I Almost Let Him Run Off with All my Stuff

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.

*Images credits:

Creative Direction & Model: Adeola Aderemi

Photography: Wonuola Lawal.

 

11 Comments

Join the discussion and tell us your opinion.

Crystal Nicole
22. December 2017 at 20:52

This was beautifully written! Black women have definitely been the go-to strong person but it’s so important to take back your power and truly own it, not allowing others to abuse it, but lending it when necessary.

Leslie
23. December 2017 at 3:23

Amen. You said it all and bravo to you for not only sharing this but getting this lesson so early in your 19 years. Keep preserving your essence !

Eva
25. December 2017 at 3:41

I have definitely grown weary of having to explain all issues of race, gender, and motherhood to people. Folk swear we don’t know anything and also know everything at the same time… Exhausting.

Tiffany Haywood
25. December 2017 at 3:44

Well written and expressed. I wish I had these lessons learned when I was your age. I wish you the best and trust me you’ve got this!

Natasha
25. December 2017 at 5:30

To be this aware at 19 is awesome! I’m glad that you’re tapping into what YOU need to do and what YOU need to eliminate in order to function properly.

Bridgid
26. December 2017 at 2:20

This was written amazingly. To piggy-back off of (Crystal’s) previous comment, it’s so frustrating how society wants to use women for their strength yet hold it against us at the same time. We are the go-to strong woman, yet if we demand more out of everyone else we all of a sudden have an attitude. I’m tired too.

Nanekia Ansaei
26. December 2017 at 17:19

#allofthis I’m tired too! I’m refusing to engage in bs because at this point I have one grown child and two others in their way, if you need that much help or nurturing call ya mama!

Tiffany H.
26. December 2017 at 20:05

I always ask the question. Who cares for the strong ones?? Nobody because everybody assumes they ca handle it. Well as some point the strong one feels weak and need others to care for them as they care for others.

Ashleigh
27. December 2017 at 4:03

It’s definitely emotionally taxing to try and explain anything to anyone who is dead set on not realizing their ignorance and being open to being taught. That fact and the fact that I hate arguing is simply why I don’t try anymore. Save your energy sis!

Kasi
27. December 2017 at 10:42

This is a beautiful piece! I love the quote you chose and your images.

ShaBree Henry
5. January 2018 at 17:23

Yesssssss this is so exhausting! Dialogue brings awareness. Thanks for sharing.

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