FE-MAIL TIES – Still waters
Word is that when it comes to handling relationship issues, most Jamaican women are sometimes extremely vocal in articulating their desires and dissatisfactions. Word also suggests that women in Africa, as a rule, are generally less outspoken (at least in public spaces), and so, the logic reasons, less emancipated than their Jamaican sisters. True? From what I’ve observed, emancipation in relationships is an elastic truth that women both sides of the Atlantic are grappling with.
Yes, women of the diaspora have been brought up to tell it like it is, claiming their space in fearless self-expression. After all, our history of slavery literally yoked our voices for too long. Strategically, we had to cultivate survival strategies and defence systems which have permeated our psyche, our culture and implicitly, our intimate relations. So, whenever we feel under attack, we lash out – even against our men. Emancipation, you say?
Sisters this side of the world, have cultivated techniques to manage love feuds in a less confrontational style. This is often interpreted from, Western influenced eyes, as subjugation and misogyny. Now, it’s true that many women living across the African continent have not experienced the trauma of the middle passage, but most probably have historical (many recent) memories of war and displacement and the need to devise survival strategies.
However, when it comes to managing relations with their significant others, emancipation is clearly a matter of interpretation. Honed over many generations, there is an alluring quality to the power of less noise.
Talk so much
A close male friend from Ghana (let’s call him Kobi) says he can’t understand why women from other cultures talk so much, and why they throw away their power so easily and so often. There’s logic in his reasoning.
Recently, he successfully mediated a sensitive situation between a Ghanaian man married to a Jamaican woman, who were on the brink of divorce. Despite the troubled past, both parties wanted to salvage the relationship and were willing to talk through someone they trusted as a mediator – enter Kobi.
Driving his sister friend to the meeting, he advised her to simply state her issues as calmly as possible, listen and chill. She, seething in a volcano of resentment and hurt, could not imagine anything more disempowering. However, feeling she had nothing to lose, she followed his advice.
Long story short, within a week, the mountains of distrust that had grown between the couple began to crumble. The couple, which could now talk calmly to each other and not at each other, made moves to reunite within a month.
Kobi is convinced that his advice paved the way to the peace table. The sister in question agrees. Despite her upbringing, she saw the power of still waters in the midst of turmoil. She understood that her lava contribution would have fuelled the fire as opposed to getting her voice heard. It was heard. She recognised that her internal defence system was designed to shatter resistance at all costs – sometimes necessary. However, in the relationship arena, she is learning to build trust through love-anchored stillness. Emancipation you said?