Category Archives: Heart matters

So what did you expect?

This morning the Mr and I had a little fight. I had to take my car for a service – something that in my horror, totally feels like a dentist’s visit what with the information asymmetry, pain (actual and to the wallet) and the fact that there is a specialist whom you trust but then again, information asymmetry. At the root of the fight though is that ugly word: Expectations.

Any one about to be married, or married for a day and an hour will long have heard the mantra that expectations kill a marriage and that the counter is communicate, communicate, communicate. Our little fight had me reassessing all the different expectations that I had regarding marriage and an assessment of all other expectations I have held since our marriage started.

  1. I expected a partner that would take charge of cars and who would directly engage with mechanics and basically inform me when I needed to do any car-related changes.
  2. Ergo, any fixing of stuff around the house. I would highlight any issues and he would oversee to the fixing – whether directly or outsourced, I am ambivalent. To be honest, a lot of the technical stuff I was happy to delegate away.
  3. All newly weds are told that they need to set time for date night or else … Consequently, I too came into marriage with this (fear-driven) expectation and very early on we both figured out that given the pace of our lives it would be infeasible to designate a specific evening to always hang out. Having said that, when one of us is hectic, there is no expectation to do stuff but when things simmer down, we often hang out.
  4. My family has a habit of starting to plan for Christmas from as early as August/September. His family? Not so much. Initially this made me feel slightly helpless. Besides the family tradition, my personality is such that, you can never be too prepared OR start preparing too early. What we now try and do to incorporate both our idiosyncrasies is to have a lose discussion in September and refine it in the following months. This is certainly imperfect (according to me) but it definitely helps somewhat.
  5.  I thought that I would hate meal planning. Turns out, I love it.
  6. Sometimes as wives we expect that our husbands will become our best (female) buddy. That’s not the case and surely it’s not the reason that we fell in love to begin with. So keep your buddies and work on building a friendship with your husband too.
  7. Before the wedding I had heard of brides that often felt a bit sad after the wedding because things had gone back to “normal”. Did I feel the same way? Emphatically, NO!! After the energy and time spent planning the wedding, I was only too happy to settle for normal.

I must say these lessons are over and above learning how selfish I am, how much space and time alone I require. All of that. Marriage is certainly not the penultimate goal, neither is it my most defining relationship but I must say I have learnt a lot and it has been very fulfilling for me.

Book Review: Rape – Pumla Dineo Gqola

Book Description

Why has South Africa been labelled the ‘world’s rape capital’? What don’t we as South Africans understand about rape? In Rape: A South African Nightmare, Pumla Dineo Gqola unpacks the complex relationship South Africa has with rape by paying attention to the patterns and trends of rape, asking what we can learn from famous cases and why South Africa is losing the battle against rape. This highly readable book leaps off the dusty book shelves of academia by asking penetrating questions and examining the shock belief syndrome that characterises public responses to rape, the female fear factory, boy rape, the rape of Black lesbians and violent masculinities. The book interrogates the high profile rape trials of Jacob Zuma, Bob Hewitt, Makhaya Ntini and Baby Tshepang as well as the feminist responses to the Anene Booysen case.

I thoroughly enjoyed the book and would happily recommend it to anyone. It is obvious not a light or easy read and so even the review will have to be organised the different themes that I picked up on. Please get the book and share it with your friends and loved one and most importantly, men.

What is Rape?

  • Rape is not a moment but a language (p. 22)
  • Rape is violence and not sex (29)
  • the believability of a rape survivor depends on how closely her rape resembles her society’s idea of what a rape looks like, who rapes, who can be raped, when and how. (29)
    • The story told by a woman needs a body of evidence. It is not an interest in the pain of the rape, but a burden of proof placed on the survivor or victim of rape. (29)

The Black Woman as a sexual and rapeable object

  • At the same time that the rape of slave women was routine within slavery, slavocratic society created the stereotype of African hyper sexuality which sought to both justify and authorise the institutionalised rape of slaves. The stereotypes held that slave women could not be raped since like all Africans they were excessively sexual and impossible to satiate.(43)
  • At the same time that slave women were being routinely raped as a means to multiply their masters slaves, slave men, especially when they were African slaves were cast as dangerously sexual, with a ravenous sexual appetite better suited to slave women but with a particular danger to white women. (43)
  • While the rape of slave women was profitable, it also threatened ideas of racial hierarchy and produced anxieties about race-mixing …  of the unspeakable sexual intercourse between white women and slave men … about the loss of control over the bodies of white women, as much as it was about the idea of white women becoming impure. (45)
  • Until the abolishment of the death penalty, no white man has been hanged for rape, whereas the only Black men who were hung for rape had been convicted of raping white women; no white man or Black man had been convicted and sentenced to death for raping a Black woman. (52)

Black Men

  • The image of poor, young Black men as the figure of the rapist is not the reality SA women live under. (11)
  • We need to confront violent masculinities. We need to confront and reject violent men and the patriarchal men and women who enable them. (67)
    • “Your silence will not protect you.” Audre Lorde (67)
    • “All our silence is … complicity.” bell hooks (67)
  • If we accept that it is time to render all forms of gendered violence genuinely illegitimate in all spaces we occupy, then it follows that to do so we need to stop making excuses, that we take up the challenge to constantly debunk rape myths wherever we encounter them because all gender-based violence is brutality, a form of gender war against survivors’ bodies and psyches. (143)

Patriarchy

  • Rape has survived as long as it has because it works to keep patriarchy intact. It communicates clearly who matters and who is disposable. Those who matter are not afraid of being raped because they have not been taught to fear sexual assault. (21)
  • Patriarchy trains us all to be receptive to the conditions that produce- and reproduce- female fear, especially when it is not our own bodies on the assembly line. (80)
  • All men, no matter what race, class or religion have patriarchal power and can choose to brutalise and get away with it. (151)

Female Fear

  • Tired, hungry, distracted women are easier to control. (40)
  • The republic of SA has the contradictory situation where women are legislatively empowered, and yet we do not feel safe in our streets or homes. (65)
  • The manufacture of female fear uses the threat of rape and other bodily wounding but sometimes mythologises this violence as benefit. (79)
  • The threat of rape is an effective way to remind women that they are not safe and their bodies are not entirely theirs. It is an exercise in power that communicates that the man creating fear has power over the woman who is the target of his attention: it also teaches women who witness it their vulnerability either through reminding them of their own previous fears or showing them that it could happen to them next. (79)
  • The manufacture of female fear requires several aspects to work:
    • the safety of the aggressor,
    • the vulnerability of the target,
    • the successful communication by the aggressor that he has the power to wound, rape and/or kill the target with no consequences to himself. (80)
  • Women are socialised to look away from the female fear factory – to pretend it is not happening and to flee when ignoring it becomes impossible. (80)
  • Excuses make violence against women possible – they are part of the complicated network that says women are not human so our pain is generalised, unimportant, so we give violent men permission to keep all those they deem vulnerable such as women, men, and gender non-conforming people or children. (151)
  • South Africa has a greater problem with the existence of the […] rape survivor and victim that trouble by pointing to her/his/their own pain in South African public culture. The rapist is welcome to live and boast and be celebrated or lambasted for his hypermasculinity, even as he continues to flourish financially. (165)

This book helped me to understand the sexual objectification of African women and how we are often viewed as desirable and rapeable things by White and African men at large. Specifically for the White men, that attraction that often precedes that revulsion for deigning to be attracted to this lesser thing. Also, I could see how the morality laws are mainly to tame African men’s (sexual) appetites from being unleashed fully on (tired, hungry and distracted: read as helpless) White women. So on the one hand, it is perfectly fine to protect White women while on the other, prey on African women and continue to rape them and then blame them for it afterwards.

I also have a response to the cry “Not all men … ” if, and indeed it is the case, all men do not rape why do other men not call out these known rapists? Why don’t societies evaluate their ideas of a man and get their sons to grow up in a way that does not require them to diminish or brutalise women in order to feel fulfilled and accomplished. Being a man does not involve violence, rape or other attacks on women.

When I read the chapter of the female fear factory, I finally had to confront my own habits to counter this fear of being raped: smile at a group of men when they greet me even if I do not want to greet them; do not enter a loo if it is in a deserted part of the mall and there is a man outside; wear clothes that do not show my form if I will be going to certain crowded places; don’t walk in certain places after dark and the list goes on …

In closing this poem fully captures some of what this book tries to address: if he raped you, why didn’t you change/ who can be raped and how do they need to act afterwards? Also, this little paragraph about why the image of an independent black woman is a relic of racism.

Brave and Bold Monday

Source

Sunday Reads

Belated: (Women-related) Sunday Reads

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Sunday Reads

  1. Interesting take on development in Africa through the tale of the seed industry in Uganda.
  2. Even I got punished for speaking an African language at school.
  3. More women than men in Lesotho are in school.
  4. Technology is definitely making life easier for refugees.
  5. This seems like a simple DIY even I could do.
  6. As Christians we do not look to our circumstances but the hope of Christ and His promises!
  7. A mistake is just a moment in time.”
  8. Be ambitious for life and not just work. Yes!
  9. Ten places to visit in Nairobi.
  10. Six hot podcasts on and by Africans to listen to.
  11. Yummy lemon cake.
  12. What is a PhD?
  13. Awwwww at this cute child‘s response to her mom. Oh dear for this old man.
  14. Lime zest and cardamon mandazi.
  15. Some really inspirational girls!

Sunday Reads

  1. How to read more books this year. I am definitely taking it to heart by reducing my junk TV viewing and making sure I always have a book as I go about various chores.
  2. A reading list on Kenya in case you are interested.
  3. If a story moves you, act on it!
  4. This article on insecurity made me stop and think. Really hard!
  5. Somali nicknames are hilarious 🙂
  6. So many white tears in this article. I see that they have only a given demographic of foreign spouses married to South Africans.
  7. Also, this IS cultural expropriation.
  8. More on how couples deal with finances.
  9. I didn’t know there were Nigerian Jews in Johannesburg. Today’s fact!!
  10. What does it mean to be a boy or girl? National Geographic asks 9/10 year old kids.
  11. Stealing from one of the comments, “This is by far the best article I’ve read regarding LBGT and the gospel.”
  12. Chocolate cake and another vegetarian pasta recipe.

So we would like to date you

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One of the things that I thought would happen with marriage is that we would automatically become part of a group of other couples and we would often hang out and as the babies came, they would all grow up together. Why is this important for me? Well, I believe that as a couple, it is important to have a community that you can learn from and you can be open with. Not the entire world but some people that hold you both accountable and keep you both encouraged in this game of marriage.

Two years later, I can’t really say this has been the case.

If I think about our friendship cycle, we have either had that one couple that always invites us over to theirs and that we have occasionally hosted or the ones we always invite to ours/ out to dinner but upon our initiation and not theirs. Very binary. We are both really puzzled as to how  other couples go about befriending other couples. Where are the best kinds of places/activities to meet and interact? In the past, we have invited people for dinner or lunch but it has tended to revolve around food. Another possible place is church but our local church has less than 40 people (clergy included) and is very old. Where else?

Who would our ideal couple be? This has been the toughest bit in truth. As we have no kids this rules out the flexibility of having another couple with one or two kids in tow to pop by at random. With single people, we have observed that they sometimes project third wheel vybes when we hang together. Which means that we either chill with our single pals separately or host few people sporadically. Our ideal couple would be similar in age, committed to being married and fairly authentic – separately and jointly as a couple.

So, have you got a couple pal? How did you meet and what is the benefit to you to dating/being married and having a crowd of witnesses?

Let’s talk money

I read this interesting NYT article on seven essential money questions that start a conversation and thought it might be interesting to try and answer.

What lessons about money did you learn from your parents?

  • Always save and live within your means.
  • Never loan money to a friend unless you don’t mind losing the friendship.
  • Tithe.

What does the word “money” conjure up for you?

Freedom. Options. A nest egg.Independence.

How many children would you like to have when you retire?

Two.

How do you think your children feel about that?

N/A

Tell me about your financial situation when you first met.

We were both students, working part-time through school for pocket money.

What are the most important things in your life?

God (faith/church), Family, Education/ Career.

What does the prospect of retirement look like to you?

Leisure/ comfort, time to pursue other interests, financial independence.

Every woman needs a friend …

little girl centre

  • Who lifts them when they are down.

  • Who can lovingly reproach and correct you when needs be.

  • Who challenges you to be more than you are or do better.

  • That you can call up on short notice and they will take your call or make the time.

  • With whom you can dream up big ideas.

  • You trust fully.

  • Who accepts and loves you as you are …

Is goodbye possible if you have their number crammed?

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When we first started dating, the Mr had this theory about how girls shed friends in their 20s. Shed. His word, not mine. And always, I would scoff at him and state how I am too loyal a friend to ever lose a friendship. See, I know of myself that I am a particularly loyal friend. Loyal to the point of abuse or pain.

As a result, I am fairly ready to make amends and walk a mile in someone else’s shoe, try and be there for them, and basically to be the type of pal that I would want to have and the type of friend that they also talk of wanting in their life. As a result, I often struggle with when to let go of a difficult/ trying/ unfulfilling relationship. To be honest, I always start with never, you can try a bit more, come on, give it another go.

However, I currently find myself  pondering over this issue with a friend that I have known for over 10 years. In truth, the struggle was to allow myself to walk away and I am now at that place.

The best part of this friendship has always been the fact that we are two peas in a pod, kindred spirits in a sense. She and I have the same outlook in life. She has that gentleness in her that I know I can trust and that she will never take advantage of me. Which I totally loved and will always cherish about her. Having said that there has always been this doubt of my motives, what I say or don’t say and this has been the undertone of our entire friendship and led to many instances of not talking to each other or a lot of misunderstandings/conflict. This has been tiring and taken an overall toll on the friendship particularly now that we live in different cities and often rely on texts and emails that often don’t generally convey true meaning.

Another element of a great friendship is that as both parties get older, there is natural room for both parties to grow, experiment and come to terms with themselves in the new phase and both parties have to allow for this to naturally play itself out. Friendship cannot be rigid or imposing or it naturally dies away. As we have gotten older, I have also struggled to embrace all her choices and some of the decisions she has made have made me quite uncomfortable and I am struggling to be the friend she needs in this phase of her life.

More than that however is the fact that our friendship is steeped in the past. We are not generating new memories, we are hanging onto old memories but none of us is invested in going forward. In fact, if we did not have friends in common, we wouldn’t really know what the other was doing or what they were up to. I honestly think ten years has been great but we truly don’t need each other that much any way and so although painful, its probably the right thing to do.

Making friends as an adult is tough

{sisters} #PardonMyFro #freelancer #digitalart #blackgirlmagic #illustration #afroart #naturalsisters:

This post on friendship has been doing the rounds which got me thinking about friendships in general. I love this quote:

What I’ve been telling my daughter is this: Yes, pray for and hope for new and closer friendships. That’s a good thing to want. But also don’t be so idealistic that you don’t see the opportunities for friendship right in front of you. The person in your life that you least expect might end up the answer to your prayer.

It looks like taking the initiative when we’d rather wait to be invited. It looks like pursuing that person already in our life instead of waiting for someone who might not exist. It looks like looking out for who might need a friend more than me. It looks like keeping healthy boundaries when we feel particularly vulnerable about all this (I’m looking at you, social media).

It looks like continually keeping our eyes peeled for someone who fits our bill, but it looks even more like keeping partial solutions at the forefront of our mind when we desire companionship.

In turn this got me thinking about my friendships and I would like to reflect on this over a couple of posts.

Some of my (long) holiday reads ..

  1. If you are not a Longreads fan already, here is a list of their best articles of 2016.
  2. I am all about female friendships and stuff. I also love the authors idea of an article’s club.
  3. My friends and I have these kinds of conversations all the time. Why can’t I ever record them???
  4. Things people say after a miscarriage.
  5. Black Power!
  6. Kindness is the glue that holds couples together.
  7. What to choose when considering a Bible Study to join. We all need tips on how to improve our prayer life. Yep. At least me!!
  8. I guess con artistes are always looking to make a quick one so academia is also fair game.
  9. Short-run solutions to youth unemployment in South Africa. Can young offenders reform successfully?
  10. I love the aesthetics of this home!! This housing option seems quaint, but not for me.
  11. Helping kids to make New Year resolutions. Some help for adults too. More help from podcasts.
  12. Cool places to chill in Johannesburg. And in Uganda.
  13. On identity and what makes us, us. 
  14. I watched the movie Birth of a Nation and liked it.
  15. Recipes: Cooking with soy sauceFragrant Chickpea Basmati Rice with Fresh Coriander.

Sunday Reads

  1. This article on that tragic election.
  2. This lady trying to make sense of that election (1,000 comments but good).
  3. An education on the for-profit education sector in Kenya and Uganda.
  4. Extra-judicial killings in Kenya. HEARTBREAK!!
  5. Undertaking a life audit/ preparing for your 2017 New Years’ Resolutions.
  6. Why it is important for adults to give back in their community.
  7. I am definitely a sampler. I used to be a compartmentalizer before I got married and had to force diverse groups of friends to meet 😦
  8. Simple items that you can turn into a gift by framing them.
  9. Yummy vegetarian meals.
  10. Debunking the myth of a biological clock.
  11. Who are the middle class in Nigeria? PS: This is not a direct economic answer.
 

Sunday reads

  1. Being professional means working with whatever tools you have access to.
  2. Working out as a believer.
  3. Our response to a couple that only wants one kid!
  4. Advice to young jobseekers on how to present your CV.
  5. The church in Ethiopia.
  6. 13 Rules for female friendship.
  7. Bullet journals seem so FUN.
  8. Travelling while Muslim.
  9. The cost of being a woman and doing fieldwork

Sunday Reads

On women and work

Source

Get Lifted …. version 2

For the longest time I have wanted to try my hand at updating an old post.

A colleague gave me John Legend’s Album to listen to the other day and it just made me wonder! Its really nice  and it just made me wonder,is any of that stuff for real? That whole chick when I see you, I feel …. or what, do people really do that? Do they really feel that way about someone else? I have caught myself wondering how two people meet, fall in love and STAY that way? Isn’t that just the greatest mystery of all time- My folks have been together for 33 years and I just wonder at the resilience of that whole thing? How does that work? Don’t get me wrong, I am extremely loyal but to what end? This is why I don’t listen to R n B coz for me,it just isn’t about the beat BUT the words as well!

I wrote this post nine years ago, very single and obviously questioning the whole notion of love. It also doesn’t help that I was only 22 years old at the time.I obviously don’t have the answers but I think maturity has brought some comfort and some clarity.

Is love real? Yes, absolutely and definitely. I think at the time, I had never fallen in love or fallen for someone that loved me back, honestly and authentically which accounts for all the doubt and the skepticism.

Love is real.

Love I have come to discover is what works for two people that are committed to one another and who wish to to continue to be committed. Love is in the little things. Love is the opposite of apathy. Love is a process. Before I planned my wedding, I thought I loved my husband but then we went through the wedding planning process and moving cities and all the other countless things we have experienced together and I discovered I love him more now than 8 years ago. Love matures and love develops. Love has to be based on something or it can shrivel and die. Love glorifies God and inspires other people to also believe in God and that they could also love like that.

Love is what works for the two concerned people.

 

Positive relationship related jams

Relationships are not easy. Conflicts are a side effect of all relationships and sometimes it’s all about the perspective we select.

Enjoy!!!

Saturday Truths …

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