Monday, 13 April 2009

Springing forward

I love my life. Even though it's sometimes hard, it's always mine, largely within my control and full of the wonderful people with whom I choose to surround myself. Sometimes I feel tired, and feel the need to determine exactly what's making me tired, so I can move forward, instead of moving around in circles; and so I can separate the things I can actively fight to change, from the things I might not be able to change but for damn sure won't be a party to, from the things I just have to release and let be.

Today, I'm tired of the definition of masculinity that maintains adult males as men-boys, always having to reinforce among themselves that they are still and always will be capable of attracting 'girls', 'girls' here being grown women that they cast as girly, perpetually young, oversexed beings who can never be complete without a penis. I am tired of phrases like 'stop being a little bitch' or 'are you some kind of pussy?' that equate these vulgar, singular interpretations of womanness with weakness, and are meant to reinforce male camaraderie by making women less than. I'm tired of the films and television shows that glorify this idea of camaraderie, that prize and celebrate the experiences of young, white, heterosexual males as if we are all meant to revel in their partying, beer-drinking, weed-smoking, ass-getting escapades while the experiences of Black men and women are reduced to Madeas and Norbits; and the realities of bright, complex Black men and women (oh will no one bring us another Girlfriends?) remain largely invisible. I'm equally tired of Seth Rogen and Tyler Perry.

And let's not even begin to mention all the straight up fake-ass 'Caribbean' accents that feature American actors who can't even be bothered to at least listen to a Beenie Man interview instead of every other sentence uttering absurdities like 'irie, mon', which no one says except maybe for Rasta caricatures on souvenir T-shirts. And episodes of TV series set in Suriname but featuring a language that can only be described as Trinidadian American English, because Sranan with subtitles would have been too expensive or no one bothered to Google 'Suriname language' before shooting. I'm tired of the Caribbean being exotic enough to provide fake settings for Friends (where 'Bajan' hotel staff are everywhere on set but amazingly none interact with the guests) and soundtracks featuring Rihanna, Shontelle and Rupee, but not important enough to merit the marginal extra effort to research an accent or find a Caribbean actor.

And I am way fed up of the ads suggesting that if your hipbone isn't jutting through your skin, you are not 'ready for summer'. Because apparently fat people aren't allowed outdoors in July, and must remain inside on pain of being electrocuted and having their large asses dragged back in the house and covered in a tarp. Bzzzt! That's called an electrified perimeter, fatty. Now eat your Special K lunch and then drop and give me a bazillion. The sunshine is for the pretty people.

I'm really tired of the term WAG, which conveniently rhymes with 'hag', 'drag' and 'slag', the final straw being a reference to the 'G20 WAGs'. I suppose these women do not merit actual, complete words, since they are in their entirety just the appendages of their far more important male masterspartners.

I am exceedingly exhausted of the women who aim to seek favour and align themselves with men by berating women who do not love porn; do not encourage lap dances and supply their partners with crisp dollar bills for the occasion; have slept with more than 2 and a half men (or women); have made something other than biblical reproductive and parenting choices; or were abused and didn't immediately pack, leave and write a book about it as soon as the bruise stopped throbbing. I am tired of women making claims to sisterhood when they really mean whitesisterhood or whiteAmericansisterhood or Westernsisterhood or sisterswholookandlivelikemehood. I am tired of watching my sisters hop and skip and dance around their relationship issues because they're afraid of pissing a man off and being labelled the angry black or brown or just plain woman. I'm tired of my girlfriends not learning our lessons collectively because we think we're above what happened to our friend next door - above being cheated on or abused or raped or disrespected. Because these things happen to the frigid or the weak or the slutty party girls but not to us. And I'm tired of being afraid to say, lovingly and respectfully, 'this is what I need from you' to my partner, or at least I would be if I still engaged in that ego-stroking bullshit we're told we must practice in order not to offend the overlords and end up (gasp) alone.

And then when I'm tired of feeling tired, I do something to renew myself. I take a shower and look at myself naked to remember who I am without clothes and hairstyles and titles and awards and boyfriends. I visit the communities of women who get what it means to support each other and to agree or disagree without destroying. I talk to my sisters and woman friends; and to my man friends who don't need to throw in a lame come-on to feel like they're men, but who can meet me on common ground, a woman with a heart and a brain and a vagina, and not let the latter dictate our exchange. I regroup, recharge, and remind myself that sometimes being tired is what gives you the energy and joy to continue.


  1. Thank you. This is a beautifully written rant, that, if read as a sort of meditation, might help us overcome our placid acceptance of all the vulgar behaviors and attitudes with which we put up daily. I'm an optimist, so, thank you.

  2. Thanks, Sara. I'm thrilled that anyone would find these thoughts useful. :)

  3. I just found your blog, and I love it.

  4. Oh Penelope:
    Yay! Thanks and welcome!

  5. This post is just awesome.


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