It is of concern, it worries me, it begs the question, and ‘who am I?’ It is a life of self-seeking; searching trying to make sense of what makes me what I am. Who defines me? Is what I think I am what should be entitled of me, or is this a life of conformity? Femininity, unfortunately, confined us to the unfortunate position of finding a place to fill, occasionally, which turns out to be most of the time taking up roles which, if we have not volunteered to take yet, relegated to us by manhood.
I am seven years of age, and I have a pretty good idea that there is exists a difference between people. Although subtle, I know that men wear pants and dresses are for the women. But differences there were, only if I knew they were as widespread. Then followed the roles, the chores that a girl could do, the games a girl is expected to participate in and such alienation that predefined the position of the genders as distinct. It was evident at the advent of schooling that the world was dived into two, one for boys and another for girls, men and women respectively. What then sets in the questions, why can’t I do whatever everyone else is doing? (By ‘everyone’, read boys). The differentiation and rebuke at associating with the male gender beyond some point caused me confusion. It did not help that the boys, even at that age, had learnt that they were privileged in a way. Even though they did not understand what lay at the heart of their elevated position, they sure did exhibit some repulse against girls. And the attitudes develop; the battle lines are drawn at that young age, on a psychological level, the battle against what or whom unclear, but nevertheless, a battle.
In a quick progression to adolescence, the scenario changes and the male other show keen interest, not only in me, but in others of my age, as well. Something is amiss in my view, they thus do not seek out in a genuine interest of interaction, as they would associate with a friend their own sex, but rather, as a prize, a trophy hunt. It seems to near the excitement of a trophy hunter on acquisition of a permit to exercise their hobbies in a wild place like Africa, and the ultimate pride they gain after killing a giraffe, not for consumption, but for poses on top of its carcass. Let it rot, or hyenas may have their feast. It is sad how these things so naturally happen, but many women I know have suffered similar predicaments in life, got used to it and let life roll on. With a blink, the events pass them, and they gracefully wear them in their stride. What should a woman feel in such instances? They do understand what a woman should feel; I want to believe they would understand but with the cycles playing out in my sight, proves my hopes otherwise. It is distinct, we are us, and they are them. But who are these distinct people?
I hope to find that answer some day, but before I give up hope on its resolution allow me to continue. I never suffered an abusive childhood. I do not merit the tag of, ‘she has issues’. Did not undergo some form of radicalization, so do not say ‘she seeks mayhem’. I have learnt it is important to announce one-self in these times, and the act does not guarantee you any acceptance either, it just gives way for your dismissal on auspices of the oddities you never disassociated yourself with. I am a regular woman seeking to understand the meaning between men and women. It is apparent that there exists physical dissimilarities; however, have they been sufficient for the treatment women receive? The treatment I receive?
I always wanted to belong. I believe everyone does. I might have escaped some of the tribulations some of my fellow womenfolk have suffered attempting to belong, but it was entirely out of observation and learning from their mistakes. So what remains is a void, a space of things I would have wanted happen. An understanding partner for instance, not that they do not exist, but who can blame me for having my doubts? I would seek to be interdependent with all, but there has to be restraint. I have in many occasions suffered instances where you seek engagements, maybe of an intellectual nature, and the subject takes you in a sexual form. Do not panic that I pose so many questions to you, but in such instances, where does a woman cease to be a woman, and take on attributes that can appeal on an intellectual level? And I became aloof, unable to assimilate quickly enough to the sexual image of my condition. But I have learnt in order to be heard, or hope to be heard; I must assimilate, I must smile when an inappropriate comment flies off some intelligent man in an attempt at fitting in. It must not be such a struggle, and it would be a shame to have a scholar group, an investment group, social group etcetera comprised of sole men or women, or in both cases persons of the other gender who have found a way of assimilating into the majority gender in the gathering. I have gone too far with my musings; I might have given leeway for my discrediting. I need to announce myself, as I so often do; I am a woman, and more important, I am not a feminist. I do not like the sound of that word; I would if there were a contemporary for it like, ‘I am a ‘manist’’. It has a derided connotation to it that I am sure shall not aid my quest towards seeking acceptance, as I have been late in so doing. I am a humanist, in the sense that it would give me extreme pleasure if I woke up to a world where am not afraid of being taken advantage of, and accused as the cause for it.
I would like to help, and see other people help cure this malady called ‘woman’, for there to be human only, then, maybe I’d say I belong.
It would liberate me if I could be allowed to be strong, chase my dreams with fervor, without being called headstrong.
If I knew what me makes wrong, then that link I’d sever, where my malady arose from.
And what is the use of complaining, who would hear me anyway, do they understand my language?
I think I see them resonating, but more in a sway; I think its music in their adage.
We are back to where we started, many words but minimal way charted, I think I might be different after all.
Being heard is hard for a woman like me. It is like communicating on another level with aliens. Their language too complicated for you to understand, their ways too hard for you to adopt, and their arrogance too entrenched for them to consider ‘lowering’ their standards. There lived many great women before me, Maya Angelou, Florence Nightingale; they never made an impact to the highly sophisticated race of ‘mankind’. In our planet we have to evolve faster, our methods, intelligence as the ‘womankind’ has to match theirs. I need to be like them; I need to be them if it is only then that I can express myself without fear of misinterpretation, misunderstanding, where does there have to be a negation to everything concerned with me? It sounds to me as I am being defined by the absence of quality in me rather than the possession of a unique trait. Man woman, mistermistress, poet poetess, home homeless, with without.
How then can I feel at home? I shall seek this trait that I lack, I shall fit into this society, and I shall. But I do not have to. Why should I submit to be in need of the men folk more than they are in need of me? I will not seek them out; they shall seek me out. I shall make it difficult for them to reach me. I will make myself useful; I shall prove my ability, not in competition with the, I know I can beat them, but in a bid at proving to me, of my worth. They are not worth my struggle; they are not worth of our kind’s struggle; we are so much better than to conform to the brackets that they define us by.
So, this is what we do. Sorry, I did not announce myself; I feel to have outgrown the need to do so by now. I do not know whom I am, but soon, you will have an idea of what I’d like you to see me as. I will not care in your business as much as you do not care in mine. You might be stronger, faster, taller, but you are never better than I am. You like to define me by your scales; you idealize me, I am not a commodity, and I do not work on visual appeal solely. I have a brain, meant to take care of things other than managing your diary and white pressed shirts. My engagement with you shall not be guided by your instincts, as the rumble of your stomach reminds you that you have to eat. It is going to be different. I know, it might be non-existent even, for a while, until you learn to approach me as I deserve to be approached. I know you better than you care to know, and I know you shall not go far without requiring my companionship. I shall be waiting hopefully, for a companionship guided on the tenets of a partnership, respect, amicability, civility, maybe we can start by calling the new union the newly suggested word of ‘human -beings’.
Butler, Judith. Undoing Gender. New York: Routledge, 2004. Print.
Kolmar, Wendy K, and Frances Bartkowski. Feminist Theory: A Reader. Boston: McGraw-Hill Higher Education, 2010. Print.
Marshall, Jill. Personal Freedom Through Human Rights Law?: Autonomy, Identity and Integrity Under the European Convention on Human Rights. Leiden: Martinus Nijhoff Publishers, 2009. Print.