stereotypes

Things I’ll probably never fully understand: Men, Race and Gender

  1. What it’s like to be  a Man

It’s easy to complain about men’s behaviour isn’t it? So many of them mess up so effortlessly when interacting with women.  If one isn’t calling you a bitch he’s groping you or one of the straight ones is going on about how “homos” are an abomination. They’re quick to point out how they don’t do certain things because they’re “not bitches”, think feminists “are just angry lesbians” and when out, it’s shocking to find one who isn’t getting sloppy drunk, sexually harassing a woman or looking for a fight.

Now no, I’m not saying that ALL men do this, I’m saying a lot do. Too many.

And some genuinely have no remorse. Some think this is what it means to be a Man.  Some are unwilling to grow.

Why? Because this  is what they’ve been taught it means to be a Real Man. These are the thoughts that’ve been ingrained into their minds.

A man doesn’t cry.

A man doesn’t read books that aren’t about nude women, sex or money.  Wondering about the World and feelings is for women and homosexuals.

Nobody’s opinion matters more than a heterosexual man’s.

You need to be your own man, but only as long as your father and society approves.

Do not feel. Do not think anything you haven’t been told to think. Do not be anything other than what you’ve been told to be.

And a lot of men refuse to acknowledge that they aren’t living for themselves. That they live with a chronic fear of being considered feminine because, whether they’ll admit it or not they believe a woman is a horrible thing to be.  That it gets heavy sometimes, having to always be on your toes because someone may catch you slipping and wearing pink, only to question your sexuality.

That they’re often confused and feel confined by the word “Man.”

With the help of one, I have little difficulty understanding their experiences and their behaviour. I encourage my male friends to explore their feelings. To be honest about their desires, their fears and their dreams. To draw the line between What Society Wants and their Wants.  And there, I’ve found a lot of pain. A lot of confusion.

A lot of women are guilty of stripping males of their humanity too. Girlfriends who laugh when their partners cry or confide in them, mothers who tell their sons to “man up”, there’s always someone ready to continue the process of dehumanizing the Man, and yet who complains when said Man begins to act like the animal he’s been led to believe he is.

Men need healing too. They need acceptance too and for us to acknowledge their struggles with identity etc. They need to be taught.

I know some of you, especially women, are reading this and saying “Well they don’t do that for us” and I know, they don’t. Some of them are lost causes. But some men really do want to be better. They know there’s more to Life than being “Real”. If you come across one, nurture them. Is all I’m saying.

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2.  What it’s like to be Black, In America

“Diaspora”. I first heard the word in High School as my History teacher discussed “the African diaspora”. The conversation led to how hard life must be for Black people  in America. We all rolled our eyes.

What was he on? Evidently someone didn’t listen to Hip Hop. Hadn’t he seen all the sexy women with long weaves chilling outsides their yards, hanging out with their high yella lovers as kids played on the streets and expensive cars passed by with drug dealers behind the seat? Hadn’t he ever witnessed that Utopia? Well..yeah..random shoot outs would occur and that was sad..Yes, Tupac said it was rough over there but..It couldn’t be THAT bad, right? Right?

We thought for a long time that because America was “civilized”, because everything that we knew to symbolize success came from there or was somehow connected to it and the American Dream, it wasn’t possible for anyone to be unhappy there.

We thought Black Americans were ungrateful.

You need to understand, we got to see them through the eyes of the privileged White people who create the shows and the videos.

So we thought: Thugs. Prostitutes. Crackheads. Drug dealers. A few trying to make it out of the hood. Black on Black violence.  Unappreciative. Lazy.

We were led to believe the circumstances that many live under were of their own doing. That America, the land of Milk and Honey, provided equal opportunities to everyone. Everything was there, the Blacks just wouldn’t get up and take it because they still believed they were victims, that they were still being oppressed.

Delusional Blacks, living in the past. Tut tut.

It wasn’t until I stopped paying attention to the media that I began to somewhat understand the effects of oppression, the difference between what Is and What’s Shown etc. Social networking sites began my growth as a person, as a person of colour, as a woman, and for that, I’m eternally grateful. Meeting and interacting with not just African Americans but Black South Africans and hearing their stories made me appreciate my country and experiences that much more, as I understood theirs.

Botswana’s never really had any hostile experiences. Our country’s filled with Batswana and to be honest, most of us are shocked to see White people among us walking.  They’re an addition to our society, we aren’t an addition to theirs. We don’t know what it’s like to be Othered.  To be treated as Less Than. To be viewed as parasites in our own Land.

When the Trayvon Martin case began, some ignored it because they felt many more kids had been murdered, why focus on one? But I remember someone saying it would be an iconic case and we all waited to see whether that would be true.

Zimmerman was acquitted.

The case was simple. We all knew.

He saw a young Black man walking, he stalked him, confronted him and murdered him.

And he was let go.

It’s not that we didn’t know chances were this would occur, it’s that many were hoping it wouldn’t.

Now?

The racists are coming out to play.

Black boys are scared.

The Black community is outraged.

Simply, the facade is falling apart.

I cried.

I still do.

It’s heavy. It’s heavy on the heart and it’s heavy on the Soul.

I continue to watch this all unravel.

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3. What it’s like to feel like a stranger in your own body

Growing up I thought you were either a man or a woman. It was that simple to many. If you’re a woman, act like one, is you’re a man, act like one.

I didn’t acknowledge the Trans community til later on in Life, and even then, even now, it’s still something I’m learning about. Someone explained it to me simply “I just don’t feel comfortable this way. It doesn’t feel like who I am. Who I should be” and it’s something I still think about.

To a lot of people, the fact that they can’t relate means they should  reject something.  I thinks it’s silly.  I don’t relate to your struggle but that doesn’t mean that I shouldn’t understand it.

One of my closest friends is undergoing hormone treatment. When she told me she intended to go along with it, she was cautious. I could shun her. I could tell her it was a waste. I could tell her anything that would dismiss her feelings and crush her spirit. I understood why she tiptoed around it.

My main concern? Was she sure? Would it make her happy? Then sure.

We already live in a society that’s dismissive, you don’t need to be one more person who’s a total asshole to  people because they aren’t like/don’t feel like you.

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I’ve had my own experiences as an African Cisgender Woman, and I am always aware of what and who I am. I appreciate it. But I’m always fully aware of the fact that there are so many more stories out there. An endless array of feelings and experiences that I’ll never fully feel, and I appreciate that too.

The World is larger and more diverse than your existence and your experiences, I’ve learned.

Where is my Glory?

“Hair is a Woman’s Glory” – Maya Angelou

I went to the barber yesterday to cut off the troublesome ends of my hair that kept hopping off and leaving a trail like a shedding sheep dog behind me. Understand I went for a trim.  Unfortunately my barber came in drunk, probably high too, misunderstood what I meant, and took most of it off.  Why would I let a drunk man cut my hair? Because I know him and I’m lazy, too lazy to make the 10 minute walk to the salon the next day, and so I stayed.

My head’s fine, he didn’t sever off my ear and leave the floor looking like a scene from Saw 3. It was covered with most of my hair and a bit of my joy. 

Understand, having short hair is a decision one needs to be prepared for.  One I’ve made before, but my biggest issue was that I wasn’t ready this time.  It’s Amber Rose short, and I call this my “Pretty Little Lesbian” look.  I’m constantly touching it and I catch myself muttering “G.I Jane”. 

But that’s neither here nor there, I just wanted to share my shock and pain. This is what I really feel about the look.

 

I’ve always said I feel sexiest when from the barber.  

There’s something about knowing that you put in minimal effort into your appearance and you still look good that makes you feel good.  Not as much time, not as much pressure, not worrying over how long to straighten it, which combination of products to use, how to style it today.. you just condition, moisturize and go. 

When it comes to having short hair, you find yourself trying your best not to look like a little boy.

Especially in my case. I’m short so in baggy clothing I could possibly pass for a teenage boy. An androgynous teenage boy maybe? But anyway, I’ve met a lot of women who agree, with short hair, your make up needs to be on point. Even if it’s just eyeliner, lipstick and blush. Why?

Because a lot of the time your hair is what upholds your femininity, right up there with the obvious breasts, hips and buttocks.  When you don’t have braids or a weave or an afro, you have to have something that can be looked at and still show that you’re a woman. I don’t know why but that’s just what is, sometimes. Personally where as with longer hair or a larger afro I would feel comfortable leaving the house with nothing but Vaseline on my lips, with short hair, it’s the pink lipgloss and liquid eyeliner, standard. Or maybe it’s us and we  feel the need to display our femininity in such a way. Possibly.

When it comes to attraction..

Oftentimes people look at you like you’re a new breed of woman, because I realized, what might be just hair to you, is a statement to another.  I read this morning that being a woman with short hair “means you can trek your own path and stand against the crowd, you don’t accept the rules of society” and all I thought was, “Damn, it’s not that real!”. But maybe that’s how people see it. I’ve had men come up to me and stare, marvel, and ask “Why don’t you have a weave like other girls? Do you relax your hair? Are you a natural Black woman? You’re beautiful.”  And that leads to my other point..

 

Hair isn’t always political.

I think after watching “Good Hair” we all got our panties in a bunch and started looking down on women with processed hair, placing women with natural hair on pedestals and every woman’s personal decision was scrutinized and somehow used to determine her self worth and stance on racism or whatever. Listen, the decision to relax my hair, cut it, dye it, fuck, eat it, is my own. What do I want? Will it make me feel beautiful? It’s a choice about your appearance. As is applying nail polish, as is  picking an outfit. I’m not ignorant to the fact that some women feel long, straight hair determines beauty, but that doesn’t apply for the rest of us. I’m not a “Natural Sista”. I’m not “different”. Just a Lady with short hair. 

The Idea that not all women can rock it.

Forget that. The argument is usually that some women have ugly heads. And so? Some men have ugly heads too nobody complains about that. As a woman why would you bother and spend money on something you don’t want to cover up something you weren’t insecure of in the first place? Get it girl. Get it. 

“Are you okay? Why cut it?”

“Cutting off the hair has been related to imbalance in life, trauma, and mental health issues.” Well..See.. I understand this one. I’ve been known to cut it or dye it when bothered by something or trying to move on from something but, it’s understandable. We associate our appearance with our experiences and so changing that is a way of shedding those bad memories. It doesn’t mean we’re crazy or preparing to torch an ex boyfriend’s house. Well, sometimes. 

So, you know… I hope you Haired me. *Laughs alone* My glory lies in my ability to make any decision that I want to determine my beauty. Even if that’s sometimes altered by a drunk man with a machine.

Adieu.

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Why We aren’t [don’t] like You

“People..They don’t write anymore- They blog.” – Hank Moody.

I read this and felt ashamed because were Hank Moody a real person, I’d be certain he was passing a remark aimed at me.

“You should write a book”.  People say this to writers all the time as if we flawlessly pull words out of thin air and they miraculously transform themselves into sensible sentences that people can relate to. 

Writing is hard. 

I cannot speak for those who work on fiction but as one who basically pens down her thoughts and experiences, it’s not easy to put everything down. There are secrets and painful truths that you’d rather no one else know. Every time you write,  especially if you blog and it’s for an audience, you give away some part of yourself. You share your pain/truth/opinions with people you don’t know and risk being misunderstood and unappreciated.

Writing means constantly telling on yourself. Constantly exposing your insecurities and fears, your secrets and Demons, and for some reason people who are unable in everyday Life to even state what they TRULY desire feel it’s simple for one to just day in and day out sit down and pull up all their experiences for their consumption. 

For more than two years now I’ve heard those words. 

I’ve tried a couple of times to do so and only managed, at most, 4 or 5 pages. Why? Because frankly, I get scared sometimes. Who gives a damn about my story? Do I even have one? What if I start and realize my Life hasn’t been as eventful as I thought? Do I really have anything to say? What if I go on and on and after a while it becomes some monotonous piece of work? This will mean that I will have to tell the truth about certain people, is that a risk I’m willing to take?

And then I feel bad. Because I don’t know if other writers go through the same issues and have the same thoughts. Some make it seem easy and others will tell the truth about their insecurities. 

I can tell you this though, the majority of us find the label “Writer” quite pretentious. I personally cringe when I say it and yet there’s nothing else that stands as true. I find solace in the fact that I’m not one of the many I know who write merely for the label and nothing else, and then I’m better. 

Writers are not peaceful people. Not the ones that I know anyway. Look at writing as a form of exorcism. This is us removing the things our Spirits can’t handle. Think about that. The energy and emotional toll it takes, and tell me if you could do it every day?

From what I’ve seen, and what I feel personally, compliments reduce us to 4 year olds who feel the need to hide behind skirts, which in this case, is our work.  I don’t like discussing blog posts with people, I may be a narcissist, but I don’t. I don’t give my blog address to anyone, I always say if you find it, you do, and if you don’t, you don’t. The majority of the compliments I get fly over my head but a heartfelt “Thank you for saying what you did as you did” from a stranger brings tears to my eyes. Because I could care less for compliments, I don’t want to write down pretty words, I want people to relate and some to learn. 

I am also not a walking book.  I don’t have words laid out and poems in storage to entertain people. “What do you write about? Tell me some of it” needs to stop. As does “Do you write about me?”. Believe me we live in a society where most people are so bland there’s no need to note their existence and it’s as simple as that. The next man is like the last man and probably the current too. 

Although I mentioned that we aren’t peaceful people, this does not mean that we are out of control.  We aren’t all promiscuous alcoholics with mommy/daddy issues.  We don’t live in dumpsters and homeless shelters “for the experience” and we don’t walk into abusive relationships to be able to write about it.

Writers are not your hipster version of Brilliance. 

Some are special and some aren’t. Some fit the mold and some don’t. And some are extremely boring people in Real Life. It’s that simple.

Why? Because really they’re just people who can arrange words a certain way and make you feel/understand some shit. Nothing more/ nothing less. They’re like other artists, some create timeless pieces and others, they just create. 

Personally, I have enough of a difficult time trying to figure out if I’m a hipster or not. I’d rather not be but if I am, fine.  I feel bad when I think I may be a more of a blogger than a writer and I make myself feel better by reminding myself that I’m only really doing what I can/have to, here, now.  I beat myself up over the fact that I don’t have a manuscript, then remember that maybe now is not the time. I may not have that much to say.  Sometimes I use people to have writing material, and other times Life fucks me over and I have to pick myself up from that the only way I know how, by writing about it. 

It’s not that complex and yet it’s one of those things you’ll have to be in to understand.

Is all. 

 

– A possible Hipster girl with some shit to say, sometimes. Who wants to be Hank Moody when she grows up. Shut up. I know what I said. 

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“I’m Every Woman..”

For some unknown reason, people expect others to carry their Race, Sex and Age group on their backs. As much as we spew out cliche crap like “Everyone is different” and “Be your own person”, we meet people and either expect them to conform to stereotypes and misconceptions we personally have, or not.

While hanging out with a friend, a man who’d been trying to court me for a while happened to pass by and decided to chill with us. It wasn’t awkward, conversation flowed, things were calm, going well.

Then someone brought up the issue of Ex’s. I joked that out of all of us, I probably always pick the worst ones. Lord, I wasn’t ready for what came next. This man got mad. I swear you would’ve thought the comment was somehow directed at him. 

“What is it with you bitches? [What?] I mean..no, not you..but..Women. Y’all..You don’t know what you want..You say you want a nice guy, then you get him, then YOU start changing and WE’RE the bad guys. Fuck that. No. Your ex’s can’t possibly be bad people,maybe you’re the one with the problem. Maybe YOU fuck them up. But you women think you’re perfect so nothing is ever your fault akere?”

Insert awkward silence as my friend and I stared at one another, confused and slightly amused. I had to wonder, is this what women sound like when we go on our “Men ain’t shit” rants? Cos it was pathetic as hell.

I asked “Who hurt you boo?” And he clammed up. “No one..I’m just saying.” Now, I don’t like people’s unnecessary feelings, I’m not gonna sit there and have you channel your feelings for your ex and spew your BS onto me, I don’t know her. I don’t know what’s up. So I explained.. “Look, evidently you have issues, and that’s cool, that’s your shit, so keep it as such. We don’t know who ever did whatever they did to you and it’s dumb for you to generalize, just as you wouldn’t have me saying “All men are shit. They lie and cheat and are all secretly psychotic.” It would be annoying as fuck and you wouldn’t be trying to hear that. So please, spare us your heartbreak.” He looked a tad bit embarrassed and then,relaxed..conversation continued and we steered clear of the Relationships topic. 

An hour or so later his friend rocks up. He also happens to be friends with one of my ex’s and evidently no one had told him things between his friend and I hadn’t ended well because he asks me how he is. I reply “Fuck that nigga hey” and laugh. Lord, again. “Why would you say that? He’s my boy. I thought you guys were happy together. What is it with you girls?One minute you love a guy, the next it’s fuck him…” and his rant continued, with the other guy throwing in his 2 cents about how females are two faced and…Zzzzzzz. I zoned out. After a few minutes of this I look at my friend and she’s obviously over the whole thing so we part ways with the guys, evidently they have heartbreak to discuss.

As we’re walking away I think..Generalizing about the opposite sex and trashing their behaviour when it came to relationship issues used to be considered a female trait. “Bitches are always bitching” as I overheard someone say once. How is it that we got to a point that WE are now the ones taking things in stride and men are coming apart at the seams?

This was a while ago. I’ve met more men since then who put this nonsense on me and to them I’ll say this : Listen, shut up. We don’t care. If you want sympathy, tell your story, fine. But you’ll get no love from any female if your approach is “Fuck y’all, you’re all the same.” We are not each other. Remember that and  go cry it out.

I personally believe one shouldn’t talk about their issues with others unless they’ve already dealt with them themselves. It leaves you vulnerable, exposed to opinions and suggestions that might do more harm than good and there’s a good chance you’ll become dependent on people to help fix everything. 

So if at all you have any issues with the opposite sex remember this [And this goes for both men and women] : People did that to you. Specific people. Not their whole gender/race/church group or whatever. Individuals. Nobody wants to hear that ‘You’re all the same” crap. It makes you sound immature, butthurt and pathetic. Do you want to be immature? Butthurt and pathetic? If so, go ‘head with yo bad self. But go do it far away from the rest of us. We can’t care.  Not like this. 

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