30th Apr2017

Speaking Truth to Power

by admin

Hi everyone,

In this edition, a few of our writers have written pieces for you to enjoy. In Happiness is a Four Letter Word, Naledi Khumalo writes a beautiful tribute to her best friend, fellow writer Obvious Nomaele. Zinhle Khumalo addresses colourism in South Africa’s black community. Finally, Sandiswa Tshabalala shares her poem #TriggerWarning which critically addresses South Africa’s normative violent rape culture. Although few in number, these articles are thought-provoking and truly speak truth to power.

Until the next edition,

Sandiswa and the exPress imPress team of 2017

Speak Truth to Power

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…

24th Apr2017

Freedom in All of its Colours

by admin

Black Culture in the UK

Hi everyone,

This week our talented team have written articles that, coincidentally, address all of the complexities within contemporary black culture. Sandiswa Sondzaba shares her excitement over the fashion industry’s recent embracing of past and contemporary black subcultures. Kendrick Lamar has proven to be one of this generation’s most talented artists. Azola Jokweni discusses why he believes that Kendrick Lamar is the greatest rapper of his generation. Molebogeng Mokoka explains why our condemnation of Khanyi Mbau over her decision to lighten her skin complexion is highly problematic. Finally, Jabulile Mbatha critiques King Mswati III’s desire to ban divorce in Swaziland. Our talented writers have illustrated the complex issues that currently come with black culture- in all of its various forms. We sincerely hope that you will enjoy reading these thought-provoking articles.

Have a wonderful week of freedom,

Sandiswa and the exPress imPress team of 2017

24th Apr2017

Banning Divorce

by admin

MSWATI

“In our culture, once you marry someone, there’s no turning back”, King Mswati III was quoted by the Times of Swaziland, as he seemed to be endorsing banning divorce in his country. As the King of Swaziland and a proud man of his culture, he seeks only to preserve his cultural beliefs and norm. One of these beliefs is evidently that it is not advisable to marry then later divorce. As a husband and a father himself; he understands the importance of unity within a family. Thus, he would wish that all other families could stay together as cases of divorce have shown to have the most dreadful effects on families, particularly children.

With his suggestion of banning divorce he has turned a blind eye on the reasons people divorce in the first place. This is completely unfair in the case that he eventually implements this law. Divorce statistics in South Africa show that the rates are 0, 5 divorces per 1000 estimated population; and there has been a constant decline on the number of marriages occurring annually.

There are several reasons why people get divorce. To mention a few, the most common reason is that of infidelity; in my opinion, once a partner has decided to allow himself or herself to cheat the latter could be in a position to want out and with good reason. Abuse- psychological, physical, mental or emotional is another reason for many divorces. Substance abuse can cause financial strain, emotional detachment and sometimes violence which is reason enough for anyone to want out of a marriage if they feel they have reached a point of no return with the person they used to know and love. Not only that, but being in a position of inferiority and helplessness can affect people psychologically and emotionally and they would want to help themselves by seeking a divorce.

With that being said, it would be highly considerate for King Mswati III to further explore the reasons as to why people divorce before implementing this law. Not doing so would be of no help if people are stuck in positions where they feel endangered or unloved and are held down by this law (given all the human rights we have) just for the sake of preservation of culture. Although I am personally in favour of preserving the family, I can only support fighting for saving a marriage provided that it is not oppressive or unfair for either party in the marriage.

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?

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.

27th Mar2017

Being a Good African Girl

by admin

On 1 February, Beyonce used Instagram to announce her pregnancy with twins. Of course her announcement went viral, with many going on Twitter to exclaim that her news had saved 2017. The following day, she released a highly referential, avante-garde photo essay on her website. The photo essay was a collaborative effort with several photographers, including Awol Erizku, and had references and allusions that centred her in a long, historical visual narrative around motherhood and womanhood. The visuals referenced included The Madonna and Child, Botticelli’s Birth of Venus, and the African water goddess Mami Wata. Moreover, Beyonce made use of these references during her performance at the 2017 Grammy Awards, using her performance to pay tribute to motherhood and divine mythologies around fertility and motherhood. However, not everyone is a fan of Beyonce’s deification of motherhood. Naomi Schaefer Riley, in her op-ed piece Having a Baby Isn’t a Miracle and Doesn’t Make You a Goddess, criticizes Beyonce’s visual references as being a form of pagan fertility worship. Riley goes on to criticize society’s deification of motherhood. That critique makes sense; however, Riley seemingly reduces motherhood to a banal performativity without any consideration for why Beyonce, a black woman, would feel the need to deify black motherhood within our globalized misogynoir society.

 

This is not the first time that black feminist icons have been unfairly criticized for celebrating their blackness. Brenda Fassie, patronisingly characterized as the Madonna of the Townships, was an icon who problematized societal narratives around black womanhood. Brenda Fassie was an icon who, besides recording multiple classics such as Weekend Special, had a profound impact young (black) women’s self-esteem and psychosocial energies. Regardless of the progressive tenets within our Constitution, South Africa is a deeply conservative and patriarchal society. Black womanhood- and black women’s sexualities are consistently under the heteronormative patriarchal gaze that manifests itself through virginity testing, high levels of gender based violence, and rampant homophobia. Homophobic attitudes have been problematized, with the Somizi Mhlongo’s highly publicized recent walkout of a Grace Bible Church sermon that discussed the “unnaturalness” of homosexuality. That Brenda Fassie dared to be proudly queer in the 1990s and early 2000s is an act of transgression that we have yet to uncover within our collective imagination. Seemingly Brenda Fassie’s queerness has become invisibilized within the mainstream media’s memorialization of her music and legacy as late- and post-apartheid South African artist. Brenda Fassie audaciously spoke of her multiple male and female lovers. Later on in her life, she came out as lesbian; yet, she dared to self-identify as a good African woman. This self-identification complicated our understanding of black femininity.Within mainstream understandings of black African femininity, a woman is either good or bad. A good woman is virginal whilst the bad woman is lascivious and self-destructive.

 

Without a doubt Brenda Fassie was self-destructive. However, she was revolutionary in that she used her music (and her life) to challenge the legacy of ownership over black bodies and their sexuality. She embodied this rebellion in her later life as she chose to sing exclusively in South Africa’s indigenous languages. She used the public exposure of her private life to inform her music and activism. Brenda Fassie used her celebrity and proud embrace of her sexuality to challenge our understandings of what a good African woman is/was. Brenda Fassie commanded us to love her as she was: a sexual black woman. If we truly did love her, then we should start to embrace her complex and transgressive legacy as a queer black woman existing within post-apartheid South Africa’s political milieu.

Brenda Fassie

 

20th Mar2017

Gender and Sexuality Issues Under the Political Lens

by admin

Gender inequality and discrimination based on sexuality have always been issues that have brought with them pertinent discussions and debates. A lot of “important people” debate and deliver speeches about issues on social media platforms; however, the truth is we have never really seen any of these problems being practically addressed. We live in a country where equality and fairness are always encouraged; the representation of all people is something that is highly emphasised. However, this does not reflect the reality for most people. Please note that this article is based on my own personal views and opinions and I do stand to be corrected.

For years we have been about feminism this and feminism that. And I say “we” because I, myself have been a part of those who have considered themselves a feminist without really taking into account the conditions under which feminism exists in this country. After attending the Feminism Indibano organised by SASCO Wits (credit ought to be given to the speakers) I have come to believe that feminism is not only about our social stance; it is also about how our political institutions have a bigger role in reinforcing what the social institutions preach. The social hierarchy pyramid places us black women at the very bottom, with black men right above us. This means that black women have three privileged groups “oppressing” them. For years, non-feminist have not understood the fuss around being “equal” has been about; and have went on complaining about how black women want to be “equal” to men. The truth is that WE DON’T AND HAVE NEVER WANTED TO BE THE SAME AS, AND EQUAL TO, these other groups. Why be equal to a black man who is oppressed on the basis of his race? Why be equal to a white woman, when her gender disadvantages her? And why be equal to a white man who has the ultimate power over our lives and could oppress us at any given time? However, this is a story for another day.

The main issue at hand is, how are our political institutions addressing sexuality inequality and discrimination? As much as we have a women’s league in South Africa, what has its role been in ensuring that women are well represented in state government? Of all the premiers in the current cabinet only one is female. This brings forth the question about what the state is saying about its faith in women leadership and its stance on the patriarchs who constantly take feminist movements two steps back. The political field as a whole is held by men and is also driven by them. And as long as such issues are not reinforced in the one “field” that practically runs everything issues of such importance will never be adequately addressed.

Coming to the representation of sexuality in our country, well, this has been a dismal fail. This is despite there being a youth league that is supposed to be representing the young people as well as ensuring the problems the youth are encountering are addressed by the national government. We are facing a difficult time of being discriminated against on the grounds of our sexuality. We are facing high rates of unemployment. And as students, we are faced with the challenge of high university fees whilst we are making the call for free decolonised education. How is our youth league attempting to address such? We ought to have a division in the youth league which will be mainly run by people who know the struggles which come with being Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transsexual (part of the LGBT community). We may all be young people; however, we do not all face the same daily challenges. It is for this reason that I believe that political institutions should be inclusive and regularly address issues related to those of genders/sexuality regardless of economic status. And as much as we would like to mostly focus on women, we cannot ignore the fact that there are “men” who identify as women and “women” who identify as men. Thus, we have to consider the discrimination that comes with that identification. Politics practically run this world, and if issues of such importance cannot be addressed using politics, then clearly equality will never exist.

Please do excuse the lack of academic language in this article, but I do hope it provokes thoughts and questions about what role the political arena is, and should, be playing in creating a gender/sexuality inclusive environment in the country.

Gender

08th Aug2016

And So They Called Me a Woman

by admin

Because I was ‘beautiful’ and smiled differently.

Because I cried hourly.

 

Because I wore a dress on my first birthday.

Because I walked weirdly.

 

Because my father was not close to me.

Because I wore a bra at age twelve.

 

Because my voice was not loud enough for this world.

Because hurtful things hurt me.

 

Because I hated touching dirt at age sixteen.

Because I did what I was asked for no reason.

 

Because the smell of cigarettes was hell for me.

 

Because lipstick was invented

 

Because I found white cloths and kitchen sinks appealing.

Because my eyes see colours dancing.

 

Because I can give life to another.

Because I can stay for a while longer.

 

Because I think everything has meaning.

Because I understand where it is all going.

 

Because pain is a living.

Because I walk through the hours dying.

 

Because my name is countless assumptions.

Because science says.

 

Because I sit down.

 

Because I am like the others like me;

6 black-and-white-stripes-watercolor-fashion-woman-art-print-beverly-brown-prints

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