I Just Think It’s Funny How…

By Masiyaleti Mbewe

By Masiyaleti Mbewe

I just think it’s funny how I’m expected to take every form of oppression with a pinch of salt. Be it because I am black or be it because I am a woman. I am constantly being told to censor my struggle, to sugarcoat my discomfort, to shut up.
I spend a lot of time trying to educate black men that do not want to listen. My voice gets so hoarse from all the hours I spend debating with them, trying to shed light on some incredibly dark holes in their reasoning.
My grievance is really when I try to correct them. When I try to tell them that their approach is not only invasive but also incredibly unjustified and wrong, they don’t want to listen and instead I am told that I am ‘difficult’, ‘too aggressive’ and ‘argumentative’.
“You don’t respect me,” I say to black men, “because if you did, you would know that whistling at me when I’m walking to the Portuguese shop to get a sandwich is dehumanizing. You’re selfish because you think me saying ‘NO’ is a signal for you to ‘just try harder’ when in actuality it simply just means no. Why does a woman have to explain herself constantly? Explain why she doesn’t want to sleep with you, explain why hollering at her when she’s going about her business is not cool? Shouldn’t you know that already? Tell me, how do you not know that!?”
In reality I think men would prefer I meet their entitlement to my body with a smile, to take it as a compliment, after all ‘male validation’ is the only reason God put me on earth, mos?
I have heard disturbing things said by men I once thought of as my friends. Heard rape jokes so unsettling I began to feel uneasy around these so called male friends of mine because they perpetuated and reinforced the idea that a woman’s body is not her own and that anything from having too much to drink or wearing a crop top on a night out warrants or justifies her violation.
I don’t want men to respect me because they have a younger sister or a daughter and wouldn’t want her to go through what I go through on a daily basis. No, I want them to respect me because they see that I am a human being first and that I am their equal.
Because I am.
Sometimes I feel like men know what they are doing is wrong and that they just can’t stomach the thought of a woman calling them out on their problematic behaviour and that’s part of the bigger issue here; black women are not being heard because a lot of black men feel entitled to black women, when in fact we don’t belong to them or anybody for that matter.
We are fighting the continuous socio-economic oppression of black bodies and non-black people of colour on a daily basis.
The same way black people as a collective want to be heard, to have white people acknowledge and give up their privileges is the same way black women want (black) men to face their male privilege and deal with their oppressive ways. Black women have to deal with not only being black but also being women as well. Give us a break!
I for one refuse to let men get away with oppressing me. Call me difficult, call me aggressive, and call me argumentative.
I will not rest until all systems of oppression fall.

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