The Perfect Woman

IvankaThe greatest trick patriarchy ever pulled was co-opting women into its cause.

Just as the “Clever Black” or “Uncle Tom” who were elevated by racists, patriarchy has always made a place for the “Perfect Woman.” The woman who is smart, pure, sexy, beautiful but not so threatening enough that her rise can’t be attributed to “merit.” The Perfect Woman fits all the juxtapositions society requires of all women without breaking a sweat.

Patriarchy needs the Perfect Woman to rise in a misogynistic system so as to say: it’s not the fault of the structures that don’t work. Silicon Valley is littered with Perfect Women. Yet the true mark of an unjust system is a mediocre man can still rise to the top of the proverbial food chain, while women need to be Perfect just to get in the door – no, to the lobby.

Patriarchy needs the Perfect Woman as a cudgel to silence other women. She is the perfect tool to use to blame women for their own struggles, while saying sexism doesn’t exist. The Perfect Woman is wielded like a sword to gaslight the rest of us. Perfect Women like Ivanka Trump can say they have never experienced sexism, and point to hard work as the recipe to their success. Perfect Women like Ivanka speak in a soft voice and never demand attention in the workplace, because they have had doors opened to them by their Perfection. Perfect Women like Ivanka are also the Perfect Mom, Perfect Daughter and Perfect Wife; nary a housekeeper in sight, leaving the rest of us lesser beings wondering, “how does she do it?”

The Perfect Woman does not exist in real life. No one person is impervious to sexism; women live with its adverse effects, while men benefit from it.

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Faith After Death

Know her name: Roxanne Gay

After being gang-raped at 12, she was certain she was going to go to hell, because of her Catholic upbringing. Her rapists were boys at her school, who went on to slut shame her for it. She internalized it and sought to become bigger to protect herself from future sexual assaults. How many other young girls and women have been shunned by their places of refuge because they were violated?

Religion is meant to be a source of comfort for people, but what of those of us who have faced strife that is a source of repudiation from religious leaders? What do we intuit from The Word when it says women who have been raped are to be stoned? Are we to interpret it differently, or accept that the Kingdom of God was stolen because of what men did to our bodies, without our volition?

Why does God allow suffering? Society blames the victim, and if you grew up in a religious home, you start to believe that your assault was a punishment from God. For not praying hard enough, for not dressing in a conservative manner, for being away from home… Religion speaks of forgiveness, yet how are we to forgive crimes that go unanswered?

I have so many questions of God. Babies have literally died because they were raped by men. Where does one find faith and light and peace in a world like that? What is this world, where I read an article of a woman being raped and murdered and think, “death is better than a lifetime of dealing with the aftermaths of a rape.”

Where does one find faith?

How does one find faith?

Are you there God? It’s me, someone who’s desperately trying to figure out how to be a survivor.

 

 

Trigger Warning

Your chest tightens. Your legs get numb. Your heart races.  Then the grief hits. Slowly at first, and then all at once.

Triggered.

Getting triggered is the worst. I’m not even employing hyperbole; it is literally the worst. Smack bang in the middle of living your life, and in an instant, you’re forced to contend with something you’ve buried or compartmentalized. It could be a smell, a song, a number… there are a compendium of things that can take one back to that darkest of dark moments. It’s virtually impossible to inoculate yourself from it all. Life doesn’t happen in a vacuum – you have to encounter people and situations that just act as a clarion call which remind you that your life is no longer just yours. It belongs to your depression too.

I crave normalcy. I yearn for safe spaces in my own mind. A mind that exists as a gaol to keep me fettered to the darkest of abysses. A mind that is a chasm between before and now.

 

 

 

A Battle With Body Dysmorphia

michvilakati

Screenshot_20170625-214443

Good Lord, I can’t believe how unhealthy I was. I’m 5’5 and probably weighed about 48kg in this pic. I had been hospitalized before for low blood sugar, but I couldn’t see the correlation between my ED and my flailing health.  I remember getting a DM of concern after I posted it, and it didn’t register at all. That’s the thing about body dysmorphia: you really don’t see yourself as you truly are.

I can’t remember a specific moment where the contentedness of youth gave way to the insecurities that have plagued me through adolescence and my nascent adulthood. However, I don’t remember *not* feeling fat. It was just something in my head – even in primary school. The older girls would host modeling contests for us, and I would feel so uncomfortable in my own skin.

The first step in my recovery was acknowledging I had a problem. The…

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A Battle With Body Dysmorphia

Screenshot_20170625-214443

 

Good Lord, I can’t believe how unhealthy I was. I’m 5’5 and probably weighed about 48kg in this pic. I had been hospitalized before for low blood sugar, but I couldn’t see the correlation between my ED and my flailing health.  I remember getting a DM of concern after I posted it, and it didn’t register at all. That’s the thing about body dysmorphia: you really don’t see yourself as you truly are.

I can’t remember a specific moment where the contentedness of youth gave way to the insecurities that have plagued me through adolescence and my nascent adulthood. However, I don’t remember *not* feeling fat. It was just something in my head – even in primary school. The older girls would host modeling contests for us, and I would feel so uncomfortable in my own skin.

The first step in my recovery was acknowledging I had a problem. The second was actually wanting to fix it. There hasn’t been a magic wand to just fix everything. It’s just been a matter of melting away the chains.

When I was at Tuks, I would experiment with the Master Cleanse and only drink lemon water for days on end. Is it an eating disorder if you’re fully functional? Maybe there’s still denialism in it. Maybe I’m still unwilling to acknowledge that I was willing to gamble my health in pursuit of some unknown goal.

I’m happier now. And healthier. Perhaps not content, but learning to love myself towards that goal, instead of using hate as the fuel.

Contentedness

I often wonder how it must feel to be content in oneself.

Not happy or joyful, but at peace.

To love yourself. Completely. Absolutely.

A love that consumes you from the inside out. A love that radiates from your deepest abyss onto the surface of your skin.

A love that is unfettered to European beauty standards. A love that is not concerned with others’ perception.

A love that just is.

Content.

Whole.

Complete.

Unencumbered by the weight of the voices.

Unburdened by the albatross that is self-loathing.

Content.

“You can’t hate yourself into a version you can love,” they say.

I often wonder how you find that version you can love.

Is it hiding under society’s standards of what acceptability is?

Is it saying #bodypo quotes until I believe them?

If affirmation must be done daily, when will I really be content?

Complete.

Whole.

Happy.

Carefree black girl, I want to be one.

Ducking mirrors is my truth instead.

3 years away from 25, is a quarter century enough to find oneself?

Where does contentedness lie?

In love?

In truth?

In self. Self amidst the chaos.

That is my contentedness. That is the contentedness I pursue.

 

À mon avis

There is a misconception about what freedom of expression actually means; the delusion lies in the belief that it means one can be unfettered to say whatever, without recourse or opprobrium.

Freedom of expression means a government cannot censure you. Of course, the limits to this right are germane to the constitution of the specific state under whose jurisdiction you are in. Nevertheless, freedom of expression doesn’t inoculate you from repudiation.

We are afforded the right and privilege to express ourselves. You are entitled to your wrong opinion; calling it an opinion doesn’t make it exempt from scrutiny. The idea that a statement being an opinion is an inoculation against criticism is weak, and an exercise in the futile. The term “opinion” is a placeholder for fact or fallacy. If an opinion is informed, then it is simply factual. If an opinion is uninformed, then it should not exist.

 

Misogynoir

Dr Martin Luther King Jr once said “the arc of the moral universe bends towards justice.”  Half a century after his death, the arc may bend towards justice for some, but it curves all the way around to injustice for black women. The arc of our moral universe bends towards misogynoir.

 

Moya Bailey coined the phrase to describe prejudice towards black women. You see it in the way we are treated, especially by black men. That if the totem pole of acceptability must elevate their standing, we must remain at its bottom. Black men, who should understand how difficult it is to navigate a world that is not as welcoming to anyone who isn’t born white, male and straight, engage in the most bitter of misogyny towards their “sisters.” It goes beyond Kanye West’s line on Golddigger about a man  leaving you for a white girl once he gets his come up; it extends to our value in the workplace and society as a whole always being diminished.

Black men perpetuate misogynoir because it was never about equality for them: it was about assimilating into white patriarchy. Upholding rape culture and the various other violent methods of misogynoir – be it the hypersexualisation of black women, or the perpetuating of ugly stereotypes – is a means to an end: to keep black women underneath your boots.

Amber Rose created the “slut walk” to reclaim a word that’s been used to shame women for anything from using an Instagram filter, to being victims of sexual assault. Every year, countless women march with her to stand up to the misogynistic and abusive idea that any woman deserves to be sexually assaulted.

 

To promote the walk, she posted picture online, and as expected the swamp dwellers crawled out to shame her for daring to have autonomy over the body. I always find it ironic when ppl use the Bible to advocate shaming women.

 

In Matthew 18:9, Instead of telling women to “dress appropriately,” Jesus told men to avoid lust by plucking their eyes out.

 

To be Christian is to aspire to be like Christ. So instead of shaming women, why not address the men who abuse us?

Woman is the nigger of the world

For black women, we exist as black and as female in tandem. Racism is sexualized, while sexism is racialized.

 

We are victims of misogyny and misogynoir, too often by the black men we would bend over to protect. Malcolm X oncesaid the most disrespected person is the black woman. Decades have passed, and it is still true. But disrespect doesn’t fully encompass it; there’s scorn and hatred and enmity towards us that no demographic knows.

 

Anti-blackness, particularly among other people of colour, is reserved for black women. We don’t have a safe space even among black men, who spew vitriol towards us like they weren’t born of us. Hoteps claim to be about black emancipation, but what they really want is to subjugate black women and attain the privileges of white men.

 

Woman is the nigger of the world. Release us.