Sugabelly is a personality on Twitter who has gained notoriety through expressing radical views on feminism and her disdain for certain aspects of Nigerian culture, among other things. I followed her for about 24 hours 2 or more years ago, but I found her espoused positions on Abrahamic faiths not just intolerant (which is inconsequential, as we are living in a post-tolerance age), but unnecessarily malevolent. She routinely makes it a point to denigrate people who ascribe to Judeo-Christian beliefs and I personally didn’t require that sort of abuse in my life. Nevertheless, she has a legion of followers and a verified account, which is to say that she may not be astute in all her suppositions, but she certainly has influence. All this is to say that I only hold a vague familiarity with the way her mind works, so I don’t pretend to speak for her. Like Charlie Sheen’s wish wish for 2016 to take Trump instead of the slew of talented people it felled, Sugabelly does take a position many have wrestled with internally, but would never be stupid/courageous enough to assert publicly.
This is one of her most recent contributions to the conversation about gender and oppression in global society.
I hardly know where to begin. One person described Sugabelly as being that “one chimpanzee who couldn’t wait to begin controversy in the new year.” It’s been pretty quite on the news front – the media’s constant shoveling of Trump’s shyte notwithstanding – and I was really hoping that we’d begin the first conversation of the new year with something more mundane. Something like…oh, I dunno… 10 ways to lose 10 pounds in 10 days, but the Innanet gods would not have it so. So here we are.
Women like Sugabelly are not particularly welcome in nouveau (African) feminists circles because they pose a real threat to the advancement of the African feminist agenda, such as I have casually observed it. She – and the women who ascribe to her values – are seen as extremists, and unrepentant ones at that. The average African feminist is more DuBoisian in her approach to equality, seeking to integrate (and ingratiate) themselves with men, whereas Sugabelly is far more radical; dare I say early Malcolm X in her approach. Her utterances often give the Talented Tenth of Afri-feminist leadership palpitations, but few women are willing to take her on directly. Frequently, they are content to discuss and deride her from the safety of their inboxes or personal Facebook walls, but rarely in her mentions where it truly counts. I see why. Sugabelly is relentless and malicious. She’ll hurt your feelings BAD, and it’s hard to recover from a Sugabelly inflicted injury.
But as to her latest remarks: Does she have a point? It will shock you to hear me say it, but I believe so. In a twisted way, I think she’s right, and the way people interact (or avoid interaction) with Sugabelly herself is testament to that.
Before you misunderstand me; NO, I do not think that women should begin wholesale, systematic murder of men every time they are slighted. That would be to advocate the same fragile masculinity we all universally agree is a juvenile and abhorrent response to a negative experience. I wish – and do hope – that Sugabelly will take the time to express her views in detail, but in the immediate absence of that occurrence, I will attempt to interpret what I think is her eventual conclusion here.
Men see men as human, while men see women as objects. This was the conclusion that one of my favorite bloggers and thinkers came to on a recent thread on Twitter. A woman is something that a man acquires, which is why men comfortably equate their relationship with women to the condition of a car, a timeshare, what have you. Because women are objects to be acquired, possessed, controlled and governed, there is a diminished fear of women, certainly a tapering of respect for the gender. We see this in how relationships with women are pursued, however casual.
Assume a man – your average Joe of average breeding – is looking to expand his social circle of male compatriots. Say he’s looking to play basketball with a new set of friends. What are the chances that he’s going to sit on his stoop and “holla” at every passing guy who looks like he’d be fit enough to engage in a pick up game? Very slim, because men are more likely to respond violently if they feel like they’ve been disrespected.
“Ei, dawg. Ei! You wanna hit the court with me yo? Then maybe we can hit the showers afterwards…. Whatsamatter? You don’t like new friends? I’m just trying to holla atcha, homie!”
He’d get his clock cleaned, for sure. Or even if he didn’t he’s subconsciously aware that engaging with another man in such a manner increases his chances of a series of blows to the face. And yet women are expected to respond favorably to catcalls, whistles and comments from perfect strangers about their bodies or what the verbal assailant would do to that body behind closed doors. Because women aren’t “human”. They are “women”, which is something else entirely in the minds of many men. #NotAllMen
It is unfortunate that the threat of violent retaliation is what motivates people (in this conversation, men) to treat others with respect and dignity. If more men found themselves among these statistics, I’ve no doubt that the conversation – and attitudes – about respecting boundaries where women are concerned. The UN Entity for Gender Equality and Empowerment of Women published the following quick facts on its website:
- In Guatemala, two women are murdered, on average, each day.
- In India, 8,093 cases of dowry-related death were reported in 2007; an unknown number of murders of women and young girls were falsely labeled ‘suicides’ or ‘accidents’.
- In Australia, Canada, Israel, South Africa and the United States, between 40 and 70 percent of female murder victims were killed by their intimate partners.
- In the State of Chihuahua, Mexico, 66 percent of murders of women were committed by husbands, boyfriends or other family members.
It is estimated that in America alone, an average of 3 women are killed per day by her intimate partner.This speaks nothing of the women who are assaulted in bars, parks and other public spaces for unforgivable infraction for not speaking back, refusing to provide a working phone number upon request and “not smiling”. Can you imagine a man smashing another man in the face because he didn’t smile in response? If there is violence against another male to be perpetrated, it’s in response to stepping on another man’s new shell toes or bumping into him, causing him to spill his drink. Even then, the threat of violence is quickly deescalated and neutralized with a simple, “My bad, bruh.”
Naturally, I don’t agree that women should have to resort to slapping the taste out of every man who presents himself as a disrespectful figure, but I do acknowledge that that sort of fear has power. The threat of immediate, swift and brutal retaliation is how African slaves were kept in check all over the New World and how African dictators maintain power. The threat of bodily harm, or withholding resources that will eventually lead to the body’s ability to thrive, is an effective tool of oppression. And right now, that tool is employed with regularity by patriarchal men.
Is Sugabelly’s assessment that societies can’t improve until women begin to employ the same oppressive tactics, including killing? Yes; but just as sick is the society/justice that gives a man 3 months in jail for raping a woman behind a dumpster, or one that forces 13 year old girls to marry her rapist. I think that as repugnant as her assertion is, it is even more so that global attitudes about gender relations give it credibility. The grim reality is that she’s not entirely wrong. By and large, our global societies are founded on and governed by the idea that might = right.
If only we could all be more like Iceland…