“Feminism never offered me any help, for it fails to address the power of women as well as their powerlessness.” ~Gillian Rose
Where to begin. Well, nah, nah, nah. We need to rephrase that “it’s a pity that people don’t appreciate black people” nonsense — who cares…that’s up to them. Thing is, it’s a new day, and it’s time for African women to perceive it, and quit chasing waterfalls. Especially, in terms of redressing the balance when it comes to notions of beauty. African women have been taught to negate their own self-worth in pursuit of an ideal of beauty that is killing us all actually. Time to flip the script. In order to do that, there will have to be a process of re-education –a corrective to address the miseducation that has resulted in ‘African self- loathing’. We have lessons to learn from the Negritude movement on this front, and as one of it’s major proponents – Aime Cesaire asserted:
“I have a different idea of a universal. It is of a universal rich with all that is particular, rich with all the particulars there are, the deepening of each particular, the coexistence of them all.”
Moreover, as Cesaire wisely observed:
“No race holds the monopoly of beauty, of intelligence, of strength, and there is a place for all at the rendezvous of victory.”
As for eurocentric notions of beauty – here’s a hand grenade for that dominant narrative: Mene, mene tekel upharsin…GAME OVER.
On faux feminsim and mauvais foi…
Furthermore, the simplistic notion that all women are good, and all men need their ass-kicking, is undermining the goal of genuine women’s empowerment. Many blacks who embraced theaudacity to hope that Barack Obama — who had become in the eyes of the besotted, a sort ofMessianic leader, who’s loyalties would be unquestionably and deeply bound up, not only with African-Americans, but with Africans everywhere, have been sorely disappointed. So too, have such lofty expectations been thrusted upon the shoulders of women by women — especially those in prominent positions of power. Equally troublesome, is the role women play in colluding with, and promoting vacuous notions of women’s empowerment. Ultimately, there is no genuine women’s empowerment, without a process of conscientization that addresses power and gender inequality.
It is one thing to espouse the rhetoric of liberation, and another to seek transformative justice for all, that challenges the simulacrums, endemic to neo-liberal paradigms — including womens internalisation of patriarchal structures. Also included, would be internalised dominant western notions of ‘beauty’ by African women and women of color. We should not negate the fact, that women too have power -that the exercise of power is not exclusively negative or positive, rather it is a complex network of relationships, which calls for a nuanced analysis of ‘difference’ as it relates to the intersectionality, of race, gender, sexuality and class. It’s time to separate the wheat from the chaff and on this I concur with Foucault: