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.
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 😉