Feminist

Who Said Small Town Girl Can’t Make It Big?

First and foremost, I would like to announce to my readers that I’m officially back in the blogging scene therefore, expect to see more of my posts from now henceforth.

So let’s jump right into today’s topic!

Quite recently I remembered a conversation I once had with someone I intended to date. I’m a small town born and raised girl. Well, not necessarily small town per se. I have grown up in locations considered major towns in Kenya but if you compare those major towns to Nairobi, where I currently reside, they are no match to the city. And Kenya, for my foreign readers is not a very large country. It’s big alright but not to the magnitude of Sudan, Brazil and the likes and not as small as The Central African Republic. Somewhere in the middle of very large and small. Anyways…

I have always considered our current Cabinet Secretary of Foreign Affairs, Amb. Dr. Amina Mohammed as a role model. Secretly, I have also harbored the desire to one day venture into Diplomacy.

kenyan Foreign Affairs CS, Amb. Dr. Amina Mohammed

Kenyan Foreign Affairs CS, Amb. Dr. Amina Mohammed. Photo Courtesy of Wikipedia.

So we were on a first date and somewhere along the way, my conversation with this guy veered toward school and career ambitions and for some reason, I mentioned that I would like someday to go the Diplomacy way in my career. This guy looked at me with a somewhat sympathetic smile and said, “Wewe msichana wa Nakuru uko na hizo mafikira?” For my foreign readers, he simply wondered how I thought I could make it to be a Diplomat, being a chic from Nakuru (my current hometown). Well, I was somewhat offended but being a first date, you kind of don’t show it. However, that particular subject ended at that point and we talked of other things instead.

Well, to cut a long story short, we barely dated. It didn’t work out very early on which was just as well, seeing that this guy wasn’t quite the ambitious type despite his surprisingly, good education.

Anyways, let me state to all and sundry that Amb. Amina Mohammed is actually a small town girl. A “very small” town girl who was brought up in Amalemba, Kakamega and attended schools in the then Western Province of Kenya before proceeding overseas for her university education. We talk of counties nowadays. Plus, she is of Somali descent where for a long time, educating the girl child in the community, was not considered that important. So anyone who thinks that small town girls from marginalized communities can’t make it big are thoroughly mistaken.

I tend to think that society has over time drafted this image considered “ideal” for a woman to make it big. She has to be the sophisticated type, from this exposed family, born and raised in a big city, beautiful, well traveled, of a certain skin tone…blah, blah, blah. The same happens in other parts of the world not necessarily in Africa. Just last month, a West Virginia Official in the US lost her job after referring to Outgoing First Lady of the US, Michelle Obama as an “Ape in heels”. With yet another woman of high standing, agreeing with her in the comment section of the offensive post on Facebook which read;

“It will be refreshing to have a classy, beautiful, dignified First Lady in the White House. I’m tired of seeing a Ape in heels,”

From the above incident, it is pretty obvious that society has over time set standards considered ideal, for a woman to make something of herself. And we tend to not quite believe that hard work, ambition and determination is often times all it takes, for a woman to be where she wants to be in life. I consider Michelle Obama one of those self driven women, who were ambitious enough to achieve what they wanted.

She did not come from a well to do family, but that fact did not stop her from making it to top universities to pursue her career of choice. It’s not a matter of what color her skin is or whether someone, somewhere, considers her a cousin to a primate, it’s all about what she has achieved as an individual and the possibility of a Black woman, to carry herself with such grace and end up as a First Lady of a superpower.

Many girls have been made to believe that they cannot achieve anything just from that mere fact of where they come from. Almost like their destiny has been mapped out for them by people who hardly know better. So she’s from a small town or community, then she only needs a basic education, a man to marry her and children to raise that will keep her busy.

Society does not realize that we are killing the dreams of many girls who could have otherwise made something great out of themselves. Who is society? Society is you and me who decide to give a free pass to girls from certain backgrounds just because we assume their social standing equates to success. Society is you and me who look at a woman’s skin tone and decide whether she can make it to an advertising billboard or not. Society is you and me who stereotype girls who come from remote, dusty locations as uncultured, unexposed and unworthy of any forms of success.

It might surprise you that most women who go on to become such great people came from places that can hardly be located on a map. They were not necessarily beautiful, vain or monied. They worked their way up. Got scholarships to study in prestigious universities, maximized on their special giftings and displayed a certain level of intellect that amazed all those who interacted with them.

I can’t really blame that guy I was on a date with for being stereotypical. I actually attribute his reasoning to what he has grown accustomed to seeing. Women not believing in themselves enough to come out of their areas of locality and actually achieve something tangible. It may have sounded really foreign to him that a woman somewhere thought that she could become something, he hasn’t seen other women becoming in that particular locality.

Women should stop believing in these baseless stereotypes. Women need to believe in themselves to the point where anything is possible for them to achieve. I still consider Amb. Amina Mohammed a role model. I still hope that someday, I end up in diplomacy. If it so happens, you my readers will be the first to know that I made it 😉

 

The Woman In Office

Disclaimer: Views expressed in this post are the author’s.

I have never been so much into Politics in the past and recent past. Indeed, I have hardly blogged about politics in my whole period as a blogger. However, I can’t help but be a Clinton supporter in the American race for presidency. I really admire this woman’s strength and resilience and the events that have unfolded during this American campaign period, have only made me really want her to clinch the presidency. Not that I know much about American politics save for watching the CNN News and chancing on Hillary Clinton’s autobiography in the campus library one rainy evening, which I chose to devour as I found the book highly interesting. But that little knowledge I have acquired about this woman, has led me to firmly believe that women can indeed be world leaders.

There has always been a tendency in the past to associate women in the public eye with beauty, fashion and style. All we get to hear about is what she was wearing and who dressed her and how she looked in the process, downplaying some of the significant roles that a woman in the public eye is supposed to perform. And while it is of equal importance that a woman should take care of her appearance and especially, if she occupies a certain position that requires her to look the part, I tend to think that always being concerned with how she looks doesn’t really matter sometimes, but only does a good job of furthering the stereotype that women ought to be admired in the physical sense and not the intellectual sense.

Image sourced from www.motherjones.com

Image sourced from http://www.motherjones.com

In my country, when wife to the late Joshua Orwa Ojode who passed away in a helicopter crash in 2012, mentioned in a recent anniversary of her husband’s death, that she would wish to represent the Ndhiwa Constituency just as her deceased husband once did, it was interesting to note that what many people noticed was how her hair looked in one of the photos. The said photo did the rounds on social media with Kenyan men and women alike bashing her for what they termed as her hair appearing “wild”. With some going as far as to suggest that she needed a salon visit before declaring her political ambitions. I mean, did anyone consider that it could have been windy on that particular day?!

And while I find Clinton to be well put together in her pantsuits ( we call them trouser suits in my country), subtle jewelery and well coiffured hair, I’m glad that the focus is not always on what she is wearing and which designer she is representing, but on what her values are as an American individual and how she plans to move the American society forward should she become president.

Mrs. Mary Ojode, wife to the late Orwa Ojode in mourning of her husband's death. Photo courtesy of www.capitalfm.co.ke

Mrs. Mary Ojode, wife to the late Orwa Ojode in mourning of her husband’s death. Photo courtesy of http://www.capitalfm.co.ke

The photo that got tongues wagging concerning the apperance of her hair. Courtesy of www.nation.co.ke

The photo that got tongues wagging concerning the apperance of her hair. Courtesy of http://www.nation.co.ke

It should equally be noted that women in office should not necessarily be divorcees and therefore deserving of the stereotype that some careers for the female gender cannot accommodate a husband in a woman’s life. Indeed Clinton has had her fair share of marital woes and especially in the wake of the Monica Lewinsky scandal. I have come across some articles that criticize her on how she chose to handle some of the scandals with other women involving her husband while he was in office. I do not consider her unwise per se, for choosing to stick to her husband as she would go on to state in her 2003 memoir that No one understands me better and no one can make me laugh the way Bill does. Even after all these years, he is still the most interesting, energizing and fully alive person I have ever met.

Her choice to save her marriage remains a personal choice. I bet she does value the family unit and the American people equally do irregardless of the divorce rates in the country. If they didn’t, then none of the Obama family pictures would have constantly been put on display like they have been. And beautiful pictures indeed which serve to show that strong willed, opinionated, educated, career oriented women like Michelle Obama and Hillary Clinton can still balance being a mother, wife and office duties.

In African societies, women have constantly been under represented in political issues concerning the country. We tend to sensationalize the fact that women are highly emotional and of a lesser intellectual capability to fully understand what running the country entails. The chauvinistic nature of most African societies firmly imprints in the minds of men that women should not hold positions of leadership. That women should always cower behind the leadership of men. It is refreshing to see that in recent times, more African women are taking up positions of leadership and more African men are beginning to realize that behind that veneer of sexuality and beauty lies a sharp mind.

A woman’s presence should not only be gauged by her marital status and how she looks physically. I recently came across an article in one of the local papers, where women vying for women representative position in the coming 2017 elections, in one of the parts of our country, were being termed as “beautiful”. It was more like who is fairer than the other. I felt as if the emphasis should have been more on their political ambitions and less on their physical appearances. However, this only served to show how much society in recent times, has objectified the woman so much to the point where it did not matter what age she was, what she represented and what she believed in.

Unlike her counterpart in the American presidency race, who has often exhibited high emotions and an ignorance on how some policies, other societies and races function, I feel like Clinton has handled herself with grace and intellect. It would indeed be refreshing to see a superpower being led by a woman and equally, a motivation for African women that high positions in the country are possible for them to hold.

 

 

Women Fear Men Will Leave Them; Men Fear Women Will Leave Them

I recently had a highly interesting convo with a security guard someplace in my line of duty. On a daily basis, I can talk to quite a number of people a majority being strangers and acquaintances and this security guard was no different. So being part of my job, I suggested to him an idea of how he could make himself more money and ultimately benefit his family.

He was the skeptical type. Didn’t seem really interested in the suggestion but ended up mentioning his wife fleetingly. He thought that since she wasn’t as held up as he was, then she could probably take up the idea I had. Animatedly, I began coming up with more plans for the wife on how she could implement the idea and all of a sudden, this man grew highly uncomfortable.

His demeanor changed and in an uncertain tone, he said, “Na sasa bibi akitengeneza pesa hivyo, si ataniwacha?” (and if my wife ends up making a ton of money, won’t she leave me?) Of course the statement caught me off guard and I laughed and asked why she would leave him.

Then as if challenging me, he inquired whether I was married. I lied that I was. Then he further mentioned, that if I ended up making a lot of money from my job, then it was given that I would leave my husband. I clarified that I wouldn’t since we were working as a unit. Obviously, that didn’t sound convincing enough for him and the conversation went downhill from there.

In short, this man feared that if his wife got a financial capability of sorts, then she would see no need to stick around and no amount of convincing could I do, to get that thought out of his head.

You see, both sexes fear each other.

Women fear that men would leave them for a couple of reasons;

  • After sex. (If they do, f**k em!)
  • They are not beautiful/sexy enough.
  • They are inadequate (now this is crazy)
  • Other women are hotter and more appealing etc. etc…

Men on the other hand fear that women will leave them because of Money.

In most cases, men take a woman’s financial stability as a huge red flag of her inability to be loyal onward. As a woman, I tend to reason in terms of healthy competition but for the man, it is something that needs to be curtailed if need be.

Now I’m not suggesting that all men reason in such a manner but for those that do, I figure it is highly pegged on what society has instilled in men for generations and an insecurity of sorts on their part. It is a harsh fact that patriarchy rules in many societies the world over. Men have always been groomed to have the upper hand.

In recent times, women are now being groomed to have the upper hand. In the process, the men are being left behind. While the girl children are being encouraged to study and attain their maximum potential, the boy children are assumed to already know what is expected of them and to somehow, manage since they are in fact men.

I have encountered people in the past who argued that we spent so much time on girl power that we ended up forgetting all about the boy child. So definitely, if men know that a woman is likely to get justice for a gender injustice of some sort and the man is supposed to suck it up or get jeered at for being a weakling for a similar gender injustice, then men cannot help experiencing certain insecurities.

However, acting all mistrustful of each other isn’t going to even half solve this problem. From that conversation I had with this man, I made a conclusion that he was in a marriage that was riddled with mistrust. Getting him to give his wife my phone number, was equally a hurdle, because he mentioned that she would question him on where he had gotten acquainted with me from.

Well, we may be tempted to dismiss this couple as an exception but I beg to differ. The fear between the sexes has always been in existence. It doesn’t matter how much exposure one has had or education for that matter, women will always fear that men will leave them mainly because they are not good enough if the reasons given are anything to go by.

Men on the other hand, learned or unlearned almost, always fear that a woman’s financial stability is going to change her. Their fears may actually be real in the sense that many women with financial stability, do not seem like the type to be pinned down by the opposite sex. But why in the first place would a man want to pin down a woman?

You see, as a result of our previous conditioning, we got the whole script wrong. In a patriarchal setting, the man definitely has the say. The woman has none. But then, somewhere along the way, the woman discovered that with education and career success, then she could equally have a say and just to prove that she could, she had to act like she could.

Of course this left the men fighting for what they had since grown accustomed to as the norm. And the women on the other hand, fighting for the freedom they had since attained. But then, both sexes need each other like it or not so no matter how much a woman is learned or financially liberated, she would still yearn to feel desirable to the opposite sex.

She can’t admit this however, for fear of appearing desperate despite her status but it is an issue that sometimes gnaws at her. The men on the hand still need to feel respected and needed. So if a woman attains a level where she appears not to need a man and unfortunately in some cases act disrespectful toward the man, then the man is left reeling in shock.

And the power struggle goes on so much, to the point where both sexes have grown mistrustful of each other.

Do you agree?

Is It Justified For Women To Provide For Themselves?

I recently had a very interesting conversation with some female acquaintances. We were actually discussing how in recent times, it has become increasingly difficult for men to provide for women. Of course the men have always been quick to point fingers at women, as the cause for their transformation into mean individuals. I tend to hear the accusation leveled against Kenyan women as being merciless gold diggers who are only after a man’s pockets. So just to punish us and make us tow the line, the men in our midst learnt to withhold any monetary favors from us over time.

Anyways, while we were having this conversation, we ended up giving an example of how many men of nowadays, highly avoid spending on a woman they have asked out on a date or simply avoid “the asking out on a date” part because money is involved. Picture this scenario, this guy you have just met asks you out for maybe a coffee date. You are supposed to turn up for the date with your own means which in some circumstances, may extend late into the night, depending on how compatible or interesting you found each other.

Then just because he doesn’t want to spend extra cash on a cab to take you back home, this guy cunningly suggests that you head over to his house for a sleepover, since it is more convenient for you and probably safer(or perhaps only convenient for him). You agree and find yourself spending a night in this man’s house. Sex might or might not happen. But if at all sex does happen, the woman is definitely going to be blamed for giving it up too soon and being too cheap.

Well, just to be fair, for a man to send over a cab to pick you up for a date or to actually drive himself to your place to pick you up definitely depends on his means. If he does not have the resources to send a cab or to own a car, then it would be gentlemanly if he gave you a refund plus fare back after the date. Assuming your respective places of residence aren’t entirely safe at certain hours of the night, then the date can be cut short for that day, so that the both of you can arrive back home safely. You can always arrange for additional dates in future. Well, that’s just per my reasoning.

www.eurweb.com

 

Since the women of nowadays are more assertive and perhaps equally subscribed to the idea of feminism, it is not entirely uncommon encountering women desiring to provide for themselves. Perhaps if a man asked you out on a date, you wouldn’t want him to think of you as a damsel in distress and you may want to prove your level of independence, by showing up and subsequently leaving with your own means. I mean, some of these men who are increasingly withholding monetary favors from the opposite gender, are riding on the wave that the modern woman wants to provide for herself. So why should he if she can?

This whole phenomenon does not only apply to dating per se. In the home for example, there are things that a man is expected to provide for his family as well as things that a woman is supposed to provide for her family. A majority of these things are made possible by finances. So picture a scenario where just because the woman probably earns more than the man and appears to be entirely independent, then the man in question decides to abscond his financial duties as a husband and a father and lets the woman run the home financially. Of course that will generate into an imbalance of sorts and disagreements are bound to arise.

I tend to find a whole lot of misunderstanding in both genders of what feminism entails. And while feminism may many times advocate for the financial liberation of women, it does not mean that the men in the society should now take a back seat. I’m fully aware that for many women with a desire to get into a relationship or marriage nowadays, money is a motivating factor. Heck, money is a motivating factor for both men and women alike!

However, their initial desire to be provided for by a man let’s say in monetary terms, stems from the fact that the man has always been Biblically and historically required to provide for the woman. I do not dispute the fact that many women get over zealous to be provided for to the extent of fully transforming into gold diggers. But just to be logic, when looking at a potential mate, the fact that he can provide for you both emotionally and financially almost always comes into play. Human beings are constantly yearning for a better, stress free life than the present.

I come from a family where many of the women provide for themselves by choice. That is reason enough to make me transform into this highly independent woman in future, I (or you) may be tempted enough to conclude. Funnily enough, I do expect the man to provide. I want him to do his part while I pull the weight doing my part. That doesn’t entirely make me less of the feminist kind of woman I purport to be. I’m equally unapologetic of that particular fact that the man should provide what is his manly duty to provide.

There is an upsurge of single women in my country raising their kids on their own just because the fathers of those kids weren’t man enough to provide for their offspring. And while I applaud these kinds of women for their bravado, there is always that all too real eventuality of the woman struggling under the weight of all those responsibilities. Sometimes culminating into a desperation of sorts that may push her to take any kind of job just to fend for her children. There is also that section of single mothers who have been blessed enough to sufficiently provide for their children without any strain.

Kudos to the latter kind.

However, whether she is fully financially capable or not to be a single mother, the input of the opposite gender is equally needed. And while a section of men may want to hide behind the false illusion that Kenyan women have become gold diggers, therefore deserving of being on their own with their children, I find no justification for a woman providing for herself if at all there is a man in her life, who can equally pull his weight with an input and especially, if there are children involved.

What do you think?

 

African Women And Sexism: Sara Baartman

As I was going through my Facebook Newsfeed earlier in the day, a status update caught my attention. It was something to do with an African woman once upon a time in history, being displayed to curious onlookers as a result of her unusually large derriere. As is my nature, I quickly Googled the story and what I read presented to me the worst form of sexism and racial discrimination that an African woman has ever had to endure.

I have to say that being a Kenyan, I have been very lucky to be spared racial discrimination of any kind during my lifetime. Not that I’m gloating over that fact knowing that there are quite a number of Africans in their own respective African nations, who have unfortunately had to endure being treated as minorities by foreigners in their land. My forefathers did suffer racial discrimination and especially during the colonial times. I’m sure it was a really tough and annoying time for them. Other people from races considered minorities by some backward minded individuals, still continue to suffer racial discrimination in this day and era.

Again, I consider myself very lucky to have been spared most of the harsh sexism that other women have unfortunately had to endure or grapple with on a daily basis. That doesn’t mean that acts of sexism do not elicit any form of reaction from me! As a matter of fact, just the mere thought of a woman being discriminated against because of her sex makes my blood boil with rage!

I consider it an injustice of the highest order for this poor woman called Sara ‘saartjie’ Baartman to be lured from her home country of South Africa under the guise of going overseas to work as a domestic servant and to be exhibited for entertainment purposes. It is said that she did sign a contract for it before leaving which is highly unlikely considering the fact that she definitely was illiterate. For my readers who are getting a bit confused, Sara is the woman I read about today after seeing the status update concerning her.

Born in the 1700s in the current Eastern Cape of South Africa, Sara was a Khoikhoi woman who was sold to London to work as a domestic servant as well as for the entertainment purposes. She was about 20 years old at the time. She would later be nicknamed Hottentot Venus. The reason why she was considered an entertainment of sorts was the fact that due to a medical condition, she had unusually large buttocks.

In addition to that, it was rumored that Khoikhoi women had elongated labias which hang down almost 3 to 4 inches in some women. This was attributed to the fact that since Africans were considered savages then, the body parts that were of normal size in other normal  human beings had to be abnormal in size in the so called “relatives of apes”. Don’t ask me why but I simply do not know what kind of weed the scholars of that age were smoking.

A disturbing picture indeed of onlookers "marveling" at Sara's so called unusual asset. Picture courtesy of www.telegraph.co.uk

A disturbing picture indeed of onlookers “marveling” at Sara’s so called unusual asset. Picture courtesy of http://www.telegraph.co.uk

You see, being from a community that definitely practiced labia elongation in women, Sara could not have been spared from the practice. Labia stretching, also referred to as labia elongation or labia pulling, is the act of elongating the labia minora through manual manipulation (pulling) or physical equipment (such as weights), according to a definition by Wikipedia. The practice happens in Rwanda, Uganda, Burundi, Malawi and some countries in Sub Saharan Africa. The Khoisan were equally known for it.

However, to the onlookers on Piccadilly street in London where Sara was paraded due to her skin coloring and the behind, her elongated labia was equally an oddity attributed to some African sexual stereotype. But Sara refused to expose her private parts considered sacred in her community though many would have liked to gawk at them and always had them covered in a small piece of garment.

Her exploitation caused an uproar among abolitionist circles. However the fact that it was claimed and proven that she had signed a contract, her exploitation was made to appear consensual on her part. Eventually, Sara was sold to a French man who took her to Paris where she continued to be exhibited in a cage together with a baby rhinoceros. She would later end up prostituting and bordering on alcoholism.

After her death at around 26 years of age, naturalist George Cuvier was given custody of her body which he made a plaster cast of, took out her brains and genitalia which he preserved in laboratory bottles.It is said that as late as 1975, Sara’s genitalia and brains were being displayed in a museum in Paris.

When I look at this whole narration of what this woman was put through I can only attribute it to the fact that her naivete was thoroughly taken advantage of. In addition, the racial stereotypes of the time contributed greatly to her exploitation. I find it the worst form of women degradation bordering on the primitive. The fact that a woman’s body part considered out of the ordinary can be put on show for people to amuse themselves is truly sickening. Worst case scenario is the go ahead given to the naturalist to continue making fun of her bodily aspects in death in the name of research.

I am indeed glad that I was born in the 20th century where racial stereotypes of such a magnitude had somehow been completely done away with. It is clear that even in primitive societies, there was objectification of women based on what was considered curious or sexually odd by their onlookers as opposed to sexually enticing in this age. Perhaps the stress of one’s private part being put on display, gawked at, groped, made fun of and  equally the pain of being equated to a wild animal on a daily basis is what drove Sara to a life of prostitution and alcoholism in the end.

It may have been painted to seem like she was a savage without feelings yet this was an African woman who was as normal as the women of other races then. The only difference was her skin color and level of exposure or education! And maybe what was considered an unusually large butt then could just have been an average big butt today! How times change that big butts nowadays are considered a must have by a section of women and men alike!

Seeing how disturbing her story is, I can now understand why a South African chief told off celebrity,  Beyonce, for wanting to write and star in a film based on the life of Sara. South Africans still have a long way to go when it comes to matters healing. This is a country that suffered the extremities of colonial injustices for the longest time possible on the African continent. I can only understand why they would not want to stir up the racial discrimination they have endured in the past, with a film on a fellow country woman who underwent the worst form of it starred by a foreigner.

Perhaps they have a preference to let the past remain in the past if at all it only conjures painful memories. And isn’t it time that Sara was finally allowed to rest in peace?

Additional sources from a couple of articles on the Internet on the life and times of Sara Baartmann.

 

I’m Not My Make Up

I’m not so big on make up. I was obsessed with eye pencil at 19. Couldn’t leave the house without. Mind you, my eye pencil functioned as both an eye liner and lip liner plus doing the eyebrows. Yeah I know, call me backward. I have never been one to spend my time in the make up section of a cosmetic shop, debating on whether the blue eyeshadow works well with me or the copper eye shadow. I tried full make up at 21 and it just wasn’t my thing.

Quite recently, I was at a salon having my hair done and this hairdresser goes something like, “We’ll shape your eyebrows as a complimentary service.” I immediately declined and I could see the look of utter surprise on her face. Then I went on to clarify that I don’t do make up so shaping my eyebrows would be a waste of time really. I suggested they do my pedicure instead as a complimentary service. Hahaha turns out that was not part of the package for free services!

When I go out clubbing, I do some make up. If there is a wedding function, I also do some make up. Mostly just the lips. I have sensitive skin which constantly throws surprises at me. So foundation is totally out of the picture unless it is something which works with my skin type. I haven’t been that aggressive in identifying one yet. I have had male acquaintances including a workmate in the past suggest that my forehead was breaking out because it was that time of the month.

Please guys, stop going all cluelessly gynecological on women you hardly know that well! I mean it! It sucks. Who gave you the idea that faces only break out because of our monthly periods?! Come on!

I was once reading something where this foreign guy firmly stated that Nairobi women should go easy on the make up. His argument; we were still pretty without. I totally agree with him and echo his advice to Kenyan women. I don’t own a car meaning I’m a frequenter of Nairobi streets where I see all kinds of garish looking make up on women. Some make up is usually so nicely done that I wish I had time to get a tip or two from the ladies wearing such. Others, oh well.

I’ve seen eye pencil drawn like crowns on a woman’s face. I’ve seen really bold shouting colors of lipstick on women I thought their skin tone needed a much less bolder lip do. But hell, I’m not a make up artiste so I shouldn’t really be voicing my opinions on the color of lipstick women of certain shades should wear. Sometimes though, I can’t really help it getting these kinds of disapproval thoughts in my head. Nairobi can get really hot at times. My hometown of Nakuru is even worse. Badly done, cheap foundation stands out in the heat!

I have a problem with mainly the Western media making it seem like a woman without make up is ugly. I have pored over comparisons of female celebrities with or without make up. Some of them are pretty much average looking women without make up. We get so used to seeing them with professionally done make up to the point where their normal selves come out as rather plain and a rude shock to us. Bloggers and columnists maximize on this.

 musician-ashanti-without-make-up-www-pinterest-com

musician-ashanti-without-make-up-www-pinterest-com

 

I have seen celebrities being branded ugly just because they stepped out one day without make up and the Paps snapped a picture. I saw a commenter state that one female celebrity who always looks gorgeous in make up resembled a homeless person without. My point; How is a homeless person supposed to look and what is a female without make up supposed to have in common with that?!

I firmly believe that a woman’s looks should not be judged by the make up she wears. There’s just much more to womanhood than make up. Woe unto the man who overlooks a plain looking woman for a woman caked in heavy make up. There are indeed such men, don’t go all war like on me for stating that! Men obsessed with vanity. The real beauty of a woman lies under the many layers of make up.

It is time we taught our women to embrace their flaws rather than to conceal them. There’s this illusion  the media creates that all female celebrities are flawless. There was an unedited picture of Beyonce doing the rounds on the Internet where you can actually see that her face had an acne breakout. Many people seemed to react with outrage that for years, we have been duped into believing that Beyonce was the epitome of female flawlessness. Boy, did she get bashed for it!

Beyonce just like any other female is indeed human. We have put her on a pedestal of perfection to the point where, we actually do not view her as a normal human being with a body that might not be all that perfectly hourglass and a face that may at times work against her. We have forgotten that with technology, anything on a music video or photo can be fixed. I saw no need for the reaction the unedited version of the picture got.

Nobody is perfect. And while I have nothing against make up, don’t misinterpret me, I simply think that this obsession we have with make up to perfect us and give us a confidence boost of sorts needs to go. When it gets to a point where a woman is totally insecure without make up on, then we need to go back to the drawing board to find out what exactly went wrong with this make up business.

I’m all for women embracing their natural beauty first before anything else. Trust me, there are days I pass by my reflection in the mirror after walking under the sun for hours and my face reminds me of a pubescent. Women have battled image insecurities for ages. It’s pretty normal really with all that outside pressure on what constitutes real femininity. We yearn to look perfectly feminine. However, using make up to hide our insecurities isn’t going to be the answer to our image issues. What needs some real work is actually our esteem.

Before I sign off, wishing y’all ladies a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! Make those resolutions and rock those natural manes and seemingly plain looking faces you’ve got in 2016!!! You are woman enough! See you guys next year 🙂 😉

 

A Feminist’s View On Writing In General

My blog has been thrust into the spotlight twice. By choice, really.

The first time was earlier in the year when it was about two or three months old. A friend told me about an advertising company she worked for that was hiring. She thought that since the job description was more of blogger like,then I could definitely do it. I got called for the interview. Interestingly, one of the interviewers had printed out a page of one of my posts as a reference point for the interview.She was a pleasant lady who gave me a few more helpful tips on blogging that I use till date. Though I didn’t get the job, I can say I came out a little stronger as a blogger.

Before I talk about the second time, let me give a little history about my writing life. I know this is an entirely different topic from what I normally do here but I thought I should do it nonetheless. Being an African, my first language was of course Swahili. I commenced learning in English in nursery school. By primary school, I already knew that English was my forte. I was excellent at it.

At around age 7, I discovered my passion for writing fiction. My childhood years were spent holed up in the house writing short stories. I carried on with my penchant for short stories all through high school. And though I have never been a published writer, my mother’s house is an archive of the short stories I wrote from early childhood and a horde of unfinished manuscripts from my older years. For some reason, I never got round to finishing my longer stories.

My first completed manuscript which I finally sent to a publishing house came into being in May of 2014. It was a book I managed to pen from November 2013 to May of 2014. Unfortunately, it did not meet the publisher’s standards and the hard copy is currently with my best friend, a literature graduate and enthusiast while the soft copy is somewhere in my mail.

Luckily, by then I had discovered blogging through a friend. I started blogging in September 2013 through wordpress. At the time, I was running a blog called LIFE’S MUSINGS BY LORNA: the things that make a delightful read. I was fumbling in the blogging world which meant that I blogged on so many different topics. I ended up changing the blog title to LORNA’S DELIGHTS which took me completely off track.

Over time as a blogger, I had realized that women’s issues and relationship topics appealed to me. I had pretty strong views on those two topics which I decided to pursue. I did away with the previous blogs and started this particular one in March of this year. So far, I can say that this blog has been way successful than the other two blogs. Not in a recognition way but in a way where I can feel like my words, impact most of my readers and that more people are reading and following my blog because of the substance it has. Not because they just stumbled upon it.

I have been asked by so many people who come across my blog if I’m a feminist. Of course I am. Otherwise, I wouldn’t be blogging on a feminist view. My title says it all. There’s this idea out there that a feminist is someone who can easily be spotted. I’m not that kind of feminist. I also know that many women who subscribe to feminism are equally not that kind of bashful feminists as is expected.

I’m your average person. I seem timid. Unsure of myself even in person. I have always been very secretive of my writing and only became open about it when I began blogging. My manuscripts from my younger years were always hidden. Stashed in a drawer where nobody could find them. But my incessant need to write made sure that my elder sister’s school exercise books were not spared either. I would scribble in all of her books with writing space which meant that inevitably, she would stumble upon my fiction stories mostly, when I was away in boarding school.

Which brings me to the second time my blog has been thrust into the spotlight. Last week.

For a while now, I have been trying to get a columnist slot in the newspapers or magazines. I have tried a couple. Maybe I’m not that aggressive in trying because so far, none has yielded fruit. Last week, one of the magazines finally responded. I was surprised that they actually had. I got called for an interview. Funnily enough, I have never been to an interview concerning writing for a magazine meaning, I was unsure of what exactly I was supposed to do in preparation for it.

I’m the type of blogger who incorporates blogging into her life. If I get a blogging idea during the day, if there’s time, I will put it down on my blog. Most of my readers do not know that I was working a sometimes fast paced job these past couple of months yet, I managed a record 12 posts in the month of November. The highest I have ever posted in a month on this blog. I had to create time for that.

Sometimes I may be walking on the streets in town on totally different errands then suddenly pop into a cyber and do a post in the middle of the day or at the end of the day. That’s just how I manage this whole blogging thing.

Anyways, I turned up for the interview and it didn’t go the way I had expected. I knew of the magazine. I had pored through it sometime back but it had been quite a while back. I hadn’t factored in the fact that I was supposed to pitch ideas or rate myself on how much I should be paid per column. I always thought that my blog spoke for itself and if I was to do a column, it had to be feminist based or relationship based.

I could deviate a little and do a muse or a travel based one or a beauty based one. See, I’m already pitching ideas on my blog. And since I have done this for so long as a hobby that is not a salary earning thing, I totally forgot that with columns in newspapers and magazines, you get paid. My bad.

I’m more of an expressive person through written work. Not so in person. I can be terribly shy. I panic on a whole lot of other levels. Some of my job interviews which backfired were mainly because I got a panic attack. My palms were sweaty, I couldn’t express myself, my throat was dry. It’s hilarious really. I take it in my stride. Perhaps I had expected to be cut some bit of slack in this said interview which rarely happens in interviews.

But the disappointment was all too real for me. It bothered me for days that I hadn’t been prepared for this interview or felt like I had been taken seriously. That’s the worst feeling for a writer or blogger. I may sound like a defeatist but I’m not applying for columnist slots in the near future. Don’t get me wrong, writing is in my blood.

I have plans for published books. I need a lot of time on my hands and concentration for that. I have absolute admiration for successful writers, magazine editors and publishers, newspaper columnists and amazing bloggers.

All the same, I think I love this blog too much and I hope it continues to speak for itself. When I feel ready again to do a column or article on a newspaper or magazine, I shall be prepared for it then.

Is Oversexualization Of Women Another Form Of Feminism?

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I’ve quite recently developed a heightened interest in the oversexualization of women. I have gone ahead and done some considerable amount of reading on the subject, just to find out what other people think of it in relation to feminism and I must admit that, the opinions are varied. Some think that a woman who is in control of her sexuality is the epitome of feminism. The name Nicki Minaj floats about in the above reasoning. Others think it’s just downright raunchy to use your body to sell your music or to capture the attention of the opposite sex.

I was mortified to discover that young children of the female gender are also being oversexualized. Reminds me of a certain blog I was reading, where a mother of a little girl was debating with herself on whether to get her child a two piece swimming costume or just the usual one piece. She thought that the two piece type was inappropriately mature for her little one, considering the fact that she was quite tall for her age and ended up settling for the one piece type. Good choice mum! Now that I know that little girls are equally being oversexualized, I salute mothers who want to protect their children from it.

Well, I’m a fan of the likes of Nicki Minaj and Rihanna. I think that they are highly talented women. There’s not one single song of Rihanna’s that I don’t like. However, some of their music videos literally get me blushing. These women are not at all ashamed of their bodies which is a wonderful thing really. Many women struggle with body issues. Some won’t even dream of getting intimate with their spouses with the lights on, as a result of the insecurities with their bodies which plague them.

In this era where sex supposedly sells, do not expect a secular music video having a woman who is covered up. It’s more like “Show ’em what you got!” and these gorgeous and equally, enterprising women seem not to mind if they come across as oversexualized in their line of work. I used to wonder what an advertisement spread of a watchmaking company in a magazine, had to do with a naked woman. We see a lot of that. A perfume advert with a naked woman to go with it.

Couldn’t they have thought of something else creative as part of the advert? Why mostly a bare back of a female going all the way down to her bum area or sensual lips? Well, sex, as it has come to be drummed into us, sells. So whether there is any relation to a watch advert and a naked woman or a car advert and a skimpily dressed woman in the poster, we just have to take it in as the target market, no questions asked.

A woman who seems to be comfortable and courageous with her sexuality according to some, is a highly strong woman. She does not conform to what society thinks is the right way to conduct things. She is capable of using her body in whatever way she likes without feeling any shame for it. The argument goes further to state that women have for years been made to feel shame for their sexuality. But a woman who dresses provocatively or acts in a sexually provocative manner for herself or to feel good about herself, while not factoring the male in mind, is considered a feminist of sorts.

Sorry, but I beg to differ.

It is indeed true that for years, women have been made to feel shame about their sexuality. I once tackled this subject lengthily in one of my posts http://www.definitelylorna.wordpress.com/are-men-dangerous-or-simply-different?? Men have in the past been painted to look like people who have no control whatsoever, of their carnal desires and it is therefore a woman’s fault for provoking it. We were required to cover up so that we wouldn’t entice the men or tempt them into getting sexual thoughts.

At the time I was doing that post, there was a wave of women who were supposedly inappropriately dressed, being stripped naked and shamed on the streets of Nairobi. I personally did not think that the men had been given any mandate by anyone, to teach women who couldn’t seem to dress in our “conservative” way, a lesson on decency. I put conservative in quotes because there are so many ills taking place in our country, to concentrate on a woman who is wearing a short dress. And most African women are naturally voluptuous so something above the knee definitely enhances this.

My only concern however, when women feel the need to finally embrace their sexuality despite what society feels or dictates, is whether they are portraying the right image to the women of tomorrow. The women of tomorrow are the young girls who are still growing. I believe that feminism is a cause that is meant to impact the future generations positively. There are women in some countries in the world, who nowadays participate in voting in the general elections, because a feminist somewhere stood up against the exclusion of women, from pivotal decision making of the country they were citizens of.

There are women who have been allowed to get an education because a feminist somewhere was vocal about the importance of educating the girl child. A feminist somewhere championed the building of more schools that would enroll the girl child and therefore empower her. The only impact I see with the oversexualization of women and women who are willing to go along with it, is young girls lifting up their skirts and posing in their innerwear just because their music idols do it. Young girls taking provocative selfies for social media with the main intention of getting more followers, admirers, likes and comments.

We are teaching the women of tomorrow to use their bodies for so many benefits including getting jobs in organizations. We are not teaching them to use their abilities. We are teaching them a shortcut to everything and a very sly shortcut for that matter. A woman’s sexuality is indeed powerful. We don’t have to strip naked and twerk like there’s no tomorrow just to make an impact with our sexuality. But then, we live in a society that glorifies sex and will definitely try to justify the parading of a woman’s assets as some other form of feminism.

 

 

The African Woman’s Natural Hair Diaries

Let’s talk about the African woman’s natural hair.

Forget about the amazing, edited photos we see online of African women with sleek, black “natural” hair braided into cornrows or held up in fancy hairstyles, that make you somehow insecure with your own mane. As a matter of fact, I tried my level best just to find authentic, natural hair images from the Internet for this post.

Let’s talk about our own African, natural hair as we know it. Kinky, often times unmanageable, which hardly grows to our desired lengths or if it does, then thanks to our blessed genes. Let’s face the real truth of our African hair from a feminist perspective.

African natural hair comes with its bagful of challenges.

In my country Kenya, for example, some of the communities famed to have nearly all of their women with naturally long, soft, manageable hair happen to notably be the Maasai, Samburu, Somali and communities from Northern Kenya such as the Borana, Gabra and the likes. Other women from other communities who may possess such kind of hair, considered beautiful by many, may attribute it to familial genes.

As a clarification of my statements above, there are African women with naturally, long, soft hair doesn’t matter from which community they come from, (though there are those from communities that have a distinct hair texture) and African women as well, with kinky, shorter hair.

A shy but beautiful Samburu woman. Photo courtesy of http://www.beontheroad.com

For most of my life, I have struggled with hair. It is the kinky type. The one that a blow dryer cannot even manage. It has it’s good days and oh, so many bad days, that I would be forced to tie a turban to avoid the embarrassment of a bad hair day. I have been tempted to perm it before. I have actually gone ahead and had my hair chemically processed, just to avoid the hassle of natural hair which shrinks when it comes into contact with water.

Please do not be fooled by the picture below. This is my natural hair at its finest. There are days when I swore I would shave it all off and I know many African women secretly struggle with hair issues. We just don’t say it aloud because we believe that we are past that stage of constantly fretting about hair. But then it is a known fact that hair makes a woman. How a woman wears her hair determines her whole look. We look different every time we come from a salon which is proof of this.

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Good Hair Day Image Of My Own Natural Hair

 

There is a contributing factor to this struggle with our hair though. Society long came up with a gauge of what is considered beautiful and what is considered not beautiful. Africans have sadly endured periods of oppression in the past, where their oppressors appeared to have “better” hair, “better” looks and “better” opportunities than them. We were socialized to find something wrong with ourselves from our way of life, to our looks. We developed a desire to emulate what was considered ideal. If we didn’t achieve it, we felt at a loss on what to do and our insecurities set in.

I’m not employing a victim mentality by stating the above, far from it! However, most of the insecurities that African women have with their hair, is mainly due to the fact that it does not grow to amazing lengths, it is not soft and flowy like that of their Caucasian counterparts. The end result is African women trying to achieve the long, flowy hair look by donning weaves and chemically processing our hair.

And while I have no issue whatsoever with weaves and permed hair ( remember, I have equally tried both in the recent past), my perspective on this is that as African women, we have not taken our time to really understand the intricacies of our hair. We only find the need to take really good care of our hair once it is chemically processed, because there are consequences for ignoring a permed head. When it is in it’s natural state, we assume that a full blow dry will do.

Convincing an African woman to treat natural hair with wholesome hair treatments would be like convincing a tired mule to transport heavy luggage. The only hair treatment we deem appropriate for natural hair, is washing it with a shampoo we assume will take care of everything and using hair oil during our blow dry sessions. We at times tend to neglect our hair lines, which break with every braiding and twisting session at the salon, only noticing there is a huge problem once the damage is already done. The blow dryers with their heat do no justice to our scalp.

Braided African hair. Image courtesy of nappilyjenny.blogspot.com

However, all hope is not totally lost as in recent times, an ever increasing number of African women are opting to take really good care of their natural manes. Some are ditching the weaves for their well kept kinky dos and the results are truly amazing. An African woman with a full head of black, natural, kinky hair is a sight to behold. We all have admired the afros of the 70s era that our parents rocked. The same hasn’t changed in this era. An African afro is our identity and will still be our identity for decades to come.

African women need only five remedies to fully appreciate their natural hair:

  • Take time to study your natural hair.
  • Understand your natural hair and what works for it.
  • Embrace your natural hair, short or long, kinky or soft with no comparisons to another’s.
  • Fiercely love it.
  • Take good care of it.

Ethiopian hair. Image Courtesy of http://www.pinterest.com

Remember, how a woman chooses to wear her hair reflects a lot about her personality. All these unattainable targets we set for our hair are not necessary. The versatility of natural African hair is that it can be braided into so many different styles and as much as we love our weaves, the hair underneath is what will always matter. So make a mental note to always and I mean ALWAYS, take good care of it.

Our kinky, curly and knotty heads are our identities. Columnist, Carol Odero, on today’s Sunday Nation, clearly attests to this with her article on hair. We got to rock these manes we’ve got!

When He Tells You He Doesn’t Want A Relationship

Any woman who has ever heard such declarations from a man she was in love with, might probably know how much we go into denial mode. We immediately start convincing ourselves that if we continued to love and support this man, maybe just maybe, eventually he will want to be in a relationship with us. And we try our level best to show him just how much of a good girlfriend (wife even!) material we are. Only for him to still one day repeat more clearly “I don’t want to be in a relationship.”

“You’ve been a wonderful person to me, you’ve stood by me, but I JUST DON’T WANT TO BE IN A RELATIONSHIP.”

And just like an unfortunate collapse of a building, you feel all your hopes, fantasies and dreams with this man, crumbling all around you. You start wondering why all this time he treated you like a girlfriend yet he didn’t have enough feelings for you to become exclusive with you. You feel like you have just been taken for a ride and cheated.

At times you can’t even differentiate between the feelings of despair and anger you feel at the same time. It’s almost like they are intertwined. You may even get into an argument with this man over it and then because soon enough, you realize that it’s pointless being enemies, you decide to come to an amicable agreement and part ways.

The feeling is even worse when you had grown so used to him as a boyfriend. When you had shared with your friends already how much of a wonderful man he was to you. And when it so happened that in a long time, you hadn’t encountered a man who treated you with that much care and respect like he did.

It’s even more confusing, when he doesn’t act like a downright jerk while telling you his stand in this association you have now been having for a while. You unwillingly find yourself secretly wishing he had just acted like all the jerks you’ve ever encountered before, who suddenly cut communication and disappeared from the face of the earth.

That way, it would have been much easier for you to hate him, rather than battle these feelings you are now battling because like it or not, you still harbor a soft spot for this man and more so, since he did not treat you so carelessly while parting ways with you.

I have been there before and experienced that kind of conflict within myself when something, I had envisioned in my imagination as being super awesome, turned out to not be so super awesome after all. There are times where I even convinced myself that this man will eventually meet all kinds of Cruella de vils and finally realize just how much of a Snow White I was and came back to me.

All those times, I constantly held on to the hope that a man who had clearly stated that he did not want to be in a relationship with me, would eventually snap out of his “foolishness” and come back to me, I learnt the hard way, that he may just NEVER come back.

Instead, he may probably meet other ladies who fancy a no strings attached relationship and don’t push him to commit to them like I did. Then eventually, of his own accord, he may chance upon that one woman, who would immediately snap him out of his issues and have him decide that she’s the one. And that woman, wouldn’t be from his past (as I happen to be a part of his past too) but from his very present time.

And so ladies, stop holding on to a man who is not willing to love you back like you love him. Stop trying to initiate conversation with him because you only end up looking desperate. As a matter of fact, you stand to lose nothing if you cut all links with that kind of a man for good.

It’s already clear knowledge that people who have been intimate before or had some ‘more of a friend’ kind of situation, find it near impossible reverting back to just being friends. Trust me, that turmoil you are in at the moment, because you can’t quite wrap your head around his refusal to commit to you, will not easily go away.

And as much as you may pretend to be friends for a while, resentment will build up to the point where you will see no logic in this facade you are putting up of friendship. You will start getting angry for no reason at this man for stringing you along. You will still hope that it works out and he finally commits, but the harsh truth is that he will get into a comfort zone and in fact, NEVER commit.

Dear ladies, stop being soothers of men who have just come out of a nasty break up with another woman. You risk such kind of a scenario if at all you decide to give him a shoulder to lean on and a warm bed, those evenings when his feelings of loneliness overtake him. It is more painful when a man declares that the reason why he doesn’t want to be in a relationship with you, is because he still loves his ex or has unresolved issues with his ex.

It is much more worse when you have already let your guard down around this man and slept with him a couple of times. All in the hope that he will feel that emotional connection you felt and forget his ex for good, who according to the stories you have heard, was not even a match to you, in terms of how well you have been treating this man.

There is no need harboring ill feelings toward a woman (his ex) whom you have never even met, just because her candle still burns in this man’s heart. Do yourself a favor girl and let him be. There are so many other men out there, willing to be exclusive with a woman and it will only be a matter of time, before you chance upon one with whom you will be compatible.

Don’t allow an undecided man be the cause of your misery.

With Love from a Proudly Feminist 🙂