Lifestyle, Ramblings of a beautiful mind

“I am not Imbokodo” – What woman’s day means to us

Today is Women’s Day and I thought it would be great to amplify the voices of other everyday women. I wanted to hear and share their views on what this day means to them, the issue of gender-based violence and what tired tropes must be erased from our vocabulary. For me it is wathinta bafazi wathinta imbokodo. When you strike us, we bleed. When you hang us up on a tree, we die. We are human; we are fragile. We are not boulders; we are not inanimate. All of me is tired.

Megan Natasha Ross- Journalist, writer and art director.

As a mother to a four-year-old boy, I’ve become more aware of how we socialise South African boys to be rough, to be violent, to ignore their feelings and eschew vulnerability and intimacy for aggressive behaviour that “proves” their manhood. Changing gender-based violence begins here, when boys are small and already encultured into a certain type of masculinity, at the sake of their own emotional and psychological well-being, and later on, to the women around them. We have to be more discerning with boys: we can’t tolerate the same behaviours that have been allowed in previous generations and doing so will have implications for every unit of society, at every level. While femicide and gender-based violence is so common place, Women’s Day and Women’s Month remain a farce. How can we celebrate when we are dying? It’s gone far beyond the point where men – grown, growing, leaders and followers alike – must step up. They’re already late: hopefully, they arrive one day. Hopefully our children’s children will not know violence like we do now. We have to fight for this dream. We need to believe that it is attainable and we must throw ourselves behind it.

Nonsikelelo Ncube- Executive Assistant 

Women’s Day for me means pausing and reflecting on the contribution that we as women make to all aspects of society. I believe this year the tired trope that if you cry then you are weak or not in control of your emotions needs to go. Women are strong no doubt, but there is strength in expressing your emotions without being labelled. When it comes to the femicide issue government needs to “get on the ground” and act quickly. Fancy meetings and committees are simply not enough. We need grassroots solutions that will address the lived realities and experiences of women in our communities. The budget for these meetings should be channelled towards implementing strategies that will prevent and fight against GBV.

Imké Megan Arries- Film student, dancer, model

Women’s Day is an extraordinary day for women. On this day we get to celebrate females of all races, religions, ethnicity and traditional backgrounds for their achievements and strengths. This is also a day to celebrate, give thanks to the women of the past who climbed mountains to prove their greatness. One notion that I despise is the “damsel in distress” trope. It is commonly seen in movies, video games and books. It sends out a narrative to the world that women are helpless beings who need men to save and protect them. 100% my experience with misogynistic teenage boys in high school who wholeheartedly believed that they were entitled to cat call females and touch their bodies whenever they felt fit in order to prove their manhood! I believe that if more men stand up and speak out in the fight against GBV, we will see real change.

                                   “A woman’s place is in the struggle – Assata Shakur”

Abongile Zizi -Television news producer

To exist outside of society’s preconceived notion of what a black girl is, should be, and must be has become an extraordinary act of bravery. We now find strength in softness and demand a tenderness from the world we create for ourselves that our mothers did not dare even think about, let alone demand out loud.
But there’s a catch…
You have to fight for it first. I put it to you that being a carefree black woman has become a reward for struggle. First, you have to find yourself, then you have to push back against society’s expectations of you and then, after multiple attempts at living your version of life and joy, after multiple losses, you get to be a carefree black woman.The concept of black womanhood being a struggle is well documented and we talk about it a lot more now. I for one am glad about this because I have learnt that words mean things and once you have the vocabulary to describe a concept, it becomes more tangible, more visible to you and those you seek to engage. I always say intersectional feminism changed my life because it was through exploring what this means that I have decided…I am not IMBOKODO!
This term is often used by society to get women to continue being active participants in their own oppression because society applauds us for “overcoming”. I am thirty years old and I can tell you now, I am tired of overcoming. There is no glory in suffering. I want gender equality now, for me and other women around me. I want to feel safe in the country of my birth and not be scared of the men who surround me. So while Women’s Month commemorates a very important part of history in our country, I am tired of negotiating my existence.

 

Fight like a girl - Peggy Carter on We Heart It

Thank you ladies for your time and authenticity. My dream for all of us is to strive and become all we want to be without breaking ceilings but opening more space and making our own tables. I hope someday soon woman’s day will be more than pleasantries but translate into our lived experience, no more sexual harassment in the workplace or anywhere, no may pay gap amongst other things.Have you enjoyed today’s post? be sure to let me know in the comments section. If you haven’t subscribed what are you waiting for 😉

 

5 thoughts on ““I am not Imbokodo” – What woman’s day means to us

  1. Thank you for this, these conversations are important. I love that you included other people’s voices and perspectives, especially since each person makes a different point that ultimately leads to the same set of conclusions.

    1. I am glad you enjoyed it. I hoped bringing in different voices would start the conversation and these ladies have great points that we could all relate to and or learn from

  2. Just managed to go through your blog. I think it was a brilliant idea to get the contributions of the other women and their view of Women’s day and the feminist agenda.

    The writing is literally on the wall in terms of how society has not brought women into the fold and that the struggle literally continues long after we have preached about gender equality. I love especially the part of raising young men to be women conscious as well as self conscious because that forms the primary basis for how they treat women later in life. I also love the aspect that women really shouldn’t be struggling anymore but have to begin to endure the freedoms and the gentler and luxurious parts of being a woman without having to fight. These are very critical narratives which need to be propagated and normalised in society. It is not okay that women have to fight to occupy spaces yet still also have to look over their shoulder when they should just be occupy space with no agenda behind doing so.

    I really hope other women read and can find resonance in the themes raised in this blog, beyond WOMEN’S DAY and month

  3. I take pride in being the first male to comment on this beautiful blog post.

    In our day and age, boys are growing up from adolescence to teens having been cultured into the habit of perceiving themselves more important, more intelligent, more worthy of consideration and respect more so for us Africans than our fellow races or cultures. This notion of entitlement of something they have not even yearned. By the time a boy is calling himself a man, he has that term MAN all wrong!

    Little does he know what the word woman means “from man.” What kind of man, therefore, in his right mind chooses to look down on his own DNA? What kind of man takes for granted the best extension of himself? What kind of man allows his perfect companion even the least bit of pain from whatever forces that may be against his control.

    Are the only heroes we will celebrate those that we see on television? Will we not get an opportunity to see champions fighting for the rights of our women not it words but in deeds? One of the writers above mentioned boardroom meetings that never amount to anything. Actions speak louder than words. We need to take an active stand in the protection of our own flesh (women) as though our very next breath depended on it.

    We need to love them enough to sacrifice for them without a second thought. They need to feel loved, not from our words but from our deeds. They need to feel safe not from our speech, nor from our writing, nor from our declarations. They need to know that every man on the street is a protector of that which descended or was created from him (excuse my biblical beliefs).

    How are we men to do this? Simple. We need to prosecute those men that harm us by harming our women. A cut to a woman’s flesh should be felt by every living man on the planet. Only then can we be moved to act not just for the sake of acting but acting because the injustice deserves punishment worthy of the damage caused.

    Our women are covered in layers of abuse that has been building up from generation to generation. Over the years they have stomached what would take decades for man to comprehend.

    Today, a girl child is born already disadvantaged in the sad eye of the world. No one can fight this war except the one who is besieged. It is about time men open their eyes and see those men that have besieged us. May we act swiftly and safeguard our women and generations for years to come should Christ Jesus not return soon soon.

    May God help us and may he bless South Africa for the better.

    Michael Mitochi

  4. If more men only knew that women are a gift to men and not the other way around, We would see less abuse in this world, God commanded man to love the woman. This is how Christ loved the Church, with a selfless love. So in short we are living in a world where there are a lot of selfish men and a selfish man is a weak man. It takes a strong man to love selflessly. And the only way that can happen is with the help of Jesus Christ, the source of all true love.

    So I appeal to the men of this generation to seek God and learn how to really love because without that it is going impossible to heal the brokenness of what is supposed t o be a beautiful relationship between men and women.

    Ron Sima

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