The right way to ‘stay’

I like going back to projects years after their release. I never stop recollecting all the wisdom I need from them, and we all know the meaning of art changes according to time and personal context. I get to really decipher my truth in and about them when there is less noise and opinions.

Albums like Lemonade are one of those, and before you roll your eyes and click elsewhere, please note that this piece is neither about the album nor personal indulgence of Bey.

But, let’s admit it, in pop-culture, Beyonce has become the poster woman for “staying,” especially after her hubby Jay Z released an album that speaks to his cheating (if it’s true), which also sees him manning up to his faults and almost opening up to healing. Confronting himself, in Kill Jay Z, Jigger says;

“You almost went Eric Benet, let the baddest girl in the world get away. I don’t even know what else to say. Nigger never go Eric Benet.”

Since Beyonce and Jay Z are an international couple, their projects have shown many that they can work it out as a couple. The song that cements this idea the most is Bey’s “All night,” and my favorite line from it is in the poetry before the song;

“So, we’re gonna heal. We’re gonna start again. You’ve brought the orchestra. Synchronized swimmers. You’re the magician. Pull me back together again the way you cut me in half. Make the woman in doubt dissapear.”

 

As a fanatic of pop-culture, I like to be critical and before I glorify international stars as pioneers for certain ideas, which results to latching on to associating things with those outside of us, I spend a lot of time on You-tube, google, books, Twitter and in my memory, wondering if these things have been said before to us, by us and for us. Most of the time, the answer is yes. Gender bender? Brenda Fassie. #CoupleGoals? Letta Mbulu and Caiphus Semenya. Romance? Ringo. The list goes on and on and on, trust me.

 

Now, for the right way to ‘stay,’ I found Zeb Matabane and Agnes Matabane – Isidingo’s power couple, believe it or not.

You will remember that Isidingo hit our TV screens in 1998 as a Soapie set in a small mining town, Horizon Deep. I was only seven years old back then, and probably started watching it in 2002 and was instantly captivated. Zeb represented my father and Agnes, my mother.

Their 16 years journey as a couple with success, love, hardships, infidelity and a love child shifted the paradigm of what black love could look like for me, because Agnes did both what my mother did and did not do.

One, she stayed. My mother did that. Two, she started being empowered in every aspect of what that word means. My mother never lived long enough to do that. Nonetheless, I held them on a pedestal as a mirror of what could have been my parents had my mother still been alive. To say I loved their story-line is an understatement; feel free to use the comment section to call out any biasness I have here.

When they left Isidingo in 2014, they made headlines; Destiny Magazine wrote “over the past 16 years they’ve made us laugh and cry, but this month marks the end of the journey for Isidingo’s much-loved couple Zeb and Agnes Matabane.”

It’s true, theirs was an inspiring journey from rural Thaba ‘Nchu in the Free State to Horizon Deep. They were our kind of power couple because they started out with nothing – initially Zeb worked as a miner, while Agnes sold chicken feet.

With hard work they managed to rise against all odds until Agnes was able to buy shares and own a percentage of the local pub known as The Rec. She was now a business woman. But, sadly, this was also when we saw the effects of how much a woman being a go-getter chops off manhood of traditional patriarchy. Zeb’s poor little fragile masculinity suffered a lot. He was forced to rediscover himself as times were drastically changing; empowerment fixated on black women, benefiting his wife’s career more than his.

What was his role now? Who was he in relation to her? And, what could possibly be the way forward, especially when he injured himself and landed in a wheelchair, unable to be the bread winner?

That, “a relationship is where two people meet, detect and heal their past traumas,” as Jada Smith puts it, was true for this couple. Agnes had to still see her king in the Zeb who was no longer a provider, and Zeb had to see his queen in the Agnes who was doing what would be considered “a man’s job.”

Agnes wasn’t going to leave Zeb; he was the love of her life. But, she was also not going to drown trying to save him. She was not going to let him abuse her. She was going to lay down the law about the kind of marriage she wanted, and give him an ultimatum. And, being a woman from a different generation, she was patient; it was going to take her husband years to unlearn his ways, and it was going to take her years to unlearn the expected role she should play as a wife. So, within that harsh turbulence of transition, they still held on to each other.

I want to make it clear that I am saying that staying should be with a person who is willing to do whatever it takes to save the relationship, as was in this case, you cannot possibly work alone in it.

For me, this was and still is a vital message for black couples, particularly. When two people come together, we give each other everything we have been given. If your parents gave you violence and patriarchy, that’s exactly what you are going to give your partner; and a relationship is your mirror to see your shit unfold.

Abandonment. Black depression. Depression. Violence. Doormatry (I made this word up). [Insert more shit here]. 

I believe that if the love is still there, and there is no threat to any partner’s life, it can still be healed, just as Agnes and Zeb were constantly under construction, to become the best version of themselves individually and as a couple. In that, Agnes didn’t only empower married women to put their foot down, but also validated single women when she separated from Zeb and was still doing the damn thing!

I think the journey to being a ‘power couple’ (as Millennials valorize it) is not a smooth one, and it requires love for that person as broken as they are. It also doesn’t require you to fix them, but to fix yourself and trust them to do their own work.

Men and women who stay are not always stupid, the same way that women who leave are not always brave.

There are many ways to love yourself, and sometimes, we are not gonna leave; we are here to stay. We like it here. Together; we will alternate the needle and thread among each other to stitch our scars, until we’re both alright. No lumps in our throats, no melancholy, no songs about being left or leaving, and definitely no pain anymore.

Yep, we are all in conversation; whether it’s Zeb and Agnes, Jay and Bey or you and your lover, the truth remains, “we’re gonna heal,” and “if we’re gonna heal, let it be glorious.”

Hoe is life?

#I’m #glad #women #are #writing #themselves #out #of #social #constraints.

The awareness that something was wrong (academically) started when I read Susan Faludi’s ‘Blame it on Feminism.’ I related to her as an academic. But, in hindsight, as a woman, I didn’t fully relate.

White women’s grandeouse feminism (during her time) had a fixation on dismantling Barbie. I’ve never owned a Barbie doll, or any doll for that matter so I am indifferent to it.

And now that I really think about it, my relationship to white feminism can be likened to Rihanna vs Madonna (not that they have beef, but hear me out).

Yes, “remember how we used to slut-shame Madonna? That totally worked out. Nobody ever had sex ever again. UNTIL RIHANNA,” wrote Lindy West.

It’s true, Rihanna became extremely popular for being a bad girl, and whenever we wanted to be bad (mostly from being heartbroken, even though we wouldn’t admit it), we would sing along to; “Is it bad that I never made love, I never did it, but I sure know how to fuck?” Rihanna became the spokesperson of ‘hoe is life.’

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Although ‘being generous with her vagina’ and not giving a fuck is her street cred, in a 2015 interview by Toyin Owoseje, Riri revealed that she doesn’t do casual sex. In fact, she said being single means she does get horny, she is a woman, and continued; “but what am I going to do − just find the first random cute dude that I think is going to be a great ride for the night and then tomorrow I wake up feeling empty and hollow?”

Like most of us, she associated casual sex with having the effects that drive her [or most women, for that matter] to wake up feeling guilty. Guilty for what, you may ask. I don’t know, but we do feel guilty, especially when we don’t get a call from that wo/man the next day. Isn’t it interesting that the baddest bitch in the game couldn’t have casual sex?

I wasn’t at all surprised because I had always seen a mushy-mushy sentimental girl behind the bad-girl image. My suspicions were confirmed when she took Chris Brown back after he almost killed her – girls who don’t give a shit don’t do such.

And, whether socially conditioned or by natural inclination, girls don’t want to be called sluts. Especially by men they really love.

Girls don’t want to be known (sexually) by multiple wo/men. Girls want to be ‘special’ and exclusive, somewhat pure and for girls, being in charge of our sexuality means saying NO, since we are always sexually sought after and forever hear “your body is your temple.”

So, for me, by the time the #HoeIsLife sensation came about, I had already had my fair share of trying to be with multiple men and calling it freedom. Whereas, there was always one man I was madly in love with paying me no attention, the rest of them were tools to deliver me from the temptation of calling him. He didn’t want me.

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Don’t get me wrong. I am not intertwining sex with multiple wo/men with heartbreak only, but I am saying that if I am really honest to the core, there was no freedom there for me. Because like most women, I could never really get to the bottomless hole of my sexual fantasies with casuals, nor could I explore and be spontaneous, fully. Let me even go as far as saying that sometimes, I tailored myself as a no-strings-attached girl after realizing that the dude wanted nothing serious. I wanted to feel like it was my decision.

Moreover, there was no freedom because it was important for me that the man I really loved didn’t know I was sleeping with others. I had to be pure for/to him. And, if he ‘saw’ me and made me his girlfriend, I was going to leave everything I was doing, regardless of the fact that he had been banging hoes left right and center. I knew it. I had caught him doing it. But, I still would give up my hoe life in a heart beat for him. Not only that, but even when I briefly dated a married man, I wanted him to see me as a loyal (sexually and otherwise) chick.

Call me stupid, but this is a default for many women. I am friends with very strong women, but being entered and exited with no emotions still hurts them like they are little girls.

Over the years, I learned that there is nothing wrong with that, as much as there is nothing wrong with women wanting to be hoes. I learned that my power and freedom as a woman doesn’t come from fucking this one and that one, but from fucking where I love and am loved; it comes from exploring sex with that one person, and allowing myself to be vulnerable to the fact that I might get fucked over with this loyalty BS, but that it’s okay.

I remember the full circle moment when I went on my healing journey, because the no-strings-attached obsession came from home, where we were taught to block out emotions. So, I was already a pro when I was in my twenties. To this day, men (except for my boyfriend) go on about how cold and unbothered I am.

All I know is that I couldn’t do it anymore. Life is holistic; your bedroom affects your boardroom, insurmountably. I need healthy relationships.

Sex buddies started having an after-taste of my father; absent and present at the same time. Not wanting full responsibility and accountability. It’s possible that I sought them because we look for our fathers, everywhere.

I wanted to feel what it’s really like to have someone hold on to me and not let me go when shit hits the fan. I was done with letting men curate how far I can go in attaching myself to them.

If your penis touches my clit, your balls sweat in my mouth and I am subjected to your come face, then I want to have the option to ask you to stay. And, you have to reciprocate.

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Nope, hoe isn’t life for me, not because I will NEVER be one, but because I don’t want to do it like this. I don’t owe social media and any ‘ism a ratchet sexuality, nor do I owe any man an angelic sexual demeanor.

To the women who are self-proclaimed hoes, in the hashtag and maybe reality of it, I am not invalidating your intelligence at all. I hope it’s about you, and that you find the maximum freedom in it, unlike me. I failed, dismally.

To those who are like me, who feel hollow and empty after casual sex, don’t allow yourself to die in the name of hashtags and likes. Dance to your own rhythm and choose a life that supports your sanity, darling. Did you know that healing is life?