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

Gentle Reminder 

White people
The difference 
Between us
Is this
We have
Been tested
In the fires
In the waters
In the pits 
Ripped to bits 
And we’ve come through 
We are coming through
We have forgiven 
Seven times seven
We are healing 
And we shall heal
We are sanctified 
We shall be sanctified
We are free 
We shall be free

But you’re not

Found Treasure 

He fits right

Like that dress you found at the store 

So right you couldn’t believe your eyes when you first saw it

Firm luxurious fabric

Right color and cut

You just know when you touch the material 

That this one

Mmmm Hmm 

Yeah

Then you try it on and yuuup

He fits juuuuust right

You’re still in a little disbelief

You came to this store

Maybe needing a dress for an important event 

Kinda broke but hey

You what you can get right? 

And then you find this motherfucking jewel  

Or maybe you were just wondering 

Bored 

Meh, check out clearance

What else to do on a Saturday afternoon

And then bam! 

That dress 

A little rough from being on the hangar for too long 

But you KNOW you can rock it

He fits right

Surprisingly right

Now it might rip on me while I’m at a meeting 

I might need to hold my breath and not eat a lot at that party 

So the zipper holds

It might fall apart after one wash 

And I may only get to wear it once

Shit I might go home and it looks different in my apartments mirrors and lights 

Or it may become my closet staple

My old dependable

The one dress I know I can take on the world with

The one that got me that job

That gave me the courage to talk to that cute boy at the party

Whose seams held me together 

And demanded that I keep my back straight 

When the world weighed so that I slouch   

Goddamn 

He fits right

I’m gonna buy it

Mama Africa 

Before I knew the power of my own name

Or learned to hold its fullness in my mouth

You sent me to another home and told me to go

Now you resent me for calling another woman mum

And speaking in a way that offends you
Mama Africa 

Stand Your Ground

Cameroonian Girl

Stand your ground. There’s no man born who can take you out unless you allow it. And you’ve been taught to allow so much, anything else feels wrong.

Stand your ground.

You’re not crazy. You’re not asking too much. You’re not being unreasonable. You’re not being selfish. You’re not arrogant or full of pride. You don’t even think as high enough of your self as they accuse you of. Think higher.

Stand your ground.

Even if it means you’ll stand alone. Even when it hurts and you want to die . When it feels wrong, when it feels right. When it feels good, when it hurts. When you win and when you lose (and yes you will).

Stand your ground.

You’re not weak. You’re not defective.  You’re only human. You’re not perfect. You’re a seed which grew where it fell from the Universe’s hand. Fate will storm on you. You will break and be broken.  Branches, leaves and fruit will be lost. And the waters will wash these pieces downstream.

Stand your ground.

When that’s over, when that rain stops as rains is known to do, stand up. You’re stronger than you realize and you carry the DNA of women who’ve carried the world on their shoulders. Trust the soil you were planted in. Reach deeper. You grew there didn’t you?

Stand your ground.

You will win. Or your daughters will.

But you have to stand your ground.

Things they left behind

A fondness for Future

A better relationship with  beer

Interest in middle eastern art

Tape deck for the car

Otterbox for the phone

An enduring love for Led Zeppelin

Mostaccioli, beef stroganoff

Umberto Eco

Coldplay  (I know. IDGAF IDGAF )

A deep appreciation for great cunnilingus

Great book recommendations

A love for chocolate  with tea

An out of control love for cinnamon rolls

More interest in comics than I care to admit to

Coronas in margaritas

A better understanding of self

A weed addiction

Courage

The beauty that is sleeping pills

Clothes I pilfered

That one pajama bottom

ACDC jokes

A bad ass LinkedIn Profile

Kitty cats!

Red velvet cake

Tolkien

They leave so much behind, don’t they?

 

 

Learning to live with scars

The thing I learned early about scars is that some never fade.

I’m one of those people with scar prone skin. I also have sensitive skin and a tendency to not leave things well alone, so my whole body is covered in scars. I’m not even kidding. If you counted every single blemish, they’d likely number in the hundreds.

If I was waxing poetic I would say they are a road map to my life, each spot a monument to some time when the figurative hard knocks of life crossed into the realm of the literal, leaving a reminder that shit will happen and there’s not a fucking thing I can do about it.

But really they’re just scars. Black, brown or white and shiny blemishes on my skin which remind me of every mosquito bite, every fall, every beating, every  iron burn, knife cut, boarding school trunk  accident, hot water spill, scratch, surgery, bite, fight, adult acne break out, skin infection  that I have ever had, with the promise of more to come, a morbid documentation of my fragility. After all anyone of those wounds could have been fatal.

I did, after all, grow up in Cameroon.

And they never fade.

They never fade.

I’ve tried it all. Creams, pomades, treatments, vitamins, scrubs. Serums, oils, peels, washes. The appearance of some diminished somewhat but I can still see the line formed by the hot coals that fell on my lap from the iron. I should have known better than try to iron my birthday dress myself. My mother made me wear a horrendous track suit to school. The one day I got to not wear the school uniform, I wore a track suit. I was crushed. I was 5 years old.

I remember the taunts. Form 2 and 3 in Saker were hard times.

“Nice legs…”

The gasps.

The girls  at the tailoring shop. The one who couldn’t contain her dismay.

“Mamamiye, na weti chop me this pikin e foot them so?”

Blurted out in that genuinely harmless but still tactless way us Cameroonians have about us.

The guy friend who apologized to me after loudly complimenting some random girl’s legs.

Bless your heart.

 

I’ve learned to live with them. Make peace with them as best as I can. I don’t find always beauty in them although some days I trace the lines and jagged edges and chuckle, wishing I had that minimum of fucks to give that would let me just forget they’re there or do something radical like turn them into tattoos, a random pattern unique to me. I’m still self conscious about them. I still wince when I wear a mini skirt (but I will wear the hell out of that mini skirt). I still wish I had smooth blemish free skin. I still wonder what my partners think. I still linger in skin care sections longer than I need to and  will read up on the latest skin care fads.

And I tell myself it’s ok. I’ve made it this far with them. And the show must go on, I guess.

 

Glass Beads

Glass beads around her waist

Rhythmic rattles

Whisper soft

Beat soft

Skin soft

Skin bare

Skin brown

Back arched

Head back

Eyes shut

Thighs wide

Booty primed

Bass lines

Strong as a beating heart

Stronger than a beating heart

Rhythmic rattles

Whisper soft

Beat soft

Glass beads around her waist

Bush Faller Lament

It’s not supposed to be like this, is it?
“Bush” is supposed to be safe.
“Bush” is supposed to be comfortable.
Predictable even.
You clean enough shit and “put your head for book,”
Play your cards right and don’t be too much of a crook,
And one day, you too can be a bushfaller,
With a fast car and money to blow in Limbe at Christmas.

It’s not supposed to be like this.
Your mother couldn’t have warned you about the quiet white boy who kept to himself.
Or the police officer who thinks you inferior to himself.
Or the Pakistani boy who’s not been himself, since the day he held his fathers lifeless hand and cursed the people who would kill a poor farmer and not the pashas.

It’s not supposed to be like this, is it?
The rising tide of fear.
The question niggling the back of your brain.
The one you push down, as you try to assure yourself it will all be alright.
That you and yours are too small, to be of any consequence in this fight.

It’s not supposed to be like this.
And yet here we are.
Crying more than the bereaved.
And what do we really mourn?
The lives lost?
Or the death of the illusion of safety we’d allowed ourselves to buy into?