Women/woman – what do these terms mean to you?
For me, I think the terms women/woman refers to strength, courage, life, love, nurturing, motherhood, researcher, boss, traveler, lover, educator, chef, and my favorite warrior. To be honest, women can mean (and be) anything! Since my last blog I was contemplating on what I want to write about for my next one. I had a list of ideas as well as specific women I wanted to highlight. However, I have changed it at the last minute because over the last few weeks I have had the pleasure of talking to a variety of women who have confide in me their story. Women who are single mothers, women who are divorced, in relationships, young, or old – at all different stages of life. What I noticed was a theme, each woman was in a season of life where they recently had experienced a life changing event that made them feel their world was crumbling around them. They were in a season of change, of process, of rediscovering who they are without any labels – these women were “trying” to pick themselves back up from life’s boxing match, they were not backing down no matter how hurt they felt. These women I see as warriors – women who continue the fight regardless of how beat up they are from life’s punches.
As the conversations continue one thing was mentioned – support – these women were seeking support, or had support in helping them stand back up. But not just any support, women support!
As I danced around the topic in my last two blog posts with me mentioning a heart-breaking event that occurred a few weeks ago but never coming out, well I feel it is time to explained what that event was as this post will make much more sense. Three and half weeks ago my partner and I separated – yes, I was heartbroken due to a break-up. My heart shattered, this was a man who I thought I was going to marry – yes, you heard me marry! We had talked about marriage to where his family referred to me as his wife – I thought it was going well, but as it can happen life threw some curve balls at me and lessons were learned that there is no guarantee for anything.
To make it worse, today (the 15th) would have been our 11-month anniversary. Before you begin to think the question, this post is not about bashing or blaming my ex, in fact, it is the opposite, it is about women as warriors, rising up to fight for justice and support other women! For a bit of some background info, this man was my first partner in a long time (I’ve been single a LONG time), as well as my first long-term partner, hence why dates were important to me because at times I felt our relationship was a dream and I was going to wake up and realized it was not real – well, I did wake up one day to it ending so I guess bad dreams can come true (or was it a blessing, time will only tell). Today, was hard. Today, I cried. Today, I felt my heart broke all over again. All my hopes and dreams were tossed out like week old slimy pasta. What made it even worse, was when I came across a social media post of him enjoying his day by the river in the sun. Y’all while I was crying my eyes out, he was basking in the sun with friends. As Rachel Hollis, an author, a top business podcaster, and one of the most sought-after motivational speakers in the world, would say “Girl, Wash Your Face” (which is the title of one of her books). Girl, wash your face is a realization that I am allowing outside influences, and in this case a man, to influence my life. So, I had to ask, why the hell did I spend a whole day crying over a man who clearly was enjoying himself – did he just move on and has not even thought about me or our relationship at all? Did I even mean anything to him? These were thoughts rolling around in my mind. But here is the thing, he had every right to enjoy himself, he was not in the wrong. He was living life – as I should have. Actually, it was me that needed to reset my thoughts. I wasted precious time and energy on a man who no longer was in my life. I could have taken that energy and write a chapter in my thesis, or a business plan, or to do just about anything else that would empower me.
Now, I do understand that there is a time and a place to grieve – I am all about the feeling the feels right now. And to be honest, him and I splitting up actually allowed me to begin my story with radical self-love. When he and I broke up I could not do what I typically would do, get dress up, go to a bar, and flirt my ass off with my girlfriends to “move on” – I could not do that because of covid-19. I had to be at home and face my emotions, face my fears, face my heartbreak head on. OH, MY GEORGIA SWEET TEA has it been the most uncomfortable growth and transformation I have gone through, yes, yes, yes, yes! A thousand times yes! But here is what I have learned – women are warriors. They fight and when they fall, they get back up. When injustice and oppression places them in a corner, they fight. Women are warriors, they are queens, they are warrior queens! I, myself, am a warrior queen and realized I need to fight for myself because no one else will. But I am not alone, this is what I am learning, I have an army of warrior women from all different walks of life. My tribe.
As I was thinking about my tribe of women, a particular group of women came to mind – The Aba Women [Warriors]. I first hear about these women back in 2016 from a mentor of mine, who is a warrior queen herself, teaching African history in my undergrad. Are you ready for your history lesson now? Well here I go – In 1929, in southeastern Nigeria, a protest against injustice toward women inflicted by colonial powers and chiefs took place. The Aba women comprised of six ethic groups (Ibibio, Andoni, Ogoni, Bonny, Opobo, and Igbo) joined forces to fight newly assessed levies and other fees on women. At this time the British were demanding more forced labor, increase in taxation on the local population, trade restrictions, and of course corruption by local administrators (Harman, 2017). The extension of taxation of women was met with resistance, frustration, and hostility among the women. The women were furious because how were they suppose to pay taxes when they depend on their husbands for provisions. Women would go to the markets to collect to do petty trading or sell palm-oil, but it was not enough revenue to live off of (American Historical Association). Once these women got word about this taxation, they created an army of thousands to fight back. Since these women did not have any positions among the colonial powers like their male counterparts, they took their protest to the streets. They sung protest songs about resistance toward taxation and the colonial powers, they staged anti-government propaganda dances, and did spiritual movements (Harman, 2017). When they heard the taxation was not going away, they continue protesting which include additional songs that questioned the manhood of problematic chiefs. Overall, the Aba women were peaceful protestors. But these women were done being oppressed, they used all their tools including their sexuality as “a weapon by often baring breast and making threats to withhold sexual intimacy in response to political injustice” (Achebe et al, 2019). Right on women! Free the titties! Power to the women! However, the colonial administrators did not view it that way. In fact, they did not understand the women’s cultural practices and dismissed their actions by labeling them “crazy acts by hysterical women” (Harman, 2017). Y’all if you can see me, you would see my disgust “oh hell no they did not say that” face, but sadly, I am not surprised as once again women rise in protest and are met with dehumanizing labels.
I am proud of these women, I envy these women, these women owned their bodies, fought for their right, stood against injustice and oppression – I call them warriors! To continue the story, after much protest, the women did make much change to the system including regaining some of their power to self-govern. However, as tension rose their protest was met with violence from the colonial powers where soldiers shot protesting women, ran over them with cars, and used burning as a collective punishment. Needless to say, that did not stop the Aba women – they still fought and won with more victories! Women power!
So now that I gave you a history lesson about the bad ass Aba women, the question is why did I do that? And how does that relate to my break-up and my interactions with other women the past few weeks? Well, women are strong magical humans that come together in time of need. When there is injustice, oppression, disrespect, and suffering, women rally together to create an army of support. I could not have stand back up without the support from my warrior queens. Today alone, I had three warrior queens help fix my crown and told me how worthy, how valuable, how amazing, how strong, and how important I am. My tribe reminds me how I deserve someone who treats me like a queen, who respects, honors, cherishes, values, pursues, and desires me – and if he ain’t doing that than he does not deserve me. As Lizzo sings in her song Good As Hell ” If he don’t love you anymore, Just walk your fine ass out the door”. No matter what stage of life we are in, we are an army of women who rise and fight against life’s troubles – the oppression of life pushing us down to prevent us from shining and being our true self. We support each other, just as the Aba women did. We are warriors against the injustice and oppression against women.
So, I encourage all you warrior queens to strengthen your tribe, your army, because we need to support each other no matter what season in life we are in. Some things I have done, especially during covid since we can’t see each other, is I send inspirational texts to my friends, or when I think about them, I send them a text letting them know I am here. If you do not have a tribe, you can always join mine! I hope to use this blog as a platform for women to join together and rise. Women, hear us roar! We are warrior queens and we will fight against injustice and oppression toward other women, we will not let life push us down. We will rise and fight as that is our right! I am blessed to have my tribe because without them I would not have been reminded of my worth today.
Where my warrior queens at?? Let me know in the comments below your thoughts.
For now, my warriors – be loved, be kind, and know you are loved!
Until next time…
-Alyssa, the salt woman
P.S. I know I have said I would attach a recipe to go along with the themes, unfortunately, I forgot with last post and this post was a spur of the moment. I ask for grace as I am figuring this out and hopefully next post (on Sunday) I will have one for you!
Achebe, N., & Robertson, C. (Eds.). (2019). Holding the World Together: African Women in Changing Perspective. University of Wisconsin Press.
American Historical Association (2020). Riot or Rebellion? The Women’s Market Rebellion of 1929. https://www.historians.org/teaching-and-learning/teaching-resources-for-historians/teaching-and-learning-in-the-digital-age/through-the-lens-of-history-biafra-nigeria-the-west-and-the-world/the-colonial-and-pre-colonial-eras-in-nigeria/the-womens-market-rebellion-of-1929
Harman, Mike. (2017). Aba Women’s War of 1929. https://www.historians.org/teaching-and-learning/teaching-resources-for-historians/teaching-and-learning-in-the-digital-age/through-the-lens-of-history-biafra-nigeria-the-west-and-the-world/the-colonial-and-pre-colonial-eras-in-nigeria/the-womens-market-rebellion-of-1929
Rachel Hollis’ books
Lizzo – Good As Hell