• The Only Space

They Say I hate Men ….

But I don’t.

I just love myself more.

As a young Black woman well versed in the language of African Feminism, I am often asked why I hate men so much. My natural inclination is to laugh. I burst into a wild, uncontrollable, heat producing laughter. My laughter is, in part, due to the shock I experience when people (in many cases men) make the mistake of placing masculinity at the center of my feminist identity, but secondly, I laugh because at that very moment I realize that I have wasted energy engaging with an individual who is not prepared to do the very simple work of hearing what I have to say.

I just want to be heard.

Once after engaging in a 30 minute debate about victim blaming and sexual assault with an acquaintance, every single well articulated point and statistical fact I had made was boiled down to “Why do you hate men so much”, and “Who hurt you”. In an instant like that, after laughter, came a brief moment of sadness, and then anger. If you are not listening to me then you are silencing me. To silence, is to belittle me, making me feel powerless, and that is a devastating feeling. 

As a child, I witnessed the Black women in my own family commune to laugh, cry, and heal. Over a glass of ginger beer and a plate of Liberian Jollof rice, these women told the stories of their lives, but most importantly they listened to each other. They saw each other in a way that their husbands, family members, and the world didn’t. As a result, I too grew up yearning to belong to women centered circles focused on the development of my own individuality. In my opinion the most critical part about Black Feminism is the development of a Black woman’s identity through her connection to community. It is in part due to my communities of family members, friends, and sisters, that I am the person I am today. I’m the woman who doesn’t shy away from expressing her opinions. I truly do not care about being labeled angry, because I know my own truth. Silencing myself comes at a cost, and that cost is my existence.  So I am sorry, my dedication to being critical of patriarchy and toxic masculinity is less about you and everything to do with me. There will never be a day where I silence myself in order to make you feel comfortable with your ignorance.

You see my feminism

teaches me……..

The importance of community with people who look and experience life in some of the same ways that I do.

teaches me……..

Self care and love, so that I can, in turn, love others.

teaches me……..

To be more aware of my sexuality, so that I can have the best experiences with my future partners.

teaches me……..

That love isn’t violent, so that I can recognize when I am in an unhealthy relationship.

teaches me……..

That my opinions are valid and important, so that my voice can never be silenced again.

The one thing I have learned on my own feminist journey to self discovery and self love is that the fight for justice starts with my own individual development. We all must do better individually. We must ask the right questions, listen to each other, love ourselves, and be critical of our own privileges. To my sisters, It is imperative that when men and sometimes other women attempt to silence you that you speak louder, continue to make them uncomfortable, and know that your voice and presence alone works to disrupt the the systems of patriarchy at play. I will forever be that woman,  the one who “hates men”, because she chooses to hold men accountable for their actions no matter how minor those actions might seem.

“And when we speak, we are afraid our words will not be heard nor welcomed. But when we are silent, we are still afraid. So it is better to speak,  remembering we were never meant to survive. “- Audre Lorde 

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