I am… Feminist

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…

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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.

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