By Loyiso Lindani
When has a woman not been marginalized? If you took a second to think about that question you may find it difficult to find a time where you can find that women have not gone through some kind of oppression.
One of the things that society does not talk about is the mental health aspect of being a woman on planet Earth. It doesn’t matter where you are in the world, if you are self-identifying as a woman, there’s a large chance you have gone through some kind of oppression.
At the top of my head, I can think of a few things that support the above statements like misogyny, patriarchy, toxic masculinity, invalidation, gaslighting, gender-based violence, rape, the list is endless. I’ve been analysing some things that are happening in the world in an effort to try and make sense of everything. When it comes to gender matters, I truly feel like religion has influenced a lot of men to think of women as objects created solely for their entertainment. I’ve had first-hand experience of a man telling me that I am not human but something that was created (from his rib) for his pleasure.
As a feminist I never let such talk slide because I always feel the need to correct the statement for all the women before me who were not able to respond because of the mass trauma that women have gone through for centuries.
The experience is far worse if you are a Black and indigenous person identifying as a woman and queer. A lot of the times you will be made to feel like you don’t belong to the extent that your life will be under threat.
Being a woman is about more than just possessing a vagina but the overall life experience. If you are fortunate enough to possess a uterus, you are a portal that spirits pass through to come to Earth in human form, perhaps there’s a lot of envy that comes from that too. Why else, in this day and age do women still get paid less than men?
Our true history tells us we were once Queens, we reigned and led people well as women. Somewhere along the way things changed, women did not have a voice or a right to vote. We were good enough to be barefoot, pregnant and in the kitchen; forget about having a career in those days.
I look at women with deep empathy, from those who passed on centuries ago and the ones alive today who are oblivious to the oppression and marginalization of women. The system has divided us so much by putting us into these different categories so as for us to hate one another.
It takes some serious mettle to be an outspoken woman in the world that constantly tells us that we are not enough, that we need to tone it down and dim our light just so we can fit into some stereotypical narrative that still oppresses us regardless.
For centuries women have suffered, forced into arranged marriages where they birthed or aborted children they were not ready for. We have been exploited for our very existence, take for instance the tragic tale of Sarah Baartman who was kept in a zoo for her curves and had her genitals removed and placed in a museum and that is just one experience out of so many.
There is way too much corrective rape that happens to ‘fix’ lesbians in this day and age as well as transgender people, sex workers along with all key population.
I am concerned for the generation under the influence of living fake social media lives mainly financed by manipulative men who do not have their best interest at heart. I’m concerned about the young women who look up to those women not realizing the power they posses inside of themselves to transform their own lives without subjecting themselves to abuse and torture they could have easily avoided.
There are so many social ills that affect women that it’s extremely difficult choosing just one. The United Nations recently held the High-Level Meeting to end HIV/AIDS by 2030, it’s a task that affects women greatly as the statics indicate women as the most infected however if you look carefully, you’ll find that men don’t make the most numbers because they don’t get tested or go to healthcare facilities to receive treatment so the burden is left to the woman.
Most women are providers in their homes and Covid19 has impacted them greatly as hard lockdown saw a spike in gender-based violence. Identifying as a woman is not easy, there are so many misconceptions and judgements on who, where, how and what we should be as women.
These are just some of the reasons why there is a need for bold and unapologetic women who use their voices to change the narrative and stereotypes. If we do not dismantle these shackles then we are bound to our demise.
We are not women because of men, we are women; period. We do not need any validation or affirmation from men for our existence. We were created, just as men, plants, animals and all that we see in the Universe today. We are capable to be anything we want to be in the world, we have that power within us and it is up to each and every one of us to use it.
As women, we can no longer stand aside on the side line as if life is some party that we are gate crashing when we have been given the exclusive invite just by being born; and if you have ever given birth to someone you will understand just how precious that invitation is.
We do not owe anybody an explanation for who we are and how we choose to live our lives and neither a perfect body. We have a right to prioritize our mental health at all costs. We do not have to justify ourselves to a patriarchal system that forces us to accept less pay, subjects us to objectification and manipulation disguised as love just for us to feel our sense of worth.
Our value as women does not diminish by choosing to not have children or get married. We are entitled to do what we see fit with our bodies without having to consult men or apologise for the choices that we make.
Most women are not aware of their sexual and reproductive health rights to the extent that they expose their bodies to harm with the injections they take unaware of the consequences. We owe ourselves, as women, the enlightenment that comes with the joy of our awakened selves operating at our highest selves for our greatest good and nothing less than that.
There’s many who are looking for relationships yet they’ve never been in a relationship with themselves, they are looking for love and yet they have never loved themselves. Many are still waiting to be taken on dates that they’ve never taken themselves on. How do you expect another person to do for you what you are unable to do for yourself?
We teach people how to treat us so if you have never been kind to yourself, how do you entrust that responsibility to someone else? Instead of chasing all these toxic relationships, would it not be better to attract the life you desire? Is it not better to manifest your deepest desires, spend time getting to know yourself and giving yourself all these things, you are searching for in others?
There is a need for stronger and bolder voices to come up and speak unapologetically for women. Each generation deserves such a calibre of women and until all women are liberated then we have to continue to fight on.
The trauma that we are experiencing affects our mental health so badly to the extent that there are women who are putting themselves in harmful situations due sometimes to not being aware that there is better out there, all caused by the societal oppression and conditioning imposed upon women.
As Black women, we do not get to be children as we are hyper-sexualized at a very young age. We are not raised on love but on duty and service. From an early age we are taught to sweep the floors, cook, do the dishes and laundry so that we can be all this for men. Marriage is pushed on us as a thing we should aspire for but what about our dreams, goals and careers? What if my womanhood is outside of the norm? Am I not a woman if I don’t live or aspire to these values that society and mainstream media constantly pushes down my throat?
We are wounded and we need to heal and not in the modern sarcastic way of healing that gets thrown around on social media meant to demean a person experiencing trauma but in a way that helps us transform our lives and communities for the better.
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