16th Apr2017

Breaking Boundaries

by admin

Hi everyone,

I trust that you have all had a wonderful Easter weekend surrounded by loved ones. This week our talented team of writers have, yet again, written amazing articles for us to enjoy. Naledi Khumalo discusses why she does not believe that Roman Catholic priests can be married. Zinhle Maeko explores black conservative Christian parents’ disapproval of their children’s body modification. Sandiswa Tshabalala provides insight into the politics of black womxn’s hair. Molebogeng Mokoko explains why she does not approve of labels. Tsholonang Rapoo implores us to place greater value on same-sex relationships. Finally, Sandiswa Sondzaba reports on Edward Enninful’s recent appointment as the new editor of British Vogue magazine.

Hope that you have a wonderful week and that you enjoy this week’s edition of exPress imPress.

Sandiswa and the exPress imPress team of 2017

Breaking Boundaries

16th Apr2017

The New Man in Vogue

by admin

This week was a big one in print-fashion as it was announced on Monday, 10 April 2017, that Edward Enninful would be the new editor-in-chief of British Vogue. His appointment, a year after British Vogue celebrated its centenary year, means that he will be replacing British Vogue’s longstanding editor Alexandra Shulman.  Enninful’s appointment is even more significant considering that he is the first black male editor of any Vogue publication. So who is this man who is to become one of fashion’s most powerful figures?

Edward Enninful is a Ghanaian-born British fashion and style director whose work has been described (by Conde Nast’s International Chief Executive Jonathan Newman) as having reached “landmark status in recent cultural history”. As contributing editor at Italian Vogue, he oversaw the publication’s “all-black” issue in 2008 which sold out in the US and UK in 72 hours. Eventually, an extra 40,000 copies of the issue was printed and distributed by Conde Nast. The issue was regarded as a cultural watershed in an industry that exclusively values Euro-centric beauty standards. Besides Italian Vogue, Enninful has served as fashion and style director at W magazine where he has championed the diversity of models and celebrities. Among his favourite subjects are Academy Award-nominated Irish/Ethiopian actress Ruth Negga, Naomi Campbell, Rihanna, and Jourdan Dunn. Campbell is a close friend who accompanied Enninful when he received his Order of the British Empire (OBE) last year.

Enninful is tirelessly champions increasing diversity within fashion. Having worked in fashion since the 1980s, he has spoken of how changing the industry requires having people of all ethnic backgrounds in all parts of the industry. According to him, substantive change can only come from actors working within the industry. Enninful is in a good position to effect significant change within fashion as his three decade-long career has left him enviously well-connected. He regularly works with Steven Meisel- incidentally one of the most in-demand photographers in fashion. Naomi Campbell and Kate Moss hosted a party to celebrate his receiving an OBE for his services to fashion and diversity. He is close friends with Marc Jacobs, the former creative director of Louis Vuitton. Being that well-connected will, no doubt, increase British Vogue’s profile internationally.

At 44, Enninful is relatively young. This means that as editor of British Vogue, a younger perspective will be introduced. His strength lies in creating strong images which aim to “talk about the times we live in”. It is unclear as to whether Enninful will continue to style editorial shoots, but his strong social media presence (with 483,000 Instagram followers) means that there will be a blending of the digital and print sides of British Vogue. Seeing off competition from other candidates such as Vogue deputy editor Emily Sheffield and the Financial Times’ Jo Ellison, he represents Conde Nast’s ambition to drive British Vogue in a new direction. Enninful undoubtedly uses fashion to provide social commentary, as evidenced by his “I am an immigrant” video (featuring 81 leading fashion figures) which was compiled in response to Donald Trump’s attempted Muslim Ban. His talent as an artistic director, notwithstanding, Enninful’s appointment signals a new future for British Vogue which is definitely something worth celebrating.

Edward-Enninful

16th Apr2017

“I don’t Understand Heterosexual Relationship” “Neither do I”

by admin

Love

We are all taught from a young age that women are supposed to love men and men are supposed to care for women. This, we are told, is right and fair. Depending on your background, it appears that love has been legislated for us and we are merely expected just follow. This is a restricted realm which (in retrospect) should be easy to navigate, as patriarchy determines. The male and female gender roles have been outlined. Even though we may not choose or try hard to not ascribe to them, they are still there. This is why I don’t understand heterosexual relationships. Why are they so hard?

The heterosexual perspective on homosexual relationships however, has always stemmed from confusion. It seems like those who choose to explore these relationships want nothing more than to prove their incongruence to what they feel is “the law of nature”. Most see homosexual relationships as a taboo while I see them as having a freedom. All human beings are quick to say that we cannot choose who we fall in love with but are also quick to say which relationships one is allowed to choose. The argument that the homosexual relationship is one based on lust alone is one that I don’t understand and with the above statement, one I cannot explain. Saying “we can’t choose who we fall in love with” is a clear indication that we all share the common belief that love demands not to be legislated but still we choose to legislate it.

Therefore, I think that homosexual relationships are one of the purest examples of romance. It interests me more than anything how someone can love someone unconditionally despite their own personal struggles against society. The purity in the emotional connections shared between is beautiful in my opinion. They love, not because they are told to but, despite being told not to. Think about it, lust is lust and needs no explaining, however people spend time and time again fighting for their right to love. What is more romantic than that? There is patriarchy in everything, however people choose, despite the struggles involved, to love.

In a heterosexual relationship, who pays the bill on the first date, opens the door, cooks at home, and is supposed to make more money? What have you been told the answer should be? In a homosexual relationship, what then becomes the answer? Where some might find confusion, I find intrigue. It’s the simple things that say I love you and more so when they are by choice. The feeling of love is not legislated. No feeling ever is. It is innate and real, and with all the struggles homosexual people must fight against, who would choose love like that?

16th Apr2017

To Be or Not to Be: A Focus on Labels

by admin

Labels are not only a form of categorization; they also, in some cases, form part of one’s identity. But what if people don’t conform to the labels given to them, what if they adopt new ways of identification, or even, imagine a situation where individuals do not want to be labelled at all?

I was recently eavesdropping on a conversation between three of my colleagues in class recently. The interesting part about it was that it focused on sexual orientation. In one instance, one of the girls exclaimed, “I don’t want to be labelled, I am just a girl attracted to other girls”. This argument, reminded me of the one made by Raven Symone in her interview with Oprah two years ago, when she did not want to be labelled either as gay, or African American. In response, her friend argued that she was also attracted to other girls, and that there was a name for it. She then further explained that people who choose not to conform to labels were in denial, and as expected, this led to a debate amongst the trio.

My question is why does everything need a label? Personally, I never really understood the concept of gender non-conforming, because as much as it is a refusal of being classified as either male or female, it is still a label. Another problem is the concept of “coming out of the closet”, which to me is very similar to that of “skeletons in the closet”. That alone, carries connotations that being homosexual needs confirmation from the heterosexual community to be legitimate. I am not trying to dismiss the fact that for some individuals, especially in the African community, homosexuality is still misunderstood. However, I do ask that aren’t we, as society, through constantly asking others to explain themselves, preventing each other from living our fullest lives?

The point is no one has a choice in how others label them. The sad part is that all these derogatory names are given to the vulnerable members of society namely women, the disabled, the queer, the impoverished and people of color. This further perpetuates the stereotype that anything other than white, male, middle class, able bodied and heterosexual, is not considered normal. Let us imagine how financially successful we would all be, if we were not so invested in how other people live their lives.

Don't Label Me

16th Apr2017

“This Here is Mine”

by admin

Black Women's Hair

For centuries, African women have practiced rituals of beautification and used protective styles to prevent breakage, dryness, and damage. These rituals become highly socialised in the present day and now black women all over the world use innovative technologies to protect and style their hair. Such methods include wigs, weaves and braiding, and chemical straightening to name a few. Many of these styles, such as relaxing (chemically straightening) hair and weaves, resulted from a necessity to assimilate into spaces in which ideals of beauty prioritized Euro-centricity.

However, as black women have begun to exercise autonomy in the styling of their hair, opting to either grow it out naturally or to use such protective styles, there has been an increase in criticism towards them for making them those decisions, sometimes from within black communities themselves.

A black woman may often find herself questioned about whether she is ashamed of ‘her blackness’, if she has a weave, or if her hair is relaxed (the same not being asked of white people who style their hair in styles historically and culturally pertinent to black communities). These women often have to deal with other black people assuming that they wear these specific styles because they would like to ‘be white’, or that they equate blackness with unattractiveness. Before debunking this incorrect and quite frankly, ludicrous, idea, it is important to understand that even women who have natural hair that hasn’t been exposed to chemicals or styled in a manner similar to pervasively Western ideals experience condemnation. They experience workplace discrimination from society at large, often having their natural hair deemed inappropriate for professional environments or intrinsically clumsy in appearance, as was the case with the events which led to the silent protests at Pretoria Girls’ High last year. Also, these criticisms have quite a bit of personal bearing on myself, as in the 8th grade, I recall being told that my natural hair resembled pubic hair, although the embarrassment I felt in that moment was one experience that I never internalised, much to that young man’s disappointment.

With these criticisms being the result of different actions on black women’s parts, it would seem that the problem lies in society’s preoccupation with regulating the actions of black women. It is ultimately for this reason that all matters regarding black women’s hair are inherently political – because if a woman’s appearance can be the cause of suspension at school, or the US military and it’s the cause of unsolicited assumptions about the maintenance and hygiene of our hair and even how competent we are at specific tasks, then it is an inescapable part of our identities as black women and it is a part worth reclaiming for ourselves.

We now find ourselves having to redefine what our choices in styling our hair mean. For black women with natural hair, it means rejecting century old definitions of black femininity which ultimately sought to demonize our natural beauty. For those who style their hair with weave, wigs, or have chosen to relax their hair it means being able to experiment with and take part in popular beauty trends that we often create all the while protecting their hair against damage while looking good. And for many, how we choose to style our hair is a matter of convenience and self-expression, as many do wear both natural hair as well as extensions and artificial hair and these choices may not be influenced by any particular political perspective. That is, until we are forced to answer questions and address assumptions which ultimately come down to people seeing no problem with dissecting black women’s decisions and appearances because our privacy and agency are ultimately not regarded as our own or valid, as a result.

In closing, our decisions regarding our hair and our bodies are ultimately summed up by the following statements: You are not entitled to touch our hair – so don’t. Avoid offering unsolicited opinions about our hair. Our hair is none of your business. Stop telling us that we hate ourselves because of how we choose to style our hair. And understand that “My body is not a democracy. It is an empire and I am its dictator. You do not get a vote.”

 

 

 

 

 

16th Apr2017

Black Conservative Christianity and Body Modification

by admin

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I recently had a conversation with my mother on why, growing up, she told me I was not allowed to get any tattoos and piercings. I expected her to respond with a sermon regarding why I could not participate in any kind of body modification. Instead she wrote down a list of Bible verses to answer my question and that was the end of our conversation. This was probably because she wanted me to read the Bible myself as well as her being aware of how her role as a parent had changed. She was no longer in a position to dictate my actions, but rather help me make my own. Bakang Akoonyatse’s work on black females and body autonomy made me curious about the experience of other black females regarding their decisions to get tattoos or piercings and their Christian parent’s perception of body modification . I conducted face-to face interviews with Nthabiseng and Mpho who already have tattoos, as well as Pusetso who is interested in getting piercings on different parts of her body.

Corinthians 6: 19-20: The Lord’s Temple

“Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own. You were bought at a price, therefore honour God with your bodies”. When my mother wrote down this verse for me to read, she probably did it with the expectation that I would view my body as pure and in no need of altering. She was wrong. Body autonomy has become extremely important for me and the idea that my body was not my own did not sit well with me. It also insinuated that a tattoo or piercing would make my body dirty. One of my interviewees Nthabiseng had a similar experience. After seeing the ink on her forearm, her mother told her that tattoos were for loose women. She also faced stigma from her peer group at her Roman Catholic Church. “When the youth leader found out about my tattoo he told me I could no longer serve on the altar because I was dirty” she says.

Leviticus 19; 28

“You shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor tattoo any marks on you.” This verse is straighter forward than the last – simply do not get a tattoo because God says so. Pusetso and Mpho’s parents took on a very different approach to my mine. For Pusetso’s mom, getting a tattoo or piercing is an indicator of demonic possession. “My mother’s beliefs on body piercings always narrow down to religious views. She says that they are satanic and are markings of the devil. I am also Christian but I don’t think it’s that deep”. Mpho’s grandmother brings in the question of race. “When I first showed my grandmother my tattoo she told me that I am adopting things done by white people” Her grandmother’s concerns are not exactly accurate. Body modification has always been, and is still, prevalent in many African cultures.

From the interviews I conducted I saw that my interviewees and I had one thing in common – we prioritised body autonomy over our parent’s feelings. We were all raised by Christian parents who instilled in us that respectable women were the ones without tattoos and piercings and we went ahead and got them anyway. We knew that by getting our bodies pierced and tattooed would come with being labelled as dirty and promiscuous but we didn’t care. We freely gave up our rights to be called good Christian women without any remorse. My biggest celebration here is not that I went against my mother’s teachings and God’s will without dying, but that I got a chance to practice body autonomy and really make my body my own.

 

16th Apr2017

No to Roman Catholic Priests Getting Married!

by admin

I say no to Roman Catholic priests getting married (add link). I personally feel that it is not a good idea as more corruption would be caused in and outside of church. Furthermore, relationships come with terms and conditions that a married couple have to adhere to.

Every church has its own tradition and the Roman Catholic Church has the tradition of priests not being permitted to get married as they are, in fact, married to the church. Roman Catholic churches get their dignity and value from priests not getting married. A priest should fully focus on the Church; his having a wife and having an argument with his wife could lead to his preaching a sermon that is not ethical enough for his congregation. When one enters the altar, one needs have to be as pure as a baby without any sexual desire being brought to the altar. Death is a natural part of life; there will come a time where a priest dies. If the priest had a wife and children, my question is who will take care of the wife and children of the priest as the priest himself was supported by the congregation. Where will the wife and children go since the priest lives in the church built by the congregation? Priests have a protocol where they reshuffle yearly and this begs the question of whether the priest will have to annually move with his wife and children in tow.

A man is a man is a man; giving the priests a platform to have a relationship is not a good idea as it encourages corruption within and outside of church. Do you feel great when your husband says “I’m busy”? As the wife of a Roman Catholic priest you are expected to understand his busyness but for how long are you going to understand that your man has no time for you and your children because he’s always busy?

If the church needs money to contribute to the running of the church, the priest has to decide on whether he is taking the money to the church or his family. In my opinion, it is quite obvious that he is going to choose his family and that will lead the church being poor and his nuclear family being rich as, of course, blood is thicker than water. I find it very disturbing for the Pope to even suggest that Roman Catholic priests will be allowed to get married.  Yes there have been incidents wherein Roman Catholic priests have sexual relations with members of their congregation. This, then, does not mean that they must be given the opportunity to have sexual relationships. If incidents like these continue to occur, I personally feel that serious punishment must occur; when a man chooses to become a Roman Catholic priest, he knows what he is getting himself into. Being called to serve as a Roman Catholic priest is higher than being married or having a relationship with members of that priest’s congregation. A Roman Catholic must remain celibate as their sexuality affects their congregation and the Roman Catholic Church itself.

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