It’s not often that I go travelling. Actually scratch that, I’ve never been travelling ever! not even a holiday with the ‘lads’. But thankfully, I have managed to push myself to save and got myself a month ticket to travel three countries [Malaysia, Thailand, Hong Kong], which isn’t much I know, but for me, that’s a blessing!
During my travels, I noticed things about these countries. Although completely different, they did share certain qualities.
As a black man, I’ve only slowly started to learn to love the skin I am in. It’s hard when I was raised around a majority of white people. It wasn’t till I moved to East London that I learnt to embrace my skin.
In these Asian countries on the other-hand, it reminded me of the shame of a dark skin. There were multiple advertisements on skin bleaching. Everywhere you look there was bound to be a billboard that associated ‘white’ with ‘beauty’. It didn’t shake me of my self-love, it just made me sad how some people are made to hate their own skin. You even see some girls using foundation ridiculous shades lighter than their natural skin. This then reiterated the power of consumption and their constant feed on insecurities.
There was also a warped idea on the “ideal woman”. The usual of course, skinny, light skin, not superior to their male counterparts in every way possible, it even went as far as to dictate the shape of your eyes. With these expectations of women, it proved how powerful the patriarchy is. Not to be superficial, but the men asserting these ideas weren’t even great lookers themselves so I couldn’t understand how women had to conform to standards of beauty, but men didn’t have to.. so much anyways.
The expectations were so strong that it even lead women to judge other women. There women who classed themselves to be modest judging women who dared to wear dresses that showed too much leg, shoulders and cleavage. I mean, you got the same thing she does.
It was bizarre though, whilst in Malaysia, I visited a temple dedicated to Aditi, the mother of all Gods. So I couldn’t understand how one of the most powerful Gods was a woman yet they viewed women as an inferior breed. I couldn’t understand how mothers and grandmothers should be respected with their maternal titles but as women, it meant nothing. Men had access to women in ways that even women themselves don’t.
With all this happening, I came to a conclusion about women, in specific women of colour. They are the strongest beings on the planet. They have managed to survive in a sphere where they aren’t considered equal. They have managed find opportunities for themselves where even without a voice they have existed under the radar. There were multiple times where I saw women doing male-dominated roles. I know it’s not as much of a big deal in the west, but here are women who were working in construction with no helmets. There were women cutting grass in fields 5 times the size of a rugby pitch with just a strimmer brush cutter. There were older women hoarding out heavy equipment to unblock sewers with just a t-shirt and sandals. I have never appreciated the work-ethics and perseverance of womanhood more till now.
The patriarchy exist, no matter what Piers Morgan says. But no matter how strong it impacts a society, it does not beat the strength of womanhood.