Of Rage and Womanhood

(TW: Rape and murder) James Baldwin said, “To be a Negro in this country and to be relatively conscious is to be in a rage almost all the time.” Imagine how much more amplified this is when you add in the intersectionality of gender, sexual orientation, social class, etc.

To be a black woman in a racist, sexist and capitalist world means being in a near-constant state of rage. Our rage is always in flux; constantly ebbing and flowing – adapting to the environment and stimuli around us. The mild(ish) annoyance of the creepy Boda Boda guy who leers at you as he comments that your freshly glossed full lips look “tasty”. The white-hot rage that has me trembling and feeling vengeful every time I read a new headline of yet another woman’s life cruelly ended by a man. With every hashtag my anger intensifies till it plateaus into the eventual exhaustion and fatigue that comes with a barrage of depressing news.

This was me last year when news of Uyinene Mrwetyana’s brutal rape and murder first appeared on my Twitter timeline. Uyinene was a 19-year old South African student who was abducted, raped and murdered by a post office worker.

I’m sorry I warned you about so many places but not about the Post Office.

Uyinene’s mother at her funeral

I think about all the ‘rape prevention’ tips that have been drummed into my conscience all my life. All the places I’ve been warned to avoid. All the things not to do. All the people to stay away from. I live in a constant state of hyper vigilance as I move through the world wondering if the man/ men around me will choose me as their next victim. It doesn’t matter whether I remain sober; wear long, baggy clothes; avoid dark areas; stay away from stranger danger… The threat is always there, following me like a shadow every where I go. My fear and anxiety arising from existing in this state is only matched by my rage that this is my reality.

I don’t know what to do about this anger. At times I feel like it will eat me alive. At times I want to ‘rage out’ like the Hulk and go on a rampage, smashing to bits all the things that uphold the patriarchy. I don’t know what to do with all these emotions. All I know is that I must keep fighting to find the joy and the hope or else I will not be able to get out of bed. That after all is said and done I mustn’t let the patriarchy win.

Featured image c/o Lulu Kitololo

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