By: Nkateko Mabasa
Black men fear the liberation of black women.
There is a terror, that exists within the black man, more imagined than real, of the black woman. He fears her liberation, because in his concept of reality this will be the death of him.
The Black man sees her strength, her ability to both endure and overcome. He knows her all too well, he is her lover, her brother and her father. He also thinks he knows what she wants. The Black man – much like what the white man, his idol and role model has done – is to project his desires on her. Because his fragile masculinity leads him to want power above all things, he imagines this is what she desires as well.
His lack of self-assuredness, that which years of colonisation has destroyed, makes him want to define himself by what he has and how far his rule can go. Since the white man owns everything, the only thing he can own is her.
He imagines this is what she wants as well. To own him. His anxiety is that if she was to to be free from his grip, she will walk all over him just as he walks all over her. And since his manhood is defined by subjugating her, by societal insistence that he is not a man if he does not only have a woman but an obedient one, he faces an existential crisis when faced with the prospect of not dominating her any longer.
What a senseless terror he has. What a poor creature he is. To kill, rape and murder his sister, his lover, his one and only friend.
The black man needs to realise that the black woman only wants to be free. To be free from him. To self determine. Without him obstructing her. Her desires are total freedom.
Systems of domination, much like Patriarchy and Racism, function by making the victim the reason for their own suffering. Either the blacks are not hardworking or women wear skirts that are too short. The goal here of course, is to remove all responsibility from the perpetrator and furthermore any retribution for the privilege they so enjoy at the expense of the other.
We have all heard, at one point or another, how if women STOPPED doing this or that, or even if they STARTED doing this or the other, then their situation would be better. “We all have our different struggles,” men would say. One wonders if these same words, if spoken by whites to black men, would fair?
Yes, colonisation has distorted the once (questionably) good relations between black men and black women, but what us men have learned to do so well, is to tell the victims of our domination that it is their fault, that they, through lewd and lascivious acts are the reason we abuse, rape and kill.
One must admit that patriarchy oppresses men as well, though never to the same extent.
And I only make this small concession because as men we can only listen to the struggles of women if ours are put as a priority. What a cruel world we have created in our own small corner, where white supremacy is not suppose to reach. And yet it does, we allow it. We continue these systems of domination.
Black men selfishly seek the monopoly of attention for their struggles, which of course is a result of years upon years of being ignored and refused one’s humanity. And yet it escapes us that black women were there in the same position with us as well.
The fact that black men went to work when women stayed at home at some points in history has made it seem like, to most black men, that they have experienced the rougher end of the oppression that ‘our women who stayed at home rearing children’.
If our fight is for the right to call our souls our own – black Women, Trans, LGBQTi, Queer bodies of all kinds have that right just as much as Black men. To call their souls their own.
The Black Liberation struggle must be willing to recognise not only the humanity of black women but our own part in their oppression, how we further their dehumanization.
Furthermore, we must be willing to fight for the struggles of women, ardently, unreservedly and with compassion for those issues which don’t affect us directly. Because we understand all too well that injustice anywhere risks any justice we might have.
That we threaten the liberation we seek, because it is sought half-heartedly.
As we move forward, towards that glorious Azania, we must be willing to constantly recognise those blacks who have their own individual and intersectional struggles. We must not only accept them as they are but fight that desire to dominate another within ourselves.
If another black is not free – whether because of their gender, sexuality or class – all blacks are in danger and are not free everywhere.
If I as a black man feel strong and powerful when a woman is on her knees, then I am not free. I am in a prison within myself.
The moral apathy amongst us men has turned us to monsters. People who care only about their own liberation and are indifferent to the suffering of Women.
Patriarchy and our own lust to dominate has created a caricature in society, that only exists in our mind, of a woman who is vindictive, scorned and irrational – all in the name of dismissing women’s pain and resistance to our oppression of them.
To tell a woman to shut up, and that she knows nothing because she is a woman, is to reach the end of an argument WITHOUT a legitimate reason for your high status in society that gives you privilege.
Unfortunately as men, we know this very well, and still don’t care.
*** Nkateko Mabasa is a dropout and former student of Wits University and UJ. He is currently an intern at The Daily Maverick. And serves as a member of the PAC Johannesburg Central branch. His three great loves are God, literature and politics. And looks forward to the upcoming revolution and the demise of the White-Supremacist-Capitalist-Patriarchal society.