Healthy Boundaries & Consent

Within the schools, communities and even justice system of South Africa more often than not  sex education is vague, unclear and surrounded by taboo or negative connotations. Unless you take biology (life science) in high school your knowledge of human reproductive organs  or reproduction as a whole are a self teach endeavour. The sex education part of life science is a small section of the syllabus known as the reproductive system covering:

  • male and female genitalia/anatomy
  • production of gametes (sex cells; ova & sperm)
  • the menstrual cycle
  • intercourse
  • pregnancy
  • sexually transmitted illnesses/infections

 

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Considering the high rates of HIV and teenage pregnancy in South Africa  it is absolutely necessary to emphasize the dangers of unprotected sex. However, it is unfortunate & problematic to omit information of  what a positive sexual experience is supposed to be.  By also including the importance & meaning of consent growing boys and girls alike could avoid risky behaviour as well as establish healthy boundaries when it comes to their bodies & sex. Sex education should familiarize audiences with language & terminology of the kind of sex we want or expect to effectively have a consensual, safe, comfortable as well as fear free sexual experiences. Where the protection against STDs is taught as a requirement to never compromise on and not a means to deter youth against sexual curiosity. The objective should be for the youth to have adequate sex education in both the households & schools for them to make well informed & better decisions about sex.

Choice is a factor to consent  & autonomy. That of which is interestingly explored in the Fifty Shades of Grey book series.  However the book series will be analyzed, in a sort of review format, to illustrate healthy boundaries or the lack thereof, consent and introduce different types of sex. However, terminology is salient to the matter so here are critical words and Fifty Shades of Grey book series characters you need to know:

Salient terminology (each terms are to be continued as you read further)

 

  • Vanilla sex refers to regular sex with just the basics & no additional tools (toys) or complex sex  positions to enhance the sexual experience
  • BDSM is an acronym for  Bondage & Discipline/ Dominance & Submission/ Sado-Masochism (specific to the rules a couple has for certain “scenes”)
  • S&M is an abbreviation for sadism and masochism
  • Fetishism is the common term for what is actually called partialism which refers to emphasized sexualization of a body part, object or activity with the intent of fulfilling ‘ultimate’ sexual gratification (e.g. feet fetish)
  • Tantric sex  tantra,with historical links to Buddhism & Hinduism,  is about transcendence into a higher being through the mind, sex & spirit. Where consent & boundaries  are emphasized for healing, spiritual growth and fulfillment in its entirety not just sexually.
  • Kama (desire) Sutra (thread that links beings) refers to human sexual behaviour found in Sanskrit literature where there is an emphasis of virtue & desire is the least significant. However guidelines through ritualistic sexual positions are provided to effectively be a fulfilled & fulfilling sexual partner in a couple scenario.

The Fifty Shades book series written by EL James is made up of 3 novels (Fifty shades of Grey, Fifty Shades Darker, Fifty shades Freed) from Ana’s version of events & perspective. Then an additional novel called Grey also written by EL James tells of Christian’s version of events from his perspective.

 

Frequently asked question:

Q:Where does the Fifty Shades title phrase come from?

A:Christian’s insecurities of being “Fifty shades of fucked up” (he had tumultuous childhood) also fragile masculinity & loss of control are contributory factors.

Here are the characters relevant to the exploration of healthy boundaries & consent through use of examples in Fifty shades.

Characters  Description
Anastasia Steele (Ana) Protagonist & love interest of Christian Grey
Christian Grey (Christian) Successful telecommunications billionaire who is interested in Ana.
José Ana’s close male friend who has a crush on her
Jack Hyde Introduced in Fifty shades Darker, he is Ana’s creepy boss.

The continuous themes throughout the Fifty shades book series are:

  • Love

– Eros (Erotic Love)

-Philia (Friendship Love)

-Ludus (Playful love)

 

  • Sex

-BDSM

-S&M

-Vanilla

 

  • Violence

-“The red room of pain” (Grey’s playroom with an extensive catalogue )

-Rape

-Coercion

 

Keeping with the theme of the Fifty shades of it all. I present to you my mini series write up on healthy boundaries & consent.

Fifty shades of consent

According to the Women Against Rape Association (in South Africa) when engaging in consensual sex there is to be no kind of pressure, intimidation, threat or coercion to participate in a sexual act. Participants need to be of legal consenting age & have capacity (awareness or consciousness about what is happening).

The absence of consent, in Fifty Shades Darker, was exhibited by Jack (Anna’s boss & employer) when he corners Ana in his office and attempts to force himself on her by his office door after the rest of his employees had left the office. When he was forcing himself on Ana he threatened her job & suggested he get sexual favours from her to keep her job. After Ana declines, he pins her against the door & uses violent intimidation through his rough handling of her. Fortunately Ana has muscle memory from a self defense class she was taught by her father long ago thus was able to kick him in the groin, fight him off and escape.

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The emphasis of consent is evident between Christian & Ana when they initially have (vanilla) sex. He continuously asks if she is okay with everything that is happening. She nods yes & says verbal yes at several moments.  Going as far as asking Christian to make love to her to which he responds…

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Additionally, Christian has “singular tastes” so he introduces Ana to his S & M meets BDSM playroom  filled with a diverse supply of sex toys. Including a contract that provides boundaries & rules of everything when they get intimate in the playroom. Most of which was up for negotiation, adjustment & removal depending on what Ana wanted or refused to do. According to Christian transparency & safety were essential for a productive “session” in the playroom. Christian wanted a submissive & dominant relationship with Ana where he was the dominant to Ana’s “submission to his will” in all things. Herein lies the Bondage Discipline & Sado-Masochism  aspect where Christian wants to buy things for Ana, adjust her style, improve her eating habits, add frequent exercise & have her available at his choosing at all times as part of the “contract”. With the caveat that if she fails to follow instructions or allow him to spoil her with his gifts & money she is to be punished (e.g. with spanking, flogging, whipping or withholding giving Ana an orgasm) there in lies the discipline part. However, in the novel unlike the movie, Ana be like…

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Fifty shades of safety & violence

There are several moments in which Ana’s safety in terms of her life being at risk occurs. Most of which revolve around the byproducts of love and sex. When philia love between José & Ana changes, from the perspective of José, to Eros love he also compromises Ana’s safety by forcing himself on her while she is drunk. When he goes in for a kiss that she did not want in an alley outside of a bar they were at.

Christian interrupts & “saves the day” or night to be more accurate. There is violence in José ‘s sense of entitlement to Ana’s affection just because they have been friends for a very long time. This is also known as the friend zone complex .  To be clear José, or any other man, is not entitled to a woman’s affections just because you were/are “nice” to her. Treating a woman with respect or kindness is recognition of her humanity. It is expected human decency not something to be “rewarded”. Although Christian “rescues” Ana it is very temporary. Remember Ana’s “red room of pain” or as  Christian likes to call it “the playroom”. Well, the space not only occupies a diverse range of sex toys but also doubles as a private space for his dark fantasies of deviant sexual activity with women that look similar to his late biological mother. A type of fetishization, his mother was a petite brunette & all the  his sexual partners have a similar if not the exact same aesthetic crucial to his ability to achieve orgasm during BDSM acts. Essentially Christian’s psyche is  a cocktail of toxic masculinity at its best. A combination of a messed up Oedipal complex, sexual sadism meets fetishism. Fortunately, throughout all this contraception against unwanted pregnancy is a priority for Christian. He provides access to an expert OB-GYN for his various partners to consult for a contraception of their choice & covers all the medical costs. Even Ana has to comply as part of the contract like all the submissives before her.

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According to Grey (the novel on Christian’s perspective) he basically works out his issues of childhood neglect, abandonment & abuse by his “crack whore” biological mother through inflicting, consensual, extreme pain & pleasure on women that look like her. Herein lies S & M (sadomasochism) is the enjoyment of receiving  pain as a masochist or inflicting pain as the sadist to fulfill sexual gratification. Exemplified in chapter 26 of Fifty Shades of Grey when Ana bends over a leather bench to be hit, across her bare buttocks, with a belt wielded by Christian. It hurt so badly, that she left him. Albeit romanticized according to psychology’s DSM-5 Christian potentially suffers from  a mental illness called the sexual sadism disorder. Characterized by “intense feelings of sexual excitement when fantasizing about or witnessing another individual undergoing physical or psychological pain. Acts of sexual sadism may occur with a consenting partner, or as assault on a non-consenting individual”. Ana basically left the frying pan with José  & went head first into the inferno that is  Christian Grey like…

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Ana wants emotional availability & making love that of which Christian struggles to provide for obvious reasons. However, what if there was a way to achieve Ana’s needs whilst also addressing Christian’s issues in a more positive less dark manner. Take for instance tantra, a Buddhist & Hindu text involving meditation, yoga, kama sutra & mantras. With a focus on healing, growth & true intimacy sometimes involving orgasmic sex.  According to a tantra Guru named Shaft Uddin it is also “embodying the tools to unlock your human potential…with the head, heart, sex  & spirit” (see sources for the link). As depicted by the  mapping of the sacred 7 chakras  below:

The healing process in tantra provides a special focus on the 7 chakras that are said to be spiritual focal points of energy that when damaged, neglected or unaddressed appropriately create deficits in our physical health and well-being. Compromising one’s ability to love & connect with oneself or others.

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In tantra the woman’s vagina (vulva) is called the Yoni meaning sacred space & the man’s phallus (penis) Lingam is called the shaft of light. Language is so significant to how we conceptualize & understand the world around us. It frames thinking & behaviour, with phrases like “sacred space” & “shaft of light”, in the context of  Ana & Christian, sex would have been less about control, punishment & only Christian’s needs being met. As a reader I found that whether reading from Ana’s perspective or Christian’s it all mostly centers around Christian Grey. Ana’s  happiness, sadness & cognitive dissonance  with her needs at times are all affected by Christian. When the journey of a women’s sexual debut & coming of age story mostly centers a man and not herself it reads as…

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However, it is called Fifty Shades of Grey & not Fifty shades of Steel. I would have loved to see more character development  of Ana independent of Christian. More of how she was with her friends, more details of her time in university & more dialogue with her parents and how they impacted her. Basically not isolated fragments of her identity only made “whole” by her unhealthy association with Grey’s  toxic world. Where there is a thorough investigation of what compels HER being. Refusing Christian’s expensive gifts in Fifty Shade of Grey or refusing marriage with him in Fifty Shades Darker (even when pregnant with their child) or even marrying him & having his children in Fifty Shades Freed is not remedial. Although there is something to be said about Dr. Flynn, Christian’s therapist, whom he frequents to try and address his issues. Toxic masculinity & fragile masculinity are thoroughly explored but not overtly critiqued.

My final thoughts:

The Fifty Shades  book series is shady about a woman’s  empowerment  & self determination independent of her man. It is well written considering the problematic content but is also insightful. There is no right way to have sex but consent & healthy boundaries are a wonderful place to start. With that being said, if BDSM, tantra or plain old vanilla intercourse is your preference it is alright as long as its safe, consensual & experienced in a healthy way.

 

Sources

Books:

Fifty Shades of Grey by EL James

Fifty Shades Darker by EL James

Fifty Shades Freed by EL James

Grey  by EL James

Consensual Sadomasochism : How to Talk About It and How to Do It by Bill Henkin & Sybil Holiday

Different Loving: The World of Sexual Dominance and Submission by William Brame & Gloria Brame

She Comes First by Ian Kerner

Roots of Tantra by Katherine Anne Harper & Robert L. Brown

Tantra: Sex, Secrecy, Politics, and Power in the Study of Religion by Hugh B. Urban

 

Websites:

https://video.vice.com/en_us/video/10-questions-you-always-wanted-to-ask-tantric-sex-guru/594261e469bcc2931e91811b

http://sex.sofeminine.co.uk/sex-sexuality/bdsm-d40704c497903.html

http://www.chakras.info/7-chakras/

 

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Crisis: Toxic Male Masculinity

What if I told you masculinity is not exclusive to just males and femininity is not exclusive to just females… Biologically females and males have different anatomy as well as hormonal make up. However, did you know that both sexes biologically have the same hormones just at different levels depending on circumstances. During a female’s menstrual cycle she has lower levels of progesterone  and estrogen. However, when a male experiences exhaustion or fatigue  he has higher levels of estrogen. Basically context here is the crux of the matter. Similarly, contrary to popular belief, gender identity or sexuality is also not binary. Research shows sexuality and gender are more of a spectrum rather than binary forms of categorization. How we identify or behave is actually more circumstantial context  rather than predetermined social constructs imposed on us to adhere to. Here’s how the dangerous imposition takes place to advance & maintain the male agenda of patriarchy.

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Patriarchy refers to the systemic prioritization of males in social, political and economic spaces for the maintenance of  male advancement and domination in said contexts at the expense of the female population. However, Bell Hooks defines patriarchy as “a political-social system that insists that males are inherently dominating, superior to everything and everyone deemed weak, especially females, and endowed with the right to dominate and rule over the weak and to maintain that dominance through various forms of psychological terrorism and violence.” The violence Bell Hooks speaks of is the patriarchal ideology of masculinity that perpetuates itself  in society as follows:

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The conceptualization of masculinity, with regards to patriarchal standards, refers to characteristics applied by society to a male and expected from a male. The attributes “exclusively”  associated with male identity that correlate to masculinity are problematic adjectives like tough, aggressive, powerful, strong etc. The antithesis thereof is femininity described associated with soft, passive, meek, weak etc. Consequently what is inherently masculine in patriarchal ideology is synonymous with violence. Violence is an instrument of imposing male dominion over female identity and bodies through the policing of female femininity exhibited in:

  • standards of beauty
  • rape culture
  • shaming language
  • abuse
  • problematic female imagery

All of which is informed by what Laura Mulvey  calls the “male gaze”.The male gaze refers to the objectification of the female body in media from a perspective appeasing to the male to encourage consumption of products. Essentially, it is the “sex sells” trope packaged into strategic exposure of the female body in sexual innuendo format to make what is being sold to men more appealing and attention grabbing. Thus dehumanizing. Thus reducing the female to a dehumanized object of desire packaged as part of the inanimate product.

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Similarly, the male gaze when internalized by female objects of desire can be identified as the ‘labeling theory’. According to Howard Beck, the labeling theory has to do with how the self-concept and behaviour of an individual can be influenced by the terms used to describe or classify them. Labeling theory basically involves ideas of self concept adjectives (how you see yourself) versus social identity (how society views you). Herein lies the danger of rape culture facilitated, perpetuated & maintained by the male gaze. A byproduct of toxic masculinity.  Exemplified in the following :

patriarchy proverb

Rape Culture as portrayed above is systemic societal policing of female bodies, removal of independent self-determination (i.e.  female autonomy). Where female identity, in its entirety, is determined by the male perspective through correlating particular clothing with certain behaviour .  Which normalizes sexual assault or related behaviour against girls and women. Thus promoting  dangerous rhetoric of victim blaming & slut shaming  where there is little to no accountability from males for violent and detrimental conduct against girls and women. Creating a situation  where the onus of a man’s action is dependent on the women’s expression femininity. Clothes i.e a tool of expression (among many other things) are then used to perpetuate certain stigma.  A stigma is when a powerfully negative label  is used to alter a person’s self-concept and social identity e.g.  derogatory female slurs  like whore, slut… When referring to women that go against the norm of sexual chastity according to men. Sometimes even women use similar harmful language when the misogyny is internalized. IMG_20170728_124521Research shows that shaming slurs may negatively change (reduce self-esteem) as well as increase hostility in the spaces women occupy.

The representation of women in entertainment and media  is that of hypersexualized bodies. Where the objectification thereof effectively dehumanizes the subjects to commodify their bodies. Desensitizing society both male and female to the dangers thereof under the guise of “it’s just entertainment”. Box office hits like the Twilight saga and more recently Fifty Shades of Grey romanticize violence, controlling and possessive behaviour towards women. Akin to abuse packaged as a kink in the case of  Twilight’s Edward the kink is blood; in the case of  Mr. Grey it is whips and bondage.

 

Audiences are not entirely passive and can be critical. However, repetitive exposure to certain ideas can breed a subconscious complacency to the problematic images we are fed. Music, arguably as impactful as imagery, also promotes vulgar language and negative outlooks of female femininity. In hip hop rap misogyny is apparent in references to females as “bitches, hoes and chicks” to be conquered  by the male or disregarded depending on the theme. If the theme is male success the degradation of the female body is exerting  “masculinity” and monetary prosperity that “bought” said women. Basically hypermasculinity realized. Similarly pop music and culture also reinforce “manhood” by positioning women as conquests and damsels in distress in much need of male “guidance”.

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When there is a pervasive culture of accepting the marginalization of women which includes the abuse and discrimination thereof. When shame is used to police, silence and distract from said plight it is…

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This is not coincidental but antedotal to the maintainence of patriarchy and the advancement of the male agenda.

According to Crime statistics South Africa, an average of approximately 109 rapes were reported each day between April and December 2016. The legal definition of rape according to South African law is:

“Non-consensual oral, anal or vaginal penetration of a person (male or female) with a genital organ, anal or vaginal penetration with any object and the penetration of a person’s mouth or the genital organs of an animal.”

Recent media coverage has been dominated by headlines of femicide incidences in South Africa. That included graphic  details of the heinous violence against the increased murders of women across the country. Especially those of black South African women, where a pattern of  violent behaviour is identified from someone very close to the victim in question. As was the case with the first significant report in 2017, of Karabo Mokoena’s brutal murder. The SABC News reported the murder of 60 women in Gauteng during May of 2017 alone where 53% of the women were killed by their romantic partner. As was in the case of Karabo Mokoena who was beaten, raped, killed and burnt by her intimate partner.

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Karabo Mokoena

Nonkie Smous, a black lesbian woman, was assaulted and burnt beyond recognition. Karabo’s killer has since been apprehended and placed in prison. Nonkie Smous’ killer(s) is/are suspected to be male members of her community in the township of Soweto that were known to harass her on account of her sexuality.  Research conducted by the LGBT Well-being and the Love Not Hate campaign found that 41%  of the South African LGBT community knew someone that was murdered due to their sexual orientation or gender identity.

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Nonkie Smous

The media coverage and outrage about increased femicide in South Africa has been immense. As well as selective, the coverage lacked the influence of socio-economic factors that put certain individuals in certain high risk communities. Which are generally dangerous but even more so for black women who are especially part of LGBT community.

South African media has produced graphic information concerning violence against women and their murder. Yet very little to no justice for their victims, or potential solutions are introduced. By neither media or the government  that both advocate for justice, protection of freedom and the rights of women but simultaneously perpetuate  the compromise of said ideals. In a country where the president has been accused of sexual assault; where every other lyric  in popular music is “bitches, hoes” this or that and news reporting with victim blaming rhetoric.

Dismantling said patriarchal structures, and reforming their function is  that of utmost importance. It is also why intersectional feminism, particularly black feminism, is absolutely necessary to report our own stories in media and advocate for our justice. By women occupying spaces of authority in our  government and police to enforce said equality and protection of our freedoms. As exhibited by the police of Katlehong township, where the female police led protest took place demanding more accountability & help from the community by exposing perpetrators.

 

All in all the revolution will be intersectional. Otherwise the goal is not for equality or freedom but power.

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Sources

Change among the Gatekeepers: Men, Masculinities and Gender Equality in the Global Arena by R. W. Connell

Labeling theory: Social constructionism, Social stigma, Deinstitutionalisation by George Herbert Mead & Howard S. Becker

Visuals and other Pleasures by Laura Mulvey

Wretched of the Earth by Franz Fanon.

Understanding Patriarchy by Bell Hooks. http://arizona.indymedia.org/news/2004/07/20613.php

 

http://universityhealthnews.com/daily/nutrition/8-surprising-high-estrogen-symptoms-in-men/

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The more things change, the more they stay the same.

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1976 Anti Apartheid youth vs 2016 Fees Must Fall youth

Recently, graduation season has seen the University of Cape Town, upper campus, Jameson Hall abuzz with smiles, gowns and degree scrolls.

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For a moment, an aspect of what the youth of 1976 fought for comes to fruition decades later. Where students regardless of their race, culture or creed can have access to quality higher education, based on merit.

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It has been approximately  41 years since 16 June 1976, 22 years since South Africa was declared a democratic country. Apartheid (created by the National Party) on the other hand existed for 46 years, for almost half a century. However, colonialism as a WHOLE in South Africa has existed for almost four centuries. From British colonial rule (mid 1600s-early 1900s) to British-Dutch colonial rule during early 1900s until 1948 where European settlers of Dutch descent i.e. Afrikaaner people won an election as the National Party. To institutionalize racism by way of the Aparthied regime.

Thus European settlers although the minority population lived privileged lives at the expense of  people of colour. Especially, the black majority. The creation and maintenance of white privilege and oppression of non-whites (black, indian and coloured people) exhibited both systemic and literal violence on the basis of one not being white. It was through law, followed by the violent Apartheid police enforcement of said laws.

  • Group Areas Act of 1950, was a law created by the National Party, Apartheid Government, that allocated different racial groups to different residential and business sections of urban areas. For instance, Cape Town as an urban area  had places like Rondebosch that were classified whites only areas for exclusive white occupation and business. Where non-whites were only allowed with special permission through documentation like passes or “dompass” and a curfew that indicated that at a certain time non-whites were not be found in the area. Whereas townships like Khayelitsha  or Mitchelle’s Plain were considered black or coloured areas. Consequently non-whites (black, indian and coloured people) occupied under-developed communities with poor infrastructure and public services. Well developed areas with access to resources like adequate infrastructure or public services was reserved and allocated to whites only.

 

  • Separate Amenities Act of 1953 was a law of  the racial segregation of public premises, vehicles and services.  This meant that from  public transport, entrances, to toilets, beaches and even benches were made separate for whites and non-whites.

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  • Native Resettlement Act of 1954, was the Act that legalized the forced removal of black people within or close to white areas. This law was initially seen in action during  the Sophiatown forceful removals. Where homes were demolished, families were separated with brute force by Apartheid police. Then National Party head of state D.F. Malan on 9 February 1955 sent 2000 Apartheid policemen armed with guns, stunt grenades and demolition trucks to Sophiatown. Displacing about 60 000 residents to be relocated to a township called Meadowlands with no toilets, water and electricity.

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Essentially, the white population received the best property , education, infrastructure and services. Racism was the law and non-whites the collateral damage thereof. As a result several resistance movements emerged during Apartheid throughout South African townships. To resist and combat violent institutionalized prejudice against non-white bodies. These movements with the leadership of certain political parties led various anti-colonial and anti-apartheid resistance movements that included the:

-Black Consciousness Movement pioneered by Steve Biko through the South African Students Movement

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-Chris Hani’s Communist Party

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-Robert Sobukwe’s Pan Africanist Congress

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-African National Congress under Albert Luthuli later to Nelson Mandela.

For instance the protest Sharpeville in 1960 led by the Pan Africanist Congress was a call for black unity against the use of the passes and restricted freedom of movement in the native land of Africans. Similarly, several protests took place leaving massacres in their wake but by 1976 the youth of Soweto took the forefront. By demonstrating throughout the streets of  Soweto against being educated in Afrikaans and being provided inadequate schooling facilities.  The Bantu Education Act of 1953  as a policy was to educate black people enough to just be workers, laborers and servants for the white population. Schools attended by black people by law had the medium of instruction be English and Afrikaans. That of which majority of the population did not speak or understand.  H.F. Verwoed, a significant National Party leader,  justified it  by stating:

“There is no place for the African in the European community above the level of certain forms of labour. It is of no avail for him to receive a training which has as its aim, is the absorption into the European community”

When the said “European community” is established in a country with a black majority population (on the continent of Africa with millions of Africans) that are even recognized by the racist law as Natives. The question is then…

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Imagine, a complete stranger barging into YOUR home & telling you that you do not belong there. Or that everything in YOUR home is now theirs & you are no longer welcome unless you there to clean, cook, babysit & garden for the said stranger. You do not have to though because it happened & in many ways is still happening.

Fortunately, members of the South African Students Movement were not complacent with the indoctrination of their dehumanization through Bantu education. Learners across the township of Soweto (about 3000 to 10 000) mobilized and organized to protest against being taught in languages they did not understand and against the oppressive Bantu educational system in its entirety. It was a resistance for access to equal  and good quality education. However, since knowledge is power…

Their protest was met with violent hostility from Apartheid police with guns, live ammunition, stunt grenades and tanks descended upon Soweto.  Where the number of students killed was unclear due to the Apartheid government’s endeavours to conceal, minimize & trivialize the actual tragedy of lives lost. The government reported 23 people killed whereas international media alluded to approximately 200 students being killed. One of which was the tragic death of Hector Peterson as shown in the image below.

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In the same breath yet similar vain, 40 years later, the youth of 2016 took to Parliament in Cape Town to protest as members of the Fees Must Fall. A movement for free and decolonial education. Where again, the youth was met with violent South African police with rubber bullets, teargas and stunt grenades.

Free education because improvement of one’s circumstances is correlated to financial means to afford things like tertiary education.  Also, historical impediments of restricted access to quality living spaces, education and jobs translates to limited socio-economic mobility. In other words limited access to opportunities like education and better employment provides a lack of substantial income to affect change. Thus creating and maintaining generational poverty. As well as preventing exposure and occupation of safer and productive communities and spaces. Research also shows that educated individuals tend to have better spending habits & less debt.

Decolonial education because of the Eurocentric standards of education that often entail problematic rhetoric. By prioritizing Western history, ideology and discourse. Which is often inapplicable and ineffective in the context of a developing and culturally diverse country like South Africa.

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The major issue with Eurocentric epistemology is that by prioritizing Western ideals of science, literature and beauty. It teaches and perpetuates oppressive patriarchal systems that center cis gender, hetero-normative, able- bodied white men. Alienating any identity politics alternative to that.

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Thus, creating a crippling psyche rooted in an inferiority complex that manifests itself as internalized racism, sexism, misogyny and general self hate as well as  loss of esteem. When one believes themselves to be less than, one becomes complacent with inequality without the desire to resist and correct  said oppressive ideology.

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Ultimately, the protests both past and recent are for the humanization of black bodies and identity through accessible quality education. When you KNOW better, you DO better. That is why KNOWLEDGE is POWER and ignorance is not bliss.

Additionally, Apartheid was a heinous crime against humanity (especially towards people of colour) in South Africa. F.W. De Klerk should not have been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for ending Apartheid.  Apartheid should not have existed to begin with.

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Sources

https://www.facebook.com/FeesMustFallWC/

https://giphy.com

http://www.sahistory.org.za

http://www.scrippscollege.edu/xbk/wp-content/…/Power-Privilege-and-Oppression

http://www.soweto.co.za/html/p_hector.htm

Worden, Nigel; van Heyningen, Elizabeth; Bickford-Smith, Vivian (1998). Cape Town: The Making of a City. Uitgeverij Verloren. pp. 171–177. ISBN 90-6550-161-4.

 

 

 

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TBT: African Edutainment

The global community tends to primarily prioritize issues of the Western world made up of  first world countries that receive extensive media coverage when confronted with tragedy. Recent violent occurences  that had extremely devastating loss of life include the following:

  • Charleston Church Massacre in North Carolina, USA on 17 June 2015.
  • Paris terror attacks, in France, on 13 November 2015.
  • Brussels airport terror attack, in Belgium, on 22 March 2016.
  • The Orlando Mass shooting at a gay club called Pulse on 12 June 2016.

All of the above were tromendous tradegies that killed innocent people . The home countries of the tragedies grieved, the world empathized and mourned with them. The global community rallied with prayers, Facebook filters of support and vigils.  The unity of people throughout the world against such atrocities restored the belief in humanity and the power of unity through empathy.

However simlar degrees of senseles violence in places like Gaza, Syria, Iraq or Boko Haram’s terror in Nigeria is met with global indifference and minimal media coverage. Terrorism, violence or even natural disasters like the devastating flood in Ghana are also tragic and also deserve media coverage as well as empathy from the global community.

pray

Furthermore in the words of Godfrey Reggio

208814614-godfrey-reggio-director-quote-i-think-its-naive-to-pray-for-world

In an endeavour to inspire positive change.  I would like to center an African country called Nigeria. A country that had 270+ girls kidnapped by Boko Haram on 14 April 2014. These girls still have not been found, the hashtag #bringbackourgirls is no longer trending. Thus so is the relevancy of these girls’ safe return. Additionally, conflicts between Boko Haram and the Nigerian government has resulted in the death of 20,000 people  in six years and increased homelessness to more than 2.6 million Nigerians.

This is not an attempt at oppression olympics or comparing global wounds of devastation.

It is not to dismiss or invalidate other African countries. It is to challenge the stereotypical narrative of African complacency and victimization. Through historic accounts of inspirational Nigerian resistance against colonial and internal oppressive adversity.

The video below  centers  Nigeria’s complex yet interesting history.  That provides evidence of strength that I hope is encouragement from past accomplishments against repression to rise up against Boko Haram and bring an end to their terror on that culturally opulent African state.

Here is to an  educational Throw Back Thursday.#eTBT

 

Sources

http://www.mirror.co.uk/all-about/paris-attacks

http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/world/2016/03/22/timeline-terror-attacks-europe/82108892/

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Eurocentric epistemology facilitates racism.

From the food we eat, to the sports we relish and what we learn in educational institutions; virtually all of our empirical accounts of these things are lauded to Western European  origins.

Which is not necessarily true. For instance when we think of the first physician i.e. doctor you think Hippocrates duh… “Hippratic oath” is the oath taken by doctors all around the world in his honour to fulfil and uphold the ethics as well as standards of the discipline of medicine.

Hippocrates was a Greek physician who  according to Greek text dedicated his life from (c.460 BC to c. 375 BC)  to the discipline of learning and curing illness. During the era of classic Greece (Age of Pericles) if you were Greek and wanted healing he was the go-to person.  However long before this Hippocrates (as seen below):

hippocrates2

There were African manuscripts found in Egypt  and  Timbuktu. Hesy-Ra during Ancient Egypt in its 3rd dynasty was not only the royal physician to the Pharoh but also the pioneer of anesthesia. Imotep often portrayed in Hollywood media as an evil and vindictive sourcerer. Remember The Mummy?

imotep

Contrary to popular belief he is  much more than a malicious resurrected mummy. However, according to  Egyptian remains or statues or ornaments dedicated to him in his honour; he probably looked more like this:

Imhotep

Imothep’s accomplishments are extensive but here is a brief overview as per images from the book Imhotep the African: Architect of the Cosmos written by   Egyptologist Robert Bauval and  astrophysicist Thomas Brophy.P_ImaniEnterprises_Poster_Imhotep

According to historian Philip  True Jr. between 2850 B.C. to 525 B.C. the Egyptians voyaged across the Mediterranean and Egyptian knowledge soon became the basis of  Greek epistemology. In addition, Encyclopedia Britannica included that “evidence afforded by Egyptian and Greek texts support the view that Imhotep’s reputation was very respected in early times of 3000 BC.” Philip  True Jr. also adds, “Imhotep’s teachings were  aslo absorbed into Greek culture but the Greeks were determined to assert that they were the originators, Imhotep was forgotten for thousands of years and a legendary figure, Hippocrates, who came 2000 years after Imothep became known as the Father of Medicine.”

Sir William Osler,  an exceptional physician of the 19th century claimed the following: “Imhotep diagnosed and treated over 200 diseases, 15 diseases of the abdomen, 11 of the bladder, 10 of the rectum, 29 of the eyes, and 18 of the skin, hair, nails and tongue. Imhotep treated tuberculosis, gallstones, appendicitis, gout and arthritis. He also performed surgery and practiced some denistry.”

Why do Sir William Osler’s claims matter? Well, as seen below he was a world-renowned physician of the 1800s himself linked, to even then, prestigious medical institutions like John Hopkins. Basically, he was a big deal but what was even a bigger deal during the era of slavery which was the 1800s. Accrediting an African like Imothep to sophisticated advancements in medical knowledge was a bold and controversial statement.  According to the author of Sir Osler’s  biography, Michael Bliss, who wrote A Life in Medicine most of  Sir Osler’s break throughs were through the exploration of Imothep’s methods alongside other Greek physicians who “modified” Imotheps concepts to suit the Greek context.Image_Simcoe02

The representation of Imotep as a sourcerer in mainstream media through cinema entertainment is problematic. Not only does it reinforce stereotypes of “dark magic” in Africa which was part of European propaganda about Africa as long ago as the Ancient Roman era.  It also fuelled fetishization of African individuals as agents of dark magic. With very little historical accuracy on Imothep  provided in The Mummy;   false information (even as entertainment) to global audiences represents a reduced version of what Imothep historically achieved. By asserting European epistemology as the subject of interest “exposing dark magic” of “the dark continent” and reproducing false stereotypes of Ancient times in Africa being “magical” i.e. fictitious & not credible. When actual impactful scientific advancements were made. Thus creating a dismissive narrative towards any significant leadership or science to have ever occured in Africa.

 

With regards to what we eat as people and the types of food we associate to certain European countries the origins are also neglected.

FALLACY: Pasta comes from Italy.

italian pasta

Actually,  according to  the Macaroni Journal, by the Association of Food Industries , they stated that pasta was brought to Italy by Marco Polo from China during his expedition there. During the Yuan Dynasty from 1271 to 1368.

my creation

Yes,  that’s right the Chinese created noodles a type of pasta which even before Marco Polo got his hands on it had diverse variations like macaroni. Unfortunately as usual, the European “explorer” gets the credit even “Macaroni” named after him with additional financial benefits for generations to come.

With that said the Western prejudicial stereotype of China being the manufacturer of “counterfeits” should be laid to rest already. It is not fake product if it was yours to begin with.

Soccer, sorry to break it to you Euroleague or rather UEFA fans, the sport also originated from China. During the Han dynasty of 2nd and 3rd BC. During which soccer was being played with the kicking of small leather balls into nets as a recreational sport. The sport spread through cultural exchange that was the byproduct of European global imperialism through violent colonisation.

Ultimately, through the Eurocentric domination of knowledge European colonialists were able to control the narrative of information about having superior cultural identity.  A culture that was the “modified” off of  other indigenous knowledge found in ancient Africa and Asia. Most of the current disciplines in science, medicine, technology and art mostly praise and globally acknowlege individuals who were originally from somewhere in Europe. These include Plato, Aristotle and Hippocrates during the BC era later  Galileo Galilee states that the earth actually revolves around the sun and not vice versa. A fact that was familiar with other non-European nations way before then too. During the renaissance Isaac Newton gets credit for “discovering gravity” to this day Newton is an actual unit of measurement. Reinforcing the narrative of “look, European countries are so great, they have genuises to prove it”. When in actuality the information was borrowed and does not originally belong to the Western World.

Thus encouraging false ideologies of “white is right” that were characterized by the emergence of  white supremist knowledge claims like Eugenics during the early 19th century. That were used to justify the ill-treatment of people of colour during slavery and colonialism to either force assimilation into Eurocentric cultural concepts of being “civilized” or altogether oppress people of colour into slavery. Which led to identifying non-Europeans as “less smart” and therefore less human and need of “civilisation” particularly characterized by Francis Galton in 1883 who even claimed that Africans were apes. See the image below from Francis Galton’s 1910  journal called Eugenic  Qualities of Primary Importance:

human-evolution-from-ape-to-black-to-white

Another instance of  similar claims, Australian natives the Aborigines (naturalized inhabitants of Australia) in 1967 were classified as part of the “Fauna and Flora” of the land i.e. the plants and wildlife of spaces occupied by Aboriginal people.  European colonialists from Britain that settled in Australia (that were given authority by the decree of  Queen Elizabeth II) had denied the Aborigines the status of personhood thus not recognizing them as human through the Flora and Fauna Act of 1967 that was only recently repealed in 1997.

eli gaborigines

Over many centuries people of colour even adopted European knowledge claims as their own and still do without question in school through textbooks, clothes and ideas of modernity. Ultimately, Eurocentric knowledge claims facilitate an expectation of forced assimilation from people of colour which have global implications of overt or covert racism. The video below, will draw on materials from both the United States of America and South Africa. The black diaspora endures  similarities of oppression inflicted by the dominant white narrative on a global scale. See how it plays out in the short clip.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sources

Links:

https://drkentdavis.wordpress.com/2013/07/25/the-first-dentist-in-history-hesy-ra-of-egypt/

http://www.nbufront.org/MastersMuseums/JHClarke/HistoricalPersonalities/hp2.html

http://www.todayifoundout.com/index.php/2011/06/pasta-is-not-originally-from-italy/

http://www.pastitaly.com/page2.htm#.Vyzpg4lTKM8

http://www.historyofsoccer.info/

https://www.culturalsurvival.org/news/3-horrendous-anti-indigenous-laws

Books:

William Osler: A life in medicine. By Michael Bliss. New York, Oxford University Press 2012.

Imothep the African: Architect of the Cosmos. By Robert Bauval and Thomas Brophy. San Francisco, Disinformation Books Ltd.

Image sources

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0120616/mediaindex

Imothep the African: Architect of the Cosmos. By Robert Bauval and Thomas Brophy. San Francisco, Disinformation Books Ltd.

http://atlantablackstar.com

http://galton.org/bib/JournalItem.aspx_action=view_id=321

Memes:

*I generate my own memes through:

https://imgflip.com

 

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Inequality in feminism

According to (one of my most favourite writers)  Chimamande Ngozi Adichie, feminism is “political, social and economic equality of the sexes”. Notice it’s equality of the sexes and not man-hating, nor is it women wanting to be men or man-like.

Not about men

Feminism is influential in effective woman empowerment because it recognizes women as actual individuals with autonomy and agency.That provides the worth of being treated with the same dignity as men when it comes to female occupation in politics, society and the work place.  Although the aim is to be treated equally regardless of gender. It is not an endeavour to make men the standard of recognized autonomy and women the derivative thereof but to completely do without the ideology of gender being the utmost prioritized measure of competency. When in actuality all people regardless of gender have both characteristics of femininity and masculinity that are not exclusive to their genatalia. Truth is,  “being emotional” should not only be associated with women but men too. Strength should be expected from all people, I mean life in and of itself requires significant endurance for effective survival and that should not only be demanded of men. Feminism on gender equality also offers a critique on both masculinity and femininity as well as explore problematic societal standards or meaning thereof.

Thus feminism is a necessary movement because not until several hundred years ago women could not vote. To this day, women in Saudi Arabia cannot even walk in public without the supervision of a man.  Additionally, in the South African context until a little bit over twenty years ago black people could not even vote. Herein lies black feminism that addresses both gender and racial inequality in the context of both men and women of colour. At this moment if you are an archaic sexist or racist ie. an outright bigot. You are having difficulty reconciling feminism with addressing inequality in the male community.

Fortunately for you,  hypothetically speaking, if you believe that both your son and daughter deserve equal allowance money for the same chores done…’tis true you are a male feminist too!

Now climb onto the boat of male privilege above the turbulent waters of patriarchy and male tears that keep the said boat afloat.

giphy3

Today’s voyage is not in the ocean but through a space that is just as vast…CYBERSPACE  i.e. the internet.  The latest, social media network  movement on the internet,  starring avid “Meninists” #DontMancriminate was established by a questionable Indian lifestyle websited called Maggcom. From what can be gathered mancriminate is a play on the word discriminate where the prefix “dis” is substituted with the prefix “man”. It definitely sounds and reads strange but what does it mean exactly?

The following memes (images from the internet with catchy phrases or messages) usually used for humorous entertainment value will now be used to elaborate on “mancriminating”. Again, not a real word that cannot be found anywhere significant but worth looking into. Here goes nothing (literally failed endeavours at reclaiming manhood).

Image number 1.

man

Clearly the “you” in question is the individual that wants gender equality i.e. feminists. So, apparently being polite is oppressive. Also, these standards of being a “gentlemen” when catering to a “lady” were not created or upheld by women for women. They were created by men for men to reinforce patriarchal ideologies of female counterparts being delicate and in need of perpetual assistance or guidance from a man. Call it the “save-the-damsel-in-distress” hero syndrome if you will or Freud’s Electra Complex realized. In addition, the binaries of gender identity of a man being aggressive and masculine or a women being soft and feminine are not only arbitrary but ridiculous. All individuals (regardless of gender) can be simultaneously feminine and masculine as well as soft or rough depending on the circumstances warranting a particular response. All people possess a combination of characteristics that arise at appropriate intervals e.g. all people are aggressive when they fight. If you have watched reality TV lately, violence is not an occurrence exclusive to men.
Politeness as members of civil society is expected from all people; but unfortunately for men it is a major disqualification from the “hero club” if they choose to be “rude”. Be mad at patriarchy anonymous man in the meme not feminists.

giphy

And here we have…

Image number 2

man2

Well, unfortunately for females it is a man’s world; however, I agree, that type of world is “BULLSHIT”. This is because in a man’s world women exist for men’s sexual consumption. Clubs offer free entrances and drinks to women during specific time periods (peak hours) to attract men. Men indirectly pay for access to many women by buying women drinks with the expectation of potential coitus; it is not altruism. Clubs and spaces of recreational entertainment exist for men to catalogue women according to their preference. Drinks and entrances are free for women because they are the product being sold.

Somehow at the club men are the pigs but women end up being the bacon.The cartoon below illustrates the said “free” model that essentially reiterates the idea that if something is free for you than you are the product.

example

Recently I invited two UCT students in the two most male dominated faculties of Law and Engineering. Emma Reinecke is a UCT student studying law; Lex Bess an engineering student. They were invited to share personal accounts on issues of inequality surrounding feminism and provide their opinions.They are no means experts but women who are femininsts navigating  the career world of male dominated industries. They provided authentic empirical evidence of shared experiences and epiphanies.

Inequality within the following contexts was explored at length:
• Mainstream media with the portrayal of the female body.
• The portrayal of powerful women.
• Female presence in the work place.
• Maintenance and meaning of femininity for women in male dominated industry.
• Female sexuality and how that impacts marginalization.

Lex Bess listed Indra Nooyi as a powerful woman and that her accomplishments are negated as CEO of Pepsi due to media’s prioritizing of her identity as a mother instead. Her gender was identified as taking precedence over her capabilities and fetes as a CEO of a major corporation. Whereas her male counterparts get their career achievements prioritized and not how they “manage” to be “career men” as well as fathers at the same time. She also emphasized that femininity in the work place can be a source of power and not weakness.

Emma agreed with the above and commented in the reporting of the “Miley, what’s good” incident of the 2015 VMAs.

giphy2.gif

This incident was when Nicki Minaj confronted Miley Cyrus on an international platform about insulting comments she made about her. This served as an example to provide an analysis of media’s response of leniency towards Miley Cyrus and hostile disapproval of Nicki Minaj.Ultimately their respective racial identity politics impacted how they were treated.

There was more discussion about other additional problematic elements of pop culture and media.

For more on what Emma, Lex and Mbali had to say. Please view the video clip  below. It is lengthy but worthwhile.

Sources:

https://www.facebook.com/Feminists-United-400327940012739/?pnref=story

http://www.cosmopolitan.co.uk/reports/news/a36798/mancriminate-campaign-discrimination-men

https://www.maggcom.com

Giphies:

giphy.com

Images:

https://www.maggcom.com

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