Because I am not angry. I’m okay with serving the man of the house his food. On a tray. Perform a slight curtsy, uttering sweet nothings as I place the tray of food down. I’m okay with him being (labelled) ‘the man of the house’, let him be the head of the family – I’m okay with that. I’m okay with being the homemaker; caring for the kids whilst he’s out tilling the land for his children and his children’s children. I could be terribly simplifying it and reducing the scope of the feminist agenda. But that’s the thing, when responding to the question of whether or not I’m a feminist, I feel the immediate need to rule out ‘anger’ and the positioning of the man in the house, as problematic (for me).
I don’t have a husband yet nor do I have children so I can take it if you will suggest that the ease of which I talk about these things that I am ‘okay’ with, is due to lack of experience and understanding of gender roles and how, if disproportioned, can prove to be an injustice to the woman. I actually agree but in a world of options, it would either be staying to make things better or leaving before I break. Again, I may be making things seem simpler than they actually are. But say then for instance, I’m not particularly aggrieved by what feminists perceive as inequality in the home, do I qualify at all to be one? What should bother me in order to deposit me in the feminist agenda? Is it a combination of societal injustices or can I still march with my fist up in the air if I only identify with say two issues out of the five that may be presented?
A friend of mine, having seen the light of course, boldly testified to being a feminist. “I can’t say I am”, I had said to her on that glorious and sunny day. “It’s okay, it will come to you. I was also like that – I just didn’t get it and couldn’t relate to what they were on about. But it just comes and you will know”, my friend had gently responded. It sounded like something another friend had said to me regarding putting on make-up; that the interest and eagerness to learn how to make my face up would come. I digress, but my point is that a couple of years later, I’m still on the same page. But there’s something that I reckon is important in what she said, that part of ‘relating’. I do have the understanding that feminism confronts discrimination based on gender and it goes without saying that should one experience this level of discrimination and have a tangible encounter of being treated as lesser than, then without a doubt, they’d be able to relate, at least to some level, with the feminist agenda. And perhaps understanding alone is enough for a person to launch them into being an active feminist. I get it. I am not denying that inequality between the genders exists nor am I denying the reality of the issues that the feminist brings up. I just can’t identify with the ‘anger’ part of it, that being the vibe that I often pick up. And of course, I’m not interested in challenging the man’s place in my house (which by the way I have everything to do with) and obviously, he must show up for it because it comes with a lot of responsibilities. And this is a matter of preference – aren’t we all selfish, in one or another?
Google defines feminism as “the advocacy of women’s rights on the basis of the equality of the sexes.” Wikipedia: “Feminism is a range of political movements, ideologies, and social movements that share a common goal: to define, establish, and achieve the political, economic, personal, and social equality of the genders.” We have a bit more meat here. Equality between the genders is advocated for in different spheres of existence; the political, economic, personal and social. I get it. I reckon I want the personal space left to me and my preferences. I also get it more clearly from an excerpt from WE SHOULD ALL BE FEMINISTS, a talk delivered by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. And it’s in between some of the lines I will share below that I am better able to motivate my stance.
“Gender is not an easy conversation to have. It makes people uncomfortable, sometimes even irritable. Both men and women are resistant to talk about gender, or are quick to dismiss the problems of gender. Because thinking of changing the status quo is always uncomfortable…”Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Changing the status quo is not only uncomfortable but demands self to be intentional and carry through with the agenda. And often that calls for work and consistency and as I’m writing this, I’m wondering if I’m not just lazy to join in the movement and shake things up to address the problems of gender inequality especially in the ‘personal’ realm? And as I wonder too, I am not particularly moved to nor am I bothered by being okay with being a homemaker and still be flourishing as whatever else I want to be or in whatever else I want to do. Because it’s possible (with help) and that’s what I’m intentional about. At least for now, that’s where I am. So I don’t know about what my friend said alluding to something that will come and make feminism make sense to me… “It will come and you will relate”, she had said. I don’t know, I still reckon I’m just not angry (enough).
“Some people ask: “Why the word feminist? Why not just say you are a believer in human rights, or something like that?” Because that would be dishonest. Feminism is, of course, part of human rights in general – but to choose to use the vague expression human rights is to deny the specific and particular problem of gender. It would be a way of pretending that it was not women who have, for centuries, been excluded. It would be a way of denying that the problem of gender targets women. That the problem was not about being human, but specifically about being a female human. For centuries, the world divided human beings into two groups and then proceeded to exclude and oppress one group. It is only fair that the solution to the problem acknowledge that.”Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
I’m nodding my way through this and in total agreement. I’d probably be that person questioning the use of the word ‘feminist’ as opposed to just admitting to being an advocate of human rights, generally. But I understand the need and purpose in being clear to use ‘feminism’ and intentionally highlighting and addressing gender inequality at which women are at the receiving end. This makes so much sense and again, I get it. But for some reason, I am still not at a place in which I can confidently call myself a feminist.
Reading about feminism is informative, one gets it. Reading Chimamanda and listening to her speech is encouraging and good too but there’s a snap and break that happens on the ground when you experience feminists. The air is different, I really struggle with the vibe. I don’t feel welcome and I struggle to relate because of how seemingly hostile and mad she is. The feminist. She’s at war and perhaps yes, she literally is fighting for her recognition and place in society. And this is why I say the reason I am not a feminist is that firstly and foremost, I am not angry. I’m not chanting, ‘Men are trash!’ I’m not up to here! I’m not mad as hell! And I need to be. I need to be fed up by the status quo. Right?
Simply put, for Chimamanda, a feminist for her is, “A man or a woman who says ‘yes’ there’s a problem with gender as it is today and we must fix it, we must do better.” This I can sign up for. Online somewhere. I can like this as a status update – it’s inviting and inclusive. I don’t know what happens when we get to the ground. I’m certainly not there.
All I have ever known are condoms. Either you abstain completely from sex or you have the beloved condom as a birth control option. Initially the lesson was about HIV and AIDS and how to prevent oneself from contracting the virus and associated sexually transmitted infections. I must have been knocking on my teens when, in late primary school, we would be taught on the dreaded disease. The condom was also hailed as the ‘go to’ for the prevention of pregnancy. But of course, as a youth I had no business with condoms because I was not sexually active and wouldn’t be for a while!
Then came my mid 20s and boys *sigh*. I had heard about contraceptive pills and the injection (Depo-Provera), even though oblivious to them. All I knew of was the condom which had been around and had continued to be promoted for the prevention of unwanted pregnancy and infections. So I was sorted, I was good and ready for some good and safe lovin’.
And then, as life would have it, comes a time when the condom is set aside for *clears throat* adult reasons and when that time comes, a grown woman needs to consider other options and find working solutions. And there I was, in a subtle frenzy to find a contraceptive method that wouldn’t destroy my life with crazy side-effects. A girl whom I had been in high school with had blown up shockingly and although I had never questioned her myself, friends would conclude it was the injection (and I only found out last year that it was called Depo-Provera, I know… I often make it quite late to these parties). Based on that observation, I knew to stay completely away from the injection because I could not afford to risk gaining any weight and having to go back every 3 months for another dose, wasn’t a level of admin I was willing to settle for. What with other side effects such as depression, headaches and nausea? I know that people are different and don’t always experience the same or all side effects but still, I wasn’t open to it. I also didn’t like the idea of being left with a bruise or slight dent from the injection so that was as far as I went with Depo-Provera.
Another friend of mine had opted for the implant and she was happy with it. But merely from a looks perspective, I didn’t want it. I could see the two sticks underneath her skin and I couldn’t quite settle my mind around it, so it was off my list of options. I mean, seeing them and even feeling them underneath her skin may have had a lot to do with her skinny self but still, I was done with it. The patch too – I just didn’t trust it. I still don’t. It leaves patch scars and requires a level of attention that again, I wasn’t quite keen on. My somewhat of a slow search continued but it wasn’t going to be for much longer!
And then I came across a god-send! The paraguard (copper IUD – Intrauterine device also called the loop). It’s a T-shaped plastic frame with copper wire coiled around it. It is inserted into the uterus and it is the copper that is toxic to sperm and eggs, therefore preventing pregnancy. I initially heard of it from another friend with two children and in between having her first born and second born, she used the loop as a form of contraception and following her second birth. She praised how painless it was and required zero admin. You put it in and simply forget about it, easy! I was sold and started doing what little research I could do now and again. I loved the idea that the copper IUD was non hormonal. I generally hate the idea of pills and didn’t want to have to potentially go through side effects such as mood swings, irregular and heavy flow, spotting and all the other side-effects that are common with the hormonal contraceptives that I had rejected.
Inserting the copper IUD was easy and painless, it took no longer than 5 minutes. The procedure is similar to having a pap smear done. After the insertion, I felt more than alright, I experienced no pain and so I headed out to a lunch with a friend. After about an hour after the copper IUD insertion, I began experiencing excruciating and intense cramps that wouldn’t be subdued by painkillers. I struggled for the most part of my lunch date and eventually, after what seemed like a life-time, the cramps subsided. I had been made aware of potential cramping but had not anticipated the intensity. I had figured it would be just like period pains – a level of pain that I was used to and could deal with immediately.
A couple of days after insertion, I experienced cramping that was random, sharp and intermittent. It wouldn’t last as long as it did the first time. About two weeks after the insertion, my period came – painful and heavy, heavier than normal, it was quite unsettling. From then on I would have a couple of days in which I wouldn’t be bleeding or spotting, if I’m lucky, about 5 days at most then it would be another two weeks of bleeding, from heavy to light in the second week. I was told that this was normal and that in about 3 months my body would fully adjust to the new feature in my uterus instead of fighting it. I was also worried that the IUD would be pushed out or shifted from where it should sit, due to the heavy bleeding, so I would check with the doctor every month and find that it perfectly claimed its place.
So whilst the copper IUD was supposed to be the best option for me, the result was it required far too much administration on my part and became more costly; with frequent visits to the doctor and having to purchase more sanitary towels than before. The worst part of my experience with it was that it had made me far too anxious. I was bleeding almost all the time at varying degrees, I was scared the IUD had shifted or just disappeared which meant I couldn’t relax and trust it to prevent pregnancy. It was a lot!
Three months later things seemed to remain much the same. So I decided to get on a contraceptive pill to assist in regulating my period. My doctor prescribed a specific brand and I’m glad it treated me well. But at this time, I was in a desperate situation and needed something to help my body adjust. And of course that was an additional cost. The pill helped reduce the blood flow but I still experienced spotting which still left me with an uncomfortable feeling. I always had to be ready for an accident because my period was still not regulating, it was a mess really. So after six months of forced patience, resilience and absolute endurance, I took the damned thing out! The procedure was, again, quick and painless. I experienced no pain after it was removed. I felt much relief, I was no longer engulfed by anxiety and I felt as though I had reclaimed a level of control that I had lost. I continued with the contraceptive pill which has continued to treat me well. I haven’t experienced any negative side-effects and I am happy with it. I do however intend on giving the copper IUD another try because apparently, the second time around isn’t so bad and dramatic so we shall see, crossing fingers!
So that’s where I am now on my journey with contraceptives. It has been a long road of discovering and learning from those around me and ultimately deciding for myself what I wanted and going on to finding better working solutions. And I know that consulting a doctor from the onset would have been ideal but look, I thought I had this. I’m glad that I came out alright too.
What has been your experience with contraceptives? What works for you? It would be great to read on your journey and any new discoveries you may have made on what is available out there.
What does being a girl mean to you?
Our society functions on a set of social rules called gender norms. Gender norms are the codes of conduct that people belonging to a certain gender are to conduct themselves by. We’ve all heard the, ‘a girl doesn’t sit like that’, ‘boys shouldn’t wear pink’, ‘boys don’t cry’, ‘girls are delicate and shouldn’t play soccer with the boys, but rather play with dolls’. These are examples of gender norms. They are also linked to culture. How girls are to behave in one culture could be seen as inappropriate in another culture. Religion also plays a role in how the spiritual leaders from a certain religion define a virtuous woman. Being raised in the Christian faith, for example the Bible speaks of “do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewellery, or the clothing you wear— but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious. For this is how the holy women who hoped in God used to adorn themselves, by submitting to their own husbands, as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord.” 1 Peter 3: 3-6.
It is believed that the ideal girl isn’t opinionated and doesn’t speak out of turn. She follows the direction given to her by her parents and then by her husband when she is married. A virtuous woman, wants to get married. Where she will submit to her husband. She is modest and puts the needs of her husband and the household above that of her own. She wants to have children and doesn’t express dissatisfaction. This is the ideal woman.
The influence of gender norms begins even before we are born. For example, toys and outfits for a baby will be chosen based on their sex. Maybe even the aspirations for a babies life will be envisioned by their parents based on a child’s sex. Some may argue that gender norms are outdated and toxic. Rather, we should let children decide for themselves how they want to present themselves to the world. Instead of verbally disciplining them on what is the manner they are expected to behave according to their prescribed gender.
The thing is, these heteronormative rules can be sexist. For example, a woman is to keep the home tidy, cook and basically be the support system for the man as he should be the bread winner. The man’s role is to financially provide for the household, is another gender norm. These norms can be restrictive as, what if the woman has her own career ambitions? Why should her career come second?
“We teach girls to shrink themselvesChimamanda Ngozi Adichie
To make themselves smaller
We say to girls,
“You can have ambition
But not too much”
You should aim to be successful
But not too successful
Otherwise you will threaten the man.”
Gender norms also become problematic when they don’t allow for diverse sexual orientations and expressions of sexuality. They’re a breeding ground for homophobia and patriarchal notions. The ideal woman is straight for example and an ideal man isn’t gay. If you are different from the societal norms then some people may think there is something inherently wrong with you. If you don’t conform to the norms you are seen as abnormal. Gender norms encourage conformity and that you must conduct yourself in a way that maintains societies structure. The belief is there is a natural order in our world.
“There is a natural order to this world, and those who try to upend it do not fare well. This movement will never survive; if you join them, you and your entire family will be shunned. At best, you will exist a pariah to be spat at and beaten. At worst, to be lynched or crucified”Cloud Atlas 2012
But what if the power structures of a given society are oppressive? We see this in the prevalence of sexual violence against woman and the LGBTQI community. Rape for example is a form of patriarchal discipline on the bodies of woman and the LGBTQI community. A woman that presents herself as being too free with her body by wearing clothes that a ‘virtuous woman’ would consider as too revealing and therefore provocative, is disciplined by being raped. As the showing of skin is an expression of freedom and sexuality. The queer community faces the phenomenon of corrective rape by toxic men. Where they are targeted and sexually assaulted in order to discipline them to conform to societies heteronormative gender roles.
It is your life and you should live your life in a way that makes you happy. Granted you are not infringing on the rights of others. Therefore, I encourage you to navigate gender norms consciously. Examine them and see whether they are in alignment with your truth, if they are not, then you don’t have to conform to them. For example, you can be a stay at home mother if that is truly what you want to be.
Don’t let society dictate to you how you should present the truth of who you are to the world. Stand in your authenticity. Live with integrity and honor who you are. Let them judge because they also judge themselves inadequate. You can be a feminist and enjoy cleaning and cooking, it’s up to you. As long as you are being truthful to who you are on the inside. You can also not be sure if you even identify as a girl. When you choose the rules, you live by you are happier because you are free. Look at the state the world is in, people are chronically depressed and anxious. These norms haven’t given us the happiness we deserve. Be aware of the reasons why you act the way you do. It’s your life, live by your rules.
“Love recognizes no barriers. It jumps hurdles, leaps fences, penetrates walls to arrive at its destination full of hope”Maya Angelou
Okay so who actually believes in Love at first sight? Well, believe it or not, I do. I have actually experienced it. Now how does one describe the indescribable? My first reaction was disbelief, me really? Is this guy really looking at me like this. I remember looking over my shoulder to see if there was a prettier, more attractive girl standing behind me. Afterwards I remember feeling exhilarated and hopeful and as soon as I started feeling hopeful I told myself. Girl get real, quit dreaming, it’s never going to happen so give up hope now before you break your own heart when unrealistic hopes fail. I felt unworthy like that guy would never in a million years be interested in a girl like me, I thought I’m a 6 and he is like an 11. Since, I have taken some major strides in my self-confidence but things didn’t go well with that person, sadly.
Also I have experienced something else more recently. It was like that person glowed and we both were 100% present, and we were both completely ourselves. Our authentic selves. And that takes a measure of self-love to stand in your authenticity because if that other person judges you, it’s not going to change anything in how you conduct yourself when standing in your truth…
Anyways I’m single. And it seems I have been single forever. Yes there are love interests but not anything that has turned into a solid romantic relationship in a while.
We live in an age of loneliness. There are not many people who accept you when you stand in the truth of who you are in that present moment. But, most of us want real connection which is the antidote to loneliness. Sometimes your family doesn’t accept you, or parts of you. And, of course we have our best friends who accept us most of the time, and those are also the loves of our lives really. I’m no saint also, I’m not perfectly loving but it is something I try to do and meditate upon. We have our loved ones, but we also want to be with the one. The kind of intimate relationship in which you experience profound romantic love.
If you’re single like me and don’t want to be, you can just hop online and see whose swiping in your area. A common dating app is Tinder. The sister of Grindr, which is a gay hook up app. There are stories of people meeting loving partners on Tinder. You can even meet your life partner or marriage spouse on Tinder. So yes, you can find lasting love on dating apps. The virtual world is so integrated into our waking lives that the two have basically become one. However people tend to pretend, who they really are irl and also on social media. We’ve all watched the shocking, heart breaking and entertaining stories on Catfish the TV show.
However, those were the dark ages of online dating. We have more accurate online dating apps now, as you don’t have to wait months or years to meet that person. Apps like Tinder find people that match your interest criteria within your geographic radius. Tinder has changed the way we date for sure. There’s a lot of multiple dating, I remember seeing a post on Valentine’s day on Facebook that read “If one boyfriend makes you happy, imagine having three? Think big in 2019.”
When meeting someone online, they are most likely to be a stranger who doesn’t run in the same social circles as you do even though you live in a similar geographic location. Therefore you can date multiple people at once as your dating life becomes separate from your regular social life. But I can’t solely attribute this phenomenon to being caused by dating apps, rather maybe, people have become more honest about their side baes.
I have used Tinder but to be honest I’m rather over it. I was using it in hopes of finding a beautiful romantic relationship. At first, I was scared of using it in my hometown, because I thought what if people I knew from my childhood came across my profile? I was afraid I would be judged as being promiscuous. So, it took a while for me to actually start using it.
Once I started swiping, and received matches, the conversation would be exciting at first but after a while it would fizzle out. I would just lose interest and stop replying, yes I’m that girl. How will I ever find a partner if I stay ghosting? But there was just no chemistry through the text. Tinder is also looks based, although you consider the profile in your swiping decisions but in all honestly, you’re very much like hmm I can imagine this person as arm candy, swipe right. But hotness can only get you so far when it comes to love, if it even gets you anywhere at all.
Of the dates I have been on, the first guy had really bad breath and there were no vibes. The other person whom I almost met with on valentine’s day insisted I go with him to church and I was like woah that got too real, too quick. He was cool though and we did get along, we would video chat. But, when we spoke of the church he attends which is Rivers church, I considered it and I was like, is that the church Somizi goes to? And he was no but he has seen Kwesta and Casper Nyovest there. And so being me, I was like what do you think of homosexuality? Long story short, he was like “Those idiots started HIV/Aids”. And I was just like sigh… Thank you, next.
So, I haven’t had much luck on Tinder in meeting my beloved. As Rumi said, “I crave a love so deep the ocean would be jealous”. In the shallow waters of the world wide web, I’m not sure if that’s really possible. But, as Maya Angelou said, love knows no boundaries. You definitely touch someone’s heart through the phone.
By Thandeka Dube of African Tea
I started my blog, African Tea, at a time when I was desperate to find and live in my purpose. I felt that in order to live my best life I had to first find my purpose and everything would align once I walked in it. I would be much happier, and I knew that God and the universe would easily guide me through what I was created to do. So, after much thought, I came to the conclusion that my purpose was to uplift and give a platform to young women of color around the world.
ONE. I started my own blog to create a safe, authentic and unfiltered platform for young women of color. A platform that can make not only young of color but the world see how invaluable, powerful and intelligent we are.
In my opinion, in some, if not most, cultures young women are grossly undermined. We are often told to take the back seat and given frivolous tasks which I feel can stunt our growth to reaching our full potential. We are told to leave it to the men, boys and elders leading to their entitlement and sometimes the abuse of young women. With my blog I really hope to counteract this through interviewing and sharing the stories of successful young women of color who have dismantled boundaries and are making it the norm to do what they do in a world that pulls them back simply because of their gender and race.
TWO. To encourage people to live in their purpose and pursue their dreams regardless of their background and circumstance.
I hope to do this through sharing the stories of people who have managed to pursue their dreams despite the challenges and have thrived in doing so. Basically to humanize them and show the world that all these “celebrities” we look up to are people like you and me, who have put their all into achieving what they have.
THREE. Showcase the beauty and significance of various arts and cultures.
By arts I mean all types of art; film, music, fine arts, literature etc. At the time when I was trying to find my purpose. I analysed my passions and one of them was the art. Ever since I was young I’ve always loved the arts from my obsession with Disney channel to my love for Jacqueline Wilson books. And since I’m no singer, actor, dancer or fine artist, I figured I’d share my love for the arts through my blog.
Culture, because I feel it’s important to know and embrace your origins and identity. It gives you a sense of stability and belonging.
All in all, with my blog I wish to achieve success, joy, and indispensable knowledge for not only me but humans around the world looking to make sense of and make the best out of life.