by SANKOFA the undertaker.
This is a letter from the darkness.
This is a disclaimer. Now. From the onset - this post is a chalk outline on the concrete floor of this country and the body that was sprawled within it for once isn't a women's. It's that of a mans - I know revolutionary. How cutting edge? This post is virtual mortuary. We're going six foot deep into the underbelly of justified feminine rage. This is six foot deep and not in the way Wayne once spoke of. This is six foot deep because I've truly come to understand that to be a women in this country is to be dead-alive. So I guess this is a post by SANKOFA the undertaker. Here's a window into a grave - here's what its like to live underground.
I told you - this is a letter from the darkness.
These are the thoughts that I'm not even sure should leave my drafts - these are the thoughts that women aren't meant to have and if we do we're supposed to bury them in the recess of our minds. But I'm tired of burying things belonging to the feminine.
I'm tired of burying womxn.
I'm so tired of burying my liberty every time I'm lovingly told to 'be safe' and having to accept that as the life that men have danmed me to lead.
I'm tired of being told to be safe - as if my safety has anything to do with me. In my exhaustion I've come to realize my safety has nothing to do with me and everything to do with the violence of men. Don't know what I'm saying?
I'm saying that I'm a high functioning depressive*, I've thought about killing myself - more times than I'd like to admit and more times than anyone that's 'neurologically sound' ever does. I've thought about killing myself and these days, being a women means worrying more about my death at the hands of an unknown man than my own.
That's what I'm saying.
(*This is not an exposition of my mental health and that's not the point. Please, dispose of your misplaced concern for my livelihood. I'm just being honest. Depressed people think about death and in that way maybe we're more in tune with the precariousness of life. But I'm not 13 so I'm not here to romanticize the horrors of depression. I'm just saying...unfortunately for some of us, it really be like that sometimes.)
I'm saying that I'm fucking pissed that South African men are so fucking violent that in life my liberty does not belong to me and in death my life may have never not belong to me. Death has no favourites - its fair in that regard, but I'm pissed that I've been conditioned to be acquainted with the face of death, painted in the name of another girl, in a new headline every Monday or the face of another girl on a missing poster - I'm pissed that Death has pulled up a seat at the table of my gender and men have served him like an over eager waiter. I am pissed. I'm pissed that death is so satiated on the end of feminine life in this country and I am pissed that deaths cup is overflowing with our tears.
I'm pissed that I have been robbed of myself in both life and potentially my death. Robbed of choice. Robbed of agency. Robbed of democracy. Robbed of calm - so understand this, this isn't the SANKOFA you know. The first week of September changed me - it should've changed us all.
For those of you who don't know what happened:
https://www.instagram.com/s/aGlnaGxpZ2h0OjE3OTI0OTc4NDYxMzE1OTc0?igshid=r2v6hhxr856f&story_media_id=2124025881064053475 (here it is. A link to my IG that summarizes the whole thing. That's what I can give you. I'm never going to be able to find the words to properly articulate the trauma of being alive as a women, in this country during that week - but I can give you an IG link that skims the surface... just barely).
So the first week of September changed me... and I'm not going to ask for permission for what I'm going to say next. I'm not going to ask permission because I warned you that you're looking through a window into a grave. I'm not going to ask permission because we've been asking men not to murder us on a weekly basis for years and we're still dying. I'm not going to ask permission because this is SANKOFAS' SPACE - you don't need to be here. You and your delicate sensitives are welcome to leave - the door is in the right hand corner in the format of a red cross - hit it now.
Since September, I've been thinking about killing men.
It's only funny because I'm a pacifist. And its only funny because patriarchy has fucked us over in such a supreme and sophisticated way that the thought of a women killing a man, or thinking about the politics around women killing men has elicited such horror that many of you won't read past the first sentence. We can't comprehend the paragraph above this - but we've made the fact of women dying on a daily basis a normative part of reality. Patriarchy has fucked us over so intensely that the sentence above this paragraph is an act of horror in and of itself. Patriarchy has fucked us over so intensley that the idea of preserving a hypothetical mans life is going to drive some of you into a flurry of rage in my mentions. Patriarchy has fucked us over so spectacularly that somehow men in this country have made the act of a gendered genocide normal, without contemplating the politics of the erasure of their own livelihood in this genocide. Not to employ boring, simplistic, transphobic biological essentialism - all I'm saying is that men are killing us as if they're capable of reproducing life. Patriarchy is getting to a point of being so self-undermining that men are killing us and themselves in the process - and somehow this makes sense. But the reality of me, a women, writing about killing hypothetical men? Well, that might result in me actually being killed - but maybe I'll take my chances.
Funnily enough, I only got the liver to write this article because of a man who has been afforded a milleu of unearned chances to verbalize his messy ass opinions. Yup, Mr.West came through on shuffle with this one:
Before I lose all credibility in its entirety, I think its important to create a picture of the of how this happened. My thoughts about killing men, but this song came on shuffle and no, I don't support Kanye. Like many other black men, he sold black women up the river along with his morality once he decided to support an orange genocidal nick nak of a president who keeps children in concentration camps. I do not support Kanye West - I downloaded this album to see how a famous rapper navigated the politics of mental health, but that's a whole other story that I will never write because I'm not going to waste my breath on a black man who owns a MAGA hat. Anyways, this song came on shuffle during September and shit had indeed gotten menacing and frightening - yikes. The most beautiful thoughts of mine, Gazorpazorp, were positioned next to the darkest of mine - the reality of being dead alive in this counrty. So I started thinking about killing men. Or at least the politics around killing men.
Which brought me back to this:
For the record, the interviewer is a condescending white feminist with little to no understanding of intersectionalism or really anything beyond white feminine fragility in general - and I don't stan but she's not the point.
There are a couple of points made here.
In Virgine's descriptor of indoctrinated feminine docility we're taught, as women, to not listen to ourselves. We're taught to placate ourselves and those around us by smiling when things are bad, when we're doing what is wrong for us and better for others. I'm violently diverging from that doctrine in this post because I'm done smiling. The other day, one of my guy friends (I know, shocker that I even have any) commented to one of my other friends saying "wow. You guys really hate men." When she repeated this to me I wasn't particularly offended or shocked - more curious about how he had interpreted my relentless, nuanced problematization and critique of men as hatred. More interested in how he had internalized it as hatred - having never been the subject of any of my alleged hatred for men.
Nonetheless, my friend, repeating the story back to me asked "so what do you think?"
and I said "If something was trying to murder him every single day he'd hate it too. Shouldn't we hate something that's constantly trying to kill us?"
she went quiet.
For the record, here's my second point.
I'm on the same page as Virgine. I don't hate men... most of the time. I'm just in the same Whatsapp group as Virginie - "I like to be able to treat men like we're treated most of the time. I'm comfortable with that." And they hate me for it - for to be treated with contempt and a disposability is to be in a state of rage. More so, if this treatment comes from the site of your exploitation. See men aren't unaware of their continual pillaging of the feminine - its where their undue social and economic liberties are extracted from. And so, to have a zombie of a women - the site of your exploitation, treat you as if you're also living in a grave, instead of standing above it with a handful of soil in your hand... well I can imagine that to be upsetting.I call it reclaiming my time. An equality of sorts - undermining the feminine necessity of being nice and instead hijacking the masculine power of simply existing as if my word is the product of pure rationale and my opinion simply factual. I don't hate men. I just don't prioritize the masculine in the way women have been conditioned to - and that leads to a poor reception.
Which leads me to my second point about violence.
Virgine encodes violence as masculine, given the gendered school of cinematic media and how it inscribes gender identities. In this school of thought, violence is equated to the masculine. Perhaps, in wishing to inhabit the privilege of democratic freedoms - I have been imaginatively seduced with the idea of how to embody masculine violence. Welcome to the chalk outline I spoke of at the beginning of this post. Positioning yourself outside of the vulnerability of the chalk line that ordinarily imprisons our livelihood, to stand on the outside of it - is to re-imagine power in a way. It is only a re-imagining because remember- I'm a pacifist. I'm just thinking through how to climb out of this grave since men aren't lending a hand. So, after the first week of September I heard many women echo the sentiments of yearning to stand outside the chalk line. I heard women speak of pepper spray. Of tasers. Of knives. Of guns. Of violence. Of a fictional lust for bloodshed. I heard echoes of standing outside of the chalk lines- of inhabiting masculine violence and the freedom that comes with it.
In Slow violence and environmentalism for the poor, Rob nixon writes of the ecological concerns of the immobile precariat. Indigenious bodies pillaged by capitalist imperalism both environmentally and economically. The effects of which are an immbolity - an impoverishment of mobility. The precariat due to financial constrain are not afforded the luxury of simply moving away from environments erroded by ecological imperalism. This imobility is read as creating a conscious push towards environmental preservation. I submit, that patriarchy has made of women an imobile precariat. South African women are immobile to the persistent and relentless genocide driven by patriarchy in this country. I mean - we can't even go to the fucking post office. It is from a point of self-preservation and desperate need for fortification that we imagine the implications of inhabiting masculine violence of our own - for standing outside of the chalk lines, for thinking about killing men.
In the Wretched Earth Fanon writes about the inherent irrationalism of pursuing discourse with colonial bodies, as the colonial system is inherently unreasonable and in its violence in opposition to negotiatory practices - given how it has consistently framed the indigenious body as abstracted from discourse production and animalistic in its reasoning. As a feminist, I again submit that women too have been consumed in the patriarchal rhetoric that asbtracts women from discourse - and it is in this abstraction that, perhaps, we are compelled to think of entertaining productive violence.
For example - this article will read as violent in its upset surrounding the importance of life. I do not trivialize this importance - I'm just distancing the synonymity that society has created surrounding the importance of life and the man. In my justified rage, I am violently collapsing the idea of a mans life being worthy if the same worth is not realistically being applied to the life of women. There is a violence in the idea of bodies being agents of death - but I'm a zombie remember?
Nixon, also writes of the concept of slow violence. The continual, long standing, slow enactment of violence rendered invisible. Nixon writes of a violence that lacks the spectaularity of a singular, pinnacle event - or specific moment i.e. 9/11. Slow violence is to expose the violence dispersed across a range of temporal and spatial scales - and to try foreground its prevalence. The first week of September foregrounded the slow violence of patriarchy in this counrty. Virgine asks "But do we think that rape is that important that we can allow women to kill men? I think that that is a very interesting question." Since I watched this video, I am yet to reach a conclusive answer for myself. However, it is in this question that she touches on how we respond to slow violence. Trying to create visbility around the legitimate fear that south african women inhabit on a daily basis - is to engage with thoughts of responding to slow violence. My thoughts have been pre-occupied with standing outside the chalk lines, of Kill Billing my way out of this grave - and these are thoughts that make me only marginally more comfortable than my paralytic fear alone.
At the very real risk of seeming like a misandrist I have been thinking about how feminine violence upsets binaries of power. How it could upset life. I have been thinking of Kill Bill again. I have been thinking of this:
(watch from 4:30-9-42, they skip a very important scene where she throws him into a bathtub and the quality of this clip is shocking - but its also embarrassing if you've really never watched this movie so I don't feel too bad about it)
(Granted she was just straight up bat shit - but what is it about her revenge that we consumed with such vigour and terrified awe)
And finally this.
You get the picture.
It is in this mythical realm of enacted rage that my mind enters into every monday when I read a new headline. Every time I plan an escape root in an uber. Every time I share trip my uber. Every time someone on campus speaks about being assaulted by a boy who still lives in res. Every time I think about how fast I can run to get away from a man, and if this is the moment where I'll have to fight for my very life. Every time I read or hear about Ellen Pakkies. Every time we lay another women to rest and are casually reminded about how we live inside chalk lines, exist as dead alive zombies and are asked to be polite as soil is thrown into our graves.