Home Creative Non Fiction I know my rights

I know my rights

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Dear Kwasi,

Anytime that I want to leave you I hear my mother’s voice say “I know you’re a lawyer but make sure you don’t become one of those I-know-my-rights-women. Aboa pete dze ne kwasia pe nyinkyer”. You see, baby, I don’t want to become one of those I-know-my-rights-women.  I don’t want to be a ‘liberated woman’ who refuses to submit to the Eurocentric standard of beauty and so walks around in styles she claims are ‘African’ and ‘natural’. What is so ‘natural’ about braids with plastic extensions? And if I truly want to revisit my Fanti culture, would I not thread my hair, braid it in mmesa or place a tekuwa over my head rather than do these styles that hitherto were restricted to traditional priests in Fantiland? I don’t want to be one of those women who claims to be a feminist, championing the cause of women and yet doesn’t bat an eyelid before fucking other women’s husbands behind their backs. I don’t want to be one of those ‘independent’ and unmarried 50 year old women who wear rings on their fourth fingers and pretend to be married so that people will ‘respect’ them.

But baby, maybe I’ve become one of those women. You remember I chopped off all my hair 2 years ago because I couldn’t stand to put damaging chemicals in it any longer? I know you don’t really like my hair this way but I love it, sweetie! I love its coils, I love how it feels like a mesh when I run my fingers through it in the shower. I love how it guzzles up the coconut oil I put in it daily. Maybe I’ve become one of those women. Just before we started dating, I was dating Kofi who was the 3rd married man I was screwing for the month of July. And yes, I knew his wife and I was and still am a feminist. My god, I have definitely become one of those women because I’m just 28 years and yet I put on a ring whenever I’m going to buy condoms from that pharmacy across the street from my office because the pharmacist is an elder at the Methodist church I attend and I can’t stand to see judgment in his eyes.

And if I have become one of those women then maybe I should leave you because it just isn’t working for me anymore? Maybe I shouldn’t keep trying to make this work just because I love you and wish you would marry me. This is the nth  time that I have heard nothing from you for days on end. I know that tomorrow, you’ll send me a hurried text that you didn’t reply my calls because (pick any of the following!) a. you were sick b. you went for a funeral in your village & couldn’t get units c. you were so stressed, it’s hard settling in Ghana when you weren’t born here, you know! Yes, I know, baby, except that this time round, I can’t smile like an obaapa and accept your excuses because I know deep down that your excuses are just that- EXCUSES.

Maybe I should leave you but I keep wondering if the next person I meet will accept all of me the way you embraced all of me? Will he be able to abruptly stop thrusting and cuddle me to sleep in the middle of sex when I start crying because I’m having yet another flashback of my uncle raping me? Will he still want to marry me the day I tell him about the two months I spent confined in a mental ward? Will he still think I’m beautiful the day I undress and he discovers my physical deformity? Will he tell me like you told me and always tell me in that calm, soothing voice of yours “It’s ok, it’s all ok”? I don’t know Kwasi.

Sincerely,

Ekuba

 

 

Translation:

I-know-my-rights-women: feminists or liberated women who insist on their rights.

Aboa pete dze ne kwasea pe nyinkyer- Literally, the vulture uses its stupidity to grow old or to secure its life: ie: sometimes, you should play the fool in order to get what you need.

mmesa: three strand braids on natural hair aka celie braids

tekuwa: an elaborate gold studded wig that Fanti women wear on special occasions

obaapa: Literally, a good woman. A virtuous woman.

woman writing

 

23 COMMENTS

  1. This is deep and were do we begin to analyse what’s happening. We just have so much going on in our lifes as women that we cannot attempt to be perfect. Sometimes the choices we make are because of the hurt we have experienced and because it has not been dealth with emotionally.

    • Agree with you 100 percent. But when you have a lot of emotional damage/ hurt going on which will take a long time to heal are you supposed to put all relationships on hold till you’re fully healed? (which could take years)

  2. Wow. I also don’t know what to say. Ha! I can definitely identify with being one of those feminists who has screwed somoene else’s husband…at the same time I know it doesn’t stop me from doing my best to create a better world for women and men. As human beings/feminists/whatever we choose to identify as, we are still complex beings who sometimes act in ways that seem contradictory. However I think the goal is (at least for me) to work towards eliminating our inner contradictions so at least within us, we can feel at peace, and happy that we are abiding my our own values.

    • Eliminating inner contradictions is the one thing that I find difficult to do because I can always see both sides of the situation. For example, my boyfriend is supportive with all the issues I have & he encourages me to express myself but he’s emotionally unavailable & can just go for days at a stretch where he’s ‘absent’ so do I still keep him?

  3. Wow! Maybe, just maybe, I have become one of those women. Wouldn’t you rather, me, a feminist, with a “reputation” to protect, fqck your husband dear wife? Would you rather another woman who does it because, she’ll have no shame in taking him away from you? But I digress I digress…besides it was only one married man I ever “trusted” with that responsibility…knowing that he had everything to lose…should he decide to spill, just like I did. God, I nearly fell for that man…but again I digress. I’d rather a feminist be…than a mute bimbo be. And maybe, maybe Kwasi, that’s what you truly need.

    • Interesting observation Nana Yaa, but let’s imagine that this man eventually ditched his wife & married you & eventually fell in love/ lust with another woman. Would you have been grateful to that woman just because she wasn’t particularly bent on taking the man away from you or would you have wanted to cut her head off for: sleeping with your man, distracting him from you emotionally & taking away the emotional attention, time (money?) that he would have spent on you & your kids & not even feeling guilty about it?

  4. Quick question [observation]: feminists love the same, don’t we? Seemingly more deeply actually. We’re so passionate and protective of that which we claim to love. So much so that we really are “voiceless” around the ones we truly love, aren’t we? They claim we are “I know my rights” women, but perhaps, our hearts yearn so much for men who allow us to have no rights…that where they’re concerned, we subconsciously lose our intelligence…and settle for…EXCUSES. I have.

    • I agree with you my sister. There are a lot of feminists who love so passionately that they are willing to sacrifice a lot for their men- even some of their rights. I know a lot of feminists that are willing to be second wives or dump their careers because the man doesn’t want them to work etc. I think it’s because we women are taught to place love/ marriage above all else when we’re young & this affects us later on. For example, I don’t recollect my mom ever telling my brother to give up some of his rights. & although my mom said all these things, she herself is a feminist- who was a professor & very respected in the sciences & who insisted on her male colleagues calling her Prof X instead of ‘Sister X’ and who refused to make tea for them when they had meetings. Yet she taught me not to be too ‘I-know-my-rights’ because that is how she managed to sustain a marriage that span for 3 decades plus & that’s what she learnt from her mom.

  5. This a struggle within yourself that can easily sabotage personal relationships with no fault of your own. It’s incredibly difficult, but I would say to refocus the attention to the emotional needs of your lover. It’s very healing to be the best partner/girlfriend that you can and fail. At the end, you will know that he doesn’t deserve you when it doesn’t work out and not because of your issues. Good luck to you

    • yeah maybe? He finally got back in touch & apparently he wants ‘some space’ but I love him so much you know? He’s like the first healthy relationship I’ve ever had & I just adore everything about him. I just don’t want to leave him. I cried so much when I got his email today.

        • Yeah, you’re right. I should find the strength to move on. I’m kind of ashamed that I’m being all soppy & weak about it.

        • I’m confused. on the 1 hand, I wonder if all this is just a part of the normal ‘ups & downs’ of a relationship. On the other it’s starting to damage my self-esteem because I’m never secure if about whether he loves me.

          • When somebody loves you Ekuba, they show it. They can’t help but because they care about you and your welfare. You say this man supports you, yet he is emotionally distant. How is that even possible? If he supports you and your process, that involves emotion in a large part.

            I will also tell you that love is not an emotion or a feeling. Love is a HABIT. Love is what we do everyday in spite of how we feel that day
            .
            I won’t quote you what the bible has to say on this even though it is crystal clear, because people don’t simply see/hear it once the bible is involved :). I will however quote you on of my favourite poems in the whole world: Shakespeare’s Sonnet 116.

            Let me not to the marriage of true minds
            Admit impediments. Love is not love
            Which alters when it alteration finds,
            Or bends with the remover to remove:
            O no! it is an ever-fixed mark
            That looks on tempests and is never shaken;
            It is the star to every wandering bark,
            Whose worth’s unknown, although his height be taken.
            Love’s not Time’s fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
            Within his bending sickle’s compass come:
            Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
            But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
            If this be error and upon me proved,
            I never writ, nor no man ever loved.

            You shouldn’t have to prove yourself worthy of love or feel GRATEFUL for it because you are deserving of love. Let us not discard that wonderful thing that makes us human (women): INTUITION. In much the same vein that we no longer as Christians depend on the old testament laws but rather on laws which have been written in our hearts, when something is WRONG and you feel it, act on it. Don’t wait for RULES on what to do, this is why we are all individuals; no two things work for everyone.

            You must feel this is wrong or you wouldn’t be saying it here, like this, now. What happens next is up to you.

          • @Nnenna. I’m just going too write out parts of what you just said in my journal. I teared up a little when I read your comment (I’m really sentimental lol) but certain bits of it “When somebody loves you Ekuba, they show it” & “You shouldn’t have to prove yourself worthy of love or feel GRATEFUL for it because you are deserving of love” really rang true with me. Thanks

      • Ekuba — “He’s like the first healthy relationship I’ve ever had…” Based on the content of your ‘Dear Kawsi’ letter; that does not sound like a healthy relationship to me. Do you adore him? Fine, I understand that but adoring someone and being grateful for how they ‘sometimes’ make you feel does not equal a healthy relationship or necessarily a relationship.

        It seems like Kwasi knows and understands your vulnerabilities and the various nuanced weaknesses therein and he plays your vulnerabilities and fears to his advantage.

        Are your fears genuine and valid? Yes but that does not mean you should sacrifice your self worth, self esteem and happiness for empty promises, “maybe baby” and the knife edge of insecurity and doubt that defines your “relationship”.

        Don’t fall for the trap of the one sided narrative when you discuss “rights” i.e. ‘I know my rights’. The underlying and significant theme in the human rights discourse is a fundamental respect for another human being; placing a high value on the life (this does not solely refer to whether one lives or dies but also refers to the standard and quality of one’s life) of a human being. Reading through your letter to Kwasi; I cannot help but reiterate that Kwasi comprehends your vulnerabilities and uses them to his advantge – he understands that he can give you less than his best; scraps instead of a wholesome relationship because he knows that even at his worst behaviour, you will not leave him – you have chosen to endure. He knows that you (because of your vulnerabilities and insecurities) would rather stay with him than relish in the endless possibilities out there that allow you to define your happiness – they say “better the devil you know than the devil you don’t” in this case, I say the devil you know is worse because s/he knows best how to insidiously destroy you.

        You refer to moments in which (I assume) Kwasi makes you comfortable e.g. cuddling you mid-coitus, accepting you flaws and all BUT without commitment – these are not the actions of a man who respects you as a woman nor as a human being and he definitely does not place high value on your life – however you or he choose to define it.

        Ekuba – you deserve better and you are entitled to the best.

        “You can be changed by what happens to you but refuse to be reduced by it” I’m paraphrasing Maya Angelou here.

        • Hi Saffron! You’re absolutely right. In fact, every single thing you said in your comment, my big sister also told me yesterday. & she put her foot down & told me to cut off all contact with him because it’s becoming a sort of addiction/ abusive relationship. & you’re also right about it not being a healthy relationship- it started off as a healthy one & also, all the relationships I’ve had so far have been so toxic (I’ve had everything from a physically abusive partner to a partner that got engaged to someone without telling me)that my relationship with Kwasi seemed healthy in comparison. I just realized as I’m typing this that he hasn’t told me he loves me in 1 year & he doesn’t buy me stuff ever(but he used to buy my friend flowers when he was dating her- that’s a whole other story lol)but sometimes he does stuff for me (run around on my errands, drives me around etc.). I guess it’s a case of he’s good sometimes then he’s really bad other times & I just chose to focus on the good parts. All in all, I think I’ll continue to work on my self esteem with my therapist & I’ve decided not to be in a relationship with any man unless he’s ready to commit to me emotionally. Thanks.

  6. Ekuba — way off topic here but “…I’m just 28 years and yet I put on a ring whenever I’m going to buy condoms from that pharmacy across the street from my office because the pharmacist is an elder at the Methodist church I attend and I can’t stand to see judgment in his eyes.”

    Doesn’t he know that you’re not married?

    • lol, no he doesn’t know that I’m not married. It’s a huge church & very formal like (those of you reading this who are Methodists or Presbytarians will understand) & unlike some modern day charismatic churches & churches I’ve attended here in the States, no one really asks questions about your spouse (unless you’re an elder or got married in the church) & spouses don’t even sit near each other in church all the time (people sometimes sit in groups like women’s fellowships, choir, susanna Wesley, etc. rather than sitting with their husbands)so you can’t always tell who’s married to whom.

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