I recently engaged in an overheated debate with a close male friend of mine. The debate, having been fuelled by the book, ‘We Should All Be Feminists’ left us both gasping for air. It triggered an instant interest to dig dipper into the so-called system of patriarchy. What needed to be said was said, regardless of the fact that we in most cases spoke over each other.
I didn’t forcefully but intensely persuade him to read the 20 paged book. I took it upon myself to break the mental barriers bestowed on him in childhood.
My friend opposed the dismantlement of patriarchy, but…. There as always had to be a but. He bluntly exclaimed that patriarchy is a non-existent factor in issues relating to misogynistic behavior. His anger quite surprisingly was revered towards society. He held society accountable for breeding and nurturing power-driven males who view oppressive behavior as a commodity for enhancing their manhood.
People are what, according to my make up a society.
Blaming society for the ills that the majority of us are a witness to, is for me the greatest injustice committed by man. Blaming society for the ever sky rocketing rate of domestic violence is itself a violence in a neatly packaged box.
My friend disagreed with the claims that the bigger enemy is in actual fact, patriarchy. He disagreed with this claim, because like the majority of males he fears the stripping off of the gifts patriarchy awards him.
Why would he scorn oppression and in the same breath promote patriarchy?
Are his mental barriers so strong that they’ve influenced his sense of reasoning? Are the benefits that Partriachy gifts to the male child so sweet
that he’ll defend an unjust system?
He said that Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie contradicted all that history had taught her. It took me a while to realise that his statement was wrapped in intense criticism. My immediate response to him was, ‘Just because we have been taught something as a way of life, doesn’t necessarily mean that we accept it as the only way.’
The history he spoke of is the very same that devalued women. Particularly black women.
Many people argue that colonialism figuratively castrated /emasculated black men. This claim is founded on the belief that Black Men could not be the Patriarchs they were before the trans-Atlantic slave trade. What most people don’t know is that black men were able to keep intact some of their inherent traits during slavery. They were never forced to adopt roles then regarded as feminine.
Whereas black women were labelled, ‘surrogate men’ for their ability to withstand physical labor.
The slave master aimed to strip black women of their feminine qualities and punished them in a manner similar to that of males. Rape then was an oppressive and popular tool used by slave masters. In certain instances, white masters would bribe black women into sleeping with them, so that they wouldn’t be held accountable for their sexual exploitation.
Even after colonialism ended, white men were adamant to prevent interracial relationships. They created an image of the Black woman as a depraved prostitute and the Black man as an inherent rapist. Many people have thus internalised this idea because their mannerisms resemble those of enslaved people on a white man’s farm.
Why am I no longer talking to men about feminism?
I got tired. I got tired of stroking his ego and assuring him that I do NOT hate him. That feminism is not a movement aimed to discredit men, but quite the contrary. I got tired to a point where my tired cried of exhaustion. I lost my voice last week, I said it was the flue. But no. My voice could no longer take the strain of screaming, “My feminism does not entail that I’m not deserving of your of your respect.” I live you with a quote by Thomas Sankara, “The revolution cannot triumph without the emancipation of women.’