By: Eseoghene Obrimah ~Guest Writer~
“She has a nice a!$, but her face ruins it.” “You would make a good wife, but my kids can’t be skinny.” “It’s Adam and Eve, not Eve and Adam.” I usually stay silent when I hear these things. Some days I don’t speak up because I’m scared of being the only one who sees the problem. Some days it’s because I don’t want to play into the stereotype of the angry Black woman. Some days I’m too baffled by the fact that someone felt entitled enough to give their unsolicited judgment on my ability to be their ideal child bearer. Some days it’s because I’m tired. Most days, however, I don’t speak because I’ve been socialized not to. I have been taught that everything from microaggressions to sexual assault should be tolerated, endured and forgiven.
Silence is not consent, it is the enemy. It is the cage that keeps many women trapped in a world where equal rights, healthcare and respect are always out of reach, no matter how many milestones we reach, glass ceilings we shatter or cages we break out of. Writer Zora Neale Hurston said, “If you are silent about your pain, they’ll kill you and say you enjoyed it.” And that is the truth that women all over the world have to battle.
This Women’s Herstory Month, and for the rest of my life, I’ve decided that I will not be silent. I have decided to walk in the footsteps of Winnie Mandela, Margaret Ekpo, Funmilayo Ransome Kuti, Audre Lorde, Ella Baker and countless more women who refused to endure pain and oppression in silence and decided to demand everything that was rightfully theirs.
I will speak about gender-based violence, women’s reproductive health, sexism in the classroom, equal pay, religion’s role in propagating inequality and on why a catcall is not a compliment. I will speak for the women who cannot due to how social, cultural, economic and political systems intersect to keep them in cages thicker than mine. If you hear me and immediately label me as an angry Black woman, you need to reflect on why you have been socialized to view me standing up for myself as negative and why you have racialized that thought. Will I get tired? Probably. But, I will stand on the shoulders of the women who came before me and shout. You can warn me. You can give me your explanation. Nevertheless, I will persist.