading the bible, you KNOW that the Man is the head of the household. Thirdly, I started working. I’ve been working for more than 10 years now, only in one instance (and for only 2 months) was my boss (or the boss of my boss) a female. Fourthly, I started dating. Fifthly, I started analysing all the “hero’s” or leading roles in all the television movies I watch. Sigh! Should I continue?
Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche gave an extremely profound Ted talk titled “We should all be feminist” and Beyonce (like only Beyonce could) featured this speech in her song “flawless”. The book also helped me with my very wrong and distorted view about feminism, it’s very important to start being more aware and addressing issues of gender inequality. I won’t even talk about all the Gender Based Violence that’s been taking place most recently. It’s almost when people start talking about equity versus equality and you see eyes rolling and people shrugging, we get uncomfortable when we have to address real issues.
One of the things I am (and will always) be passionate about is Women Empowerment. If there is anything that I feel we (as females) have the power of changing is how to perceive ourselves and how we venture to Empower one another. The problem we have as women is in our programming, we often see one another as competitors and males as being more superior with greater authority. An example that completely irks me is that of the “Slay Queen” and “Blesser” phenomenon. If you don’t know what it is, I suggest you use Google. Why are we degrading only Women for this? It takes two to tango, by all accounts. These Woman do not “bless” themselves and these married men do so knowingly. Why do we degrade women only and not the men as well? Also, I don’t understand all the hate around Slay Queens and I still maintain that this is hate from one women to the next caused by an inferiority complex. If someone else is well kept with a “fake accent” and without a proper job, it’s their prerogative. As women, we should really stop giving men power to speak down on other women and encourage it. We ought to stand together.
“We raise girls to see each other as competitors
Not for jobs or for accomplishments
Which I think can be a good thing
But for the attention of men“
Let me tell you a little story about myself, one I’ve been embarrassed to speak about to anyone else outside of my friends.
When I was in High School I started dating my first boyfriend, it was actually a really stupid relationship. Even before I started dating this guy I knew he had a reputation but he swore to me that he was single. He had these really attractive eyes, plus I was young so I decided to give him a chance. News of our relationship spread so fast. Literally within 24 hours everyone in my “hood” knew we were dating. I guess people were shocked cause I was always such a “Miss Goodie two shoes nerd”. Anyway, one day, I was in class studying a bit later with my friends and when we left school there was a group of about 20 other school kids (all female) and as we walked closer everyone started making weird noise. Long story short, it turns out there was a girl in the crowd who was also dating this boyfriend of mine and said girl had come to my school to beat me up. LOL! I kid you not! This happened probably 3 times before I broke up with this guy. The point is, throughout this toxic relationship no one did anything to this guy but all the attack was directed at me. Why? Because, once again, it’s in our programming.
I am currently reading “Women who run with the wolves” by Clarissa Pinkola Estes. In one of the Chapters titled “Stalking the intruder” she speaks about how Women are programmed at a young age to “be nice“, a training which causes women to override their natural intuition. I remember having a conversation with my previous partner one time when he told me he wants a housewife. I almost fell out of my chair. My answer was that I wanted to climb the corporate ladder and I could never be a housewife. I don’t want to climb the corporate ladder but I don’t want to be a housewife even more. My point is he never asked me what I wanted, instead he told me what he wanted. As Women we need to stand together and when we see others suffering, we need to be sympathetic and supportive. The odds are against us. We are an endangered species. There is so much strength in unity. It’s time we took our space in the world, against all odds. I will conclude this blog with the very wise words of our phenomenal Miss Universe:
“I think the most important thing … is leadership. It’s something that has been lacking in young women and girls for a very long time, not because we don’t want to but because of what society has labeled women to be. “I think we are the most powerful beings in the world and that we should be given every opportunity. And that is what we should be teaching these young girls — to take up space.” Zozibini Tunzi.