"Bekezela" - why black women must stop glorifying struggle love

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An unhappy couple
An unhappy couple

A 2018 Twitter post by @PreMed_ BlackMed read: “I want black women to experience love that doesn’t involve suffering first and being glorified later”.

This is the type of tweet that gets many retweets and nods of agreement, but receives just as many complaints from those who disagree. And the maths is simple — the reason it evokes such a strong response is because it hits a raw nerve.

The concept of being hurt because someone likes you starts way before children become adults. “It’s one of society’s norms that when little boys like a girl, they might go pull her hair or push her in the playground. Most people see it as harmless, but this is when the programming starts,” says Khanyisile Xaba, a Durban-based counsellor. “This notion that it’s normal for boys to hurt the girls they like, grows with people and becomes the harmful messaging that it’s normal to be repeatedly hurt in the name of love.”

On shows such as Our Perfect Wedding, it’s common to see the bride- to-be regaling the audience with tales of their partner’s infidelity and how it’s paid off now that the main inflictor of her pain is finally marrying her. “It has been normalised to a point where people speak about it publicly and preach it as though it is a norm that cannot be fought,” Xaba adds.

LEARNT DYSFUNCTION

The belief that suffering is part of the journey to being declared the “chosen one” is prescribed exclusively to women. “Terms like ukubekezela, being told to forgive infidelity and other hurtful acts as well as the idea that continued pain and suffering make you a stronger and better person are solely directed at women,” Xaba points out.

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