Discussion in 'Black Women - Mothers - Sisters - Daughters' started by panafrica, Mar 28, 2005.
Brother Pan, after reading the whole interview and several of the post that followed, I’m glad you shared this article with us. I found this excerpt from that article very revealing
My biggest concern over the years has been the fact that many groups which are discriminated against, strive for empowerment by eventually emulating the ways of the ones who oppressed them. I think African women worldwide, matrilineal construct and all of the core beliefs that derived from it, have been so damaged that when it is time to affirm their position in the world, it still has to be subjected to and compliant with the patriarchal social standards and cultural traits of men. And this gives men still, a home field advantage.
We need to get back to the psycho-cultural female constructs that were at the source of all great African societies in antiquity. Putting a dress on western or African patriarchal thinking, is not going to redeem the destruction of African society, culture or its women.
I found this post from the article also sort of interesting.
You are more than welcome brother SunShip. Many of the statements you've highlighted I also found to be insightful. However I will refrain from giving my personal perspective until more sisters comment.
Sun Ship you hit the nail on the head in your observation about the tendency for the oppressed to eventually emulate the oppressor. And that is why there must be a broader approach to change. In other words looking at the oppressor as including the behaviour, systems and structures that support this oppression - and then workng towards breaking these down while simultaneously offering alternatives.
For instance whereas there are a number of ( I would argue due to tokenism) women accessing positions of political power, the system they find themselves in is one they have to fit in to survive politically. This is a vicious cycle that will not be broken until communities understand, accept and buy into an "alternative leadership" that is more servant oriented than lord-over oriented and that applies by the same standard to both women and men.
Having said that I must point out that in the case of political leadership and performance I sense that women tend to be more harshly judged. This may be due to "pedestalling" of the African woman. I have never been one to do so neither do I appreciate the kind of poetic rhetoric that goes on about The African Woman a lot of the times by the same people who want her to remain as she is (toiling from dawn to dusk, her work never done WITHOUT just and equitable reward). This pedestalling successfully serves to distract from the truth. Therefore when women enter politics they are put under a magnifying glass that magnifies times how close this woman is to how a woman should be. How a woman should be is defined by the same socio-cultural forces that the same women are running away from. And indeed the same forces that have kept women in silence and subserivience.
I disagree with one of the replies to the article that talks about this having western roots and thus the need (I paraphrase) to reject western culture and presumably return to African culture. I am a proud African...but I am also not blinded by my pride so that I fail to point out what is wrong with my culture. And there is plenty wrong with it. Western culture has good and bad aspects too - goddess knows there's a lot of bad. But I am not one to blame everything on the west because even if they were really to blame. So what? Our reality does not afford us time to play blaming games. We must take responsibility for our own realities and shape our own futures. We must recognize the good and the bad. Stick to the good and find alternatives to the bad. We must break the cycle.
One of the realities in Africa right now is that policy and decision making is in the hands of an Old Boys Club. Many of the women (I do not wish to insult those of my sisters who are genuine leaders of integrity trying to bring change and working for the good of their communities)...but many of the women in political power right now are exercising it due to their personal relationship and otherwise close proximity to men in power. Africa's first ladies are powerful women...they are true femocrats. Problem is that they protect and maintain a status quo that generally is neither beneficial to the disadvantaged nor encouraging of women who seek political power on their own merit.
Now I have lost my train of thought...I was going somewhere with this...but for now I will say that I agree with most of what the interviewee has expressed.
fanyamambo, regardless of you losing your "train of thought"... It really didn’t matter, you still made some very interesting observations. That was an excellent post, because your response was very insightful…peace
Brother Sun Ship
There are some issues of sexism that need to be addressed for some African cultures, (such as female circumcision), but I hate it how white Western culture makes it seem like they're the only one that advocates gender equality. There are many cultures of color, including African ones that are/were way more matriarchal than anything seen in a white nation. However, you'll never hear about these tribes, because white media is so busy portraying the more misogynist ones to promote the idea that only white is right. And even with these cultures, just because they have an element that is negative, (which is present in EVERY society), doesn't mean it should be dismissed!
There wouldn't have been a "feminist movement" if sexism didn't exist in white culture....period!
I'd also like to point out (although I know that those present already know) that not every African ethnic group or society practices female circumcision nor polygamy. For those that do, there reasons for doing so are not fairly represented in the media. The Kikuyu (Gikuyu) of Kenya is an ethnic group that practices both female circumcision & polygamy. Jomo Kenyatta explained the importance of both in his book: "Facing Mt. Kenya". I know that Fanyamambo is well aware of this (she can probably teach me some things on it), but I encourage others to read it. After reading it, one might still find these practices wrong. However they will at least gain a better understanding than reading a newspaper report.
The fact that patriarchal countries such as India, Pakistan, Israel and Britain, have had women presidents or prime ministers, show how far the U.S. is behind the curve. It’s interesting how Westerners forget their long history of discrimination and misogyny against women, as they gallivant around the world preaching and demanding non-western countries to become fair and open overnight; and then try to enforce their hypocritical edicts upon them. So, where we get this idea that western cultures have any matriarchal social constructs is unbeknownst to me. Western Europe hasn’t had a functioning matrilineal/matriarchal society for over 2,000 to 3,000 years, with a few exceptions.
Even though brother Panafrica, is correct in his assertions about African cultures that do not practice circumcision or polygamy, the research shows that polygamy especially is not a product of patriarchally-based societies. And even female circumcision, though I wish it would disappear tomorrow, is deeply ingrained in thousands and thousands of years, of matrilineal African culture and is a cultural enigma that is supported by the arcane cultural beliefs of both African men and women.
I remember when a U.S. news reporter became upset with a an African female activist, who was trying to remove the cultural practice of female circumcision from her community, when she compared it with the way that western women mutilate their bodies with plastic surgery.
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