Miss Behave , livre ebook

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Upon encountering historian Laurel Thatcher Ulrich’s quote, ‘well-behaved women seldom make history’, Malebo Sephodi knew that she was tired of everyone else having a say on who and what she should be. Appropriating this quote, Malebo boldly renounces societal expectations placed on her as a black woman and shares her journey towards misbehaviour. According to Malebo, it is the norm for a black woman to live in a society that prescribes what it means to be a well-behaved woman. Acting like this prescribed woman equals good behaviour. But what happens when a black woman decides to live her own life and becomes her own form of who she wants to be? She is often seen as misbehaving.Miss-Behave challenges society’s deep-seated beliefs about what it means to be an obedient woman. In this book, Malebo tracks her journey on a path towards achieving total autonomy and self determinism. Miss-Behave will challenge, rattle and occasionally cause you to scream ‘yassss, yassss, yassss’ at various intervals.
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Date de parution

01 août 2022

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0

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9781928337539

Langue

English

Poids de l'ouvrage

1 Mo

Miss Behave




Miss Behave
Malebo Sephodi




First published by Blackbird Books, 2017
Second impression 2017
Third impression 2020
593 Zone 4
Seshego
Polokwane 0742
South Africa
www.blackbirdbooks.africa
© Malebo Sephodi, 2017
All rights reserved.
ISBN 978-1-928337-53-9
Also available in print.
Cover design by Palesa Motsomi
See a complete list of Blackbird Books titles at www.blackbirdbooks.africa


To my Mama, who taught me to be brave


Contents
Patriarchy
Herstory
Misbehave
Love regulated
#DearBlackMan
Help yourself to some sexism
You may now kiss your husband
Whose image exactly?
S-E-X
Beyond the quotas
The elusive modern woman
Self-care as misbehaviour
My feminism
Acknowledgements
References
Further reading



Patriarchy
/ ' peitria:ki/ – pronounced pei-tri-a-ki
Noun
‘The rule of the father.’ (Sultana, 2010–2011)
‘A social system in which men appropriate all social roles and keep women in subordinate positions, [which] has managed to survive for so long because its chief psychological weapon is its universality as well as its longevity.’ (Charvet, 1982, as cited by Kambarambi, 2006)
‘A system of society or government in which men hold the power and women are largely excluded from it.’ (Oxford Dictionary, 2017)



Herstory
If you were to tell me 10 years ago that the words in this book would be mine, I would have laughed. Looking back at my life, I see a substantial evolution of consciousness in how my beliefs were shaped. This is something that many people grapple with. In light of this, the continuous questions I had in my mind while writing this book were: How do I continue writing when my views today do not resemble the ideology I had 10 years ago? Would my reader not think I was inconsistent? But another voice added: If you did not change because of suffering from marginalisation, it would be scary. In fact, that is why you are meant to write. Write about the changes – this is part of telling your story . And so, I tell my story, as truthfully as I can.
My relationship with myself – existing in my body – has been a complex one. Physically, spiritually, economically and politically, I have had to grapple with reconciling my existence on this earth. In tracking these complexities, I have noticed that Black women have been prominent in assisting and crafting who I am and how I analyse my environment. My mother sticks out as one of those women who influenced my thinking in ways that scare even her. From my earliest memory, I remember studying her in a way that I could easily formulate into theory. My childhood memory does not serve me well, but it has granted me a vivid memory of an experience with my mother in 1992.
From 1948, South Africa had been embroiled in an evil regime called apartheid, which marginalised and segregated people according to their race. In March 1992, a referendum to end apartheid was held, brewing mixed reactions from those who benefitted from it, but this signalled freedom for my parents and those who had suffered under the regime. Our country was experiencing a transition. A kind of uncertainty came over South Africans who had wrestled with the chains of oppression. The possibility of a new dawn filled the air. Even with these moments, it was not unusual to experience adults trickling into our house in Ennerdale, a town situated south of Johannesburg, filling the air with laughter while melodies painted hearts with joy. A sudden groove developed in my parents’ hips, always finding a moment to celebrate.
One ordinary Saturday in 1992, the sun had completed its shift and you could hear the crickets tuning the air with their whistles, a mild breeze joining in on the jingle. My soul hovered above our lounge while the tunes slowly seduced my tiny eight-year-old ears, tickling what was then my unknown relationship with music. I watched my mother with glee, her curled pitch-black hair twinkling under the lights and complementing her black chiffon dress. Her face and teeth sparkled, reflecting mysterious stories. She threw her head back and like a flower in the wind swirled to the tunes of Brenda Fassie’s I’m Your Weekend Special . The vision of my mother under the spell of the echoing tunes was breathtaking. My eyes fixed on her soft, delicate face. Hers, deep and content, landed on mine, breaking her face into a smile. The music intensified and my mother clicked her fingers as she slowly twirled down and back up again.
I stood there in awe. My mother was the most beautiful woman I had ever seen. And through what I would come to observe, the strongest. She taught me never to relent. She encouraged me to always seek the truth and walk in my power. Despite her own need to be strong, she taught me not to define power as strength. Instead, she gave me a different kind of power. She taught me to say ‘no’. She taught me to cry. My mother has always been resolute in every project she’s tackled. I have watched her fight against the discrimination of workers, fight against the policing of women’s reproductive rights, fight against the withdrawal of basic healthcare needs for Black people, and fight against the marginalisation of Black students. She will fight for what she believes in and won’t back down until an outcome is realised. Because of this, she taught me to question, to fight for what is right and for what I believe in, even if it goes against all that she believes in. She taught me to raise my voice, stick to my stance no matter how unpopular it may be. And when she tells me I am going overboard, which she always does, I gently remind her that ‘ukhamba lufuze imbiza’ but twice more potent. And she laughs and claps her hands once.
It is through this anchoring that I observed the world in a way that challenged the external conditioning I received. One of the prominent things I noticed around society was how I was treated versus how men were treated. It did not make sense at all. No matter how you tried to live your life, it was not enough as a Black woman to choose how to live without facing some sort of resistance.
Growing up watching my mother resist left a huge dent in my consciousness. Through her strength, I would watch her retiring in the evening, on the couch, tired and counting her delicate breath carefully. Pushing against the usual flow is not easy, and rather than succumbing to what is expected, there are those who continually fight for their own liberation and for the liberation of many others who have been marginalised. For women, I found that one of the fights was against patriarchy.
I must confess, I have not always known what patriarchy stood for. I did not even know how to pronounce it properly. I kept on saying ‘pah-tria-chee’ until I was corrected: ‘It’s pronounced pay-tree-ar-kee.’ Although the original definition denotes the rule of the father, on a wider context it is a social system that has taken shape all over the world. It is a system that is shaped by the victimisation of women by men, and it constantly generates ideas of what an ideal woman looks like and how she should behave. It is so deeply entrenched in our minds that it can be difficult to identify as a system that undermines women. It’s sly, catching most of us off guard, and this is the reason it gets passed on generationally. It reproduces and evolves, co-opting women and making it seem like things have changed. I grew up with patriarchy all around me, without it ever needing to be explained. It was just there and seemed to be the norm. Because the church formed a big part of my upbringing, it shaped my outlook on the world. Despite what I was told outside of the church, it was this institution that defined how I interacted with my environment. I had come to accept patriarchy. But this would not be for long as I too took on the baton to continue the fight against patriarchy. This fight means questioning all our social norms. It means interrogating assumptions that leave no room for imagining that we could do things differently. Not everything that appears to make perfect sense is the truth. We might benefit from asking uncomfortable questions in order to conceptualise alternative ways of living.
It has not been easy figuring out how to write this book and what to include and exclude, but what was important was that I tell my story whichever way. I no longer want to censor myself out of fear. Many voices have been silenced, filtered, erased, misplaced, edited, hidden, ignored and my silence would add to the list of these voices.
But, as Laurel Thatcher Ulrich wrote: ‘Well-behaved women seldom make history.’ This slogan resonated with the transition towards owning my life. When I first encountered it, I wrote it down in my journal and I knew that I would have a story to tell. Toni Morrison tells us that if there is a book you want to read, then write it (New York Public Library, 2013). With this book, I share my personal trek through the transition from a well-behaved Black woman to one who misbehaves. While writing this, I had my unborn children in mind because I do not want them to be born into a world that still perpetuates oppression. If they are born and the world continues to be an unsafe place to exist in, they must know that there are systems such as patriarchy that are committed to wringing the life out of sexually marginalised bodies. They must know that they should not be defined by these systems and resist conforming at all cost.
I drew on my own experiences and recalled the details as best I could. When memory failed me, I engaged those who could fill in the gaps. I have also, with permission, used stories narrated by different individuals. Because I share many of

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