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.
“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.