the apocalypse we fear

the apocalypse we fear

will not come from Divine retribution

will not involve gods coming down

on fiery clouds, sickle in hand

judgement on the agenda

and for us mortals

heaven or hell the destination

 

the apocalypse we fear

will come and trust it will

because we have forgotten

the principles

that we may balance them

and the laws that govern this realm

that we may mind them

 

does not everything on this realm

come from the same origin?

the Spirit of which sings softly in our ears?

what creature can consume itself and live?

do we not see the imprint?

in high forms as in low?

if it obtains in the cosmos

surely on earth, won’t it do same?

 

does not everything have an opposite?

what swings left, will it not also swing right?

and if it swings far left enough

will it not with mighty force swing right

destroying all in its path?

what rises up, does it not come down?

and if it rises high enough

what a great fall it will be!

 

does not all matter vibrate?

ask your friendly scientist

do all causes not have effects?

and effects their causes?

do we and all created things

masculine, as feminine

not follow the rhythms of life?

 

the apocalypse we fear

will come

because we have abandoned

the most important principles

that we may balance them

and the greatest law of all

which is love

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You dehumanize your wives
You beat them
Some of you force yourselves on them
A man can’t rape his wife, can he?
You humiliate her with your mistresses
Mock her devotion with your other children
Endanger her life with the diseases you bring home
Marry, impregnate, abandon at will
Love is a word that drops from your lips
Poisoned
But I’m high strung if I talk about it
I’m unstable if I call out your cowardice
Feminists are evil, right?
But you’re manipulative and controlling
Selfish beyond belief
Emotionally underdeveloped
Spiritually vacant
Morally retarded
Spirit killers
Enemies of life
Thieves of potential
Prison wardens in disguise
Beta men pretending to be alphas
Whatever the hell that means
Broken children emulating broken fathers
That’s not evil
The problem is the women
The same ones who you claim should tell you what to do
The same ones you wouldn’t deign to listen to
Your gods are watching you
All of them
Old and new
There will be a reckoning

Review: The Mirror and Nine Other Stories by Susan Nkwentie Nde

 Heather Snell continues our summer voyage into children’s literature.

AiW Guest: Heather Snell

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The Mirror and Nine Other Stories is a product of Langaa, a press with offices in Bamenda and Buea. As Langaa indicates on their website, access to publishing is a problem for African writers. Distribution is an even bigger problem: Langaa partners with the African Books Collective, Michigan State University Press, and Amazon to distribute African stories, but due to high printing costs Langaa must operate on a print-on-demand-only basis.

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Why “Smart” Men Still Hold On To Sexism – 5 explanations

1. Moral Cowardice
2. Lack of Empathy
3. A Lack of Experience With Gender Based Dehumanization
4. Myth of A Meritocracy Informs A Superior Male Complex
5. Unwillingness To Give Up Advantageous Superior Social Position

Asaase Yaa Mma

I might be the only person not impressed by "the sexist but charming" Christopher Hitchens. I might be the only person not impressed by “the sexist but charming” Christopher Hitchens.

“Why are smart men still sexist?” The question itself is a bad one. Why do we presume smarter people possess better ethics? Well, it is because we are ableist. Ableism is the systematic maltreatment and disenfranchisement of people with disabilities. One’s moral code has much to do with their socialization and their integrity, and little to do with their intellectual capacity. You and I could be brilliant and evil, or we could be not-so-brilliant and kind hearted. Nonetheless, societal attitudes teach us to possess contempt for intellectually disabled persons. So much so that we presume those with high intellectual capacities to be superior.

If a man reinforces the societal idea that women are inferior to men in anyway, we should refrain from attacking his intellect and aptly scrutinize his moral code. Men are sexist, not because…

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Finding Epie will not fix our rape culture problem

I was about  20 years old and in my final year of university when I was first sexually assaulted by an adult man.

I didn’t resist.

Don’t get me wrong I was in shock that this was happening to me. ME of all people. Like what?! Which motherfucker??! I was enraged, livid, murderous. He knew me. Knew my parents. Knew my family. Knew I was the kind of girl who could speak for herself. I knew his wife, his children. That didn’t stop him. I daresay THAT was why he targeted me.

And I didn’t resist.

Why, you may ask?  Because what I felt at that moment as he slid his hands up my thigh, as he pushed aside my panties, what I felt was resignation. Resignation and a bone deep tiredness born of disappointment, disillusionment and disgust. That moment was a culmination of what I had always known about my community but had hoped would be something I was wrong about.

As a girl growing up in Cameroonian society, you understand pretty quickly that you are not yours. Yes, you are you but you are not yours. You are there for men (regardless of their relationship to you) to control, to look at, comment on, maybe admire…or grope, insult, dominate and eventually own, because that is what marriage (still the highest achievement women can have in our society) is in our communities. Ownership. Don’t believe me? Look at the disproportionate praise and admiration men who do not treat their wives like trash get. Never mind that being married to someone should mean you place that person’s welfare as high as your own.

I was 10 the first time I was catcalled. I was walking up Clerk’s Quarters road in Buea trying to catch a taxi to GRA where we lived. A truck full of soldiers drove by to the camp at Long Street and the whistles erupted almost immediately. I ignored them. Realizing they would get no response from me, one of them called out:

Tu te prends pour qui? Avec tes grosses fesses la, espece de wolowos.

As I moved into my teens and developed as a woman, it became worse. It was almost as if my developing body was an invitation. I don’t need to give too many examples. Any Cameroonian woman (or African woman, or woman for that matter) can tell you what “worse” means. Worse is at home, at school, at work, on the streets, on the farms, in the markets. Worse is normal. Worse is expected. Worse is defended.

Worse is quite literally life. Your value as a woman in this society hinges on how well you can deal with worse. Your value hinges on if and how well you can love worse, marry worse, understand worse, make space for worse, forgive worse, turn a blind eye to worse. It’s why we praise our parents and grandparents relationships even though we KNOW the fuckshit the women almost always had to put up with.

This is the culture in which we live, move and have our beings. A culture where you as a woman are not safe from any man, regardless of his relationship to you. A culture where you are expected to take precautions to ward against a danger even though you don’t know which face that danger will be wearing when you finally meet it. A culture where you will ultimately get blamed and disparaged for other people’s decisions because you had the effrontery to become their victim.

I am tired.

I have written abut our communities and our messed up approach to sexuality Here, Here and Here.

 

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Défi Lancé 

Here’s the deal

Let me help you make your choice

Here’s how I feel

Listen to my voice

You can let me be me

You can let me be free

You can give me my space

You can join in my race

I have no qualms with you

Going off to find things to do

I just won’t be your mule 

My life is mine to rule

But if you purport to lead

If you want to be the hand that feeds

If you want me to submit

If you want to play the beat

You better be exemplar 

A drummer like no other

You better be the mighty iroko that never falters

Your game always on

Your lead never wrong

Your patience long 

Your vision strong 

Or you can just let me be free

Let me be me

Let me have my space

Let me run my race

Can’t play fair if the “game” is rigged

I see a general awakening in the minds of women from my part of the world. I see that the concept of self-love, self-preservation and self-interest is gaining on. I see more and more young women raising their voices against the unjust and harmful standards our mothers and female forbears were held to. This is often situated in language encouraging young women to be responsible for themselves and their destinies. To not look at marriage or men as a way out, to demand and work for what they want and play the game too, and do it without complaining because this is just the game. I do this too and I do it because far be it from me not to encourage a fellow woman to reject a lesser life. It’s a big world out there and you too can make your mark in any way you choose, sis. Go for it.

What I’d like to see more of though, especially for Cameroonian women, is the acknowledgement of just how shitty, selfish, manipulative and fucking awful men can be. The acknowledgment of just how much almost all systems within the patriarchal communities we live in , whether economic, political, social are engineered to help men succeed and keep women out.  I’d like to see more honest conversations about the mental bracing, blatant opportunism and self interest that is necessary if one, as a woman, would prevail in this world. I’d like to see more of the acknowledgement that while we push young women to these feats of daring and accomplishment, we fail to equip them fully with every material and immaterial weapon in their arsenal, and thus set them up for failure at worst and an uphill battle at best.

Here’s a truth: Men, heterosexual men in particular – be it your father, brother, cousin, uncle, friend, lover, colleague, employer – will try to get the most physical, emotional and psychological labor, material resources etc out of us for as little as possible and we have been conditioned by our society to be ok with that. To allow it. We’ve been conditioned to think this is what it means to love a man, to have lived successfully as a woman, to pour yourself out as a living sacrifice, to take your very feminine essence and lay it out for a man to use and often abuse at his whim. You bear children, cook food, clean his mess, tolerate his rubbish and immature, inconsiderate impulses, you make your body and being available, take a step back at work, not assert yourselves, aspire for less so you can give them space to shine, without even realizing it, be modest, be humble, be meek and do all this regardless of any hopes and aspirations you might have. This, above all, is your calling. Saying NO to any of this at any level immediately brands you as difficult or complicated. Meanwhile the men in our communities have been allowed to imagine more, dare more, risk more, want more, have more, be more.

Now you are being told stand up for yourself because “woman eh!” and to do it with unimpeachable integrity while NOTHING is being done to ensure that this will be a level playing field. The game has been rigged from the onset but the only person really expected to follow the rules at this point is you. You are also being told it is your responsibility to demand and expect that men treat you better and simultaneously vilified for doing exactly that.

That’s a shame isn’t it?

You know what I mean, ladies. You run up against it time and time again. You’re doing everything right, but you end up holding broken pieces because you’re in a game where the men are looking out for themselves, with blatant selfishness and you’re running yourself ragged trying to hold them accountable to the ridiculous standards they have set but do not follow, so you can maintain your sanity and keep a clear conscience in the assurance that you’re a good person, but also not push them away because quite honestly, you care. You don’t want to be lonely.
Sis, it’s a trap.

In the words of one of my favorite women of all time, Ninon de L’Enclos

“Feminine virtue is nothing but a convenient masculine invention.”

All the restraints that have been placed upon you are not designed to save you or protect you. They are designed to control you. To harness the deep resources of your mind, body and spirit and exploit them shamelessly while you fool yourselves with notions of moral superiority, all the while dragging around broken spirits and ravaged dreams.

Now am I saying that we go out and do unto them what they are doing unto us? Maybe.

Ninon again:

“It is strange that modesty is the rule for women when what they most value in men is boldness.”

Strange indeed, isn’t it?

Think about it. You’re being hoodwinked, ladies. Open your eyes. Don’t fall into the trap of letting the oppressor dictate how you fight for your liberation or empowerment, or what that liberation/empowerment should look like. Most importantly, do not let yourself be deceived into thinking you have to toe imaginary lines and follow rules which when push come to shove mean little to nothing. People may talk but people have always talked haven’t they? The world kept right on spinning.

Decide what you need to stay happy, sane and productive this world and go after it with reckless abandon.

I’ll write more about this subsequently.

Peace.

FPW