Make up or nah… it’s all good

The “I’m not like other girls” gang who are forever judging the choices of women to wear make up are a malignant growth nourished by patriarchy. It’s internalised misogyny to want to dictate to women what the right way to be a woman is; feminism means the liberty to own one’s choices over oneself.
The “I don’t like girls who wear make up” dudebros need to reevaluate their thought processes. All the guys you idolise – Iron Man, Don Draper, Lucious Lyon – wear more expensive make up than most girls. Give it up. It’s tired.

People or Power

African leaders need to examine whether their policies are aimed at securing the future of her citizens, or securing their hold on power.
Governmental budgets are soon to be released, and the portion going to military spending seems to be increasing by the annum. To the person on the street without adequate medical care, or the one without sustenance because of poverty, a strong army means nothing. To one without employment as factory shells close by the dozen, or the vendors without customers since unemployment is rising, a larger police presence means very little. To the youth in school disenfranchised by structures only concerned with the issues of cisgender, able-bodied, heterosexual men of wealth, infrastructural development look like vanity projects.
Africa is alive with possibility, if adequate investment is made in the people, not just the people in power.

When I was 17, I moved to Pretoria for undergrad. While Stellenbosch may be the belly of the racist beast in South Africa, Pretoria is the brain that keeps the beast moving with apartheid having been abolished. Growing up in Swaziland, barring the isolated incident, racism is a mythical creature too you. Moving to South Africa, it’s an albatross.

I don’t live in RSA anymore, but inspire of being on the other side of the world, i still keenly follow her politics given how much they influence Swaziland. 21 years since the first democratic election, to see white South Africans don the Apartheid flag during their #ZumaMustFall march was galling. First and foremost, the whole premise of the march was the height of privilege. They were marching not because of the socio-economic disparities in their country, but because Zuma’s dubious leadership led to the Rand collapsing. They believed that marching to deliver a petition on their day off would compel a sitting President to resign. Worth noting that despite all of the corruption that has happened under Zuma, the fiasco with the Ministers of Finance was bad governance, but not illegal. They failed to march after Marikana, they failed to march after Nkandlagate, they failed to march to end freaking APARTHEID! Now that their wealth is threatened sure arms are taken up. Moreover, the entire march was a gateway to racist rhetoric. The conjuring of Nelson Mandela’s ghost is an attempt to evoke the “clever black” propaganda that refuses to die. That “not like other black people” ideal that appeals to the internalised racism millions of People of Colour were raised to long for.

The Apartheid flag needs to be banned. It is a symbol of an inhumane regime and deserves the same treatment as a Swastika. The people flashing them, hanging them and even wearing them were saying they longed for a time black South Africans were subhuman in the eyes of the law. Wearing a symbol of oppression is not just offensive, it’s oppressionist. Anyone with that flag believes in a limited universe of possibility for black people. The flag is a tangible souvenir to so many atrocities committed by white people that were okay under law. That the flag hasn’t been banned isn’t a matter of free speech – it’s a matter of hate speech. The glee it was hoisted during the farce of a march says that an uncomfortably large amount of people still celebrate violence against black people.

Hillary Clinton
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, executive director, UN Women, addresses the World Bank Group’s report “Voice and Agency: Empowering Women and Girls for Shared Prosperity” at World Bank headquarters in Washington, Wednesday, May 14, 2014. The report focuses on pervasive constraints facing women and girls worldwide. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)

“The recognition that peace is inextricably linked with gender equality and women’s leadership was a radical step for the highest body tasked with the maintenance of international peace and security,” said Mlambo-Ngcuka.

She is absolute life goals – from being the first woman Deputy President of the Republic of South Africa, the largest economy in a continent that so oft marginalises women, to being an Executive Director at the largest and most important body for peace worldwide.

Stereotyped or Fridged

I hate 2 Broke Girls. Kat Dennings was the most grating part of the Thor movies, and having her on my screen for 30 minutes at a time would be beyond annoying. It is an abysmal attempt at comedy that I could only stomach 2 episodes of. However, that isn’t why I hate it so much. I like a lot of unfunny comedies such as New Girl and 70% of post season 5 Modern family. The reason I hate 2 Broke Girls is the racism. Why do we still have caricatures of races and ethnicities on TV? Who in a network as large as CBS thought that something so repugnantly racist would be tolerable, and even accepted? The playing up of the “Asian accent” is an attempt to appeal to the most base of humour.

Representation is a maze when it should be a straight path. The “token guy” so many shows employ, just to say they’ve helped fill a quota, is problematic on a different plane. This character must represent a whole demographic, and the writers seem to forget that people of colour exist across a spectrum of personalities. Moreover, the stereotypical “Magical Negro” still exists, particularly in film. The black man whose job is to show the protagonist the way, sometimes possessing astuteness that seems to exist on the supernatural plane. He exists only to prop the hero into getting the job done, then disappears and/or often dies.

speaking of death: stop with the fridging. One of my fav shows of all time is Supernatural, but it is almost guaranteed that when a person of colour shows up, their death is coming soon. Supernatural’s caucasian casting predominance is so galling that any visibility is welcome. We are happy to get fridge.


Representation Matters

WTF Marvel??😤 Ok, context. The Avengers was the greatest cinematic experience of my life. I was ecstatic to find this t-shirt, albeit it’s 3 sizes too big, but I just had to have it. 😁😄This tee has all the Avengers except (surprise,surprise) Black Widow.😒 even Hawk freaking eye made it. Where’s the Widow merchandise? And it’s not like there isn’t a market for it. That Agent Carter was the first Marvel project headlined by a woman is a travesty. Since 2008, there have been 11 comic movies with rich playboys and 6 with actors named Chris. 😔 break it down by colour, it’s even worse. Where’s the representation??tumblr_nzai2hd4Ue1sr87z9o1_540.jpg

Protect our children

Children cannot consent to sex. An adult sleeping with a minor is rape. Period. It is legally defined as statutory rape. The hypersexualisation of children needs to come to an end. Adults need to stop looking at little boys and girls and saying things like “ngitatikhulsela (I’m raising you for myself)” because it perpetuates rape culture. We’ve probably all heard the phrases sugar mama/daddy, ben10 etc referring to intergenerational relationships. The implication was it was a relationship based on transactional sex. However, this was sex between a minor and an adult. Children cannot consent to sex, therefore it was rape. It still is rape.
You have the sitting President of Nigeria who impregnated a 12 year old girl. Buhari raped that child. That they are still together speaks of a culture where young girls are not protected, and are commodified. That they are still together speaks of the untreated Stockholm Syndrome that many abuse victims experience. That they are still together speaks of a society that refuses to view rape outside violence. Rape doesn’t need to be violent to be valid. The hooded man in a dark alley pulling screaming girls into his car is not all there is to rape. The mere fact that a child cannot consent to sex means they may not recognise having been raped. The onus falls on adults who do to not sit back silently and allow the violation to continue.
Intergenerational sex where one party is under the age of consent is prevalent in Africa, and that is rape. It’s also a leading cause of the spread of HIV/Aids in Swaziland. We need to allow our children to be children.
It’s not a matter of debate or opinion: statutory rape simply is rape.

Flaws and All

I used to hate taking pictures. Even today, I am not comfortable taking non-selfie shots. At least when the camera lens is pointed at me and I can see how I look, I can exercise some degree of control over the output, the angles, the lighting… It seems trivial but there’s something about insecurity that makes one focus on the minuscule. The number of times I’ve asked friends to take down pictures they took of me, or removed tags of myself on Facebook… The minute can mess with oneself.

I know that there is more to me than my looks, that I should have higher expectations of myself aside from prettiness. I know that one’s aesthetics are a matter of the natural lottery, and at times I wonder why we place so much emphasis on this. The times I have apologised for looking a mess shames me. I catch myself hoping I don’t run into anyone I know on a day I feel a mess. The words of Warsaw Shire, Audre Lorde and so many other feminist icons ring through my brain, and I try to turn them louder than the voice that says I must look a certain way to be accepted. And it’s not even about the male gaze. It’s about being accepted by other women, by my peers, It’s a shameful sentiment to have.

The obsessive self-loathing is deemed a rite of passage if you’re a young girl. My having insecurities is more acceptable in society than someone being comfortable in their own skin. Billion dollar industries have been built on insecurities, and sustained by enforcing them.

A large chunk of the narrative around my womanhood is built around the cover. I need to accept that ugly is not a bad thing, to accept myself as beautiful. The old adage is “beauty is in the eye of the beholder,” however when has one ever been the beholder of their own beauty? Maybe that is where it should start. Before I turn a camera lens on my face, I should be enamoured by the way it looks, because it is mine after all.

A woman’s face is like the universally accepted currency for her value on Earth. Is it narcissistic to have an instagram page filled with selfie after selfie, or is it testament to wanting to fit into a world that says be pretty first and foremost? I know that being pretty is not all I have to offer, which is why I take selfies on top of selfies, and Xzibit that shit by putting another selfie on top of that.Because I like how I look. I do not require anyone else’s validation. It’s taken 20 years but I am here – I like taking pictures. Memories must be recorded.

Hymen or unicorn?

Virginity is a social construct which ignores that sex isn’t just vaginal penetration. It’s a social construct that ignores non-hetero sex. It is a patriarchial structure that exists to control women’s autonomy.
I come from Swaziland, a Southern African country that has a Reed Dance annually where virgins dance and celebrate their “purity.” Although there aren’t “virginity testings” done there, the Dance in itself carries a lot of negative connotations. That the value of a girl lies in not having a bearing on her sexuality outside of what it means to man, particularly misogynistic when you realise girls dance bare-breasted. I love my culture, and I love the camarederie that comes with cultural events, but surely there’s a better way to value our girls and bring them together aside from them having or not having a hymen.

When we appeal to people’s conscience with “what if it were you/your sister” arguments, we are saying that all other victims aren’t important. We are saying that the only crimes that matter are those that affect us directly.
Moreover, the strength of these girls in speaking out is laudable. In sharing their own storiea themselves. However there is strength in silence too, in choosing to deal wiTh your pain alone. In a perfect world, every survivor would get to share their story, but this world isn’t perfect. The Burden of Proof in rape cases lies with the victim, and the victim is the one dragged through the coals by public opinion.
Nevertheless, this was beautifully done. As a society, we have become desensitised to rape due to its frequency. But seeing these women, the real people who have been violated and had their lives changed irrevocably, is the jarring we need to recognise the atrocity that has befallen too many.