23rd Oct2017

Goodbye

by admin

Hi everyone,

This is our last edition for the year and our team has put together an amazing final edition for you to enjoy. Stephanie Schaffrath advises us on how to develop, and capitalise on, our personal brands. Sandiswa Sondzaba explores how Lupita Nyong’o’s recent revelations of being sexually harassed by the once-invincible film producer Harvey Weinstein, highlights the deep-seated rot of toxic masculinity. Zinhle Maeko shares her recent misadventures with an ex-partner who was less financially comfortable than her. Finally, Sandiswa Tshabalala personally reflects on how the #IBelieveYou and #MeToo hashtags on social media have forced her to validate her own experiences of being sexually harassed.

Thank you for being an amazing audience. Our team has grown in leaps and bounds this year and we are so grateful that you have been a part of our journey.

Until next year,

Sandiswa the exPress imPress team of 2017

Goodbye for Now

23rd Oct2017

#IBelieveYou and #MeToo Hashtags

by admin

#IBelieveYou

This month was met with the emergence of allegations against Hollywood film producer Harvey Weinstein, concerning sexual misconduct and incidents of sexual assault. This spawned a worldwide call for solidarity amongst women on social media who had never before admitted to experiencing sexual harassment and assault. Before long, I was confronted with this reality on my own Facebook feed.

These posts, although they detailed harrowing events, were no surprise to me, for as womxn, we do understand just how rampant sexual violence against women is in our society, particularly as South Africans. However, what I found to be most interesting is just how desensitised I had become before these hashtags, #MeToo and #IBelieveYou, to every day instances of gendered harassment.

This is, in part, the reason why I refrained from sharing anything as there was a part of my brain that would not conflate every day instances of harassment which I have experienced with traumatic events like rape and other forms of sexual assault. I realise now that my hesitance is the result of a subliminal conditioning which works to normalise everyday harassment. I have found that it is often a woman’s burden to ensure that she does not inconvenience others with her own discomfort and I find myself challenged with having to unlearn this way of thinking . Being harassed in public spaces, through jeers from leering men and relentless propositioning despite overt and visible discomfort, has started to feel invalid and this is a product of a rape culture which seeks to further embed fear in women’s minds. This is not a fear of the harassment itself (which is why the act is invalidated), but rather, it is a fear of what it could lead to. Thus, if we are spared any physical violence, sexual assault, or death, we sigh in relief and invalidate the fear that is associated with the initial act of harassment. So, it becomes hard to say #MeToo, although we understand that for all its worth, our #MeToo matters just as much as anyone else’s because catcalling, jeering and intimidation should not be a daily part of women’s interactions with men.

Consequently, I have not posted anything on social media, despite liking and reacting to countless posts by my friends and womxn around the world. This piece is my longwinded #MeToo, and my #IBelieveYou to all the womxn who have shared their experiences of sexual assault, abuse, and harassment. It is also an affirmation for myself, and a request for us all – even those of us who have chosen to not share, or those who feel that their experiences are not valid – to say #IBelieveMe.

23rd Oct2017

#NoBrokeMenAllowed

by admin

Dating as a young black girl is an extreme sport. This is mainly because men generally have very little to offer so your options are limited if you don’t want to date patriarchs, homophobes and all round problematic men. When you eventually pick a suitable partner, you have to compromise something, be it money, or height. I recently had to compromise and after that ordeal was over, I swore never to compromise again

I believe most women have a list of their ideal man, if it’s not written down, it is at least somewhere at the back of their heads.  My ideal man came was perfectly packaged, he was smart, conventionally attractive (but not the kind that comes with drama) but he didn’t have money. Now because he compensated for his lack of finances in other areas. Being from a middle class background I always told myself that I would never consider dating someone who is from a lower socio- economic background from me. This may sound a bit classist but my reasoning behind my views are, in my opinion, valid.

Firstly no matter how woke or how much of an ally your man is to feminism , there is always an element of patriarchy that is present and his masculinity will play a huge factor in the power dynamics of the relationship. My knight in shining armour was broke and a victim to toxic hyper-masculinity. Now because I had more money than him and he couldn’t provide for me the way I wanted him to, he always felt the need to show how powerful he was or how much I needed him.

Of course I wish I could name and shame him but I won’t. That experience validated for me why I never wanted to date a broke man in the first place and why I would never recommend anyone else to do it.

Broke Man

23rd Oct2017

Lupita Nyong’o, Harvey Weinstein and the Perils of Toxic Masculinity

by admin

BEVERLY HILLS, CA - JUNE 13:  Actress and presenter Lupita Nyong'o, wearing Max Mara, speaks onstage at Women In Film 2017 Crystal + Lucy Awards presented By Max Mara and BMW at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on June 13, 2017 in Beverly Hills, California.  (Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images )

A few days ago, Lupita Nyong’o joined the chorus of womxn sharing their experiences of being sexually harassed/violated by the once-invincible Hollywood producer, Harvey Weinstein. Her recollections have deeply affected me as you get a since of how her interactions with Weinstein troubled her but how she tried to negotiate her experience of being sexually harassed whilst also making sure not to destroy her once-fledgeling career. The fact that Nyong’o kept quiet about her experience for so long because she believed that she was the only one who was being sexually harassed by Weinstein, speaks to the power of rape culture as it silences its victims whilst emboldening its perpetrators.

Weinstein has denied Nyong’o’s claims, saying that he has a different recollection of his interactions with her. Considering that approximately 40 other white womxn have come forward about their experiences of being sexually harassed/assaulted by Weinstein, the fact that he is disputing the claims of the only black womxn who has accused him of sexual violence/assault has a pungent stench of racism to it. Although I will not get into it in full detail, reminds us of how black womxn have and continue to suffer at the hands of white men- particularly white men in positions of power. Weinstein’s response to Nyongo’s claims remind us that black womxn continue to be fetishized and brutalized. Black womxn’s features are desired whilst black womxn themselves are continuously disrespected. But I digress here.

Following the initial press coverage of Weinstein’s continuous pattern of sexually predatory behavior towards actresses, Weinstein released a statement claiming that his predatory behavior is the result of his growing up during 60s and 70s. Furthermore, his publicist claimed that he is an old dinosaur learning new ways. Obviously, these attempts at justifying his actions are highly problematic as he seems to not recognize that being a sexual predator is wrong irrespective of when an individual perpetrates acts of sexual harassment/violence. His (and his team’s) attempts at justifying his behavior brings to mind Tyler Ford’s critique of how men’s predatory behavior is often blamed on male hormones. Ford, who is a transgender agender activist, discusses his experiences of being both the subject and the object of the male gaze. The expression “boys will be boys” exempts men from taking responsibility for their actions. We often excuse men’s misdeeds by blaming their misdeeds on nature or the wily actions of their (often female) victims. We need to understand that Weinstein is an extreme example of the toxicity of male privilege. In order to truly address this problem, we need to problematize the patriarchal systems that create men such as Weinstein and the other men who casually sexually harass womxn as womxn occupy the spaces that “were not made for them”. As womxn, we need to understand that our experiences of being sexually harassed/assaulted are not our responsibility. Our society needs to do more to address this permanent plague of toxic masculinity for all of our sakes.

23rd Oct2017

Little Known Ways of Working on Your Personal Branding

by admin

Image 3

So the smell of summer is officially in the air and the holiday vibes are so close we can almost taste them. Before you get too excited, remember that exams are just around the corner too! It’s funny how every year, at this time; I dedicate myself to being more diligent, hard-working, studious, and just all-round better…the next year. Perhaps I am alone in this―but I don’t think that I am. However, this year I have come up with an idea, better than ever before; so good that I would like to share it with all of you! Perhaps this time, the “New Me” resolutions will finally come true.

In the 21st century, the internet plays a huge role in not only our personal, but also our professional, lives. Our every move is being digitally recorded, and that is inevitable. We keep hearing that it’s not a matter of whether our future boss will look us up on Facebook; it’s a question of when. So if our professional career is dependent on this, then why aren’t we being more proactive about it? At the end of the day, our digital identity may be just as important as completing our degree. The options are either that we choose to sit back and allow other people to carelessly determine our digital identity for us or we take control of how we are perceived on the World Wide Web and promote our best qualities instead.

Following this thought process I have done a lot of research on creating your own personal brand. Because at the end of the day, the way you represent yourself on the Internet will influence how people perceive you as a professional. In addition to simply keeping face online, brainstorming and creating your own personal brand may also assist you in evaluating your current efforts to become the person whom you aspire to be one day.

According to my research, evaluating your core values is a good place to start. But this is much easier said than done. One thing that I found helpful, was simply googling “list of values” and ticking off the ones that applied to me. Such values may include loyalty, work ethic, achievement, balance etc.

Now you have reached the point at which things get more exciting because it’s time to start planning your actual internet persona. The best advice I came across, was to just keep things real. Don’t try and be someone you’re not because this will just come across as fake. Decide which platforms will best serve your personal brand and be consistent across the platforms. Such platforms may include: writing a weekly blog, starting a professional Instagram/Facebook/Snapchat account or even creating your own website with a brief description of yourself and maybe even a copy of your CV. Decide on what you would like people to see when they first google your name, and create exactly that! Also note that it may be beneficial to keep your personal accounts private and limit your followers to only personal contacts. But all in all, just be you―whilst still keeping it professional. Choose colour combinations that appeal to you, promote your personal beliefs and ideals and represent yourself the way you would like people to view you as a person.

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In a world where digitalisation is inevitable and we can access all information with just the click of a button, we should make sure that people aren’t misinformed about us as human beings. I encourage you to do something useful this year and actually live up to the “New Me” resolutions from the past five years.

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16th Oct2017

A Seat At the Table

by admin

Black White

Hi everyone,

Last weekend, Professor Mamokgethi Phakeng, the Deputy Vice Chancellor of Research and Internationalisation at UCT revealed that she had been the victim of a recent smear campaign that sought to cast doubt on her qualifications. The fact that a womxn as distinguished as Professor Phakeng was a victim of such malevolence demonstrates the pervasiveness of racial micro-aggressions within our society. We often think of racism being as overt as the white supremacist rallies that have become commonplace in America but we need to also acknowledge the more subtle racism that is just as effective at isolating and dehumanizing the objects of its manifestation. In order to combat this problem, greater awareness is necessary. As we occupy the seats at the tables we have been systematically excluded from, we need to acknowledge these micro-aggressions and keep fighting to dismantle these systemic exclusions.

Until next week.

Sandiswa and the exPress imPress team of 2017

16th Oct2017

Being Black and Not Belonging in Academia

by admin

Mamokgethi Phakeng

Last weekend, Professor Mamokgethi Phakeng, the Deputy Vice Chancellor (DVC) for Research and Internationalisation at the University of Cape Town (UCT), revealed  on Facebook that there was a malicious email campaign launched against her that sought to cast doubt on her qualifications. The emails were sent to a list of about 40 people that included a former Vice Chancellor, members of the university’s council, senior professors and alumni.

According to Phakeng, the email distribution list looked well established and there were emails that did not refer to her and her qualifications. One alumni made reference to a DVC on Twitter who “is self-absorbed and narcissistic and can only be compared to [Donald] Trump”. A second responded stated in their response that they do not believe that she is mathematically qualified at all.

Phakeng, who became the first black womxn to obtain a PhD in mathematics education in 2002, has received messages of support from students, UCT staff members and academics in the wake of these allegations. UCT Vice Chancellor, Max Price, released a statement in support of Phakeng. In his statement, he refers to the emails as being mischievous and that he is saddened by the “attack on [Phakeng’s] integrity, professionalism and academic standing”. Others on social media came out in support of Phakeng with the hashtag #HandsOffPhakeng trending on Twitter.

Phakeng has stated that she chose to reveal the incident on social media because of her large network on social media and also because she wanted to highlighted the prevalence of these kinds of attacks on black academics. Holding a powerful position in academia, Phakeng believes that she can use her stature to draw attention to the racism that a lot of black academics experience on a daily basis. The experience has taught Phakeng that South Africa’s higher education spaces are not as transformed as she once thought and that racism continues unfettered within academia.

What Phakeng has brought to our attention is that racism is rampant within South Africa’s major institutions. Black academics and professionals are often questioned on their qualifications and are placed under a level of scrutiny that their white colleagues do not experience. There are many instances of  micro-aggression that black professionals often experience and cannot talk about. Whenever, we hear the word “racism”, we often think of emboldened white supremacists holding rallies in Charlottesville under the banner of Unite the Right. However, the subtle racial micro-aggressions that manifest themselves within many workplaces, and other spaces, are just as harmful as the more “obvious” manifestations of racism. Despite the proclamations of many liberals, racism still exists and it doesn’t only rare its ugly head when the “rotten apples” use the k-word or when school teachers make pupils the object of racist remarks. The most important thing we can learn from what Phakeng experienced last week is that the racism we experience may not be as overt as a brick thrown at your window but its impact is just as malignant.

12th Oct2017

Life Happens

by admin

Hi everyone,

Due to unforeseen circumstances we were unable to publish an edition for this week.

Enjoy the rest of your week.

Until next time,

Sandiswa and the exPress imPress team of 2017

Life Happens

02nd Oct2017

Claim Your Place

by admin

Hi everyone,

This week’s edition of the blog focuses on how we must all claim our place in the world- no matter how small or insignificant it may seem. Molebogeng Mokoka starts off by encouraging all of us to remain true to ourselves and to resist the urge to compare our life paths with other. Sandiswa Sondzaba discusses Redi Tlhabi’s latest book: Khwezi: The Remarkable Story of Fezekile Ntsukela Kuzwayo which reclaims the late Fezekile’s dignity and name.

We hope that you are encouraged to claim your place in the world.

Have a wonderful week.

Sandiswa and the exPress imPress team of 2017

Claim Your Place

02nd Oct2017

Call Her By Her Name

by admin

Khwezi

Redi Tlhabi begins her new book with the poignant statement, “I wanted her to know that I was writing, unapologetically, as a feminist who believed her”. The “her” in question is the late Fezekile Kuzwayo who is the subject of Tlhabi latest offering Khwezi: The Remarkable Story of Fezekile Ntsukela Kuzwayo.

Who is Fezekile Ntsukela Kuzwayo? Up until her recent passing, Fezekile was publically known by the moniker Khwezi. This was the name that she had to adopt during one of the most shameful incidences in recent memory: the Jacob Zuma rape trial. Vilified, she had to adopt an alias and veil her face as she entered and exited the Johannesburg High Court. We did not know all that much about who she was other than the fact that  1) she was HIV-positive, 2) she was a self-identified queer womxn, and 3)  Jacob Zuma thought that she wanted to have sex with him on the basis of her wearing only a kanga in his presence. Fezekile’s treatment as Khwezi led one to sometimes wonder as to whether her detractors forgot that she was a human being who was being subjected to people’s sneers, victim-shaming and threats. Following the trial, she left South Africa for her own safety. Her mother’s house was burnt down shortly after the trial concluded. Jacob Zuma was acquitted of rape and yet his daughter, Duduzile Zuma, felt compelled to do interviews that vindicated her father by vilifying Khwezi. Soon enough, the trial became a distant memory for most South Africans. Jacob Zuma became President of South Africa and increasingly came to regard the state coffers as his personal bank account. In the midst of all of the calls for #ZumaMustFall and #PayBacktheMoney, we conveniently forgot that our President is a man who was convicted (although acquitted) of rape. Our President is a man who admitted, on Court stands, to taking a shower to decrease his chances of contracting HIV after having unprotected sex with the daughter of his late comrade. By all intents and purposes, if the judgement had been different, we would be reckoning with the strong possibility of our President being a corrective rapist.

Fezekile Kuzwayo did intend on using Redi’s book as a means for re-entering public life. She was going to attend all of the book launches and show her face to the world. After 12 years of being branded as “Khwezi, Jacob Zuma’s rape accuser”, she was finally going to get the opportunity to reclaim her name and her dignity. There is no doubt that the rape trial did derail her for a few years following the 8 May 2006- show me anyone who would not have been derailed by that experience. However, the fact that she wanted to use literature as a means of re-branding displays strength of character that very few people can attest to having. Tlhabi writes that, for the rest of her life, Kuzwayo feared being followed or watched. She worried about her name becoming public knowledge- the fact that she took the steps to overcome that fear speaks volumes about her constant willingness to speak truth to power. In Tlhabi’s book, Kuzwayo gets a fitting public re-emergence that restores her dignity, her voice, and her name. Lala ngoxolo sis’ Fezekile Ntsukela Kuzwayo.

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