Kagure Mugo
Kagure Mugo

Hostile response to #ForBlackGirlsOnly shows why we need it

With all the racial tension brewing over the past few months it’s no surprise that an event called #ForBlackGirlsOnly has caused a stir. Many think the event counters nation-building in a time when people are losing their jobs over racial slurs, and the amount of melanin you have can trigger an online shouting match. This event has antagonised white women but black men as well.

The Facebook page for the event is inundated with messages saying it is inherently racist (the argument for why it is not is based in a real understanding of racism as prejudice and power) but also with men threatening the women that attend.

There were posts on the page stating that the women would be raped, that men would form groups and harass them while arriving to and leaving the venue. The threats became so severe the organisers have sought to raise funds for extra security. This heightened level of online violence and resentment simply because black women want to gather, uplift each other and commune on common topics?

The ability for men to go from zero to rape has always puzzled and confounded me. What steps did you mentally take in which a woman not doing what you feel is right should mean you put a penis forcibly inside her? Forsaking all other means of engagement including using words and intellect?

These cyber threats are not empty threats, online violence against women mirrors the reality offline. This is evidenced in the recent murder of Motshidisi Pascalina, a lesbian in the Vaal whose body was discovered in an open field. And a 17-year-old boy from KZN recently took to twitter to say that if he ever found two lesbians having sex he would “definitely” rape them, “f**k them till they turn straight”.

The violence of racism and misogyny is constant, real and exhausting. Let me teach you a new word: misogynoir. It is a phrase the encompasses all the elements that come with being a black woman in a world that comes at you for either being too brown or having too much vagina.

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A place where Hoteps (see also Hotep Twitter and how it manifests locally in movements and spaces such as #FeesMustFall) use black unity, tradition and powerful black history while secretly hating black women and wanting to subjugate them. A place of the strong black woman who can raise a nation. The idea that we are feisty and unbreakable while white women are delicate. The fact that we cannot feel pain or depression and that our mental health is sidelined in the name of being “strong”. A place that we gon’ be alright despite the world not being safe for us on so many levels.

This is why spaces like #ForBlackGirlsOnly are needed. Everyone needs a safe space where they can be themselves. It must be understood that this space is not a threat to anyone else. It is not a small enclave in which a revolution is being planned. Spaces like this are akin to parks for children in a world built for adults, a place where one can be in their entirety. The sad reality is that as a brown woman there is an onslaught of violence out there, from the racial dynamics of the world to the very men who purport to support and protect us enacting some of the worst violence on us, mentally, sexually physically and psychologically.

Having attended another #ForBlackGirlsOnly event the only thing on the agenda is to tell other black women that they are fabulous. That you are amazing. That it is OK to be in a world that thinks your hair is too kinky, your skin is too dark, your hips are too wide, that you are not smart enough and not male enough.

No coup is being planned. There are no plans to storm the bars and restaurants where black people cannot get a reservation. Going out in groups to heckle men who engage in street harassment is not on the agenda. No one is bringing weapons, pitch forks or stating that any other groups cannot go to or do something elsewhere. The event is not a threat to anyone, it’s simply a gathering of women who are sick and tired of always being sick and tired and for a moment want to be alone from the troubles of the world.

That’s simply it.

Much as all women need to be uplifted there are some struggles that women of other races do not experience in the same way. Much as black people need to be uplifted there are realities that men do not face in the same way. Being a woman of colour means facing a special type of reality, it is that word that many hate: intersectionality. It is facing the heat of racism and the fire of sexism.

We are well and truly cooked in this regard.

Much as there can be another time for others to come to the party there needs to be a time where there is a very exclusive theme. So when black women say can we have a moment, grant us this, at least for a little while longer because as the youth say “it’s real outchea“.

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    • justin mueller

      This is discriminating on the grounds of race and gender and thus is racist & sexist and unconstitutional

    • in exile

      If there was an event “For white girls only,” no matter how contorted its justification, it would, without doubt (and quite appropriately!) be condemned for its racism.

    • Fred Basset

      And with threats.

    • Richard

      I don’t see the problem with people forming exclusive clubs and groups, but it must apply to all people. If white, Afrikaans men wish to form an exclusive club, it must also be allowed. There are already black legal bodies, for instance. Why does this idea cause so much obloquy?

    • Andries Benade

      One could use the entire article above, and just substitute “whites” for “black girls”, to justify apartheid. It was also extremely controversial, and by the “logic” above, that very fact would have “proved” it to be the correct thing to do.

    • http://batman-news.com DavyH

      Or, even worse, ‘For white men only’.
      True.

    • Manu

      If a person is from early childhood brought up to believe that they are better than others because of their age, sex, gender, race or religion then is it any wonder that they fall into believing that they hold dominion over others.

      In this paradigm violence becomes an assertion of this dominion. For example, our ability to kill animals for food or entertainment without guilt is because we believe it’s our right to use animals as we see fit.

      IMO every culture allows for itself a pecking order. This order is a convoluted mixture of age, sex, gender, race or religion, and this pecking order is maintained with violence of one form or another.

      So in the end the things that define our civilization are also the things that bind us to roles of servitude and force us into submission … until such time that we resist these predefined roles and in the process redefine civilization. But don’t expect the system to go down quietly.
      So the ladies who organize these events should take heart. if the system rages against you, then you are doing something right. Carry on defining who you are, just as others have already defined themselves.

    • TheNewFreedomFighter

      “Spaces like this are akin to parks for children in a world built for adults, a place where one can be in their entirety.” At the end of the play time the children have to go back into the world of the adults. I can’t see how such a grouping of people can effectively change negative societal perceptions and behaviours about them by defining themselves outside of the society they’re enmeshed in. In fact, you’re just creating more societal fragmentation and giving human bias and prejudice the opportunity to flourish more. So we have a Black Lawyers Association and a Black Business Forum. Do these groups just perpetuate racial divides or foster inter-racial understanding and cohesion? (I won’t mention the motive for unadulterated financial gain.) I would argue that they covertly, and perhaps even overtly, serve to perpetuate racist ideology in the same way that the Afrikaner groups like the Ossewabrandwag did. The quickest way to cool a boiling cup of water is to mix it with a cup of cold water, not to leave it to stand in isolation. Perhaps “no coup is being planned”, but I think you haven’t considered the reality that you’ve drawn a line in the sand – #ForBlackGirlsOnly vs #TheRestOfUs. If you define yourself on the outside (in the park) then I suppose that’s where you’ll stay. Oh! Before I go, have fun on the slide and the roundabout really gives you a high if you go on it long enough and fast enough. Give it a try.

    • Christien Scheepers

      Actually 50 years ago when I was in school we were always shouted at for being lazy. Our parents and teachers told us to look at the black kids running ” miles and miles ” with bear feet in the cold to get to school. We were reminded non-stop of our privilege. I NEVER heard that I am better because I am white………..behavior cause racism NOT colour!