by Jessica Mandanda
I am what society says a radical feminist. I am loud and unapologetic in my activism, but I was not always like this, I say this because I have been told this before.
I have sat through the incessant arguments and conversations on gender-based violence that always began with statistics of violence, what causes such violence and terminologies but it was never angry enough and that is a problem because I would never really talk about what happens daily to me as a woman and I needed space to say,
“Hey, listen, I am a woman and I am treated like a doormat in every aspect of my life. I am raped and told that I am probably crazy because there is simply no way that I could telling the truth because women lie all the time, right? I am beaten up and have had my head banged on the wall multiple times because I did not listen, and I said no to being penetrated when I did not want to. I have been drugged by which I mean someone put drugs in my drink so they could rape me because they knew that without those drugs I would never say yes. Random men on the bus grab parts of my body in the name of trying to get seated properly on the bus while minibus conductors pull me by my arms which is often painful and they call me their wife as though that should soothe me. My lecturers fail me because I refuse to be in a room alone with them and refuse to show up at odd hours in the night for some extracurricular crap, they nicely term in shady late-night text messages. I fear taking taxis because a taxi driver once drove in the opposite direction of my destination and refused to let me go until I had paid him by spreading my legs and letting him take from me what a family friend from sown the street took from when I was 9 years old. I have no faith in the police because the police asked my friend for a date at specific late hours in some shady motel slightly out of town when she went to report her boyfriend for raping her and he said she had to do this if she wanted help. I tried to learn self-defense because I was tired of being so afraid every time a man stepped up to me asking me for anything. I flinch when I am touched because I do not understand the difference between a good touch and bad touch and I expect the worst from all men because that is all they shown me, the worst but the cover it in nice words claiming love got out of control that one time and it was overwhelming so they had to find an outlet which at the time happened to be my face standing in between his fist and the wall. I don’t even remember what it feels like to be and feel safe, to not be violated and what it feels like to live without violence because that is what I am.
I am disgusted that every woman I meet has a story like mine and we have all been told in one way or the other that somehow it was our fault, so we just no longer report it. The statement violence against women and girls is not deep or angry enough, the desperation to be politically correct does not clean up the bloodstains on carpets and floors where women fell after being slapped and dragged.
What we need is anger, burning anger and to open our ears, aiming for comforting words to covert violence is a half-assed way to claim advocacy because as we do that, women are dying. Violence, rape, being groped, grabbed, slapped, choked, slammed on the ground is not comfortable, so why in the world do we continue to discuss it in ways that accommodate comfort?”
We badger women to retell their story until story becomes fragments so we will feel better for dismissing her life. Then we give her a choice, to share her truth versus losing her entire life; she loses her friends because she becomes an object of filth as is seen of rape victims, she loses her economic stability because she will likely lose standing with her colleagues and employer, reality becomes difficult to fathom and she can no longer tell what is real and what is not and we leave her with nowhere to go and call that justice because at least we gave a some space to talk about it.
That is the state of women as of 2020, how can we not be furious about this?