Woman or womxn, the two really aren’t separate but the one is an entity of the other. Womxn is defined by Urban Dictionary as “A spelling of "women" that is a more inclusive, progressive term that not only sheds light on the prejudice, discrimination, and institutional barriers womxn have faced, but to also show that womxn are not the extension of men (as hinted by the classic Bible story of Adam and Eve) but their own free and separate entities. More intersectional than womyn because it includes trans-women and women of color”. Where womyn has the same as womxn but does not seem to include transgender women.
What surprises me about the definition is the necessity to point out the fact that the word is inclusive of women of colour. Why wouldn’t it include women of colour? Does this mean by definition woman is not inclusive of women of colour? Does this mean that women are not only divided but also defined by their race? Or does this mean that womxn is a term that term sheds light on prejudice, discrimination and institutional barriers that women of colour have faced?
I went to an event recently, “The Vagina Monologues” in Stellenbosch. The event is aimed at creating a safe space for womxn to talk about the issues and challenges that they come across just because they’re womxn. There were a few performances by the womxn that were deeply personal, touching or funny. I came back empowered and enlightened. The pieces that the womxn did tackled a variety of issues.
One of the performances was a poem by Ashanti Kunene that highlights the difference between rape and rough sex. And the difference between the two is consent (and I think that was the title of the poem). The piece emphasizes the fact that once you take away consent (even if the sex isn’t rough but an intimate moment none the less) it becomes rape. And this is an aspect of rape that a lot of people struggle with. If people understood this one element about rape, we wouldn’t need to keep explaining that rape is never the victims’ fault, that there is such a thing as marital rape.
One of the poems was a pieces was about how women experience violence in their domestic situation and end up being perpetrators of the violence because at some point violence ends up being the only language that they can communicate in.
Rape wasn’t the only issue but also the challenges that womxn come across. Rendani Mathikhi read a piece on the challenges of being queer or just sexual really. Although her piece was specifically about being queer I thing it spoke to a lot of womxn and the challenges we come across in the journey of discovering our sexuality. A lot of the time Womxn are made to feel that they are wrong in acknowledging and taking ownership of their sexuality.
One of the things that I noticed was that a lot of the womxn at the event weren’t “straight” but with other womxn. For a second I found myself wishing I could be attracted to other womxn. It just seems like a lot less admin than having to deal with a guy. Especially being in Stellenbosch being attracted to girls would give me options. As a black womxn in Stellenbosch the options for womxn that are into guys are so few and far in between, never mind the fact that there’s only a few black guys to begin with, they’re not interested (maybe because I look like a potato anyway) but they’re also into white girls (And if we are honest with ourselves, the white guys don’t even look our way). And yes, it becomes a race issue because we aren’t all gray or something like that. Someone read a poem about this as well. It was titled “To be Black and Woman and Alive”.
At the end of the night though, the message was that that womxn are facing challenges, and that a lot of us struggled or struggle with mental issues such anxiety and depression because of the challenges we go through on a daily basis including but not limited to rape and domestic violence. We need to be kind to one another because the life hasn’t and still isn’t kind to us. Ultimately, we are beautiful, in out brokenness we bring light and love (unfortunately sometimes it’s at out expense), our curves and our edges, flat chests or thick thighs, afro or blond, bronze, ivory or black as the night sky we womxn are beautiful…
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