I have always required more than other women to live.
My mother left me twice in this life, first when I was 10, and then when I was 18. The first time she left like most parents do, because love between adults is a thing that can end. The second time, she had no choice but to gather her bones back to their owners.
My mother is a collection of stories and myths in my head. I learnt how to be a woman by observing a man’s life. I was finally introduced to my life as a woman when I had my first period — there was no fanfare, no ritual, just blood and pain and a life I knew that I would desperately hate.
I taught myself how to be a woman through the words of mad people like Sylvia Plath. My first lesson on womanhood: dying is an art you should learn to do exceptionally well. The woman: guilty of original sin, responsible for bringing death and decay into the world. Because snakes cannot be sacrificed, isn’t it only fitting to spill blood of this tainted lamb so that the masses may live?
There are stories and parables of the messiah with a vagina. They say many come to her with their hands outstretched. Daughters, sons, husbands, lovers, all reaching out to her, shouting, “Save me, save me,” all coming to the breast to drink from the mother and to be healed. They want too much, they never say it’s enough, so the lamb must die for her lovers to survive.
The woman is a corpse that has to learn to resurrect itself each time it is depleted. How many times will she die?
My father did not know what mothers taught their daughters, so he said, “Be whatever it is you want to be.” I said to my father, “I want to be God, a revered father worthy of his children’s worship.” I had never seen such fear in my father’s eyes as he said, “But wouldn’t it be easier to be a good woman?” No! Being a woman is exhausting.
Messiahs are cows that die to feed the masses with their carcasses, and cows cannot become God. Sylvia, like many women whose writing I collected since I considered them as teachers, had no answers for me either. It turns out that they too were still afraid to carry the responsibility of being God around their necks. They were afraid to be their own mother, daughter and spirit.
These women too were girls just like me — crying through their art, extraordinary women trying to escape through their romantic words, not really sure how to free themselves from the clutches of their ordinary lives. They wanted so much to live, but in the end, they all died at the sacrificial altar because we all will learn that you cannot be a good woman unless you learn how to die.
Anais Nin came loudly into my life, shouting, “To hell, to hell with balance! I break glasses; I want to burn, even if I break myself. I want to live only for ecstasy. I’m neurotic, perverted, destructive, fiery, dangerous — lava, inflammable, unrestrained.” This woman used the most delicate and beautiful words to say the most vulgar things. She was the first woman I worshiped as God.
Gods do not explain themselves, Gods do not sacrifice themselves, Gods can be cruel and perverted and we would still worship them because they are worthy. They are more than us. Gods were women like Brenda Fassie, talking about taking lovers and sex freely, casually and vulgarly, as if African culture was not oppressive to women, as if she didn’t live in the continent of my mothers. I want so much to be God.
Because now I know women who are unwilling to die so that their lovers can live, the messiah woman in me un-fulfills me — still afraid of her sexuality, afraid of her humanity, unwilling to learn how much more she can become if only she were not obsessed with presenting herself as a lamb for the slaughter.
I have come out of the garden of Gethsemane, saying, “Fuck this shit, I refuse the crucifixion, let them save themselves, I am tired of dying. She is oppressive to me — the good woman, she breathes my oxygen, she hates me, only concerned with purchasing likability with her virtue. I cried to her once, ‘Spare some time for me, good woman. Give me milk so I may live. The masses, they adore you, but while you parade and perform miracles, I am left here to die. Love me too, who will love me?’”
“Who can find a virtuous woman? For her price is far above rubies.” ~ Proverbs 31:10
Kill her — that good woman everyone likes. Start a witch-hunt and murder her in her bed, burn her body, dump it in the river. How long have you been their puppet trapped in their understanding of you, unable to breathe?
I heard stories of women like me who gave pleasures to men in dark corners, afraid to say they enjoy it, afraid to let the darkness of their intermingling consume them. Afraid of what they may birth.
She, the God-woman who came and shattered my life, says, “But so much besides children, so many invisible births, exchanges of soul and character, blossoming of unknown selves, liberation of hidden treasures, buried fantasies happen when we give and receive pleasure freely.”
Talk of sandwiches and masturbation the way you talk of mascara and that t-shirt you like. When they ask you what you like to do in your leisure time, be not be afraid to say it if it is “beer and fucking.” Bring all your dark pleasures to the light and enjoy them, the way only God can — freely, without shame or guilt. Be unworthy if you can, then use your virtue to save yourself.
Do you only exist when you belong to someone? Can you not be a committed hedonist, existing only for your own freedom and pleasure?
They come — husbands, sons, fathers, daughters, lovers, the multitudes — saying, “Save us, save us.” They say, “Give us your breast so we may drink and live, oh mother.”They have no respect for the sacredness of the mother, but they need my carcass to give them vitality and sustenance. See how they wax strong as I wither and die.
We are learning to say no to the cross. Women like me, with their voices rising up to the heavens in unison, say they want to be Gods, in control of their own fates, because a messiah is a cow, only beloved for its carcass. They say No.
“No, I’m not a cow. Cows cannot dance, cows do not sing. Cows cannot become God. Not only am I a human being, I’m considerably more human than you. Watch me create divinity in this world you have given me that is so ugly and so hard. Watch me become God in front of your eyes.” ~ Ira Lowenthal
Onwards to Uhuru, Love and Light,