By: Ada Kalu
A Personal Account of a Woman Grown Weary of Explaining Patriarchy to Men
I am using this week to lock off all talk of men, I am weary. In recent days, I found myself being characterized by the (
mostly, usually always unnecessary) input of various men, so I decided to lock off all talk of them. After a long week, I found myself surrounded by and engaging with men doing the most, but the least at the same time, I noticed, both offline and online, a habit of looking to women to explain all life’s gender issues and then some. In doing this, the women, black women, are tasked with educating the masses because the latter are too unwilling to do so themselves. And for the most part, it’s pointless. Arguing with people who find the anomaly is like spoon-feeding a child refusing their vegetables, turning their mouth away and unrelentingly pressing their lips shut. I have performed too much emotional labour in my nineteen years on this earth to sit down and argue facts.
It genuinely confuses me when women are attacked for not standing up for- wait for it- men. Like men are incapable of fighting for themselves without women and it is this narrative I found myself living. Sitting down to coddle XY chromosomes capable of thinking for themselves but choosing not to because God didn’t create Eve for bants. They don’t call women helpers for nothing.
But at what point does helping become a losing battle with yourself? At what point do you cease to learn and unlearn for your own curiosity or gratification and bend over multiple times, in multiple ways until you begin to crack, all to satisfy men who think they have a valid point to prove? That is exactly where I found myself this week. Stressing myself unnecessarily like I didn’t have coursework to submit. Yelling in frustration at people who felt attacked by the concept of male privilege, nothing more than what they perceived to be a fallacy. Straining my eyes in the dark, battery low, serious work pending because I would not let a man think he’d proved his point.
The bittersweet irony of it all, denying patriarchal systems exist, the abusive and oppressive tactics of men and the absurd notion that your individual character benefits from this; yet expecting me, a black woman, to fight your battle by proving you wrong. I don’t have the time honey. I’m going to simplify Lacan’s theory of otherness as expressed in Aphra Behn’s Oroonoko. ‘We need other people to understand who we are.’ That served as the excuse for her, what she described as her passive role in the enslavement of black people. Self-discovery and self-identity are important but at what cost?
As I navigate my own life, on a quest to define what black womanhood means to me, while creating my own narrative, I nearly let these men rob me of my essence. As the great Ntozake Shange once wrote, “I almost let somebody run off with all my stuff!” I guess the whole world has just gotten used to black women being the backbone of society, praising us for being strong as they continue to pile the galaxy and the next dimension on our bodies till we reach breaking point. It’s not cute, it’s tiring and I’m done.
Creative Direction & Model: Adeola Aderemi
Photography: Wonuola Lawal.