30th Apr2017

#TriggerWarning

by admin

As a South African woman,
I know my place
Last in opinion,
But first appetizer,
on the course that feeds men’s sordid desires
You were not designed to be my ally,
none of us were,
for we all know that the wheels that move our
‘great country’
drive the patriarchy
Fragile creatures,
we are taught early to restrain the parasites,
Clamorous men
We are taught early to restrain ourselves,
For our small, candid bodies grow into
playgrounds
for preying eyes and eager fingertips
The history of our country is one filled with
struggle
where our fathers and theirs
fought for the right to be within one’s skin
Today we fight a different war.
A war for the right to be within our bodies as
women.
A war to be something other than passive
receivers of aggressive sexual attention.
The war against rape –
A gutless coward,
hiding itself in the makeup of our country’s
shame
We allow young men to continuously make
punching bags of women;
watching the weight of their insides fall
greedily from inside of them
feeding the soils that grow your ignorance
This is no war fought using ammunition,
but fought using power
And half our soldiers will have to fight
for the right to keep their power in a single
lifetime
some before they even know they have
anything to fight for
The nail in the coffin is that us
the non-militants contribute to this endless
plague.
We sit in our comfortable glass houses
Throwing stones of judgement and blame

The words slut, whore, tramp, spewing in the
air like hand grenades in combat
We hide in our fortresses until judgement day
But what redemption do we seek to receive
When our general – the president of our
country is an acquitted rapist
The plague covers our land in its venomous
grip,
taking our soldiers in its many forms
Staining virginal rights, claiming to cleanse our
AIDS ridden men.
Gripping onto the innocence of our infants –
men, who are meant to protect them,
using them for sexual gratification
This country is a ticking time bomb,
Ticking to the day I feel safe walking on the
street
Ticking to the day I don’t feel the need to be as
inconspicuous as possible in front of a group
of men
Ticking to the day I am proud to be a woman,
comfortable in my skin
So as we turn down the lights,
And bolt up the doors
We know that we are waiting for this war
A war that no one can prepare us for…

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.

 

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

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

by admin

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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.

27th Mar2017

What Makes a Man?

by admin

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This is a question which has made room for much debate. In my Sociology class, one girl proclaimed that what men are made from the lies they tell. While we all chuckled at that view (which, for the most part, remains true), the question remained unanswered. I would argue that traditional society’s view of what being a man is all about is focused solely on masculinity- which is a dish best served toxic.

 

Toxic masculinity is indelibly tied to masculinity in general, as by definition being masculine means that you have qualities traditionally associated with men, especially strength and aggressiveness. And isn’t that every mother’s dream, that their sons will grow up to be strong and… aggressive? The most extreme example of this kind of hope for a child would be Caius Martius from Shakespeare’s Coriolanus and his mother’s excessive excitement at his violent exploits, but since this is real world, and this kind of fanciful scenario is out of reach, it is quite alarming that lots of Caius Martiuses exist in modern society. Aggression; lack of emotion; and domination have become the standard for masculinity. This is what is meant by toxic masculinity.

 

A crucial factor in understanding how this is manifested is through understanding that masculinity (toxic or otherwise) is not innate. This is what makes it most dangerous. We have all heard the saying “No child is born racist,” and the same goes with this concept. Masculinity is entrenched in society through familial teachings and the way households are structured around performing chores and interacting with members of the opposite sex from childhood. This is why girls have to stay in the house and learn how to manage a household with respect to cleaning and cooking whilst boys do outside chores, if any. It also begins with vast differences between the girls’ and boys’ aisles in the toy stores. The boys’ aisles have automotive toys that make use of a child’s motor skills, whereas a girl’s toy usually involves the kitchen, and learning how to take care of a baby and how to maintain one’s beauty. This communicates to young boys and girls what their place in society will be, and what should be important to them.

 

Now, this does not necessarily mean that if you enjoyed playing with Barbie dolls and now you know a thing or two about beautification or if you enjoy cooking now, you’ve been manipulated into doing so by society or by your upbringing. The problem lies in how you’ve been taught to do these things. The same goes for how boys are taught masculinity. Young men have often been told to “act like a man”. This instruction often means that men have to be unemotional, angry, better than others, and never weak. This is one of the ways in which masculinity is dangerous– not only to women but to men themselves. Everyone is born with emotion, but a person who actively suppresses their own must be living a highly regulated and uncomfortable life and that is no life at all.

 

More than this, toxic masculinity  becomes an endless cycle of teachings because, even though that view argues that men are inherently not good or nurturing parents, a man must mould his son into the best possible version of manhood possible. Men may grow up thinking that they are unsuited to being nurturing parents, and that they have certain roles with regards to being a father, i.e. being a breadwinner. This further entrenches household inequality and influences how boys in a house are raised in relation to girls. This problem comes full circle as the ways in which a man views his masculinity give us great insight into how he views women. If a man thinks that understanding women, enjoying fruity colorful drinks, crying, or being emotionally supported by another man or caring about his appearance emasculates him, then it is apparent that he views women (and other effeminate people) as being weak, frivolous, and overly emotional.

20th Mar2017

Wanderlust

by admin

Hi everyone,

We have another great edition this week with many stories from our talented team. Thabisile Miya discusses the nationwide students’ accommodation which has culminated in the rise of movements such as #Shackville and #SouthPointFeesSoRidiculous. Lindokuhle Kolanisi questions whether the post-apartheid political order could be more inclusive of gender and sexuality. Tsholanang Rapoo explains why she believes the recent feud between Remy Ma and Nicki Minaj is not anti-feminist. Molebogeng Mokoka explores the continuous devaluation of the BA degree; is it really worth nothing? Veli Mnisi gives us an in-depth look into how thrift shopping has, culturally and economically, transformed itself. He also gives us an insider’s perspective of Braamfontein’s newest thrift shop- haunt, The Thrift Vintage Shop (T V Shop). We’re also featuring Sandiswa Tshabalala’s poem, titled Black Girl Magic. Finally, Charissa Govender gives us the ultimate traveller’s guide for exploring New York City.

Hope you enjoy what we have to offer. Have a wonderful Human Rights’ Day tomorrow.

Sandiswa and the exPress imPress team of 2017

Wanderlust

20th Mar2017

Chicken or Beef: Nicki and Remy

by admin

Does my womanhood take away my right not to like you?

Remy Ma Nicki Minaj

Following the flurry of commentary around this beef and how Remy was wrong for ‘slut shaming’ Nicki Minaj and vice versa, I am left with one question: Does the fact that I am a feminist strip me of my right not to like you because you are also a black woman? Yes, we are all women and yes, we need to uplift each other and reconstruct the patriarchy thrusted upon us. However, some things should be taken at face value. Nicki and Remy, have got nothing to do with me and my struggles as a black woman.

Remy’s personal and professional views on Nicki Minaj have nothing to do with women in general. The idea that all feminists, or all women for that matter, ought to get along is one that I find highly ironic considering that all of us know people, men and women, we don’t like. We might share the same values but if I don’t like your behaviour and I feel like you need to get checked, why not? This is hip hop; tracks and whatever is said on them ought to be viewed in that context. The patriarchy that we are trying to prevent is the patriarchy that you are perpetuating by not allowing these women to openly challenge, and destroy their direct line of competition. The release of ShEther, is a play on one of the most famous beefs in hip hop- between the New York giants, Nas and Jay-Z who later settled their difference after many fights, war of words, and the release of Ether by Nas. It is with this in mind, I feel people should listen to Nicki and Remy, the battle between two New York giants, going at it. In my opinion, their gender has no bearing in their lyricism. It is fun and it is what hip hop is all about.

I know some might be thinking that if this is a pure hip hop battle, why post it on social media, and why the release of intimate information by both parties.  Well in response to that I say that all is fair in Love and Hip Hop. It is a battle and it is not going to be pretty, something must get beaten, besides their make-up. Dirt was dug and mud was slung from both sides, some more than others, but that is the nature of the game. Only the best will survive: it is eat or be eaten, killed or be Nicki’d. For every punch that was thrown in ShEther, there was a comeback in No Frauds. Where Remy referred to Nicki’s surgery, Nicki did the same. When Remy came for Nicki’s brother, Nicki came for Remy’s children. It was blow for blow, grimy and ruthless on both sides and this brings me to my point; Remy does not like Nicki, Nicki doesn’t care, and the audience is entertained.

This is all that there is to it. To assume that empowering females in all spaces relinquishes my right not to like you is not only patriarchal but it’s a bit naive. As feminists, we are not in the position to judge every situation based on gender under the assumption that all females who believe in a free, equal and non-sexist world need to love and support each other at all times. It is in cases like these where I think that we should truly consider what feminism means not only as a movement but for all women; Black, White, Asian, Indian, Mexican, Latin, and all other shades of womanhood. If these two rappers weren’t female, would there be so much fuss about what was said and how they said it, and would we even be discussing how objectified and disrespected the females in their lives must be feeling. Equality and justice are not the same things and as feminists we need to ask ourselves as to whether we are fighting for equality or Justice? These are all important questions that we need to address however, in a hip hop battle, I find it more helpful to ask: Who won? Who came out on top? In this case, who was the better rapper?

 

13th Mar2017

Woman Empowerment

by admin

Empowered Woman

 

You are who you are. Their approval is not needed. They can take away everything but they will never be able to take away your original you. The above statements exemplify, for me, why we, as woman, ought to come together like imbumba and protect one another. Each individual must take a stand and stop speaking ill of other women and unnecessary jealousness. We all know that jealousy can occur, I also experience it at times, but I fight it like others who refuse to live with their pervasive jealous. We need to stand against betrayal because we tend to judge one another, knowing how hard it is to be a woman. Greet another woman today- a simple “hello” won’t cost you your life. Tell her she’s beautiful and not only that you will be uplifting her soul but you will also sleep with satisfaction knowing that you have made another woman smile today.

In this day and age, never depend on anyone but your parents. Ultimately, we cannot depend on men and whatever may be in their pocket because, despite the blessers or sugar daddies being able to give you what you want, you will also be forced to give one thing that a female values the most (particularly in traditional African culture). Imagine at this young age you are already infected with HIV/AIDS just because of money, is money really the roots of all evil? If it has the power to kill, infect, and make our young woman greedy?, or we as humans need to take control of the situation if things don’t work out and not rely on Blessers and Sugar Daddies as if it is the end of the world, I understand things happen but each and every one of us have the power to stop it from happening. My wish is to see no woman obtaining the guts to date, not to mention having a sexual relationship with a man old enough to be your father, what are we teaching the young? There’s a quote from Whims.me/AicX  that says that money only impresses lazy girls because when a woman works hard, a man with money becomes a bonus, not a ladder to social mobility. Young ladies, work hard now so that in the future when you enter an expensive shop you will be able to take that dress or those shoes that caught your attention and swipe your card without even looking at the price.

You are defined by what you wear, if you decide to wear that bum short, that crop top, long skirt… wear it with pride, walk the talk and if someone’s complains on how you wear and say they don’t like what you wearing, just smile and walk away because you didn’t wear that for them, you wore it for you and the only thing that matters is that you love what you are wearing and you are happy. Jenessa Michele said that when people see her, when other women see her, they may be judging her based on how much her clothes cost. If the cost of our clothing and where we buy them define our personal value, then that (in my humble opinion) is a major problem.

Seeing a pretty woman with expensive clothes can be intimidating because you will just think that she’s got it all. Instead of lowering your self-esteem and comparing your appearance to other women, you are only causing yourself heartbreak because everyone is beautiful in their own way and everyone was created by one person. It was not a mistake for you to walk these grounds and to be on this earth. Your mother carried you for nine months. She didn’t carry a useless child nor did she raise a weak woman. The fact that she gave birth to you (this young, beautiful, gorgeous you) shows how much potential she saw in you. It is now your turn to play your part and make your mother proud as she is your goddess on earth. Do not be ashamed if your mother is a drunkard and your father a garden boy. Take a stand and be brave enough to change the situation at home because in life it doesn’t matter where you come from but what matters is where you going.

I agree with Hillary Clinton when she says that she believes that the rights of women and girls are the unfinished business of the 21st century.  Statistically, women have always experienced (and continue to experience) more poverty than men. Slowly but surely, we will get to a point where everything is equal. This will only happen if we get together because, as the popular saying goes, when you strike a woman, you strike a rock. Emma Watson says that she will not stand down until she gets to see an equal number of female prime ministers, presidents and CEOs and more men feel that it is okay to express how they really feel about things and more fathers are present in their children’s lives. Personally, until I see us all not policing and oppressing each other and not ostracizing each other and when I live in a world where there isn’t a narrow understanding of masculinity and femininity, I will not stand down. I stand for my belief that it is right that women are paid the same as their male encounter pants. I believe that I have the right make decisions about my own body. I believe it is right that women be involved, on my behalf, in shaping the policies and decisions that will affect my life. Ultimately, I stand firm in my belief that ought to be offered the same respect as my male counterparts.

17th Oct2016

Goodbye for Now

by admin

goodbye

Hi everybody,

We have approached the end of this year’s edition of exPress imPress. It has been a great year sharing our team’s thoughts and ideas with you- our readers. Mamelodi Marakalala has written a piece on how women ought to follow their own paths and not succumb to societal expectations. The last few weeks have been tough, with the militarization of many South African universities in response to the #FeesMustFall2016 movement. Khwezi passed away, having not received the justice she deserved. As South Africans, we are in the midst of one of the most challenging periods in our country’s history. Our finance minister, Pravin Gordhan, is facing fraud charges and there is increasing proof of state resources being misused. This is enough to make us despondent. In some ways, it would be easier to leave South Africa before our country goes up in flames. However, this is our home. We are facing significant challenges but we cannot give up. Our country has so much potential and we, as South Africans, have the power to change the course of our country’s future.

 

Until next year,

Sandiswa and the 2016 exPress imPress team

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