Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Hair There, How Are You?

Hair for a PoC is political.

There is no way around it.  Every PoC I know has a hair story.

Here's mine.

I was lucky enough to be born with European looking "straight" sleek hair and for the first few years of my life I don't have any recollection of hair associated trauma....

But you see my paternal grandma was a curly. Not a wavy, but a corkscrew tight and frizz-ful curly. And when puberty struck things changed for me and they changed drastically.

I never understood what was going on when all of a sudden the girls at school started commenting on how "bushy"  and frizzy my hair looked. "When last did you brush it?" the snide girls would ask, and then laugh. "It wouldn't look so bad if you just kept it wet all the time" others would say.

I stayed at school during the term, and when I'd go home in the holidays my mother did not take well to this newfound bushy hair her daughter exhibited. I'd be whisked to the salon and it would get chopped off on the regular, then blowdried pin straight.

Every-time I'd come home from school this was the case - I learnt that my hair was not beautiful unless it was in a tight bun or blow dried straight... I tried relaxing it when I was twelve... to no avail. At school the coloured girls would ask me "What's wrong with your hair?" and my cousins (who were Indian) would tell me I looked coloured and had black hair (to them that was the ultimate insult).

I hated my hair. Every time it would grow I would take to it with scissors and chop and chop but it would grow back. (This wasn't something I would do as a teenager. I did it as early as a few months ago.) When it grew long enough I would ask the girls at hostel with me to iron it with a clothing iron, which they would. I would keep it straight for as long as I could then go through the process again. When ironing was infeasible I would pull it back into a tight bun so that the back of my neck would hurt and it would never be perceived as bushy.

All the guys I dated always told me how beautiful my hair was, but they didn't know it was fake. It was ironed straight. It was in a straitjacket. I convinced my dad to buy me a higher end hair straightener when I was 17 and spent an hour each time I washed it to get it straight and pristine. Every time I would wash it and it would coil I would recoil in shame. I did this for years - until I was about 24... And then I put my foot down. I said to myself: enough.

This didn't come easy. I had a friend who was a curly who told me I would be beautiful by just letting my hair be. And the reception was great... I had long luscious curls and they were well received by the world. My look worked: it was wild and free. And so was I.

But this didn't last. I still secretly resented my hair. It was so thick and heavy and my friends all coloured their hair and floated through life with their sleek halos. I dyed it blonde and hated it more. Then I cut it all off. All of it. I shaved 2/3rds of my head and kept a hipster type top knot.

This didn't help either. I started romanticising the long hair... but told myself this exercise would be good for me, I would learn of who I am and have to accept my hair as it grew out. Guess what? You got it... this didn't work for me either. At each phase of growth I found something to hate about it.
It doesn't listen to me, it doesn't conform, it doesn't mould to what society says it should, and I hate it. Throughout all of this I felt no legitimacy talking to other natural hair girls because they  perceived my hair to be fine and "beautiful" and their difficulties seemed so much worse.

I have no resolution to this tale..... Except to say that I still have to live with it. I have questions I ask that I am scared to answer?

What am I projecting onto my hair?
What does my hair represent?
How do I come to accept it without my acceptance being dependent on what society deems beautiful?
Who taught me how to hate my hair?
Why do I feel gut-twisting hatred when I look at it in the mirror?
How do I find help?
Will I ever be a natural hair queen?


If you are reading this and you know, PLEASE, I beg of you, let me know.  Share your story with me so I can share it with the world.



https://www.facebook.com/indoafrikanqueen/

Monday, 7 November 2016

A (Long Overdue) Love Letter to Queen Solange

Dear QUEEN Solange

Your art has come at a time in our collective global consciousness that is long overdue. Our parched hearts have been yearning for the recognition - for a seat at the table - that your gentle falsetto delivers. 

It is so clear from your older albums that you look to the greats - Nina, Diana, Zora, your sister Beyonce - for inspiration. But YOU queen solange are a great. Showing a depth of wokeness that is sorely lacking in our world as it exists today, in western media and as a South African in my society, and I can only imagine how deeply in the USA. 

I've listened to your album on repeat for almost two months now daily. And each time there is something new giving me goosebumps. Whether it be the unique backdrop of the piano in Weary or your pleading voice like sweet molasses in Scales claiming and longing for the world to be kind  - each and every time the chords of our souls are strung and resound in our psyche. 




Oh Queen Solange if only you knew the redemption your album has brought. Visually, aesthetically, musically and consciously. RISE is a nightly lullaby and a morning invocation. Every time I stumble I hear the 3 second intermission and your gentle assertion telling me to walk in my ways so I can wake up and rise. 

My queen. I want to thank you. From thee deepest darkest angriest chambers of my heart for the healing you album he brought me and my tribe. The tribe of black women who have long been trampled over, the Mules of society as mama Zora calls us, the tribe of women who have no voice and feel like they have no place in the world. Your hypnotic voice tells us to be leery of the place in the world we have. Reminds us of our bodies -  of our temples - that have for so long absorbed the harshest circumstances of existence and of our glory. 

Our GLORY. 

PRAISE GOD. We belong. 





Even if it is only for the fleeting moment where we are in unison with you. 

My queen if I may? The layers you peel back ever so gently while seated at the table ring with truth so universal it's remarkable. You've liberated us from the metal clouds for just a moment by sharing your humanness, your realness with us. 

The queen mother who birthed you (miss Tina Lawson) speaks with the wisdom of the strongest and highest caliber human being. Bless her. And while she has always taken pride in being black I come from a place where we have not had that privilege. The white oppressors of apartheid have ingrained in us that being black is being less than. And it's effects are seen today in a generation that self-loathes so deeply and tries to live up to a standard of whiteness that is unattainable.  Your words of self love are absorbed so deeply by this very generation. So deeply because we need love like the love you share so desperately. 

Your father reminds us of the context of black men and how much violence they are faced with and allows us compassion for the experiences that turn black men rock hard. Their love does indeed go. And they have a lot to be a man about. And it is that type of toxic masculinity that is killing them. Killing our men. 

But what you've shared with us not only redeems us but also makes us laugh. Laugh when we literally think about the ones who don't wanna do the dishes but just wanna eat the food. And laughter is so important in this war we are fighting. The war to exist freely and equally. 

Dear queen. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you for the gift you have given us. 

We love you. 

From another, 
Indo Afrikan queen.  


Monday, 10 October 2016

Will you be my ... SLAVE? Women as marital objects and reflections on Haritha's story.

Lastnight I read a post on Humans of Amsterdam, about Haritha, an Indian woman, who had to do outrageous and dangerous things to escape an arranged marriage because her agency was taken away from her (Link Here). It was a highly triggering and brought up some intense, traumatic and non-trivial emotions surrounding the way women are treated in conservative, religious and patriarchal societies -be it Hindu, Muslim, isiZulu, isiXhosa, Indian, Coloured or African.

There was something about this post that is deeply real for me and so many women who have to live under the confines of extreme conservatism and patriarchy. It transported me back to a time when I myself was a young woman under the confines of a (still) extremely religious and patriarchal society. 

I remembered being about fourteen and feeling an intense frustration at the fact that it was expected of me to be flattered that men more than double my age were interested in marrying me then and there. I was angry at the women in my life that tried to convince my father - a single parent - that the best thing that could happen to me and the best way for me to secure a good future would be to marry the best suitor. I felt angry, trapped, afraid, unheard and more than anything disempowered.

For instance there was a point where an aunt via marriage arranged for her daughter to marry some relative, but when her daughter met a more eligible bachelor he was shoved my way. I had no say in this

Then at the age of fourteen I found myself at a marriage proposal - where I was the bride to be, and I was transported there under the pretense of having dinner with a friend of my father and uncle. The potential groom was in his mid thirties. And he looked at me like I was prey. When I left his mother slipped a R50 note into my hand... As if that would change my mind.   I didn't even know it was a marriage proposal until I realised that the focus was on me and I was being interrogated about my values and what I want out of life. 

I was angry at my father for entertaining this. While he never explicitly forced me into any kind of arrangement, from the time I started menstruating he began mentioning marriage. I don't know what he expected. If he expected me to just get married? To drop out of school? To have a child? He mentioned marrying cousins and the sons of strange men, rich men abroad or poor men who had a strong link to "our culture".


The situation was so precarious that I had to keep my plans to go to university secret for months for fear that they would be jeopardized. People in these communities are not there to help you succeed. They are there to ensure that you abide by the rules that define your worth as a woman. Which is - if you haven't gotten the gist - as a glorified slave , serving, cooking, sexing, in submission to some man, all in the name of god. Ugh.




Like Haritha I had no voice. Every womxn in my family would ask when I am going to get married from the time I hit puberty too.

You see in these communities you are worth nothing if you're not married. You are the property of your parents when before marriage and the property of your husband and his family after marriage. From the moment you're born your whole life is positioned to turn you into a commodity that can be sold off to the highest bidder. I.e: the best suitor, the  most prestigious man or the most esteemed (economically and politically) man. 

Women in these patriarchal and religious communities are the property of men.  All men. Any man. BEFORE you are your own property. Other women are complicit in this and buy into it too. If this is not slavery that lives and breathes then I don't know what it is.

It's easy to discount how far I've come because the success and independence have become second nature. What I don't realise is how lucky I am - I literally mean that I had good fortune - in all of this.  That every step was mammoth and held together by a string which at any point could have snapped. 

I realised what a close call I had. Just how much of the trauma coming from a community that strips you of your dignity and agency to be your own person stays with you. I could not sleep after reading Haritha's story. When I did I dreamt about trying to rescue her from her family in India and trying to find her a job in the Netherlands. Her story was so personal because I myself lived in the Netherlands... I got the opportunity to study there through a scholarship and felt the same sense of liberation that she speaks of when she got there. It was there that I dropped my heavy indoctrination and had the space to start the journey towards becoming the person I am today. 

What Haritha's story did was remind me that there is a whole community of people out to ensure that we don't live a liberated life just like this woman's direct family and her in-laws. For me it was a lack of support in believing I could study, an active discouragement from pursuing an education and earlier than that it was as if I would amount to nothing if I was not some man's wife. I was born and raised in South Africa and still this is what I faced. 


Like the author Ama Ata Aidoo shows so clearly in her book Changes: For women things like marital rape are par for the course and if a woman wants to leave a relationship just because it is not working for her she is "not allowed to" and will be met with resistance from those she loves the most. Men and women alike. Men will call her a whore and women will call her a failure. She will be shunned. Acid might be thrown in her face. She may be killed. 

Often being explicitly beat and battered means there is an excuse to leave. But more often this is also overlooked. And for most women in the world, in 2016, this is still their basic reality...

When will women have basic human rights? 

When will we shout from the rooftops unanimously:  
#PATRIARCHYMUSTFALL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!




Monday, 12 September 2016

Dear White Friends

Dear White Friends.

Congratulations. You have made it to the inner circle. The inner circle of white people that I have decided I love enough to keep in my life despite the problems that come along with whiteness.

Being in the life of a black person is no small responsibility, dear white friend, and is one that you must take very seriously.

Having chosen to keep you in my life, there are a few things that I want you to know, and it is best that you know it now. This letter is likely to be a heavy read, so I am going to urge you to please, read it to the end.

First, our relationship is unequal. It has always been and will always be unequal. It is imperative that you understand this. No matter how hard your personal trials and tribulations have been, or how easy my life may have been, your people have persecuted my people for time immemorial, and that has resulted in a point in our existence where all the tables are balanced in your favour. This means that a level playing field has never, and will never, exist for the two of us. You will always have a head start in the matters of life, be it in getting a job, or social capital and networks, or something as simple as walking down the road. The world, speaks your language - the language of white western heteronormative patriarchy, and in order for me to make something of myself, I have to learn to speak that language as fluently as possible, but as hard as I work at it I will never be a native speaker and the world will never forgive me for that.

Second, in the course of our relationship it is important that you understand very clearly that it is not the responsibility of me or any POC to educate you.  Educate you about what, you ask? Well, educate you about all matters of race, class and the associated lived experiences of people of colour. There are times when I will discuss lived experiences that you will not be able to relate to, or have an inkling about. Because you do not understand my experience as a person of colour does not invalidate it. Think about this carefully. You are so used to the world being your way that in your mind it probably can be no other way. But if you are a womxn, then you must have had some experience of sexism in your life, so try to extrapolate from that to my lived experience and empathise. If you are a man, you have no systemic discrimination against you, so appeal to your humanness and brain and try to empathise. White male friends you love to appeal to academic arguments and logic in all matters of race (if white people can be racist to blacks, so too can blacks be racist to whites, fact. anyone can discriminate against anyone), so use that logic to talk yourself into understanding that you are in a position of so much privilege that taking away the experience of those who have been stripped of their dignity by your people for hundreds of years is in itself a racist action.

White friends, it is at this point that I want to address YOU specially. Your ego, and your opinion are not more important than the feelings of black people. You have to realise that it is ingrained in you to believe that the world is designed to be yours, that is inherently supremacist thinking. Once you acknowledge that this sense of entitlement you feel is inherently supremacist you then have the responsibility to realise that all white people are inherently racist. Racism is an institution, that you are a part of and the degree of your racism falls along a spectrum. Now, take a deep breath. Do not freak out. I am only going to say this once, being a racist does not mean you are a bad person. You have to take the shame out of it, and own up to it. By own up to it I don't mean pin it to your lapel and go around announcing that you know you are racist and there is nothing you can do about it. I mean take emotional responsibility for it. Own up to it, realise that you have to combat it daily. Make eye contact with the black person at your window. Call yourself out when a slur runs through your head when a black woman cuts you off in traffic. Start seeing the humanity in others. Stop being a dick.

There are many things that I am taking the time to say in this letter that I am only going to say once, because for a black person to repeatedly have to explain these issues to every white person in their lives quickly becomes exhausting. I may share this letter with you multiple times over our friendship, so do not despair. You can always come back to it if you find yourself falling off track.

Now I am going to address why comments such as #notallwhitepeople #notallmen or #alllivesmatter or "we are only one race, the human race" or even "I don't see race" or "race doesn't matter" are just completely ludicrous. First off, we KNOW that it is not all white people, or not all men, or that biologically race is not even a thing. THAT IS NOT THE POINT. The point is that white people, and whiteness (I'll come back to this) are systematically oppressing people of colour day in and day out. It is the very institutions that are designed to cater to white needs and favour white people above black people that are the problem. If a group of white people are extreme racists, that does not personally implicate you, but you are responsible and what I often hear from white people is that they feel "victimised". First, I want to say welcome to the club, what you are experiencing is only a small fraction of what we feel when we are "victimised", profiled as criminals and terrorists, but it is not even about getting you to feel the same way. Instead what it is about is "ownership".

Hear me out. You have to own the fact that you are white and a part of this institution that is built to oppress people. Just how religious people have a responsibility to acknowledge the ills of malpracticed religion. What it means to own it, is to call out racists. To realise that racism is not over. You may choose not to associate with people who want to exterminate black people and establish their own supremacist state. That's great, but more than that you have to realise that the white people you associate with every day are milder versions of those extremists. And, you are a milder version of it too. It can't be another way. It has been entrenched in you to be that way. It is the way of the world. Racism is like air. You were born into it, and it is inside you. While you may reject parts of racist behaviour you can not reject that it is inside you, that you share in its cause and in its perpetuation - only by virtue of being white. I know it seems unfair. But we get to share in the tragedy of being black in a white world only by being born black, and these are two sides of the same coin.  So until you and other white people can recognise this and start calling each other out on it, racism is going nowhere.

And by this point in the letter I may have you feeling angry. Angry at the state of the world and how unfair it all is. Angry that you are actually inherently racist by the way of the world despite your personal sentiments and beliefs. And then I have something else to say, which may seem strange. But aren't you lucky that you get to feel angry and express that anger? When you rant on social media, or express anger at the state of the world, at things not running the way they ought to so that your life can be made easier, or even anger at basic needs being met and basic human rights fulfilled, you are not seen as a threat to the rest of the world. And being able to express anger in that way is a luxury. When we express anger we are seen as threats, as violent, and as disruptive. How are we supposed to breathe in a world where all the air is usurped by white tears?

Speaking about white tears. You have to realise that in this relationship, you can not center experiences around you all the time. There are times where my experience is mine, and a space needs to be created for me to be able to express my experiences. If you are uncomfortable with it, then that is par for the course. Throughout our friendship there have been many times where I have been uncomfortable and sat with the feeling without you even being remotely aware of it. Now it is time that you do the same. When you offer your opinion and I say I do not want it, you have to respect me. THIS is how we respect our diversity in this relationship.

Finally, and possibly most importantly, for our relationship to work you're going to have to be proactive. You live in a country that is mostly black, yet you care to know nothing of lived black experiences except for what you see on the news. You need to take responsibility for educating yourself. If you see something online that does not sit well with you, and you feel the need to whitesplain, before you get shut down perhaps you should READ. There is so much material out there. Show a little interest in the country and lives of the people that your forefathers ruined, and read. Don't read so that we can debate about it. Read so that you can start seeing the world from the perspective of the lives of those whose lives were compromised by whiteness.

Ah whiteness. Yes. It will help you going forward to keep this word: W H I T E N E S S in your mind. The institution of what being white means. It is the cissexual heteronormative way of looking at the world, where all things male, light skinned and western are preferred, and located in a system designed to disregard the feminine, dark skin, and eastern. Next time you feel personally persecuted remember WHITENESS. Whiteness is what is being attacked. Not you personally. But because you are white whiteness will have infected parts of your life and this is where that responsibility I talked about earlier comes in. 

There is also something that you need to know, that I am reluctant to say, but will say it because it needs to be said: White friend, despite my opinions and statuses I do not hate you. I hate whiteness. And the sooner you learn that it is not personal the smoother our relationship will become. You might even begin to laugh at whiteness, and see the ways in which it has oppressed you

Dear white friend, I look forward to a life where you become increasingly conscious, respectful and woke. A life where I have the space to be black that is not crowded out by your need to be white. And a life where you begin the cycle of eradicating racism.

A luta Continua.

Can't Find It? Cliteracy In (Heterosexual) Relationships

Cliteracy - Juicy word isn't it?

I suspect just the title will give this blog more hits than any I have ever written. But this is no sensationalist click bait. This is an important issue inherent to our lives as womxn. Inherent to our sexuality, identity, and often most intimate relationships. 

I'm going to ask a very personal and intimate question now. Be prepared for a range of emotions to come up that may not be expecting to feel. Take a deep breath. Relax.

Could you ask yourself this question and answer it honestly?

How many men have you been with who are CLITERATE?

What do I mean by cliterate, let's see:

"Cliterate. (Adj. clit-uh-rit) A person able to locate, stimulate and successfully bring a womxn to orgasm using their clitoris, either in conjunction with or without penetration, but with no help from said womxn themselves."

Surprisingly, or rather not so surprisingly, almost every friend I have asked who has a clit, has told me that they have encountered a disappointing number of cis-het men who are cliterate. 

I don't know about you, but for me this brings up a flurry of emotions. Mainly because from the time we hit adolescence, and sometimes even earlier, we are bombarded with images and messages on how to satisfy a man by taking any phallic shaped thing and jerking it, rubbing it, sucking on it, or grinding on it. It's everywhere, in movies, in ads, in magazines. There is no shortage on articles in Cosmo on how to give a mind blowing blow job, how to learn to swallow and let's not even talk about deep throating - the number of porn stars giving ordinary womxn YouTube tutorials is RIDICULOUS. We've seen them all. And honestly, to say the least, it hurts my feelings, that men have not done the same. 

There is an il-cliteracy problem. To gauge the exent of it I have asked a number of my female friends about their sexual experiences with cis-het men and with women. Almost all of them have answered similarly. Here is the upshot (Get ready!): 

  1. Out of many womxn who've fucked many men, almost all said that most men were not cliterate. Only one or two, at most three could bring them to orgasm using their clitoris.
  2. Out of these a few more men they were kind of good at oral the rest were okay with handwork. 
  3. None of them brought the womxn to clitoral orgasm during penetration by using their hands.
  4. Of the womxn who fuck womxn, their is almost a 100% satisfaction rate. Like one friend said "Honestly though if you want a proper oral sex session - women". Preach sister! 
  5. Almost all of the men they have fucked, cliterate and non-cliterate, expected the womxn to give them oral sex, and often bring them to orgasm. 
  6. Of the womxn who are in serious relationships, there is some consensus that if their partner brings them to orgasm using their hands or mouth, it is inconsistent and feels like a fluke. 

Not so surprisingly I can tell you that womxn on the other hand, have no difficulty locating the clitoris and bringing their partners (and themselves) to orgasm time and time again. 

So what's the deal. Why are men so bad at cliteracy? Wait, wait, let me rephrase: why are men so USELESS at clit-work? 

Well, it must be because the whole world revolves around them and their dicks. No I mean it. Men think they can just show up with their penises and its game over.  Sex revolves around penetration and once you've been penetrated and have gotten a good pounding they think that's it. 

Second - porn. I don't think I need to say more but clits don't exist in porn err go they don't exist in the real world. 

Third - excuses. "Ah my jaw is cramping" "Ah, I keep losing the spot" "You keep saying left then right, then left, where is it". Mother fucker, don't you think my jaw cramps when I have to shove your fat dick down my throat? 

Fourth - men have issues with womxn pointing them in the right direction during sex. Often they call women "bossy" when womxn make their needs heard. 

Five -  A fundamental misunderstanding. Men think that clit play is a nice "extra". They don't understand that it is inherent to sex, as inherent as penetration. Imagine what they'd feel like if they could only dip their tips, then stop after 90 seconds. For a womxn that's what sex is like with a cis-het man. You stop at your peak if you aren't going to take the responsibility to finish it yourself.  

Six - this is really an extension of five. Men have not grasped the problem. They are completely unaware of our level of dissatisfaction... Where they are aware of it, have not taken it seriously. For some reason it doesn't seem to matter to them whether or not a womxn is satisfied as long as their dick has graced her vagina. 

To put it bluntly, men have no incentive to learn how to play with a clitoris. This is a sad and unfortunate realisation. And come to think of it we haven't even touched on the case of the man who gets offended (CAN YOU BELIEVE IT?) at the prospect of a woman needing clitoral stimulation. I remember one guy calling an orgasm during penetration reached through clitoral stimulation "fake". As if the true test of masculinity is what a dick can achieve by itself.... This all brings me to my next point - we need a cliteracy revolution. 



Someone needs to sit these  idiots  men down and tell them that they need to learn about pushing buttons. But more than that they need to centralise the experience of their womxn partner. Without this centrality sex is going to be a game thats eternally in favour of the man. It is true that a happy sex life is not about keeping score about whose had more orgasms, and even though women do come by stimulating themselves it is actually necessary and political that they too could enjoy the experience of being stimulated by their partner.  So many men are keen to showcase their dick-tricks like making their partner squirt and that's all good and well but if only the same zeal could be put into the clitoris and the female orgasm. 

Deep down I'd like to believe that men have the capacity to recognise and value the importance of a consenting and satisfied sexual partner. And if they did, then they'd be willing to learn. So, if what we say isn't heard then men, here is a link to a video by a fellow man man-splaining to you how a clitoris works.

Like MLK, I have a dream, and that dream is for womxn to find sexual partners who can eat them out while they just lie there. Just like MLK's dream, mine too is for now going to be unrealised.


*Please feel free to comment,  share your stories or find me on facebook at
 https://www.facebook.com/indoafrikanqueen/




Wednesday, 29 June 2016

Let's talk about blood - menstruation in a male dominated world

Today is supposed to be the first day of my period. I am sore. So sore.

It feels like there is a vice crushing my uterus so that it is forced to close in on itself. I wake up early only to make it to work late because I find it hard to concentrate on getting ready. I go to pee when I get to the bathroom at the office only to see my brand new briefs stained with blood. It soaked through the measly fucking pantyliner.

Fuck.

I hope I have a tampon. I find one somewhere in my stationery draw and am grateful.



I pop two paracetamols and one ibuprofen. I wait for the pain to subside. It doesn't. An hour has passed and I am supposed to be working on an urgent document, but can't bring myself to focus. The contractions get worse. I am seeing a bit blurry. I bend over my tummy so that my head is under my desk. My eyes well up with tears. No-one notices. 

Fuck this.

I make the executive decision to fuck off home. Fuck. Fuck this shit. How the FUCK am I supposed to be productive when I feel this way? I start having doubts about calling in sick, and decide to work from home. I convince myself that it will be easier to work if I'm lying down. Drugged up. In clean panties and oversized track pants made for a chubby man. 

Why the fuck could I not just be a chubby man? Or a man?


I am 27. I have been having my period for fifteen years now. FIFTEEN YEARS. Yet every time it happens I feel like it is the first time. I take pills to control the hormones, and pills to control the pain but it never gets any easier. 

It never feels like the symptoms associated with menstruation are a legitimate excuse to stop what I am doing, and have a legitimate rest. Every time I menstruate I get angry, MAD, APOPLECTIC. I feel like a kid. I feel intolerant of my body. I feel incapacitated by the physical pain, and overcome by the emotional turmoil. I feel relief that the cycle will be over soon, but I can't cut myself the slack that I need. 

For some reason I feel like I need to be doing more. Working just as hard as any other day. Eating less sweets, gymming through the misery and acting normal. 

...

Why do I hate myself so much when I am on my period?

Why am I so intolerant of this natural and miraculous bodily process?

Who taught me to feel this way?

Why is it that we live in a world that does not acknowledge the feminine?

Why is it still taboo to mention periods at work or in public?

Why is period pain treated like an illegitimate ailment?

Why am I so angry, so enraged?

...

I know the answer to these questions. I know a male dominated society is designed around the premise that female bodily functions are unworthy of attention. I get even more angry. It makes me want to rebel against work. Against the system that treats menstruating humxns like machines. It makes me fume.

Instead I curl up in a ball with a hot beanbag on my tummy and cry. At the same time I hope that my little act of courage (making it home and to bed) means something in a world that refuses to acknowledge half its population. I try to calm my mind about the anxiety about the work I need to do.

Deep down I lament the sad fact that... "If period pain were a male problem it would be solved by now."

FUCK.




Friday, 24 June 2016

Loving a white (man) - part I

My partner and I have been together for a couple of years. Enough to know that we cohabit well together, and that we do love each other and for the most part want to build a life together.

He is an amazing human being, kind and compassionate. He is just the right amount of tender. He is open minded. Gifted. We even share the same political views.

But beneath the surface of our relationship I struggle with something.  He is a cis-het White Male. I capitalise white and male for a reason. Male and White dominated existence is the unfortunate reality of the world.  My partner, through no fault of his, is the product of hundreds of years of privilege and the world is created in a way that serves him. And while he may intellectually comprehend this (bless him), I struggle.




I struggle because he will never know what it's like to walk my path.
He will never know what it feels like to be belittled, reduced to a stereotype or seen as a sex object because of the colour of his skin or what is between his legs.
He will never understand the blood boiling rage that takes place due to an accumulation of microagressions from people we both know, and often people who are dear to him.
Every time someone in his family speaks about someone or something related to my race they make eye contact with me. He will never understand why this upsets me.
He will never understand why his racist friends make me feel murderous.
He will never understand rejection based on his sex or race.

All he sees, is that I am right, they are wrong, and that he is torn between the two because of joint allegiances.

All he sees are things in black and white. There is no deeper meaning. There is no sensitivity. There is no need for a double take when the world was created to be as you see it. You as a white male.

He thinks of this as an attack on him. He feels threatened because he says I hate white men. If I hated white men, I think, why would I be with you? He fails to see that Whiteness is an institution created to empower people like him. He tries to listen, but he does not hear.

My partner probably never thinks about the fact that we see no other black people where we live, that I am the only person of colour in our apartment block, that I "fit in" because I'm light skinned. It probably never crosses his mind that I grew up in a ghetto designed for people of my colour, where all I saw were people of my colour, and that that is my culture. And I miss that.

He probably has no curiosity about why it is I know so much about other cultures, or why I tie a scarf over my head at night.

I wonder if he thinks about the blood that runs through my veins, and that I was born of a woman who was born of a woman who was born of a woman who probably could not speak a word of english, had probably never seen the inside of a school, and had never had a man respect her a day in her life. And here I am unable to speak a word of her language.

I think about our children. I cry for them. Will they know what blood runs in their veins or will they inherit his privilege. I think about the little superstitious prayers I say when I lose something or walk under a ladder, or almost have an accident, or sneeze. And I wonder: will they ever be curious? How will they know these things if I don't share it with them? Why is the burden of this responsibility on me? Why is WHITENESS the default culture for mixed race babies?

Will my partner ever know, will he ever care, will he ever see, that he and I are not the same.
We never will be.
My love, we are not equal.
You were born with a silver spoon in your mouth.
I was born to give my life to make that spoon.
And still I carry this burden.

I say a superstitious prayer for your eyes to open, for your ears to hear, for your self to retreat and for you to understand.

I say Insha-allah.


Conversations about home (at a deportation centre) - Warsan Shire

In response to this morning's resignation of David Cameron and the news that Brexit has become  reality with the inward looking nationalist government coming to power in October, the only thing on my mind, and on the minds of many in the U.K - is the plight of immigrants. Both, those who have found a safe place in the U.K and those who are yet to arrive. 

This is a piece by poet - Warsan Shire. It speaks for itself:

Well, I think home spat me out, the blackouts and curfews like tongue against loose tooth. God, do you know how difficult it is, to talk about the day your own city dragged you by the hair, past the old prison, past the school gates, past the burning torsos erected on poles like flags? When I meet others like me I recognise the longing, the missing, the memory of ash on their faces. No one leaves home unless home is the mouth of a shark. I've been carrying the old anthem in my mouth for so long that there’s no space for another song, another tongue or another language. I know a shame that shrouds, totally engulfs. I tore up and ate my own passport in an airport hotel. I’m bloated with language I can't afford to forget. 

They ask me how did you get here? Can’t you see it on my body? The Libyan desert red with immigrant bodies, the Gulf of Aden bloated, the city of Rome with no jacket. I hope the journey meant more than miles because all of my children are in the water. I thought the sea was safer than the land. I want to make love but my hair smells of war and running and running. I want to lay down, but these countries are like uncles who touch you when you're young and asleep. Look at all these borders, foaming at the mouth with bodies broken and desperate. I’m the colour of hot sun on my face, my mother’s remains were never buried. I spent days and nights in the stomach of the truck, I did not come out the same. Sometimes it feels like someone else is wearing my body. 
I know a few things to be true. I do not know where I am going, where I have come from is disappearing, I am unwelcome and my beauty is not beauty here. My body is burning with the shame of not belonging, my body is longing. I am the sin of memory and the absence of memory. I watch the news and my mouth becomes a sink full of blood. The lines, the forms, the people at the desks, the calling cards, the immigration officer, the looks on the street, the cold settling deep into my bones, the English classes at night, the distance I am from home. But Alhamdulilah all of this is better than the scent of a woman completely on fire, or a truckload of men who look like my father, pulling out my teeth and nails, or fourteen men between my legs, or a gun, or a promise, or a lie, or his name, or his manhood in my mouth.
I hear them say, go home, I hear them say, fucking immigrants, fucking refugees. Are they really this arrogant? Do they not know that stability is like a lover with a sweet mouth upon your body one second and the next you are a tremor lying on the floor covered in rubble and old currency waiting for its return. All I can say is, I was once like you, the apathy, the pity, the ungrateful placement and now my home is the mouth of a shark, now my home is the barrel of a gun. I'll see you on the other side. "

*Originally published in TEACHING MY MOTHER HOW TO GIVE BIRTH (2011).

Friday, 17 June 2016

Why cleaning out your social media account can be as good as cleaning out your closet

Social media - facebook. instagram, tumblr, twitter - you know the rest - are to say the least, places where we express who we are at that moment in time, in that space. And over time they tend to become strange amalgamations of moments of projection as they pass our lives.

There is much criticism of social media on... social media. You need to be blinder than a bat to not see the irony in that. I am not here to advocate for or against social media but just to briefly point out that it is natural for us, over our lifetimes to grow and evolve.

If you're in your twenties or thirties at the moment, you're most certainly not the same person you were ten years ago, and it was around ten years ago that Facebook came to be  (most of us in Africa however, have it for 7 years or  much less). While it can be fun to look at pictures from ten years ago, as we all tended to do in the days of good old picture albums, it may not be in our own self interest to constantly be reminded of how we used to be, not only ten years ago, but last year, last summer or last week.

Social media, in particularly Facebook, constantly reminds us of times bygone. This can be good for us, no doubt, reminding us of happy memories. But it can also be fucking shit.

As it reminds us of who we used to be we often...:

- become nostalgic
We've all gotten those feelings, recalling how we used to look, or what we did, and who we did it with.

-pine for things that are gone
Coupled with the nostalgia we long for things that have passed us by sending ourselves into a suboptimal stupor.



-put on rose tinted glasses
The nature of memories and recollection, unfortunately, is that we omit many many details about the reality of the situation. We put on rose tinted glasses and romanticise people, places and things we would not if we were probably 100% objective.

- are reminded of the past and in the worst case triggered in a negative way
A friend of mine recently mentioned that in the last few years she's had atleast three exes and made the point that facebook's memory function reminds her of things she would rather not remember at all.

and...

- are not present
This is the most important of them all. Combining a little of all the aforementioned factors social media has the potential to detracts from our lived experience in this moment. And in order to be who we are right now we need to detach from those bygone experiences.

For these reasons, I not only think that occasionally cleaning out ones social media account can be worth the tedious scrolling through old photos and posts but is also a little bit like uncluttering your mind. Or cleaning out your closet.

When our clothes date and wear we don't hesitate to let them go. Why should we then hold on to little snippets of our lives manifested by status updates and photographs online. We should do whatever it takes to give us improved peace of mind and a more equanimous environment to love ourselves.

This can involve:

  • Deleting old posts, statuses and photographs. 
  • Unfriending people with no shame. 
  • Blocking people who put you in a bad space and spread their negative vibes. 
  • And, taking ownership of your online space. 


Feng shui that shit so that it works for you!



Go on... Spring clean and compartmentalise a little. Unclutter your online life.
And do it as often as you need.

Thoughts on the Orlando Pulse massacre by a queer South African muslim

The mass shooting of defenceless LGBTQIA members of our society Orlando marks a collective stain on our humanity, make no mistake - where those already vulnerable in society are gunned down by a man with an automatic war machine and picked off like vermin in a space supposed to be safe. It is not just a problem for the US, but one for all of us at large. Thirteen years ago in South Africa 9 men were executed in a gay safe space in one of our country's own hate massacres. We are quick to forget about the Sizzlers massacre and the hatred of the two men who perpetrated it. We are not exceptional, we are not immune. Section 9 of South Africa's democratic constitution guarantees that nobody, including the state, should be allowed to unfairly discriminate directly or indirectly against anyone on one or more grounds, including race, gender, sex, pregnancy, marital status, ethnic or social origin, colour, sexual orientation, age, disability, religion, conscience, belief, culture, language and birth. Yet daily we hear stories of violence against members of our LGBTQIA brothers and sisters- corrective rape, stigmatisation, assault, abuse. It goes on. We allow those around us to foster casual discrimination, to say things that denigrate the LGBTQIA community and dehumanise the love between people. And the worst of it- just when the LGBTQIA community finds a safe space we have individuals and groups who are determined to destroy them. This is not us. This is no religion or faith. This is no teaching of love or spirituality. It is not Islam now or ever. It is not heroism or grandiose masculinity. It is the deepest and darkest of evils perpetrated by the worst of our society, designed to further divide us. We cannot allow people to claim their hateful causes in the name of us all. And we should certainly not judge a whole group by the actions of a hateful few. Perpetrators of violence are in no way unique to those who incorrectly profess Islam. They are found in all corners of society- in Sandy Hook, in Columbine, in Virginia Tech, in Norway. We cannot deflect from our failings to stop hatred, to stop access to war machines, to protect our most vulnerable. We are jointly and collectively responsible. And we bleed for it.


Say their names. Remember their faces. 
But we will not be divided. As Muslims, Jews, Christians, Hindus, Buddhists, gay, straight, bisexual, black, white, coloured, Asian, Indian, woman, man, trans, and all the other shades of these. We are together against hatred and violence. We stand with Orlando, we stand on the side of love that knows no label. And our struggle will continue.

*Published with permission of the author - Ziyaad Bhorat.

Friday, 8 April 2016

Bitches be cray - Reflections on a toxic friendship

So this is a post about that crazy bitch ass friend we all have -
Toxic
Manipulative
Just a general DB*

While my tone may seem facetious, this subject is truly non-trivial. Friends are the culmination of our thoughts, values and approach to life. They are our mirrors - reflecting back to us what we put out in the universe. This does not apply to all friends though. Especially not the pathological ones, who we obviously do not detect are bordering on psychopathy.

For almost a decade I struggled with a friendship that was completely and utterly abusive. Emotionally destructive. Over the last couple of years, I have noticed - on social media and in various other places that awareness about "toxic" friendships is becoming more and more common. This is a wonderful thing.

In light of the trauma  and mind-fuckery I experienced at the hands of this toxic human being I would like to share my experience. Here was this woman, smart, reasonably good looking, blessed in terms of intellect, personable, relatable, fuck-off manipulative but let's call it charismatic. We hit it off like a house on fire. How was it possible to get along so well with someone? We were obviously meant to be friends. Well not really, and this is why.

These people are usually highly intelligent and probably have a higher level of mirror neurons (that characteristic that manipulative people have that allows them to transform depending on the audience)  than anyone else you may know. They are social chameleons, chopping and changing who they are to suit those around and in front of them - but the toll that this takes is that they spend so much time and energy transforming to appeal to others that they do not have any authentic or deep relationships.

Importantly the characteristics of a toxic friend from my experience have centered around the theme of their abuse being so subtle that their corrosive characteristics went over my head for years. It is only now, in hindsight, years later that I am able to identify the warped characteristics this "friend" possessed. They are as follows:

-This person is clingy - they want to know what you're doing doing, who you're doing it with and expect to be responded to immediately.

-This person is competitive to the point of it being unhealthy - This applies to everything, grades, promotions, hairstyles, clothes, and yes lovers. This can get so bad and if it was anything like my case it got to the point where where mutual friends and ex-boyfriends would be a point of competition. That is, she would go out of her way to compete for the affection of people in our circle who were closer to me than her. This weird and constant sense of  one upmanship was emotionally exhausting.

- This person is usually prescriptive about how you should live your life, saying things  like:
"I know you and I know whats best for you."
"Noone will ever love you as much as I love you"
"Noone will ever accept you the way me and my family have"...
You catch the drift (fucckkeeddd upppp shiiiitttt).

-This person tends to be confused about their identity, and is generally a deeply insecure person.   Their identities are usually rooted it in superficial things (what car they drive, what they have that's better than yours, overly materialistic sometimes, and exceptionally selfish).

- This person's closest relationships are abusive and unhealthy - for instance the relationship with their partner, lover or parents. In other words, if you took an objective step back and took a look at their close relationships you would notice a trend of dysfunction, abuse, unhealthy enabling, and destructiveness.

- This person transgresses trust  by disclosing personal information to others - or embellishing personal facts and sharing it in contravention of confidence. For instance, after a break up this person told others that my ex-partner had abused me. This was completely and utterly untrue and I only came to know of it years later when I heard it from the person to whom it was told.

- Other people have had similar experiences with this person - and there is a trend of people falling out of this person's life because of this toxic behaviour. This is important as this is the dead give away that the problem is not with you, and this is a reminder that you are sane and your experiences are valid.

- You never know where you stand with this person and there is a general feeling of inauthenticity. It never truly feels like this person has your best interest at heart despite them saying so all the time with statements like "No one will ever love you as much as I love you".

When it comes down to it I can't explicitly highlight single incidents that occurred that marks this relationship as abusive, but an old friend described it very well - she said that when you are around a person like this you leave with a horrible feeling inside you - like this interaction was not good for your soul.

In my experience the emotionally trauma was never explicitly denied by her saying that she never said the horrible things she did - it was more that the things she would do and say were so outrageous I'd feel like I must have dreamed them up because no ordinary well-meaning human being would ever do or say something like that. Here is an example (enjoy):

Her: Do you want to come over to my place?
Me: Nah, I'm tired I'd rather go home.
Her: Just as well, because if Mark* sees you he would wanna fuck you instead of me...
Me: ... !!!

Yes, if you gasped that was the right reaction... Who the FUCK says something like that? This was a mild and humorous example but imagine years of being around someone who says these things, that you keep discounting as jokes, or quirks, and one day you wake up and realise that they're actually just deeply fucked up.



So once again, while my tone is facetious, I am so dead serious about the fact that we need to let go of these people, and I am also fully aware of the fact that cutting people out is not simple, or the best response for our own well being. If I could say something to myself five years ago, when I was emotionally drained by the relationship it would go something like this:

The remedy for toxic friendship is self-care and self-trust and of-course self-love. 


"Trust your feelings  you are not crazy.

Do what you need to do to protect your mental sanctity, if you need space take it, if you need to have  a conversation, have it, and if you are unable to do anything, don't feel disempowered. It is okay. Just realising that this relationship is unhealthy means you are making strides.

You are love, incarnate, so surround yourself with others who love and cherish you!" 

And finally,

"Remember that healing takes time, and these scars run deep, so go easy on yourself". 

Peace and love. Revolution. For yourself. For always.



*Usually DB means douchebag.. but here it means something way worse...
**Mark is obviously a fake name 
***Poem:  Nayyirah Waheed

Thursday, 18 February 2016

Working - as a person of colour and survivor of abuse

The transition from being a student to working is tough. The trade that you make for financial "freedom" comes at the cost of your time and autonomy.

Those of us who are lucky enough to do work we at lease somewhat enjoy, still face countless struggles in trying to adapt to the peculiar dynamics of the work force. In the work place, the social norms are not like they are outside. As much as organisations proclaim to be "flat", "title-free" and non-heirarchical by the nature of work itself, there is a heirarchy - someone with twenty years of experience in a field is going to have an advantage over someone with just one year of experience.

The idea of a flat organisational structure is thus untrue. It is especially untrue if you are a minority, a double minority or a triple minority. Let me explain. Single minorities are those who are let's say, black. Double minorities are those who may be black and queer, or black and female. Triple minorities are those who may be black, female and disadvantaged in some other way - perhaps a survivor of abuse.

South Africa is a country with one of the highest violence against womxn and children rates in the world. Violence against womxn is so commonplace that it has been accepted as part of society and in many cases, even among those highly educated and well resourced, is not questioned. Add the more subtle components of verbal abuse, emotional abuse, and neglect into the equation and we have an entire cohort of humxns of colour (and a few not of colour) who have suffered at the hands of some abuser - whether it be in their family, a traumatic experience, in the education system, in their community or inherited trauma attributable to the nature of the apartheid state.

There are many such humxns who have been able to forge an education for themselves, and have made the transition into the working world. The challenges these humxns face in the working world is unlike those of their peers and their likely seniors - most of whom have benefitted from the system designed to take care of them. A system that speaks their language and caters to their needs. Most of whom are - let's face it - white, or male,  and often white males.

Working in an environment such as this for a person of colour is challenging for the following reasons:

We stand out like a flapping fish in a stack of hay. The way we operate is different. This is not to say that we do not have what it takes to banter and cope with our privileged counterparts, but merely that we are not of their world. Everything we do is different. We see the world differnetly to the way they do. Even the things we listen to, eat, and laugh at are different. And right here lies the age old dilemma that comes from this whitewashed world - we have to make the effort to acclimatise to them. For instance, over the  years I have learnt to roll my R's less hard and soften my tone less I be referred to as "intense"(code for too black, too ghetto, too rough).

Equal treatment does not exist. By asking to be treated equally as a womxn (and humxns) of colour I am not asking you to treat me equally as shitty as you do my male counterpart (while I get paid less) or equally as crap as you were treated when you were at my level. I am asking for you to treat me with the dignity that you would your child, or your senior. That basic human dignity. Not to be a general bigot - which is clearly too much to ask for.

Our life experience is one of trauma and abuse. This is all day everyday, day in and day out. The microaggressions we face - as tiny as they may sound: "What kind of a childhood did you have that you didn't read Harry Potter?" "How did you not know what Mean Girls was?"  You don't see me walking around asking them "How do you not know Mzekezeke?" "How have you never seen yizo yizo?" "How have you never watched jam alley?""Remember the presenter from Selimathunzi?" This is what I was doing while you were at boyscouts and summer camp. This is what I was doing while you were holidaying in Italy and the Americas.

More seriously, because many of us grew up in households that may not have been emotionally stable, so that we had to protect ourselves from physical, verbal and emotional abuse - we learnt how to cope so that we could get here. Which brings me to my main point: This history of abuse means that we (people of colour and survivors) process "criticism" in the workplace differently.

When your white boss tells you that you are stupid, or that your work outputs are useless, discards them infront of you, and tells you that you can not be trusted, this can be triggering. Triggering of an already vulnerable center of self. Triggering of a lifetime of abuse resting beneath the surface.



As someone who is a survivor of intense abuse, criticisms brought up in an authoratative, superior tone are triggering indeed. Triggering to the point where I find myself unable to work in the wake of the trauma that surfaces. And do I have an outlet to express it? No. I have to get up and get back to the grind as is expected of me. Except now with the self-doubt imbued by an overly critical senior. There is a serious lack of compassion in these environments.

This post is not a cry for coddling or special treatment - it is simply stating a fact. We have suffered at the hands of people with more power than us for too long. This translates to no difference in the work environment. In fact work environments can be more triggering or traumatising because of processes that are in place to protect the company.

One such process is the HR function. Saying that HR has your best interest at heart is like saying that the tax man has it in your best interest to ensure that you do your finances properly. The purpose of HR is to make sure that our grievances do not turn into trouble for the company. This puts any employee in an immediate position of less power - automatically unlikely to trust the function - now couple that with being non-white and non-resourced and this only amplifies.

We are constantly treading water. Not consciously obviously. Consciously we graft, we work hard, we succeed, we exceed.  Subconsciously brewing in the background are the ways we were taught to believe that we are less than, and these come out so clearly in this environment of smoke, daggers and unbalanced power.


*Disclaimer: I do truly enjoy my job at times and do not want to quit. If you know me then this post is just an abstraction and refers to no particular incident - but an amalgamation of incidents over the years.  
** No shade to HR - just stating facts. 


Saturday, 13 February 2016

Song for a lover of long ago

I suppose public fora are generally not the places one should pine over lost lovers. Not that I'm pining.

The great thing about writing anonymously is that one can be truly honest. And I intend on making the most of it. Inherent in all of us is this part of our psyche that tends to activate after some slight inebriation. This zone that activates makes us think about lovers that were and what we would do to be able to just let them know x, y, or z.

This happens to me every now and then and I suppose Valentine's day is a sort of catalyst for it happening again. So...on this note, and not inebriated at all, but after much thought if I could say something to my lover of long ago, it would go something like this:

"I miss your hands and your laugh. I miss the detachment and the thrill.

I miss your muscles. I miss your shoulders.  I miss your technique. I miss your general douchebaggery and that feeling when you were - fleetingly - not a douchebag. Ahhh the satisfaction of knowing that I can get you to be nice.

I miss how I thought you were so dumb but didn't care because I was insanely attracted to you. To the point where I may or may not have fantasised about our beautiful kids and compromised with myself in my head about their intellect.

Do you know that you were my best? I didn't even know... Until a couple of years later when I realised that you were so good it didn't even register... I really want you to know it - even now - but I can't admit it to you because we're not there yet. In fact we would never have ever, ever been there.

I remember the disappointment when you were less than I bargained for, but ended up being more than I bargained for in terms of execution. Well done.

I remember caring so little that I could just drunk dial - no - sober dial, text and facebook you not giving a fuck if you thought I was desperate.

Then I remember what a big part of the game was getting you under my control. And I don't miss it that much anymore... except that I do. Especially two weeks before my period, when my hormones are out of control."

Ofcourse in no real world would one ever let ex-lovers know these things. In  reality a lot of these exploits were just temporary distractions from deeper realities. And that is precisely what makes them so fucking awesome. So fun.

I recently learnt that the thrill of the chase actually activates the same center of the brain that cocaine does. And let me tell you... I have felt it. And still feel it. Even chatting to exes makes me excited. Not sexually. Maybe excitable is a better word. There's a rush. Do you like hearing from me? Do you still think about me?


It's all really ego-centric. To the point that it is shameful.

But - I have come to accept it as my guilty pleasure. I mean I know, and I am sure every person who asks themselves the question will know, that these are fictitious characters. They are so fictitious that the pining for a lost lover of long ago is not the pining for one  particular lover at all. It is a pining for the combined feelings that these pursuits have given birth to. The spontaneity. The fun. The excitement.

However, with the honest reflection comes... well, the honest reflection. It definitely does not take too much digging to realise that these humxn beings were never going to be deeper connections. There is a beauty in that kind of non-attachment and freedom to be oneself and concerned with oneself fully that means attracting people who we are just not going to invest in. And that is okay as long as there is a sense of self-awareness, and restraint. As long as there is not a pathological component. As long as we are able to weigh up the costs and the benefits and put self-care first.

Ofcourse I could write about how unglamorous these interactions really are. But who wants to read about that - especially on the Saturday night before Valentine's day.

So how about we keep it light and all you humans go make a new song for a lover that will one day be lost too.


Tuesday, 2 February 2016

The Guys in the Beamer

Violent crime is something that we implicitly accept as South Africans. It is part of our social contract - what that means is that it is simply the price we pay for having so much in a country that has so little. This does not justify crime when it does happen, but it is an (unfortunate) reality of where we live.

This post is not one about the traumatic experience I had being followed home, hijacked and having had my partner assaulted about a year and a half ago. But rather about the trauma that ensued thereafter... and how patriarchy fits into all of it.

I am no stranger to violence. This does not mean that I want violence to be inflicted on me, just that it takes higher than average levels of violence to illicit a response from me (see: walking the line between two worlds).  The episode that ensued surrounding the day of my graduation - the day I was hijacked - was exceptionally traumatic. It heightened my sensitivity to the way our shamefully male entitled society functions as follows:

Given that it was graduation season I had  a couple of obligations on campus. This particular obligation was a prize giving ceremony. Unfortunately I was hijacked the night before and could not get out of the ceremony that was taking place that day. I was up until 4 a.m, after waiting with my partner in the waiting room of a hospital until he was admitted and kept for observation. I should not have been driving. I was sleep deprived and shocked. In either case I borrowed a car and made my way to this prize giving ceremony...

On my way, I could barely focus on driving, and was expectedly shaken up. As I got closer to campus I decided to take the road that goes behind Baxter and behind Graca Machel as a shortcut to upper campus (as opposed to the main road that boasts a lot of traffic). Driving on this secluded road I passed by a few guys in a BMW. A blue BMW. They hooted as I drove passed them. I kept driving, and as I looked into the rear view mirror I saw that they were driving behind me.

"They can't be following me" I said to myself out loud. This can not be happening. Not after last night. I speed up. They speed up too. I take a short right, they follow, we find ourselves in the parking lot of the girls residence Graca Machel. I drive up to the gym, they follow. I start hyperventilating. Maybe they were coming to the gym. I stop dead and pull up the hand break. They stop dead next to me. My heart is in my chest - this exact situation played out less than 12 hours ago, and ended poorly. My partner's bloody head flashes before my eyes. I get out of the car, choking on my tears and lack of air and shout out to them:

"Please stop following me, I am not a racist, I was hijacked last night, the guys... followed me home, they followed me, I have a prize giving on upper, I am not a racist..."

They start laughing and get out of the car. The driver gets out last and asks me if I need help, why I am driving and if they need to escort me to upper campus. I vehemently decline.

"No, no, I'M FINE." I repeat.

Tears streaming down my face and heart palpitations a bit calmer I get into the drivers seat and make my way to the prize giving.

After the prize giving I have to drive back home, on the exact same route I was followed on less than 24 hours ago. I can barely breathe. I start wailing and the tears are endless. I make it home. When I narrate my story to the people I am staying with I am met with much sympathy but also the response that I could have "manifested" the guys in the beamer following me...

I have thought about what happened that day at least a thousand times since it happened. Riddled with guilt at the fact that I thought these men did something wrong and my cringeworthy defense that I was not racist. I knew that these were "good" guys, I mean it was obvious that they were definitely not going to attack me in broad daylight. So then why did it affect me so deeply? Why did them following me shake me up so much? Was it a pure projection of my trauma from a mere few hours ago? Why did I feel so violated?

Fast forward eighteen months and I am sitting at a dive bar in town next to a friend of a friend. This friend of a friend - Andile* - says that he has been meaning to ask me for a long time if I recall an incident that happened around upper campus the previous December. Apparently his friends narrated to him that they followed this pretty girl who pulled over and turned out to be really frantic and a total mess and also happened to have been hijacked the night before. Of course we come to the conclusion that they were talking about the same girl because her exotic description matched up with what Andile suspected would be me.

I apologised frantically to Andile, and asked him to please let the guys know that I was really traumatised and was not racially profiling them.

On the way home I still felt uneasy... Why was I apologising? Was I really feeling so bad that I hurt these guys' feelings by profiling them because of my traumatic response? And then it occurred to me.

It doesn't matter that these guys in the beamer were not going to assault me with a machete or steal the car I was driving. What mattered was they they felt that it was completely within their rights to follow me.  In what world is this okay?

On any other day I may have laughed it off, or ignored it. But not that day. My heightened awareness and vigilance did not allow me to "brush it off".

I now understood why that incident gnawed at my psyche for so long. These mother-fuckers thought that it was totally okay to follow a womxn whom they thought was attractive. To keep following her when she sped up clearly indicating that she was not interested, and then to laugh, and as an after thought offer to be "chivalrous" and escort the poor soul to where she was going.

These mother-fuckers harassed me, violated my space, then insulted me by asking to "escort" me. Did they not realise that had they just left me alone I would have been alright? Did they not see that they have no business intimidating a person in that way? Aside from the fact that I was outnumbered what they did was so wrong, on so many levels.

This makes me sad. It also makes my blood boil. As a womxn I have come to put the feelings of men above my feelings. I wonder now how many times I have let incidents like this slide by me unnoticed. Coming back to the social contract under which we live, I am saddened that criminals are only identified as gangsters who hack people open with their machetes - not people who violate our space and cross boundaries because of their sense of entitlement awarded to them by their genitals. These microagressors walk around unnoticed and are constantly among us.


*Andile is obviously a fake name
**I feel like this post is controversial but I am unapologetic for writing it. More than willing to engage on it though.