Dear African Men,
I am sorry, firstly I am sorry because I don’t even know where to begin with my apologies but I will try to be as succinct as I can be.
I am so sorry that you ferverently believe that my loving you entitles you to judge my past and make judgements because “a good woman wouldn’t have done that”
I am so sorry that your sense of entitlement makes you feel that your “hurt” is more significant than my “hurt”.
I am terribly sorry that society has made you believe that your I Love You is the biggest favour you can ever bestow on me and my gratefulness should be abundant and everlasting and most importantly all forgiving of your BS, and of course ever mindful of my own short comings as a woman.
I am really sorry, that my feminity seems to be something you can only tolerate if it is meek, submissive and totally under your control.
I am honestly deeply sorry that the word BITCH rolls off your toungue so freely (and I can’t be offended right) and MEN ARE TRASH is a colossal injustice to your basic humanity. How terrible is that?
I am most sincerely sorry that I fail to understand that my having had an active sex life before you is a collosal betrayal, while your legion of bed partners was a right of passage (I better recognize angithi)
I am sorry that my attempts at standing up for myself are merely disrespectful, stubborn and wilful, because after all your attempts to break me down are done out of the love you have for me.
I am sincerely apologetic for the fact that my gender all seem to be clones of each other and your richly diverse gender has to pick one anyway.
I am sorry for many things, we could be here all day as I make my apologies but…
I am mostly sorry that I am a woman who dares to be herself, who refuses to bend to your will, who refuses to be your strength while you suck the life out of her.
For this I am sincerely sorry. I hope you can accept this heart felt apology.
The Kasi Feminist
Gender expectations are defined as: “Socially constructed roles, behaviours, activities and attributes that a given society considers appropriate for men and women.” Basically those things that are expected from you by society as a girl/woman or boy/man. You should sit this way, you shouldn’t speak like this, that is not lady like… and so forth and so on. These are so entrenched in us that most of us have a knee jerk reaction to witnessing them being flouted, even if we’re not too thrilled about adhering to them in first place.
Navigating the eye-opening path of feminism can be as much about seeing the skewedness of a patriarchal society (with the many cubicles designed to house the identity of women) as it can be about noticing the entrenched prejudices that reside within your own psyche. You begin to notice those gender stereotypes which you yourself have unconsciously fallen victim to, how else will you start detanglin yourself from their shackles right? You begin to notice those subtle voices in your head that silently protest when you don’t conform
Unlearning and replacing these expectations is a part of embracing being a feminist. The catch then comes when you are accused of trying to be a man. How am I trying to be a man? By standing up for myself? By daring to break out of the mould society forces me into because I have boobs and a vagina? By daring to do that which I’ve been programmed to think is not for me? How?
On the flipside it isn’t all fairytales and unicorns on the feminist fence. There are those who think there is only one way to be a feminist. That “blueprint ” however tends to alienate so many women… Those who don’t have a problem being so called “sex symbols” who capitalise on their looks for whatever reason are said to be setting the movement back, but are they really? Isn’t the ownership of self part of being free? There are those feminists who unashamedly bash other women who are as comfortable with the “home maker” role as they are with the feminist role . Does that really make them less of a feminist? Those of our brethren who prefer being “kept women” get more flak from women (especially those who identify as feminist) than anybody else. Are all these women really setting the movement back?
Maybe I’m a bit wet behind the ears when it comes to the movement in general, but I honestly believe that being a feminist means advocating for the freedom of every woman to just be. That to me means, even if I may not personally agree or want to live the life she has chosen but I should be the first to embrace the “live and let live” motto. That to me is the essence of being feminist granted I may still have a lot to learn but I think this where I begin.
I mean what good does it do any of us to to unbox ourselves from the boxes partriachy has put us in… only to box ourselves into the “ideal feminist” boxes kinda defeats the purpose don’t you think?
I am a feminist, am I a feminist?… I’ve always known what the word meant, being as reading was a refuge and the dictionary is also a book, but I don’t think I understood the concept. I mean most people or rather most women I was surrounded by had other things to worry about, kasi life is after all not without its struggles so by then my vague version of what a feminist really is wasn’t really much to go on: the strong black woman (who accepts whatever card’s she’s dealt) was about as far as my thinking went. Fast forward to the teenage years which were positively alive with “Girl Power” slogans and propaganda, everywhere you turned it seemed the world was hell bent on telling me that being a girl is awesome, which of course it is, but still feminist?… I wasnt quite there yet, at home being raised by my grandparents gender roles where pretty much set in stone, to this day my brother has never had to wash the dishes, do the laundry, cook his own food or anything else that was considered a girls job (I kinda feel sorry for his wife)… in retrospect I think that is the point where I began to question this seemingly ‘normal’ way of doing things. Ask grandma why and all you got was “whose going to marry you if you don’t know how to keep house” and my response was always “but, what if I don’t want to get married… ever” of course that was always met with perplexed looks and pacifying little pats on the back to reassure me that of course I want to get married it’s a given, still as rebellious as I was prone to being, feminist?… not there yet.
As I trudged through my later teen years, and noticed how perpetually skewed towards a male perspective this world actually is the more interested in this feminism I became. I thought in theory we’re all equal aren’t we? But somehow the everyday reality did not bear much testament to that declaration of equality… There were just some things that were expected of me that were not expected of my male counterparts. There was a sense of entitlement that men (some older than me) would project onto me, like I should be quietly receptive of whatever attention they decide to bestow upon me because why else would God give me these breasts and hips? However when I first decided to consciously label myself a feminist I found myself being called all sorts of names I personally didn’t feel represented what it is I was trying to stand for. All of a sudden I was a man hater, I was unAfrican, I was ungrateful because my grandmother or even my mother didn’t have the opportunities I’ve been afforded as a woman what more do I want? It’s a fools errand to say men and women are the same, in fact women have it easier (because the assumption is I’ll use my vagina as currency) So I thought to myself “maybe, this is not the soap box I’d like to stand on… back to the drawing board” I had come to the conclusion that like most things the feminist was actually a myth, especially ekasi I mean for the most part the rules are different this side. Every other girl wants a man to take care of her and get her out, not that there is anything particularly wrong with that, it does come with a lot of your power being given away but hey its a means to an end right? Hell, some mothers even push their daughters towards the guy with the deepest pockets and if you’re a single mother with no skills a man comes in handy, even if it means having to constantly bite your tongue lest your opinion bruise his ego. Women who are beaten every weekend like clockwork are a permanent fixture in our lives and we grow up not even batting an eyelid because no one else does, just another day in the life…
I shied away from labelling myself a feminist, its much easier to say I believe in human rights (women are human too right), that I am pro-black (I am after all a black woman aren’t I?) But it doesn’t quite sit well with me, it makes other people comfortable sure, but it isn’t the truth I want to speak…
Yes, I am a black girl from ekasi but more than that I am a feminist and that (amongst other things) is what defines me.
Take a walk through kasi life, from the perspective of a feminist finding her voice and learning to love the sound of it… walk with me