pow pow POOOOWWWWWW
So I haven’t reblogged this yet because I have real problems with the quote, and the way people have been reblogging it and saying “boom!” and the like makes me feel like people aren’t being critical enough, or, are only being critical when it works for them.
A long time ago, I reblogged a quote by Teju Cole, a Nigerian author and artist (who also recently real rap raw-ed on his Twitter in regards to American sentimentality):
I don’t like this expression ‘First World problems.’ It is false and it is condescending. Yes, Nigerians struggle with floods or infant mortality. But these same Nigerians also deal with mundane and seemingly luxurious hassles. Connectivity issues on your BlackBerry, cost of car repair, how to sync your iPad, what brand of noodles to buy: Third World problems. All the silly stuff of life doesn’t …disappear just because you’re black and live in a poorer country. People in the richer nations need a more robust sense of the lives being lived in the darker nations. Here’s a First World problem: the inability to see that others are as fully complex and as keen on technology and pleasure as you are.
I think this is relevant here. The fact that George Moniot says “every woman in Africa would be a millionaire” coupled with the image of African women working in the fields implicitly - or explicitly, depending on how you take images and words in - tells us two things:
- Every woman in Africa toils away in fields.
- All women in Africa are hard-working (namely, because they toil away in fields.)
[Note: you can even disregard what’s in the parentheses in #2.]
This is the way people think when they know very little about Africa, or choose to forget what they know for the sake of making a point. Women in Africa are diverse and do a number of different things. So while many, many of the African women I know are very hard-working (some work in fields too!), not all are like this.
There are women in Africa who do not work hard: they have other people do their work for them, they depend on others for their livelihood in ways that wouldn’t be described as hard working, etc.
Remember that not too long ago, apartheid was a way of life in South Africa, which meant, in part, that many white South African women had black South African women doing all their housework, taking care of their children, etc. Hard workers, no? Yet these white South African women were still “women in Africa,” were they not?
I just wanted to provide you with that very clear example so you can see how much this quote fails + picture fails.
I just feel like, here again, women in Africa (bc obvs they’re a monolithic whole) are being used not as people - real people with real lives and real differences - but as a symbol, as a means/method of educating people about their own lives.
African women ARE NOT your tools. We are people. My grandmothers, mother, aunts, cousins, nieces - they are PEOPLE, you cannot use their lives for whatever profound or trump statement you’re trying to make. Women in Africa literally have as diverse life experiences and concerns as women in the United States or in any other place in the world - STOP trying to mold us into a monolith to serve your purposes.
I mean, let me not even get into the fact that, again, “Africa” is being used in the same way I might say “India” or “Norway” or “the US” - like a subtle placeholder for a country. (See how in my last sentence I had to say “women in the United States” because saying something like “women in Asia” - i.e. the lack of specificity, if I have to spell it out for you - is just RIDICULOUS?) IT’S NOT A FUCKING COUNTRY. How many times does this need to be said?
Like I get the point that’s trying to be made here, and it’s a very valid and needs to be said, but IS THERE ANY FUCKING OTHER WAY TO MAKE IT THAT ISN’T THIS MESSED UP?!
That’s just me, tho. But I am side-eyeing the hell out of everyone who isn’t thinking twice before reblogging or liking this.
Reblogging this cause of commentary.
Even putting aside white South African women, I think a lot of people tend to forget that pre-colonial African kingdoms had different classes of people. So not all women on the continent would have been working in farms and fields.
It’s really the same thing today. The only reason I’ve held a hoe was because we had to take ‘Agriculture’ classes in secondary school.
My Nigerian father is a microbiologist, my (half) brother an engineer and my sister-in-law has an MBA in business/finance (something to do with the banking industry.) I’m pretty sure my sister-in-law has never hoed a field in her life. And for the longest time, years, it seemed as if almost every African from any country I met/read online was a geek/techie type. Far from writing about eating lions for breakfast or crushing poverty or growing yams, they’d write about innovative uses for mobile phones, servers, software and get deep in the technical weeds where I couldn’t follow at all. I was thrilled when I finally found just regular folks from various countries in Africa talking about regular stuff.
Anyway, this gif (and more) seems all part and parcel of Western reinforcement of the position they would put Black African women (and Black women/men, period) in as a “worker bee”, subservient class. Nothing wrong with hoeing a field, of course, or growing food or being a worker bee, but as mentioned not every African woman fits in that frame.