I sat recently on yet another platform where someone stood up in extreme anger to silence and disparage the men in the room. I have sat in many platforms where men have done the same to women…both are wrong.
Permit me please to address you on this very touchy subject of our collective anger as women towards men.
Let us agree in love please.
That our brand of feminism cannot be one that decimates all men and masculinity. It cannot be that in order to honour my mother, I must dishonour my father. I will not be asked to choose between raising my sons to become strong men; and strengthening my daughters to rise to their fullest potential.
To me, a child of Africa born woman, meaning is not possible in the absence of men. Those of us who think it is, delude themselves. Because, where would I be without my father's firm counsel and steady guiding hand? The man who has over the years taught me what gracious unconditional love is?
How would I have learnt my worth if my brother had not insisted on seeing value in me,
grooming my capacity to think, see and reason?
I know we face many unacceptable ills birthed by toxic masculinity. Even I have often been exasperated by lack of action from good men who claim to be for us - they are too mild, too silent, too passive - forcing us to address ills that only men should deal with. Such as how to hold delinquent men accountable in our society. In the olden days it used to be that it was the responsibility of men to maintain and sustain order and discipline at a society-wide level. Such systems are barely functional; and those that still exist protect delinquent males more than they do women and children.
So our collective anger towards society, not just the perpetrators, to an extent is justified. But to fight this battle is not possible if we do not face it together. This means we must learn the language of building bridges more than that of starting wars with good men around us.
This wild raging anger of many women towards ALL men worries me. At least this anger seems to be the trend in my circles amongst development activists. I repeat, it may be justified. But it is also unwise.
For rage inspires not action but defence. Fury burns everything; even the good stuff.
Raging anger towards all men is also dishonest. Because it does not communicate what we really want from our men. Is it not the same men we want to attract and keep in our lives? Do we not want to raise families hand in hand with them? Do we not want our children to have fathers around them? If we want our men around us...rage is not going to be the elixir darlings.
Strategy and tactics teach me that there are two main reasons we claim our Voice. First we speak because we need expression. To stand up for ourselves and validate our experiences.
But second, even more important...we must speak to be heard. To be heard not just by those who are like us or who agree with us. It is those who are not like us who need to hear us so they can think and act differently.
This new language of violent rage we are learning may not take us far. Because while it allows us to rant and rage, it does not get us closer to a solution.
I would rather that our fury and rage is directed to perpetrators of violence against women and children. Them - we should burn to the ground. Because with them, even the heavens would light the fire.
But the structural and structured systems of patriarchy that we must dismantle require smarts, tactics, and action...all things that fly out the window if we hand ourselves over to rage.
Is it possible reconsider?