I am not 100% sure where it all came from but there was a lot of talk of black men, patriarchy and black male privilege on my twitter tl recently. I usually use the time to just read and take it in, I know Twitter isn’t the best place to get educated but I honestly find the conversations so insightful. I have learnt a lot from watching women speak about the oppression of women. Bell Hooks ‘The Will To Change’ (review here) really messed with my head, I was left with so much information but felt helpless. How do I do feminism? Do you even do feminism or is it more of a belief? I still don’t really know to be honest.
After having the usual deep chat with my mother and siblings about everything from Grenfell, poverty and of cause feminism. That is when I confessed my current thoughts on where I stand when it comes to feminism. I had ask myself if I am genuinely angry? Or is it my ego trying to convince me that this movement deserves my time and energy?
Is It My Ego Talking?
I honestly had to ask myself this question. Was I claiming feminism because it justifies my frustrations? I have always been a passionate person, the foundation of feminism seems to fit my own thoughts, so I claimed it, I called myself a feminist. I was part of this cool club that stands up for women.Growing up I participated in slut shaming as I was convinced that respect was only for women who kept their legs and mouths shut. Much older and wiser(ish) I have taken on the rule that if it does not affect me or those close to me, then mind your business Saabirah. Not only that but the idea that others decide whether or not you deserve respect and common decency based on your sexual history was something I grew to find crazy. Followed by several questions; “who came up with this crap?”, “What has sex got to do with respect? And how can you tell me I do not respect myself?”.
Big Sister Duties
As the oldest I have always felt this uncontrollable need to protect and inspire my siblings. When I realised that being the oldest does not automatically make me inspirational, I felt like I had failed my big sister duties.
After an emotional realisation that I am their sister and not their mother, I started to think about the influence I have. If I am not going to inspire them, at least let me be a positive influence.I started to think about the way I feel towards men and the system that stops men from living their full lives. I started to wonder if that energy was coming off when I was around my brothers. Then I realised that I haven’t actually had any discussions with my brother’s to see where their heads are at. I just assumed they were good, but making assumptions doesn’t encourage them to look after themselves or to create their own idea of what it means to be a man.
As my brothers are getting older and entering the early stages of adulthood, I want them to know that they define what kind of men they want to be. I want them to know that this world will try to tell them who they should be and try to shape them into what society deems the perfect man. With anything packaged and labelled as perfect there is a catch. The catch is that you will never fully know who you are outside of the role you play day to day. You will be led to believe that emotional expression is reserved for women, leaving you with limited spaces to relieve yourself from it. This world’s idea of the right kind of man was not made with their holistic health in mind.
“For years patriarchal culture has taught men that their self hood, their manhood, is affirmed by a lack of interest in personal growth; all of a sudden in the wake of feminist movement, women were bombarding men with new emotional expectations. Collectively men responded with a feeling of depression” – Bell Hooks / The Will To Change
My Kind Of Feminism
The frustration on my part comes from the lack of movement when it comes to the men. I think it might be the fact that so many women’s views differ, making it hard to move as a collective and on top of that it is a social norm for men to container doing what they have been doing, which kind of makes us look like we are making an issue out of nothing. Accountability is not something that is required across the board, leaving us in the same position as before.
One of the privileges we as women have is the space to be in touch with our emotions. It is not all positive, most of the time our emotions are dismissed and we are labelled as crazy. Because of this some women find it easier than others to be vulnerable and emotionally available. And then we look over to our men like what are you waiting for? Come on, hurry up and join the emotionally available crew.
The level of unlearning and the lack of support around men makes it harder for some men to ditch their past attitudes. I feel like women are so open to women rediscovering themselves at all ages, whereas it looks like men just don’t have the same level of support and encouragement from their peers.After reading and looking further into feminism, I believe accountability is the only way we can move past the gender wars. Women and men have both been victims of the system created to benefit white men. From what I understand the goal is to have men live their best lives, instead of living a lie, that is what feminism is to me.