10th Apr2017

Disruption Ahead

by admin

Pins

Hi everyone,

I trust that you have all had a restful break. This week our talented group of writers have given us great pieces to read and (perhaps) mull over. Last week proved to be a crazy one for South Africa; with that in mind, Stephanie Schaffrath’s challenges us to appreciate the small blessings we are afforded in our daily lives. Lilitha Mankuntsu reflects on the recent SA Fashion Week (now in its 20th year) and she hopes that SAFW is onto bigger and better things. Charissa Govender gives us a sneak peak into the IPL and the exciting cricket the current season promises us. Zinhle Maeko (in disagreement with Tsholanang Rapoo’s view) argues that Nicki Minaj and Remy Ma’s feud is not exempt from feminist critique.  Naledi Khumalo writes a piece that aims to motivate womxn facing significant challenges. Thabisile Miya reflects on the feelings of vulnerability that accompanied her visit to a gender neutral bathroom. Finally, Veli Mnisi critiques mainstream hip-hop’s hyper-masculine whilst finding solace in artists such as Frank Ocean and Gyre who are quietly dismantling hip-hop’s homophobia and misogyny.

Hope you have a wonderful Easter break.

Enjoy,

Sandiswa and the exPress imPress team of 2017

10th Apr2017

#QueerRap

by admin

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In 2012, singer-songwriter, rapper and record producer Frank Ocean made headlines when he confessed that he had fallen in love with a man at the age of 19, in an open letter posted to Tumblr. He drew even more attention when people assumed that some of the songs on his Channel Orange album were addressed to a man. In the post, Ocean wrote:” 4 summers ago, I met somebody. I was 19 years old. He was too. We spent that summer, and the summer after, together. Everyday almost. And on the days we were together, time would glide. Most of the day I’d see him, and his smile. I’d hear his conversation and his silence. Until it was time to sleep. Sleep I would often share with him. By the time I realised I was in love, it was malignant. It was hopeless. There was no escaping, no negotiating the feeling. No choice. It was my first love. It changed my life.” For the most part, the artist has left his sexuality ambiguous, choosing not to label himself as being either gay, bisexual, pansexual, or really any of the labels that people are expected to adopt and wear either as a scarlet A, or a badge of pride (which is highly unlikely). It is my firm belief that people who identify with whatever sexual orientation or gender identity they do, are only expected to do so because cisgender, heterosexual and patriarchal society needs a name to put to all of this identity in order to other it. It is a lot easier to hate something you choose to not understand if, at the very least, you have something to call it.

The poignancy and honesty of Ocean’s (real name Christopher Breaux) post drew numerous declarations of support. A number of black, male rappers took to social media to praise his courage, among them 50 Cent and Tyler, the Creator. This is particularly noteworthy because homosexuality (or really any sexuality that is not macho heterosexuality) is not normally met with kindness and understanding. Rap as a genre has been characterised by homophobic and misogynistic lyrics. Often times it is not easy to separate the misogyny and homophobia – nor is it necessary to. At times it seems as though homophobia occurs because of a perceived proximity to femininity – an individual who identifies as male being seen as mimicking a woman simply for loving a man. This might be rooted in how little our society has thought of women, and the understanding that anything that resembles femininity is undeserving of any respect. It might be necessary to point out that my earlier thought does not seem to account for women who might love other women in a romantic way. Still, women who identify as lesbian frequently fall victim to all manner of abuse, physical and sexual. The current scourge of “corrective rape” proves just how much men might assume ownership and control over women’s bodies.

This then begs the question; (how) is it possible to reconcile the public displays of support – if it can be called that – shown to Frank Ocean after his confession, with the rampant homophobic and misogynistic culture that hip-hop music festers and thrives in? More often than not, this is a question that goes unanswered. The question of how can you claim to love women, respect someone’s sexuality and appreciate the lives and lived experiences of black people, when you effectively disregard their humanity and differences?

A noteworthy response to the homophobia and abuse within not only hip-hop music, but society as a whole, is the personified status quo disruption known as S’bonakaliso Nene, known as Gyre. Gyre is a queer rapper, who also happens to be a student at Wits University. Gyre is noteworthy because he embraces his being queer, thriving in a genre of music that can be considered highly abusive to his lived experiences. In a recent interview on the SABC 1 youth show, Expressions, Gyre pointed out that he saw the queer community as being an evolutionary leap, “like the mutants on X-men. We’re like those people.” He believed that being a queer individual is something to embrace, and being a rapper who is unabashedly queer contributes to his mandate of being disruptive in spaces that have grown far too comfortable in their bigotry and abuse. On the TV show, Gyre gave a live performance of his most recent song, called Premium Bottom, wearing the most beautiful pair of tight jeans I have ever seen, and a headwrap. In his song, which has been dubbed a #BottomsAnthem, Gyre effectively addresses not only homophobia and exclusion, but even bottom shaming within the gay community. Gyre serves, and exists as a grand antithesis to the rejection that the queer community faces at the hands of society by making a bold reclamation of his and the identities of a proud community.

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10th Apr2017

The Presence of Gender Neutral Bathrooms

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Gender Neutral

I was at a conference in a building I wasn’t familiar with. I was desperate for the bathroom, and I knew that I wouldn’t be able to endure going down six floors to find a ladies’ bathroom; this was when I decided to use a gender neutral bathroom. I found myself being highly uncomfortable during the experience; I kept worrying about whether a man would walk in on my using the bathroom. Additionally, the fact that there is no sense of privacy didn’t put me at ease during this was one bathroom visit I wished lasted for a second literally a second.  I still don’t understand the source of my fears; could it be from the number of times women are molested in restrooms or was it just my own insecurities manifesting?  At home, we have one bathroom and isn’t that gender neutral since everyone uses it? So the structural enforcement of how the different genders ought to interact has pretty much been dictated to us in spaces such as schools, universities, the workplace etc. Which brings me to question the reasons for the presence of gender neutral bathrooms; are they there simply because a company wants to appear more inclusive to the broader public or do they genuinely respect the growing needs of groups like transgender people, non-binary and gender fluid people?  I’d like to pose the question of how comfortable people are with using gender neutral bathrooms?

10th Apr2017

Particularly for the Ladies

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Dice

My piece is for the ladies but not just any lady. Specifically, I am speaking to those who are experiencing a devastating situation. Life has a lot of challenges and the older you get, the harder life becomes. You would often wonder as to why Peter Pan did not want to grow up but you then realize that only the toughest survive. Over the first quarter holidays, I came across a young beautiful lady; she had stress to the point that you could just see it when you looked into her eyes. Though I was in a rush, I couldn’t afford to leave another woman in that devastation of a situation. I went up to her while she was crying. The first thing she told me that she finds it very hard in to find someone to talk to. Drawing inspiration from Bill Withers, I told her “You can lean on me when you’re not strong because as woman we need to support each other through thick and thin as umuntu ngumuntu ngabantu.” She told me that she was pregnant and she didn’t know what to do. What was worse was that the father of the baby was denying fathering the baby. I asked her what was the first thing that came to her mind; she said she doesn’t know what to do anymore, she didn’t know whether to keep it or to terminate the pregnancy. I didn’t want to be part of the decision making but I told her to do what she thinks it best for her life and be brave enough to face the gaze and exclude what people are going to say to you as they will always judge you on whether the decision you took is good or bad. What seems like the right thing to do could also be the hardest thing you have ever done in your life and when you have to make a hard decision just flip a coin…why?… because when that coin is in the air, you suddenly know what it is that you’re hoping for.

It’s important to contain your issues and problems to yourself and tell only the people that truly know you because not everyone is going to sympathise or cry with you instead they will your problem against you. YES you made a mistake and YES it wasn’t your plan to fall pregnant or to become a mother. I don’t think anyone who is in this kind of devastation of a situation deserves to be judged. Instead, they need all the support they can get, especially from their own mothers. This is because no matter how much wrong a child does parents will always be there even if it is a problem that’s beyond their control because blood is always thicker than water.

Ladies what’s important in life is to always love yourself and smile as you face your greatest challenge.  Always know that God is always there watching over you and He will never give you a problem that you cannot handle. Life happens but you just need to pick yourself up and move on because this is life. Never live with regrets as everything happens for a reason; just know that God loves you and He alone knows what your future holds.

10th Apr2017

Seeing the Remy Ma/Nicki Minaj Feud through a Feminist Gaze

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On February 26 Remy Ma released the diss track, Sh-Ether,  which was targeted at Nicki Minaj. The seven minute song is based on the rhythm of  Ether, Nas’s diss track about Jay-Z . With the release of Sh-Ether, Remy officially announced the beef between herself and Nicki Minaj. Long before Remy and Nicki positioned themselves as each other’s rivals, there was  Lil Kim vs Foxy Brown, Queen Latifah vs Foxy Brown and Trina vs Khia. Fortunately for us, these battles existed before the days of Instagram and Twitter. When a beef has reminents of internalised misogyny, slut shaming, and body shaming, someone has to say something. This is particularly the case given that the participants have a combined Instagram following of 81.1 million .

The first shot Remy threw at Nicki (in Sh-Ether) was about her alleged plastic surgeries and her body. In my opinion, this was Remy Ma’s first wrong move. Not only is body shaming simply not cool; it also perpetuates the idea that women should only be valued based on their physical appearance. Remy then slut shames Nicki by listing all the men Nicki had allegedly slept with, who include Lil Wayne, Gucci Mane and Trey Songz. This is a weak attempt at devaluing Nicki and promotes stigma against women who do not conform to normative ideas around female sexual behaviour. Nicki is no saint either; she also threw in lines regarding Remy’s body and alleged plastic surgery in No Frauds, her response to Sh-Ether which features Lil Wayne and Drake . No Frauds is just as problematic with Nicki referring to Remy as “Sheneneh” (a character from the 90s sitcom Martin). This term has been used as a slur to ridicule dark-skinned women in the African American community.

Competition is healthy and women certainly do not have to all get along under the name of feminism. My question is when two black females with so much influence involve themselves in such a vicious battle; should it then be viewed as any other beef? Nicki Minaj and Remy Ma have not positioned themselves as either role models for black women or the ambassadors of black feminism. However, that does not mean their work and actions are exempt from feminist critique.

10th Apr2017

IPL…Get Ready for a Smashing Cricket Season!

by admin

IPL Cricket

The IPL cricket season is back with a bang! This T20 league is one for the masses as it unites players from all the major cricket teams around the world. Taking place in the cricket hub of the world, India, the tournament offers both the atmosphere for T20 cricket and the scenery and architecture that the city has to offer- for not only the tourists but also the locals.

What better way to start of the prestigious IPL than with an opening ceremony? Marking a decade of IPL cricket there was not 1, not 2 but 8 opening ceremonies that took place at each team’s home ground. Each ceremony had a separate theme symbolising the diversity within each team’s city, and showcasing the wonders of each city participating in the 10th season of the IPL. The main ceremony, however, took place at the Rajiv Gandhi International Cricket Stadium in Hyderabad before the defending champions played the runners up from the 2016 IPL Season.

Wednesday 5th April saw the Sunrisers Hyderabad face off against the Royal Challengers Bangalore. It was an intense match but the former 2016 IPL champions conquered, once again, putting the Sunrisers Hyderabad at the top of the points table after match number 1. This definitely put a smile on the face of the captain of the Sunrisers team, David Warner.

Day 2 of the season was the Rising Pune Supergiants’ turn to show off their skills against the Mumbai Indians. By the closest of margins the Rising Pune Supergiants, under the captaincy of Steve Smith, beat the Mumbai Indians team by 7 wickets in the latter part of the 20th over.

With the atmosphere, still high it was time for the Kolkata Knight Riders to take on the Gujarat Lions. With a tremendous partnership between Gautam Gambhir and Chris Lynn of the Kolkata Knight Riders were able to win the 3rd match of the league placing them now at the top of the points table ahead of the Sunrisers Hyderabad due to their net run rate of +3.254.

With 6 weeks to go before we find out the 2017 IPL champions, it is bound to be an exciting ride for all 8 teams and their fans. This will be a thrilling promising stadium sixes from MS Dhoni and many others, exceptional boundaries, yorker styled bowling from Lasith Malinga, precise umpiring and perfect fielding.

Catch all the action on Supersport channel 202 weekdays at 16:15 and on weekends for back to back matches at 12:30 and 16:15. If you miss it, be sure to catch all the highlights after the matches.

Let’s get ready for a smashing 10th season of the VIVO IPL!

10th Apr2017

The Rise of SA Fashion

by admin

From the 28th of March to the 1st of April, all of South Africa’s elite members and those who identify themselves as fashion connoisseurs came out to support our local and guest designers at the 20th SAFW (SA Fashion Week).

Without a doubt this event has gained momentum and more prestige as the years have gone by. It has also been instrumental in putting young South African designers on the international map. SAFW has also become more exclusive in terms of the designers that get to showcase their work; at the same time it has become more accessible as relatively affordable ticket prices mean that ordinary fashionistas can also go watch the shows. Not to mention their incredible partnership with Woolworths South Africa means that more people can buy items that are from the runway.

2017 SAFW was even more amazing with the partnership between Berlin fashion week and SAFW, which combined the showcasing various Nigerian designers with big-names such as Anja Gockel. This goes to show that African designers are capable of competing with international designers too.  For the very first time a resort collection (known for catering to more high-end customers) was showcased by 5 high profile designers at SAFW.

With this being the 20th anniversary, one has to see how far South African fashion has come. SA fashion is taken more seriously not only by those who participate in it but also the international fashion community at large. One hurdle that still needs to be overcome is getting our designers into the big commercial clothing spaces so that they can actually make a stable living off their creations.

Our fashion industry is on the rise and like our country we have a lot of work to do. The industry needs to also realise that it has a large role to play in assisting with social issues and that SAFW can be used as the platform to address those issues. Gert Johan Coetzee has done so before by using fashion to raise awareness on albinism. People also need to realise that SAFW isn’t just for the elites. Tickets are available for people to buy and go watch, we all wear clothes after all; that’s the one thing we have in common in modern society. Hopefully just because SAFW has reached 20 years, this isn’t the pinnacle of the show but, rather, will continue to reach greater heights.

SA Fashion Week

10th Apr2017

Cheers to the Finer Things In Life

by admin

Following recent occurrences in South Africa, I think it is safe to say that our nation is in a state of turmoil. In times like these it is easy to forget what a beautiful country we actually live in because we get so caught up in the negativity of the situation. In times of crisis we often isolate ourselves from others, under false pretenses that others will not understand the complexity of the problems we are facing. Although the state of the economy is causing considerable strain on everyone, the truth of the matter is that we cannot spend every waking hour fighting for a cause. It is also important for us to take a breather and appreciate our many blessings. We need to take time to laugh with each other, kiss the ones we love and chat to our best friends over a glass of wine, rather than wasting all of our free time in isolation staring at and tapping on screens.

white wine

As far as I am concerned, eating a meal with my family and friends is one of the greatest joys of life. What more could you ask for but to spend Sunday afternoons gathered around a table with the ones you love, eating delicious food that just melts in your mouth? When I think of the many Sundays I have sent with my family and friends, one in particular comes to mind. I thought I would share this memory with you today and perhaps it will inspire you to reflect on your own memories. Maybe you also have one memory (of time spent with the ones you love) that stands out over all the others.

 

The day that I remember so clearly, started off at eight o’clock on a Sunday morning when my family and I made our way to the market. Whenever people refer to retail therapy, the farmer’s market is what comes to my mind. It is a place where you can find all of the lovely things that you never even knew you needed. The first stand we stopped at was that of the “Pasta Man”, as we called him. On your arrival you can specify which type of pasta you would like to purchase and he will quickly filter it through his pasta machine for you. Besides the freshest pasta in Johannesburg; on that particular morning, he also had freshly picked wild mushrooms on offer. We passed stalls selling fresh bread, beautifully sweet preserves, aromatic spices and every kind of tea you could ever imagine. Dare I say, the baked goods at the patisserie stand were the cherry on top—excuse the pun! They did look really inviting.

 

Two hours later we left the market with a great selection of delicious goods and excitement brewing in the pits of our stomachs. Once at home, the family chefs started preparing a feast. The smell that hung in the air was simply irresistible. It is no surprise that the rest of the family and our guests were sitting around the kitchen table, all ready to eat an entire hour before the food was even ready.

 

Whilst they sat there in anticipation, playing board games and discussing sport, at the kitchen counter, we made ourselves busy by preparing a baked camembert with rosemary and garlic, along with figs wrapped in Parma ham and baked in a homemade blue cheese sauce. This we later ate with very thinly sliced toast, which we used to scrape up every last little bit of the sauce that remained on our plates. The combination of flavours and textures was like a rainbow in my mouth. The crunchiness of the toast with the oozing texture of the camembert cheese were all part of the sensual experience. When I popped one of those little figs in my mouth an explosion of flavours occurred. The sweetness of the fig contrasted beautifully with the saltiness of the Parma ham. The meal was finished off with a pleasant taste of blue cheese that lingered on the tongue and went down very well with a glass of white wine. Needless to say, after all of that, we were one big, fat, and very happy family surrounded by our dearest friends.

cheese wine and figs

Often I have to wonder why life cannot be like that every day. After all, isn’t that what life is about: Sitting around a big table with people you love, enjoying the finer things in life? I don’t know about you, but often memories like that linger far longer than the memory of the last twenty photos I double tapped on Instagram…

melted camembert

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