Sunday, March 11, 2012

.March08.Women's day

so, what is women's day???

a day of pinks and purples and reds and yellows

a day of a thousand stamping feet

a day of dust in screaming vocal chords

a day of streamers and banners and tchadian flags

a day for the women (imagine that)

a day where the men are supposed to cook

are supposed to pound rice and stir boule in a smokey acrid
mudbrick cookshack

a day where the women don't have to work

a day where they can be free

a day to dance

a day to dream

a day to forget
the the other 364 days don't belong to them

I can't help being a little cynical

sure, i got out there and screamed and marched with the best of them

sure, i wrapped my head in pink and showed up to support the sister

sure, i have Rosie the Riveter pasted onto my tchadian wall

sure, if i had to label myself, I'd be a staunch feminist

so why do I have the inclination to roll my eyes when I hear the phrase
"women's day"?

because every day should be women's day
because every day should be about equality
because every day should be about respect

women are treated like animals here

they are beaten
sometimes every day
they are raped
sometimes every night
they have children
sometimes one after another after another

they wake up at 5 in the morning
making fire, making tea, making boule, making food
they go out into the bush, gathering sticks, trying to sell them in the
they sit all day in the hot sun trying to sell tomatoes
they squat beside a sizzling pan of spiting oil - making gatos
they work 4 hours before work, they work 6 hours after work

in the hospital, they don't speak for themselves
if there is a man there, he speaks for them
he tells them what to do,
he yells at them
their eyes are exhausted
either their eyes are proud. daring you to approach them. looking
evenly through you
or their eyes are downcast, looking at anyone but you
fatigue creases their faces
their hands are large and cracked and calloused

when they say yes, they don't say it.
they make a click
in the back of their throat
almost imperceptible
and this is just my theory
but that is a submissive click
a downcast inaudible yes
seen but not heard

and there are good men sprinkled here and there

Teskrio is one of them

but he doesn't work when he's not at the hospital

he plays cards with friends. rides his moto. reads books. studies.

but Bikaou never stops working. never.

I tell them its not fair

but it is the culture
the very, very
male-dominated culture

so they gave us a day


we will dance for you

but - the spirit of that day!!
the magic
the laughter
the joy
the colors
the clapping
the enthusiasm
the taking back of the power
it is infectious

and the eyes are twinkling

and there is a secret in the air

that today is not about taking back the power, taking back the equality

that today - is about having the power all along - a source of strength
and wisdom that runs deep underground, a river of fire and energy and
beauty, a will to keep going keep dreaming and keep fighting that no one
can ever take.

and while they make their speeches,

that is what we are celebrating.

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