If women had power parity the notion of the cyclical would be of central importance to how we structure everything—our politics, economics, laws, media, education, and policy. The cyclical is a natural measure of temporality for women as it is encoded into our bodies. The cyclicality within our bodily functions prevents us from forgetting, in the way that men seem to, that we are not above nature but creatures of flesh and bones like all mammals. It informs our everyday vocabulary. “I’m having mood swings as I’m PMSing”, “I’m aroused as I’m ovulating”, “I’m on the red moon cycle“… we say to each other. Of course, men and women who don’t menstruate can also harbour the cyclical. It transcends our bodies, the cyclical is also embedded into women’s historical cultures, constructed and conflicted as they are; care work, mothering, cooking, self-pampering, ritual, storytelling. These are activities that don’t adhere to the strict rules of industrial time, to rigid and robotic schedules, time stamps, 9-5s. They are tasks that women carry out inherently, cyclically. Women do not live, nor are they permitted to live, in the same temporality as men.
A syzygy is when three or more celestial bodies configure in a straight line. A solar eclipse is an example of a syzygy. It takes place when the earth, moon, and sun are aligned. When a solar eclipse occurs, on average every one and a half years, hundreds of thousands of people flock from near and far to witness the rare occasion. They later give testimonies about how in those brief seconds when the moon’s perspective—rather than the sun’s—illuminated the world, they too were changed by experiencing the world as a place of mystery, luminosity, and playfulness. They share that the solar eclipse brings with it a sense of catharsis and rejoicing. It slows things down.
The pace feels slower these days with the coronavirus keeping masses socially distanced or in quarantine. I must confess that a part of me is enjoying the slowness. Of course, I’d rather there was no coronavirus. But in contrast to the sense of panic that has struck us, there is something calming about the slowed-down pace. During a walk last night, I was stopped in my tracks – there was a beauty to the juxtaposing silent street with the chatter that I could almost hear from behind the cosily lit-up windows.
Pandemics are cyclical. Catastrophe is cyclical. Chaos is cyclical. They are all to be dreaded, but expected. Prepared for. Intuited. The course of human life is like the letter “O”, returning, recurring, repeating. If women had power parity, politics would account for that which returns, recurs, repeats. Women’s understandings of temporality, memory and time, would be included in decision-making. Women know that the cyclical is ignored at peril.
If patriarchy were a sound, it would be the sound of machines. The screeching, shrilling, droning, drilling, alarming, shooting, banging, beeping. It drives me insane. Machine sounds prevent us from “hearing” the cyclical. We can’t hear the trees sighing in turns, the repetitive chewing of breaking fast, the calming sound of inhaling and exhaling, the erotic language spoken body against body. We are deaf to the circadian rhythms of oppression and resistance; fear and consolation, just as we cannot hear the loudness of women’s silence in the constructing of power.
All words like Peace and Love,
All sane affirmative speech,
Had been soiled, profaned, debased
To a horrid mechanical screech.
#NotAllMachines. Like now, will the leaders who are making decisions on our behalf focus their priorities on respiratory ventilators and ECMO machines instead of on demarcating their borders and obsessing over the capital interests of mega-corporations? Can healthcare services and social well-being be invested in now? And not as a quick fix, but with a lasting and long-term understanding of cosmic cycles?
This blog is ten years today, a cycle!
For the ten years that I’ve run MsAfropolitan (I had run other blogs before), I’ve been reluctant to monetise this blog through advertising that could compromise or contradict the content. Nor have I wanted, as is increasingly common, to block part of the content on MsAropolitan by a paywall. For better or worse, I am an old-school blogger, I started blogging precisely because blogs were tools that could be used to bypass gatekeepers, build networks and share free knowledge that simultaneously challenges the status quo. Blogs still excite me for these precise reasons, so were I to change the model, I’d probably be put off from blogging entirely. I would do it all again if given the choice. But I’ve made significant financial sacrifices to run this blog. I am no trust-fund baby, I have never received grants or help with making MsAfropolitan a success. I have never had a financier or any other kind of business support. The many hours of research and writing put into the several hundreds of posts on MsAfropolitan have been strictly a passion project.
But it’s our 10th birthday today, so heck I’m going to ask that – if MsAfropolitan has brought value, and if you are able and willing– click the tip jar below this post to show some birthday love, however small, it will be greatly appreciated in gesture. To another ten years of socially critical Africa-centred feminist blogging!
Image is by Terence Nance who when interviewed on MsAfropolitan in February 2014 said that the word feminism makes him “think about how “high stakes” and essential feminism is as a worldview.”
How are you?
Look after yourself, don’t forget the feminist politics of the cyclical. Remember, this too shall pass.
Congratulations on your 10th anniversary. I discovered you and your blog recently and I am here to stay. I love your work so much; it strikes premordial chords in me, consequently unearthing me.
Thank you for the sacrifices you make. I love you.
I’m touched by your comment, and I’m glad to have you here. Thank you. ❤️