July 02, 2010

Grow Up Women!

I let the men have it, now it’s our turn ladies and if you are expecting me to go easy on us because we women have it so very hard, for so very long, you are going to be disappointed. I’m going to be just as hard on you as I am on myself, so gird your loins and buckle in. First up…

You are not a victim!

Have you suffered abuse and neglect in your childhood? You are not a victim! Have you had one or several bad men enter your life? You are not a victim! Have you felt ugly and unloved? You are not a victim! The only victims in this world are children or those too impaired mentally, physically to defend themselves or determine anything true about their life. If you are reading this, you are not a victim! The moment you can identify the ills that plagued your life past and present, then you graduate from victim to actively aware person. The moment you can say,

“I was abused.” Or “My mother’s terrible life and unloving nature impacted negatively on me,” you are now wide awake.

Once you can pin point whatever injustice (so typically meted out to our gender) was meted out to you, then you have now become a conscious participant in what happens next. You can either prolong the effects of those ills or make up your mind to evolve past them.

When you have had your epiphany and know what has handicapped you all your life, what happens next is all on your shoulders.

Who am I to tell you this?

I am a woman who was sexually and physically abused, neglected, suffered two suicide attempts, two scary near death experiences; battled chronic depression; got rejected by those closest to me, experienced poverty, near homelessness twice, discrimination because of gender, orientation, race and colour, verbal and phyiscal abuse and assault because of gender and orientation.

Just when I think I have it all figured out, I get yet another emotional breakdown/breakthrough that has me bawling my eyes out till 2 in the morning. The latest one was all about my surprising realization that the abuse I suffered is still impacting my self-esteem and sex life within my thirteen year relationship. Yes, even when I think I have it all figured out and therapy, affirmations, meditations and spiritual healing has worked, I discover there is always another layer to peel away and something new to fix-up. Of course, once the fixing up is done, the tremendous leap forward is more than worth it...until the next hurdle.

Beauty is pain on the outside and the inside.

So, no, you do not have an excuse ladies. If you can commit to the “beauty is pain” mentality for the exterior of your body and subject yourself to bikini waxes, scalp melting chemical relaxers, spine-snapping, crippling high heels and 800 calories a day, then surely you can endure a little honest evaluation of the dark, depressing, disempowering ugly bits of baggage hanging over your heart and strangling your soul. You can summon the strength to pry its bony, fingers from your throat and unleash destruction upon it, with the same determined anger you apply to those pimples and knots in your hair.

“Well I had a hard life, so I doh give a shit about nobody!” attitude will not get you places, it will not win you respect amongst your sisters and brothers nor cultivate deep peace and joy in your life.

Don’t worry, it is okay if you don’t know how to stop tearing down others and sabotaging yourself, all you need to begin with is the desire to admit that you do it. Stop making excuses like, “People just don’t like me!” or “They are just jealous of me,” or “What can I do about it?” Acknowledge that your negative thoughts and actions are what play the most important role in attracting negative results to you in the form of being truly disliked by others ( other women especially), disrespected by men, destructive towards men, distrusted by your children, unsuccessful in your profession, unhappy with your life; being easily provoked, overly controlling, insecure and resentful.

Be brave ladies! Look into your past and see where it originated and understand how it affected you, and follow it up with a compelling reason to change.

That compelling reason could be anything from wanting to become a better lover, mother, sister, wife, workmate, teacher or friend or simply wanting more health and happiness in your life before you kill yourself. Of course the most successful reason is; wanting to become more spiritually empowered as part of your journey to Divine enlightenment. It is the most successful because it does not hinge on anyone else. Many women who link their self-improvement to their husband or lover or friend fall off the wagon once the relationship ends. Your relationship with the Divine and your own soul however, is everlasting.

While we are on this topic, let me make something clear.

Many women in our Caribbean region are extremely religious, praying constantly to be transformed by the Lord, forgiven by the Lord, become more forgiving through the Lord, be healed by the Lord. Many of them mistake the religious ecstasy they feel as these prayers being answered, because they are looking for miraculous change and spectacular signs. They go to church, catch the spirit, speak in tongues and then return to their families, communities or their own private spaces no more spiritually evolved than they were before. The “church fix” lasts only so long as the euphoria wears off. It is not long before their old thinking rears its ugly head and self-discipline prompted by religious obligation crumbles under their excuses of victimhood.

A woman is like a tea bag- you never know how strong she is until she gets in hot water.
Eleanor Roosevelt

Here is a little bucket of ice cold reality for you fiery holy rolling sisters.
The answers to your prayers do come. Not in the form of grandiose miracles but in the form of emotional upsets; failures, disagreements, conflicts and obstacles. They come in the form or embarrassing exposures of your weaknesses and being hurt or being faced with the shocking realization you are hurting other people. If all you are expecting are grand miracles then when these bitter greens are served up to you by the Divine Chef, you will not digest them with appreciation for the healing lessons to be learned that will help purge dysfunction from your life. You will continue to feel like a victim of external situations imposed on you.
You will be overly defensive and seek to justify your misbehviour towards others.

Case in point:
A woman prays and testifies and prays in church for deliverance from resentment towards someone who has done her wrong. She gets some relief from unburdening herself at church. Ahhh! She thinks this is it! Healing has come!

Then just hours after, the very person who irks her somehow does it again. She takes a deep breath and prays for deliverance. But the person keeps on entering her life and exacerbating the situation. No matter how much she prays for deliverance, the Divine or the universe sends her confrontation. Why?

It is trying to help her solve the issue. However, she does not realize it and thinks some miracle is going to happen when she must save herself using the powers gifted to her. She must take responsibility for her role in the situation. She must learn why she attracts the situation. She must then tackle it from that angle, forgiving herself and the person out of true understanding of their cosmic soul relationship before this life, presently and after their souls move on. Until that happens, she will either think: A- Her prayers are not being answered B. Demonise the person to the extent of assigning them the role of Devil come to disturb her peace.

And that my sistas is how you can have devout, sanctimonious women who continue to have severe emotional and interpersonal issues. They pray very visibly, attend church, preach to others constantly but are disliked, dysfunctional, dishonest and deluded about themselves and the world at large. They continue to be unclear about why their love relationships fail, why they cannot enjoy sex, why they still feels unworthy of love, why they constantly need to control and undercut other women and project a less than honest display of their emotions.

Take heart, identifying that you have “issues” and linking those issues to the triggers lurking in your past is more than most women ever do in their lifetime. You are already half-way there!

Little Girls Tear Down Their Sisters To Ease Their Insecurities

In the previous essay, I mentioned that Caribbean men have an exacerbated form of male chauvinism to compensate for the dehumanizing aspects of slavery and colonial oppression on their self-worth. It is in the nature of a man to outwardly express his pain by inflicting it on another. Men who are abused as boys or who have witnessed abuse are more likely to become abusers themselves.

Women are a little different.

We tend to turn the pain inward on ourselves first. A woman who is abused as a girl or witnessed abuse is more likely to become a victim of abuse all her life. Therefore you can expect Caribbean women who had to endure the whips, rapes, babies pulled from their arms to be sold off, lovers tortured and killed, colour and class discrimination, financial dependency, endless toil, endless disappointment and on top of all that, chauvinism and abuse from their brothers, to truly have the lowest of the low self-esteem.

Understand that we have a lot of self-love to regain.
Woman is the nigger of the world
Yes she is...think about it
Woman is the nigger of the world
Think about it...do something about it

We make her paint her face and dance
If she won’t be slave, we say that she don’t love us
If she’s real, we say she’s trying to be a man
While putting her down we pretend that she is above us

Woman is the nigger of the world...yes she is
If you don’t believe me take a look to the one you’re with
Woman is the slaves of the slaves
Ah yeah...better scream about it

We make her bear and raise our children
And then we leave her flat for being a fat old mother then
We tell her home is the only place she would be
Then we complain that she’s too unworldly to be our friend

Woman is the nigger of the world...yes she is
If you don’t believe me take a look to the one you’re with
Woman is the slaves of the slaves
Yeah (think about it)

We insult her everyday on TV
And wonder why she has no guts or confidence
When she’s young we kill her will to be free
While telling her not to be so smart we put her down for being so dumb

Woman is the nigger of the world...yes she is
If you don’t believe me take a look to the one you’re with
Woman is the slaves of the slaves
Yes she is...if you believe me, you better scream about it.

We make her paint her face and dance
We make her paint her face and dance
We make her paint her face and dance

John Lennon

My employer, a strong woman and first ever female Director of Tourism in her country lamented to me about the women who have Masters Degrees and all kinds of academic and professional accolades and yet continue to allow themselves to be at the mercy of nasty, dishonest, locho or abusive men. “Where is their pride? Where is their sense of dignity?” she asks. How could it be they have all that education but no value for themselves?

She also recounted her first professional experiences with female co-workers after returning to her Caribbean island home with stellar and highly specialised tertiary qualifications from Canada and the UK. Before her return, local women in the hotel industry worked for white, male, foreign management for years and never thought to aspire to achieve more than menial and administrative positions. Suddenly here comes my current boss with international training. She was the youngest and only black, female working in at the very top of the Hotel Industry in her country.

Of course, this came with special perks. She could use hotel facilities. She was attending cocktail functions and tourism conferences all over the world with her white, male colleagues. She was now the boss of the women who were there for years in the same position. She admitted how scared she was to be placed as their superior and how badly she wanted to be accepted by her elder, fellow local, fellow black sisters and to also learn from them.

Did they welcome this opportunity to have a fellow sister in a position of power? Did they see in her inspiration for bettering themselves by working with her and sharing their level of expertise while gleaning from hers?

Hell to the no!

They made their resentment very clear with sabotage, gossip and insubordination. Thankfully, my boss learned to toughen up quickly and stand up to women as old as twenty years her senior. Sadly when all attempts at camaraderie failed she was forced to replace a great portion of them with a newer generation with more first world experience and a willingness to aspire to something better with less “small-island”, “crab in barrel” attitudes.

Simone de Bouvoir often said that we women seem incapable of reaching across class, religion and racial lines to other women. We are so desperate for any single shred of self-esteem that we will actually buy into the inhumane machinations used to oppress others, designed by the very men who oppress us. So, we turn up our nose at our sisters from a “certain class”, “certain religious persuasion”, “certain colour”. The sad truth is that the mullato sister is no more “free” in our male dominated world than her darker-skinned sister and although the slave master’s wife or daughter was living in cushier kind of prison, than the slave-woman it was still a prison none the less. Caribbean women, whether descended from slave, indentured labourer, trader or slave master, whether educated or illiterate, all experienced some form of oppression yet were unable to see past our class, race and religion to our common struggle.

This attitude is reflective of the small feminist movement here in the Caribbean. Instead of making the enlightenment and liberating philosophies accessible to all women and using the existing, indigenous female leadership; from the Orisha Priestesses and Spiritual Baptist Mothers and Hindu matriarchs, the Caribbean’s intellectual women continue to turn up their nose at lesser educated women. So fragile is our ego! Feminists in the Caribbean segregate themselves in elite academic circles and corporate ladders, benefitting greatly from the knowledge they were given but not allowing it to trickle down to their less literate or less “legitimate” sisters. Our lack of generosity makes women who had little access or acumen for higher education or financial freedom to develop a hostile and suspicious attitude towards women who do. The “female professional” and the “feminist” are still the hoity-toity elitists for most grassroots, working class women, who are not given their due for their strength and resilience.

It’s not like the men care who is educated and who is not. They sexually harass and assault us all, regardless of our station. They are still intent on pigeon-holing, objectifying and infantalising all of us, whether we are dressed in a power suit or in pom pom shorts with powder on our chest. They are still pushing Ephesians and Corinthians down all our sisters throats and making them feel like less of a God-fearer if they do not accept a subservient role in marital relationships.

If feminism is beneficial for me, then it must also be beneficial for my housekeeper and her daughters! It is beneficial for the woman who sells me mangoes and cleans my office. How dare I or anyone else look at these woman and say, “They can’t understand things like that!” In my experience, they can, if you speak to them with reference to their realities. Let us not forget Sojourner Truth. She was no university graduate but a black, female, slave. The voice that cries out for freedom does not need a degree to be eloquent. The will to fight for freedom does not need a certificate to be resilient.

So I charge all women literate enough to read this and intelligent enough to understand and debate it, to reach out and touch the lives of other women all around you. So many opportunities exist to spread little gems of liberating truths wherever you go. When you see school girls waiting for a bus along your route being subjected to sexual overtures from the thugs on the corner and they are acting these are the only options they have for love and fulfillment, don’t turn up your nose. Stop your $200,000 car, offer them a ride home and tell them a little story on the way to their neighbourhood about your journey from that same neighbourbood to the successful career you always wanted. It may not stick with all of them but for one teenage girl, it could be the moment that changes her life. When you see two women arguing over some locho man, be the woman that tells them both that they deserve better.

Be known as the sister who never talks badly about anyone behind their back and refuses to play along in catty exclusionary games to tear down another sister’s confidence. Wherever you see a sister burdened and bound by limited thinking…set her free! Don’t shake your head at her and feel superior. If you do, then you are not a true feminist. You do not carry a torch for your sisters or any real pride in being a woman. You are just a taker, using what you know to get ahead and to hell with everyone else! You are no better than the men who enslaved your ancestors. You have no idea how significant it is to be born a woman. You need to GROW UP!

Being A Lone Woman Among Little Girls

One is not born a woman, one becomes one.
Simone de Beauvoir

There are childlike qualities you should keep all through life; curiosity, honest expression, openness to the world, natural joy and even silly playfulness.

Then there are childlike qualities that you should abandon as you get older and wiser like the fearful selfishness you feel about what you own, comparing what others have to what you have, feeling easily jealous if you are not the center of attention, allowing your infantile ego to determine your actions, wanting to belong so badly you lose your self-worth, allowing others to make your mind up for you, fear, ignorance, lack of common sense.

Have you ever found yourself surrounded by little girls in women’s bodies? Some of them are even mothers already- little girls raising little girls. Some are in their 40s and 50s but are still so insipid it hurts! Being “girlish”, “unconcerned of weighty matters”, “helpless”, “befuddled,” “easily abated with bright shiny objects,”, “manipulations through tantrums, tits and ass” unfortunately have been inculcated in our Caribbean women. Those of you who do not subscribe to this model and choose to act like grown, intelligent women; are unapologetic about your sexual empowerment, decisive, serious, daring, individualistic and blatantly honest are rare treasures most do not appreciate. Sometimes not even the women in your own family welcome you as they should.

Have you ever found yourself surrounded by women whose scope of conversation is always (1) Materialistic (2) Complaining (3) Salacious bad-talking? Or who are glaringly racist, classist or exhibit some other form of unintelligence and degradation? It is tough isn’t it? It is even worse when those women are members of your family or workmates whom you cannot avoid. You sit in silence and suffer through their girlish comparisons and deductions. While in their presence, you must fight constantly to balance your refusal to perpetuate destructive norms with your fear of being militant and unsociable. When you try to steer conversation into deeper waters, you get laughed at or sidelined.

I have found that instead of ranting and railing against them, I insert little humorous thought-provoking sound bites here and there.

THEM: Hah! Hah! She cyah get a man!
ME: Considering how “getting a man” worked out for the majority of women in this family! She must be the one laughing at all of you in secret!
THEM: “But look how she nice and fair-skinned!”
ME: I didn’t realize that being fair-skinned was still considered a bonus with skin cancer on the rise? Seems to me it is the melanin gifted who shall inherit the earth.
THEM: So when you going to have children? Hurry up!
ME: I am only entertaining suggestions about what to do with my eggs from people who willing to pay $100,000 and upwards for the outcome of their fertilization!

Make them laugh and make them think at the same time. You don’t need to preach.

Women Do Not Compete With Little Girls For Men

Little girls are in constant, heated contest with other little girls over boys. Their self-esteem and identity comes only from exterior and circumstantial factors, including being desired by men. They are confounded and challenged by grown women who act above or oblivious to all the subtle and not so subtle forms of catfighting they use in their contest.

Intellectually and spiritually mature women simply have better things to do than engage in little girl bitch games. You are not motivated by the same factors nor are you interested in pursuing the same target. No enlightened woman wants to end up in a relationship with someone who actually wants a little girl as his life partner. You are looking for an uplifting, soul-enhancing, equal partnership, not one where you fight, play petty ego games and soothe it all away with sex and gifts.

A real woman clearly see that men are the ones who must be kept on their toes, defending their turf, fighting for your love. When women do it, it is just pathetic. Why? Well in all honesty, it is a natural privilege for a man to have a woman, not the other way around. Even animals know that.

If you are an independent woman pursuing your career dreams, earning your own money with good friends around you and a wonderful community, social, spiritual life full of meaningful and orgasmic experiences, all without a man in your life, then you know that although having a man would be nice, it is not a necessity. In fact, having an intimate, sexual relationship with a man will present far more risk and upheaval in your life, so it better be worth the headache, HIV testing, condoms, yeast infections, fights, worries, hurt feelings and pregnancy scares. The man who gets the privilege of throwing your life out of wack needs to work for it. Those who fall miserably short, you do not need to think twice about discarding. That is the female role. Again, even animals know that.

Desperation and worry over what a man does can easily be solved by having a full and satisfying life of your own with or without him. Remember that he is the one who is lucky to have you.

At a party with some friends, a married female-friend of mine was drinking and watching with great amusement as a “little girl” made the moves on her husband of 20 years.

“Go and tell that sket to keep her claws off your man!” her friends urged.
“Why?” the empowered woman answered. “If my husband actually takes that bait then our marriage must be in real bad shape or, he is a complete moron and I am in bad shape for being with him. That sket is the litmus test. She will help us end a bad marriage or improve it or just go home tonight and fuck our brains out. I am a strong enough bitch to handle all possible outcomes! So just let me enjoy my drink.”

She enjoyed her night alright! Upon seeing her enjoying herself, her husband soon joined in and from the suggestive dancing I imagine they went home and fucked their brains out. She did not let some sket ruin her evening and gain some false sense of accomplishment doing so.

Easier said than done right?

The ability to love a man without fear of “little girls” taking him away is a privilege only strong women will ever know.

My accomplished, forty year old female friend belly laughed and laughed at her fifty year old boyfriend when she found out he cheated on her with a “little girl”. He was always something of a megalomaniac and so, could not handle my friend and her ability to match his success. So he found a “little girl” in a bar, half his age, whom he could bamboozle. As it turned out, what the “little girl” lacked in principles, intellectual and spiritual acumen she more than made up for in desperation, emotional sexual and social manipulation; basic tools of the “little girl” trade. His infantile outside woman got herself pregnant, stalked him, threatened suicide and scandal until he married her. That was actually the funniest part of all because he was always and still is extremely marriage-phobic. In the five years, she was with him, my friend accepted this, being a bit of a maverick herself and having absolutely no emotional or financial need to “tie down” a man.

My friend gathered all her girlfriends and shared a good laugh at his wedding video, leaked to her by a mutual friend who attended. Her marriage-phobic ex-boyfriend clearly uncomfortable while dressed up like prince charming. There were horse-drawn carriages and white doves. His little Bridezilla made him fork out hundreds of thousands for an elaborate, tacky wedding. Now he lives to support his new desperate housewife’s suburban social climbing dreams. He hides from her by spending most of his time at the bar, golf course and the office where he still encounters my friend who has long moved on. He is trapped. If he leaves now, he has to pay child support for four children. His new wife turned out to be quite fecund, go figure.

The man looks like he does not know what hit him. He still unburdens on my friend as his own wife is nowhere near his intellectual level.
“You idiot,” my friend still playfully tells him when he does.

He could have had a woman who only wanted him for his mind, meaningful conversation, mind-blowing sex and mutual growth on this adventure called life. But no, he fell for the “little girl” trap because my friend was too empowered to mistake his shit for her sustenance. Elizabeth Aston used to say, “When men are scared of a woman, they always accuse her of being mannish,” which only proves they are scared of their own potential.

Ladies, stop spending your time time pining over men that dumb and unenlightened! Ladies, no one is going to treat you like a prize if you don’t treat yourself that way. Men who are serious stay. The little boys (yes even those over 30) flee and go chase after the little girls and get tangled up in their little girl games.

Ugly is irrelevant. It is an immeasurable insult to a woman, and then supposedly the worst crime you can commit as a woman. But ugly, as beautiful, is an illusion.
Margaret Cho

This physical shell of ours is not going to last forever, in its current state. Little girls will always be scared of aging because it takes away their one asset. Nothing is more pathetic than a toothless cougar, desperately trying to cling to her physical attributes and bitter at all the little girls who have usurped her place.

Personally, I cannot wait until the grey hairs start peppering my dreadlocks. Such a relief to be free of the constant sooting and sexual harassment! Oh! To move around freely in this world without being seen as simply a sexual object! What fun! For many women in the Caribbean, the moment she becomes an elder, is the first time she is ever given any kind of respect by, men.

Many empowered women look forward to the freedom of their post-menopausal years because being sexually viable to men was never their main source of their self-esteem.

Oh and I intend to be fearsome! I want to be a wizened old hag full of mystical power and secret knowledge, puffing on my hash pipe. I want to be someone with whom young artists, thinkers, lovers climb mountains to consult. Those in need of comfort and healing I will resuscitate with love. Those who need empowerment I will deliver fearsome knowledge that awakens their warrior spirit. Those who need inspiration, their minds I will open. My silliness, crude humor and lust for life would not have diminished one iota but my powers would have increased exponentially. My scandalous, cackling laughter would echo from my little eco-friendly dwelling. Call me Tanty or Mama Jessie. Love and fear me. I will be unafraid to surrender my mortal coil and return to the Source.