During lunch with my uncle, he asked me if I knew how to cook and followed it with a floating acknowledgement of my age:
He looked at me with his eyebrow raised and asked how old I was. I could tell he knew the answer and felt some sort of victory in what I was yet to say. Some part of me wanted to lie just to keep the victory for myself.
I let it out anyway…
“I’m 20” I said.
“You are twenty…you are a woman” he said.
Of course I who grunted. How many upsides can you find for being a woman today?
It wasn’t supposed to be a thing of disgust to be called a woman. However, because my back got about 2 inches lower with the heavier burden, I felt angry with him. Honestly, even if he did not say it out loud, i have been surrounded with eyes that see the woman they expect to see from a 20 year old Nigerian
girl female woman.
It is astonishing the amount of unintended blows I have digested from my sweet aunt, her lovely mother and my own uncle. Once, while I was just being my miserly self and trying to save the paper towels, my aunt noticed and she said
It is a good thing to train yourself to do so that WHEN you get married, you will know how to manage your husband’s money”
It would not suffice to say that I was stunned, or shocked. I think it was more pity and devastation for this strong smart doctor whose only sin was to grow up in the way the world was built for her.
I feel truly terrible because half the time, my aunt and other relatives do not mean any harm. James Scott, author of “Domination and the Arts” explained that often the subalterns-the subordinate group- often participate in their own subjugation as a strategy chosen over resistance. Though you might have to step away from the famous David and Goliath anecdote, it makes perfect sense. And think about it, David could have easily died. If he did not have the power of God (we are sticking to the original script here), I can imagine that he would have easily died; he had no military training, poor equipment and no backup. If you were David’s friend you would have called him stupid, careless, rebel without a cause? And that’s exactly what James Scott is saying. Resistance, which has a philanthropic and heroic ring to it, is not the choice of the soldier who fights and runs away so he can fight another day…in his own way. Especially is he/she has female children doomed for subordination without the strategy to protect themselves. As Scott says, such ideas of social appropriation are passed down and sometimes forced upon offspring (like me)for their own safety.
In Althusserian, that would mean:
“Ideology has very little to do with consciousness, it is profoundly unconscious”
Eventually, after the beginning of the history has been lost and deference as a strategy has been practiced so long “the face fits the mask” as Scott says. Eventually, it all becomes one melted mask covering the face of the earth and posing as nature. Actually I would not say posing because the mask doesn’t reveal itself as a mask; it reveals itself as the face.
Even my dear friend Beyonce suffers as a victim of Ideology just like we all do.
Maybe she is more aloof than some of us but still, she suffers within it. More dangerous is the fact that she and many others believe they have overcome it with actions, movements and art that reproduce the same effects they speak against. This is not an attempt to put Beyonce in the middle of the conversation because I have thought deeply and concluded that Beyonce is not fully equipped with the resources and power to make certain decisions to completely depart from the present discourse. Beyonce has been a contesting child since she was roughly 8;She has been a performer under the management of her father and a bigger team. This means that Beyonce’s performances have not always been a clear representation of her true thoughts. Beyonce could not have blogged so freely like we can when the people who invested in her needed to be paid by her silence and her adjacency to the discourse. What does all this mean?..that the Beyonce was saw was what needed to be sold. But the plot thickens..if all we have to do is kneel down to eventually believe, who says that Beyonce is not what she has always done on stage or in front of the cameras? Just a thought
Anyhu, back to the Beyonce analysis. I was going through a few of her videos and I just had so many thoughts. For instance, let’s look at Beyonce’s video for her song “Deja Vu.”
One of the things I find most interesting is that from the firsts scene, Jay Z owns the setting for Beyonce’s video. In the first scene, we see his face first to show that he is the one controlling the video or maybe her and not vice versa. Jay Z is in cinema mode my friends, with legs relaxed on the arm of the chair and the lights turned off, he watches while the light is on her.
It reminds me that he paid for his movie and now she has to entertain. 10 years later, she does the same in her new song called partition where she performs for him.
This shot is actually common throughout the hip hop world…
In Ciara’s Body Party video, her boyfriend Future sits behind her while she performs for him. In the examples I give, the female performers ar win a serious relationship with each other but what about the hip hop videos about strippers being watched or every other music video where the guy steps into the club with a group of people around him and the camera moves to dim everyone else but a girl that’s dancing in his direction.
Just the act of dimming the lights on other females tells us that this body has been chosen amongst others. Often, it is only after the male figure woks into a club or sits at a bar so her personality is hardly what jumps at them while they walk into a club or get drunk at a bar.
It brings me back to the story about the bottom or “bawse” bitch. The bottom bitch is not the saviour of then group because she is most admired. In fact, she is more like a lord over the rest of the female strippers because she brings in the most money and customers. Still, she remains a “bitch” to the customers because they still pay a pimp for her. She is not the saviour because her plan is to maintain her status not help others achieve equality. Most importantly, she is still a slave to the pimp’s wishes and desires because all he income goes through him. In these videos, the dimming of the lights separating female bodies, from the rest of the crowd and the private performances remind me that females are often alone, therefore in intense competition with every other similar being in order to be the one with the spotlight. For instance, while most girls are put into individual activities like ballet, boys have more opportunities in team sports like soccer and football. Females, especially women are reminded of the excess of their bodies, thus, they need to fight harder, and dirtier for the little spotlight available. Also by blocking out everything else she is removed from the real world. If females aren’t real then they must be fake right?. I’m only right because we live in a dichotomy where one word must have only an opposite but nothing in between “so we don’t get confused”. I don’t understand how we can understand physics but get totally muddled when we try to introduce a third gender (but I digress).
Because of the dichotomous world we live in, she is expected to be as fake as they need her to be because she is an object of their fantasy therefore she must fuiflil their every desire. This is dangerous because it does not allow the female the option to disagree with his phallic control: hence, the reason why some males cannot accept it when a female says no because he believes this life is actually his dream. Thereby, he gets to control what happens and cares not for the opinion of the object of his dream which he has chosen to participate in his fantasy. Left to him, he just might have left out her ability to speak in the architectural design of his dream female.
I understand that picture might seem disturbing, but i hope it makes you uncomfortable enough to understand how it cripples the formerly able bodied female. Once she become just breasts and vagina, as we can see she is incomplete, monstrous and simply unable to walk, talk or even walk. Look at the modeling industry if you need evidence: while the males are usually sturdy on their feet, the women are clumsily on one feet or in such a position that they lose all functionality.
Similarly in Beyonce’s “Deja Vu”, the camera extends its stay on jayz ‘s fingers and his hands to expose the audience to the wealth on his body…the reason why he has so much control over this “sexy woman”. I mean his belt is so damn sturdy that a whole Beyonce can hold onto it for support while she does her Chinese bend. Honestly, round of applause for gucci or whoever made that
But with Beyonce in her video for “Upgrade You” the only time we see wealth it is either consuming her e.g when she swims in gold. Or it is in her mouth where consumers would want to see it. While Jay z wears his wealth the wealth wears Beyonce. As for the tools in the mouth, I would just like to say that I think it is extremely dangerous Bey.
It is first and foremost dangerous to her health. DUH! The other thing I fear is that it reinforces the silence of women; it leaves her mouth occupied so that her silence can be justified. A lot of rap musicians know a thing or two about silent bitches and how they like their bitches quiet. In Drake’s “All me”, Big Sean announces his presence with “Ho shut the fuck up..I got way too much on my mental”. Note, Ho is a “slang” for prostitute often used for females. However, Big Sean is not the book of life- who pays any attention to Big Sean?. JK, don’t be angry.
But back to the actual book of life (A.K.A the Bible) which also has something interesting for women trying to talk. The King James’ version says “Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience, as also saith the law.”
In plainer terms, the New International version says;
“Women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the law says.” (1 corinthians 14:34)
The Lord’s apostle Timothy also says
“I do not permit a woman to teach or to assume authority over a man; she must be quiet.” (1 Timothy 2:12)
Now carry the combination of scripture and media into the corporate scene where a female wants to add to the conversation. Yes, you are right! it does become very difficult at the conference table when it is time for contributions or when a woman is giving the presentation. If one can look away from the size of her breast, the length of her skirt, or her ugly or pretty face for a moment, it is not to listen attentively to her contributions. As if anything she said would make sense amidst all the thoughts and fantasies everyone around the table is designing for their pleasure. They forget that women spend more income than men on their household. Yet, they put her financial freedom at risk because they cannot even see the imaginary relationships preventing her from getting that promotion for her brilliant idea. I mean how can her idea ever be brilliant when one never pays attention long or hard enough to hear it or understand it without distractions. When all we see and all we have to aspire to are the “pleasantly” silent females, silence is automatically inherent to females. Also because females are expected to be silent creatures, some never get access to practice and eventually, they have no skill or worse, no language, to express themselves. Consequently, they have to defer, because they have no skills to organize a resistance; how would they communicate their grievances to each other and those who could help?
With all of this sad stuff to think about-the subjugation, the subordination, and the silence,-I got scared of ever labeling myself woman. I got scared because of what women like Beyonce have to do to prove to the rest of the world that they are women. Truly, the world is built to satisfy and contain men as they pick a few “bawse bitches” who stand out for their abilities to provide pleasure to the men. So Beyonce, Miley Cyrus and all you phallus licking people on TV, please, I beg that you take that shit out of your mouth so some females can say something that will fix this place for good.