A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies.
A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies.
An elusive clarity,
Sired in the cloak of darkness,
Crowned in the misty spires of shadows,
Eerie and leering, he looks on.
But I have seen the truth of him,
The truth of his lies.
I have glanced his face,
Abounded with ugliness,
He bears the ugliness of a thousand men,
Uglier still with every gesture.
Deadened and reddened,
Drooping from his billowy parchment skin,
He has no bones,
I see his saggy sallow cheeks,
A putrid slit for a mouth,
Eternally spinning the lore of woe,
Holes for ears and a nose,
I wonder if he breathes at all.
Rusted and wrought.
I have seen his face,
Perched atop men’s breasts and women’s skulls,
Like the vulture he is.
I know the truth of this creature,
Though his might may never cease,
I have glanced his face from the rear,
The face of fear.
For a time i have not had a ‘the chord that struck’ post and in the recent days i have simply become inebriated by Nina Simone’s body of work, her accomplishments, her choices, her activism but most of all her authentic musical soul.
However she managed to imbue her music with such truth, revelation and pain as to move a crowd even decades later to a complete and utter breakdown is the gift that keeps giving. As an African woman the lessons and dedications in her music ring painfully with every chord more so because not only because it is true but because it is continuous, every so often the repression of black individuals around the world like a snake sheds its skin and takes on a life anew.
In the 19th century it was slavery, in the 20th it was colonialism and now the behemoth we face has donned a new face of neo-colonialism and in the west systematic incarceration and indiscriminate extra-judicial killing of blacks. The pill is hard to swallow, allow Nina to transport you to the water, because as always swallow it we will and rise again and again as we always do.
Of all the phrases and terms I have come to know, this has remained the single most cunning one for even after a little over a year of contemplation and research it eludes me swiftly.
Further upsetting me because it is a term I pride my entire life’s existence on. But how could I be a modern woman if I don’t even know what pertains to it?
My trials with this particular definition hail not from ignorance of its substance rather from it indeterminate essential.
Let’s face it we have all at one time or the other, in flesh or by reputation encountered a modern woman of sorts, but what about all these different modern women remains the same? What ties the Rihanna to Michelle to Amanpour?
It has been suggested that a simple definition of the component parts of the term could yield some results so let us get to it. Modern which loosely means a new phenomenon or a new perspective on an old phenomenon tantamount to describing anything and everything that is not encompassed in the traditions of old, and well a woman is basically a female human being last I checked. Therefore using this approach a modern woman should either be the mannerisms of a woman who does not conform to traditions of old at any one point, fair enough, right?
The main problem with this though is that the term being defined in this way lends itself only if we speak of our current times which excludes all ‘modern women’ of the past, who though may not have been labelled as such did very well exist, and therein lies the next hurdle it appears we tend towards a paradox which is never a good way to define anything without the language’s get out of jail free card, poetic license. Lastly it also includes non-modern women because at certain times some traditions will in fact suppress women and therefore the ‘modern women’ of that era will be anti-feminist.
So it goes to show that this is just another phrase whose sum of its part is indeed lesser than its whole.
Another approach is the feminist one, whereby the eternal fight of male versus female is at play. Which is to say that the essential in a modern woman is that she aspires to equate to the male who has been favored since time immemorial, this is not half bad. Modern womanhood has always bore a love for gender equity and the comparison between conditions of the male vis a vis the female have served as an effective way to see how much feminism has grown and spread. The issue here becomes a circular one, in a bid for the girl to catch up with the boy she ends up having to ride on another boy’s back.
This definition kills the independence of women because then modern women cannot exist without men to catch up to therefore leaving them eternal rats in the rat wheel, to run forever but never to catch up which as a matter of principle I disagree with. I am of the opinion that a modern woman can exist in a non-male context because these suppressive mentalities fought by modern women do exist and even thrive without the involvement of men. Therefore again we add to our repertoire of what appertains to a modern woman but not what is essential to her.
Then comes the Madonna approach, the rebel of establishment. That the modern woman is Madonna and not a Madonna, the only woman to single handedly change the meaning of a word that meant pure, holy and chaste to the exact opposite and then some and in so doing open up an entirely new door of acceptance for women and their liberties. Though this iconoclastic rebellion, namely suffrage, is an epitome of the modern woman’s bible. Is every modern woman a rebel?
I think not, and as quickly as that definition rose so did it collapse in on itself, the essential simply cannot exclude a single modern woman who doesn’t fit the bill.
So after all that I did put myself to task to decide on what definition I will ride on because as you can imagine it is terribly urgent seeing that this is basically the blueprint of my life.
I happen to feel that what all modern women have in common whether they are rebelling against establishment or tradition or inferiority to men is that they are not empowered to soar, to rise and be their best selves. They feel chained and pressured by traditions, rituals, male-preference as well as gender roles because in reality no one trusts them with their own lives, they fight the reality that their lives are at the behest of some other’s.
To put it simply they fight to self-actualize, that they be able to determine themselves with all the rights and respect accorded to others. This is the one similarity I have found in all the modern women I have met, because through their decisions they are freeing themselves from the bondage of foreign determination.
Therefore, for me ‘a modern woman’ is not just the mannerism but rather the infrastructure needed the community attitude and the modern woman herself to actualize herself as best she can without fear of punishment whether she is a housewife, Madonna and everything else in between.
What’s your definition of a modern woman?
And now I ask,
Are you free?
Have you ever been truly free?
The freedom of a fire,
Coursing through the veins of a Savannah,
A grassland sodden in flame,
A destructive freedom,
Baring and battering the earth,
Leaving it sore and inflamed.
The freedom of the wave,
Belched from the deepest recesses of the sea’s mouth,
Rushing thousands of miles per hour,
Soured with ire,
As it bangs with all its fury,
With all its power,
At the cliff tower.
Have you ever felt the dance of liberation?
In your feet, your spine and your mind,
Your body overrun with convulsions,
Temperature spiking with victory,
At long last.
Have you felt your body wrapped…..
In a spiritual embrace?
A genocide of fear,
A nuclear warfare within,
Rays of thine own exothermic revolution,
suffusing reality and history.
I will ask again,
Are you free?
Have you ever been truly?
dedicated to all the unsung freedom fighters and slaves who dreamed of freedom.