Welcome to yet another episode of this month’s Unlearning series. Previously, we talked about What Men Need to Unlearn and if you missed it, spare some time before or after reading this post to read through what some men had to say about the things they need to unlearn.
Today’s episode solely revolves around women and what they should unlearn – it is a pretty intense episode which left me slightly sad mainly because I realised that women are put through the most and still expected to cope just fine. One of the things women most certainly need to unlearn is the idea that their sole purpose is to serve a man – growing up, women are raised to be some man’s wife (cabanga), their parents do not seem to care much about how they are doing in school, how their mental health is or if they are being harassed by some ‘entitled’ men. All that matters or mattered to them is if their daughter can cook, clean and able to take care of their future husband if they stumble in the house at 2am drunk.
Women are rushed by their families to get married early because they know that the longer you stay unmarried, the more you learn about men and the more you start realising stuff about men. Women are convinced from a tender age that they need a man in their life but the older you grow, you come to realise that women are completely capable of taking care of themselves but men on the other hand…
Also, this is a topic that seems to be brushed off often, women need to unlearn this idea of sacrificing their own pleasure to boost a man’s ego – if a man cannot locate your right spots, please tell him because apparently the world is full of men who walk around with so much confidence thinking they know what they are doing when it comes to successfully pleasuring a woman. Please educate and direct them.
Listen, I need to stop talking now otherwise this episode will end in December. That’s enough from me. Now let’s hear what other women have got to say…
Trixx | Okay, let’s get to it… Firstly, I am convinced black mothers raise their daughters instead of mothering them. They do what they have to do physically and somehow think it’s fine. They raise us to be mothers and wives – to be submissive to men. To hide our bodies to protect men, hold our tongues so that we do not offend men, to do things so men can pick/choose us. We are even made to believe that the best days in a woman’s life are days like prom and wedding days which are days that are glorified because a woman has been picked by a man to be at his side and make him look good. They make it their goal to point out our shortcomings and all that isn’t perfect with us physically then are the first ones to judge us when we start wearing make-up, getting weaves, butt implants etc.
You can do 10 things right but all they’ll remember and see is that one thing you did wrong. I don’t know where to even start when it comes to them pretending not to see the signs of depression when it hits. I spent most of last year high or drunk or even both but my mother ‘didn’t notice’, got pregnant again because I used sex to deal with shit when the drugs weren’t potent enough but she didn’t see that. I knew I couldn’t keep the baby because then she’d make it about her and how I made her look.
When we had the altercation about my hair, I told her, for the first time about the rape when I went to Pietermaritzburg to re-register and why I didn’t tell her and she STILL asked why I was at the party in the first place. At that point I realised that it’s engraved in her to ignore everything that pushes her to actually ‘mother’ because that would make her look like an overly lenient parent. I don’t know if we can ever change how they are but the least we can do is not become them. Maybe it’s how they were raised that makes them like this. We can’t hate them for it but we can’t let them raise our younger siblings like that. We want mothers not trainers.
Amanda Z | What I definitely think women should unlearn when it comes to relationships is that your boyfriend/husband is the superior one. We always preach 50/50 but that is never the case because you find women bending over backwards just so to please their partner, we find ourselves trying to change just because your partner doesn’t approve. I think generally as women when we love we accept men as they are with all their flaws because we think our love or the way we submit ourselves to them will in some way change who they are but it doesn’t.
Why do we willingly accept mediocre behaviour in the name of love. One should be able to say wow I don’t deserve this and walk away. Why do we allow ourselves to be disrespected in the name of love, when we know we deserve so much better? Why is it okay for men to do certain things and we can’t, simply because we are women?
Why should we be patient with them when they are not willing to do the same for us. Why should we be so forgiving simply because we committed ourselves to the relationship now we must accept whatever is thrown in our direction because we want it to work. Women should unlearn the concept ‘yokubekezela‘ (tolerating) and learn we are worth so much more.
As women, we walk around thinking we are inadequate compared to men be it at a work place, school or wherever. You hear some women saying ‘I’ll never be with someone who earns less than me’ – what’s wrong with earning more than your partner or being in a greater position at work than him or doing so much better than him elsewhere. The problem with us women we have learnt that we should always be nursing men’s egos and feelings sometimes we even find ourselves lying to them simply because we don’t want to be honest and hurt their feelings. When in all honesty it’s the truth.
As women, we possess so much power but it goes to waste because we are not using it in the right way and some don’t even use it as all which is a shame. In all honesty, our lives should not be dependent on what our partners, parents or even what our friends think or say. We should never allow anyone to dictate to us how to live our lives.
Mukelwa | I am obsessed about everything that’s got to do with women. You grow up being told that a woman should do this, a woman should be that – when I finally discovered that I can free myself from all those oppressing commands my mother gave me and become a liberated woman, it became a really cool thing. So, for me, things women should unlearn are possibly the things we learnt at Sunday school… “As a woman of Christ, you need to dress and be covered so that you do not tempt men” Woman everywhere need to unlearn this, in fact they need to fuck it up!
I cannot count how many times I have been told that I need to watch how I dress because men sin with their eyes, so we must be careful what we wear. All these statements we grew up by initiated rape because it is all these notions that men are entitled to how we dress, how we act and what we say all the time and how we need to consider their feelings. To wrap everything up, I am saying that woman need to unlearn all the laws the bible put up about woman… submit, endure, be a woman of virtue… Nah man! We need to unlearn all of that because those are the oppressor’s tools.
Nombulelo | Okay, firstly, women do a lot on this planet and still be the ones that experience the most violence, rape, harassment, prejudice; in all platforms of socialization. We go an extra mile for things that are less likely to cause us harm or leave us shackled. In the world we live in, we need to come even with what is around us. Women today need to forget analogies their grandmothers and mothers lived by and focus on evolving to better their state of mind and keep them safe in these times.
For decades, we’ve been boxed on how to live life. For me, that’s what women need to unlearn – living a predetermined life. The moment we are able to dream about doing the “impossible” we can release our potential to the universe. It is in our nature to be loving, fragile, caring, bold, raw, therefore we need to unlearn a lot because these are the characteristics that will hold us to our ground. We can all agree that today, a women’s role is not to be domesticated, yes nothing is wrong with being the heart of the household but the moment we feel that’s our ultimate place in life it becomes an issue.
Women should be allowed to dream beyond the borders of being the house wife. Therefore, as women we need to learn to embrace the opportunities that life presents to us. We should try the adventures that are available to us and not let any thought of doubt or man stand in our way. One important key factor that I strongly believe that hinder us as women to propel to mighty beings is fear. Fear comes in many ways, some ways could be when we doubt ourselves, when we constantly worry about tomorrow as well as and living up to the demands of society. Hence, we are living in our comfort zones not really enjoy our own lives.
One last notion that women need to unlearn; why should we drag each other down in order to affiliate success? Shouldn’t we be assisting each other with information, resources, support, comfort, opportunities so we can all experience excellence of succeeding!? We need to stop seeing each other as competition or threats. We need to embrace each other, so men themselves can live to meet out standards. We can do better, way better. We need to unlearn, to create social change.
Amanda N | – Females are always inferior, we are taught that males are superior then us. As females we are supposed to tolerate everything. Even if a man throws 3 kids at you in marriage, you are expected to raised his kids and be “strong”.
- We were taught that we need a man in our lives. If you are 30 and single then something is wrong with you. We grew up being told that we need a man to take care of us, that if you not married at a certain age something is wrong with you, you need to consult your ancestors fast and pray for a man. It’s a “need”.
- We need to lose ourselves to keep a marriage going or to keep a man, disregard your own feelings. You can’t be opinionated. Humble yourself at all times before a man. “kuyabekezelwa” (you must tolerate anything), they say.
- We must remain pure for guys whom have slept with countless women.
- As woman, we have pressure over certain things like – “you’re 28 but you don’t have a baby”, “Your little sister is getting married but you aren’t” etc.
Nonhlanhla | Well, firstly, it’s the idea that women should stick around and tolerate when the man does all sorts of things like cheating, emotional abuse, physical abuse and all. Like, why should we, because if a man finds out that you cheated, they either do the same or worse or they just leave you or hit you.
Secondly, the idea that one mustn’t allow another woman to take her man. If the guy can’t keep his zip up why can’t we learn to walk away and stop fighting each other as women. I mean, why fight each other when the person that fucked up is the man? Why are we hating each other when the person we should be hating is the man?
Another thing is, women usually are the ones that are jealous of each other. We find it hard to be happy for one another and I think that comes from how you grow up. Women amongst our families get jealous over each other and end up ruining each other all in the name of jealousy. I think we should grow with the idea of being able to grow each other and help each other instead of wanting to be better than the other.
And the idea that we MUST get married… As if you are just going to die if you don’t get married. There is nothing wrong with not being married. Some women are just better off without all the legal nonsense that comes with marriage because that brings the idea that the man is the head of the house and the man should provide. I feel we should respect each other equally. Man or woman, we are both human, we both want the respect. And it’s not a death sentence if a man can’t provide for his family and the wife does. Why can’t the roles switch? It’s the 21st century after all… It’s a new world.
We can live without men and we can live with them and provide for them. We as women can do better, be better and not be stuck in a world that our mothers bulit for us we can build a new world for our children, teach them independence.
Nothile | So, I have three points! And my responses are all against patriarchy you will see for yourself that they are kind of similar even though it’s three subtopics!
1 – I’m gonna talk about what women are expected to do at home!
2 – What women need to unlearn in relationships!
3 – And how they are expected to Behave!
- So, as a black woman I have lot to say about this topic and what I feel women should unlearn. Women need to unlearn the fact that there are certain chores only for them around the house! Anything that categorizes woman should be unlearnt. So, to start from the basics chores: as women we have been conditioned to think that every morning I need to wake up clean the house, make breakfast and if there’s washing even if it’s not mine I need to wash it because they are preparing me for marriage! First of all, who said one qualifies for marriage by being domesticated!? And who said that every woman out there wants to get married!? I feel as though women are pressured to learn these things as if their lives depended on it! I think our mothers as women need to unlearn these ideas first so it will be much easier for us young women to unlearn these norms because both genders should be equal, we are both from the same universe and we should be treated the same way nothing should be for men or women accept for things that can’t be changed like giving birth! But other things both men and women should be taught from birth that cleaning the house, washing clothes and cooking is not only for one gender because both genders are capable!
- Relationships! In relationships women have always expected to be the forgiving ones, the patient ones, the obedient ones and the ones who need to give more respect! This “bullshit” started from a certain religion which states that women were only born as helpers of men we were made from a man’s rib, so this has made women feel like they will always come after men and it has left men feeling like they’re superior than women. Even in relationships you will find that women are expected to do certain things because they are a woman. In relationships, you find that women have to explain themselves more than a man would, so if I want to go out with my girls I have to ask my man first seek for his approval before I can do anything! Men, instead of being our partners, they sort of become our dads! So basically, women need to unlearn that in relationships they should always be the ones to seek approval they need to learn that a relationship is a 50/50 partnership, no one should feel lesser than the other we should be on the same level. If we agree on something we should both respect that there shouldn’t be things that I’m expected to do because I am a woman!
- Behaviours! There are countless things that women need to unlearn! Firstly, women need to unlearn that there are behaviours that are only acceptable from men! Society and its norms has different behavioural categories for men and women to an extent where if I’m seen smoking or drinking in some bar it’s taboo! Me doing that means I will get certain looks from people who know nothing about me because I’m a woman and I shouldn’t be doing it’s not for me. Women need to unlearn that slutty behaviour is only acceptable when a man does it, I believe that if it’s not accepted when women do it, men shouldn’t do it as well! In Isizulu they even have a nice non-insulting word for men with slutty behaviour – “isoka”! So basically, my point is that in general women should unlearn that certain behaviours are for certain people in society, they should be free to do whatever they feel like doing and not feel the pressure of being judged if they do certain things!
Snethemba | 1. As women, one of my major “unlearning” things, is this whole misconception of ukubekezela (tolerating). We are breeding women that tolerate abuse whether it is physical, mental, emotional or even sexual all in the name of ‘ukubekezela’.
- We were taught not have an opinion or a backbone because men would find that offensive and disrespectful. Our role in society is cooking, cleaning and bearing children. Who said so? Surely, we worth more then that. This starts with kids playing “house” and she jumps up to be the mother so she serves her husband. This needs to be unlearned.
- This whole thing of giving respect even to a person that doesn’t deserve it. We should teach our women that respect is a two-way street. 4th and final point is that your body is not an asset. It’s the simple things like somebody catcalling by you or you being empowered because you have a big ass and boobs then you respond, we need to unlearn this.
Tessa | For me, I think the most annoying thing I’ve learnt or picked up from society is that women are supposed to be this pillar of strength. Regardless of how terrible the situation is, no one actually told me this but it’s something I have been doing all my life. It’s something that all women do because it’s almost seems like you are less of a woman if you don’t stay and deal with the shitty situations.