The Right to Exclusiveness
Date: Saturday, July 02 @ 18:15:46 UTC
Topic: women

by Sis Traci

It is generally accepted by most people that the women have been downpressed in many parts of the world through various patriarchal social systems. Patriarchal social systems keep womb-man in sub-equal roles by limiting the educational, economic, and legal freedoms of women. Although legal inequalities are often erased, strong patriarchal cultural and social conditions continue to limit the opportunities of women and serve oppressive patriarchal social systems. Throughout the world, women work harder for less pay and recognition, are more subject to mental, emotional and physical abuse, and are less likely to have recourse to justice when abuse occurs.

These same conditions are predominant for the Black African and Indigenous peoples of the world. The response to women's and Black African movements, however, are strangely different.

It is considered natural that the women's movement in different parts of the world be woman directed and woman run. That a particular women's group is exclusive to women is not considered discriminatory (by most people, anyway). The argument that women need a safe space, their OWN space, in which to deal with the history, scars, and conditioning of oppression has already been accepted. That women face continuing oppression (including violence, job discrimination, self-esteem issues from popular culture/media, confusion on self/roles in society etc.) specific to women is an accepted fact.

There are many men who support women in their struggle for equality. These men are welcomed by women. They are often on the frontline of women's struggle. They know that equality is a must, that dignity of women and men is a must. They know that the oppression of women is an insult to JAH, The Almighty. It is an insult to the mothers who bore them and raised them, and an insult to the Earth that sustains them.

But, these men are not women. They see the oppression of women, and they may empathize with the pain of women kept down through the patriarchal system of oppression. They may even have suffered for standing up for the rights of women. But they are not women. They are not born with the burden and the gift of being a woman. Therefore, as much as their support is valued, they cannot lead the struggle for women's rights. Their voices or experiences cannot be more important in this struggle than those of women. Even their seeming good works, if not guided by the voices of women, become only an extension of the patriarchal model of oppression.

The most important way in which a man can support women's movements is to lead by example in his everyday life and to educate fellow men on the rights of women to equality and protection.

Black Africa and Indigenous cultures have suffered similar scars and inherited the heavy burden of Eurocentric oppression. Yet, when Black African groups seek to limit the role of White Europeans in their movements, they are often branded racist. They are judged by the same group who has historically limited and controlled their movements.

As in the case of strong women who refused to be branded men-haters, Black African movements throw off the shackles of judgement placed on them by their traditional oppressors. They overstand that they must work internally to heal the wounds caused by centuries of slavery, dislocation, loss of culture and continued economic and social exclusion.

Conscious White Europeans who empathize with the oppression of Black Africans support this process. Supporting this process includes recognizing and respecting the need for Black Africans to lead themselves out of colonial oppression. It means respecting that there are some boundaries one may not cross. If a Black African group wishes to exclude White Europeans from its process, this decision should be greeted with respect by Conscious White Europeans. Those Whites with better education, skills or opportunities, may try to work honestly for the abolishment of oppression, but may inadvertently succeed only in co-opting the process and movement and, thus, weakening or destroying it.

While Rasta Consciousness is beyond colour or race, it is foolhardy and dangerous to pretend that these social constructs do not exist. Knowledge of self is available to all, through proper work and meditation. But so long as I and I struggle with both internal and external Babylon, colour, race, gender, education, nationality, economic status, etc. are issues that must be considered.

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This article comes from Rastafari Speaks

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