Monday, April 25, 2016

Woman or Womxn

Woman or womxn, the two really aren’t separate but the one is an entity of the other. Womxn is defined by Urban Dictionary as “A spelling of "women" that is a more inclusive, progressive term that not only sheds light on the prejudice, discrimination, and institutional barriers womxn have faced, but to also show that womxn are not the extension of men (as hinted by the classic Bible story of Adam and Eve) but their own free and separate entities. More intersectional than womyn because it includes trans-women and women of color”. Where womyn has the same as womxn but does not seem to include transgender women.

What surprises me about the definition is the necessity to point out the fact that the word is inclusive of women of colour. Why wouldn’t it include women of colour? Does this mean by definition woman is not inclusive of women of colour? Does this mean that women are not only divided but also defined by their race? Or does this mean that womxn is a term that term sheds light on prejudice, discrimination and institutional barriers that women of colour have faced?

I went to an event recently, “The Vagina Monologues” in Stellenbosch. The event is aimed at creating a safe space for womxn to talk about the issues and challenges that they come across just because they’re womxn. There were a few performances by the womxn that were deeply personal, touching or funny. I came back empowered and enlightened. The pieces that the womxn did tackled a variety of issues.

One of the performances was a poem by Ashanti Kunene that highlights the difference between rape and rough sex. And the difference between the two is consent (and I think that was the title of the poem). The piece emphasizes the fact that once you take away consent (even if the sex isn’t rough but an intimate moment none the less) it becomes rape. And this is an aspect of rape that a lot of people struggle with. If people understood this one element about rape, we wouldn’t need to keep explaining that rape is never the victims’ fault, that there is such a thing as marital rape.
One of the poems was a pieces was about how women experience violence in their domestic situation and end up being perpetrators of the violence because at some point violence ends up being the only language that they can communicate in.

Rape wasn’t the only issue but also the challenges that womxn come across. Rendani Mathikhi read a piece on the challenges of being queer or just sexual really. Although her piece was specifically about being queer I thing it spoke to a lot of womxn and the challenges we come across in the journey of discovering our sexuality. A lot of the time Womxn are made to feel that they are wrong in acknowledging and taking ownership of their sexuality.

One of the things that I noticed was that a lot of the womxn at the event weren’t “straight” but with other womxn. For a second I found myself wishing I could be attracted to other womxn. It just seems like a lot less admin than having to deal with a guy. Especially being in Stellenbosch being attracted to girls would give me options. As a black womxn in Stellenbosch the options for womxn that are into guys are so few and far in between, never mind the fact that there’s only a few black guys to begin with, they’re not interested (maybe because I look like a potato anyway) but they’re also into white girls (And if we are honest with ourselves, the white guys don’t even look our way). And yes, it becomes a race issue because we aren’t all gray or something like that. Someone read a poem about this as well.  It was titled “To be Black and Woman and Alive”.

At the end of the night though, the message was that that womxn are facing challenges, and that a lot of us struggled or struggle with mental issues such anxiety and depression because of the challenges we go through on a daily basis including but not limited to rape and domestic violence. We need to be kind to one another because the life hasn’t and still isn’t kind to us. Ultimately, we are beautiful, in out brokenness we bring light and love (unfortunately sometimes it’s at out expense), our curves and our edges, flat chests or thick thighs, afro or blond, bronze, ivory or black as the night sky we womxn are beautiful…

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Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Stellenbosch's Victoria Street

Stellenbosch is a very small, beautiful, tourist-y (if there's such a word) town. The main attractions are the wine (the drinking and making thereof) and the university.

It's most beautiful throughout the year, in autumn it's beauty sees new heights. Victoria Street becomes a tunnel of reds, oranges and yellows. And the leaves are everywhere, if I hadn't learned how to control my inner child I'd throw an armful of them in the air and twirl in their short lived rain.Occasionally you'll see a squirrel basking in the sun, a sun that's to become a mystery in the coming winter months.

Oh but the winter is harsh! Stellenbosch winter is quite a spectacle  The trees are bare but the grass is green. The rain never ever ends and when the sun does grace us with it's presence it does so hesitantly and only for a while (it's never enough), however, should you spend a minute longer than necessary in the sun your skin starts feeling as if it's going crisp. In winter you never win. Nothing is as difficult as a wet winter.

I'm from Durban and Durban is bliss, winter is dry and summer is wet, even when it rains the rain is warm. I was never ready for Stellenbosch weather.

Actually, Stellies is a series of extremes. Because summer is just as hot as the winter is cold. I remember in my first year we walked everywhere. we walked to Skarkels (The spelling might be shot, I never know how to spell these things), to inter-res matches, to ... EVERYWHERE IN THE SCORCHING SUN! I wore levies takkies to make my struggle a bit less, by the end of the two week long orientation period my sneakers were worn through, I'd had them for less than six months.  But tis the time to be marry and go to the beach (with it's ice cold water) and wine taste and all these pleasant-weather-demanding things.

Despite it's beauty, Stellenbosch takes on an exclusive way of life. The culture of Stellenbosch (although very accommodating of the student life in general) does not care nor particularly cater for the non-Afrikaans person, it is even less welcoming if you are black.The demographics in light of South Africa as a whole are jarring.  Never have I been so aware of my blackness as I was when I first came to Stellenbosch. It seemed as if everyone was skinny, rich, smart and having the time of their lives. My confidence died and so I sought comfort in nature.

I'd take long walks alone looking at trees and wondering about these squirrels (I still think they're glorified rats, cute none the less). I walked an the warm looking leaves in autumn, I enjoyed their crunch and resisted my inner child when she demanded I roll in the leaves. I found parallels between where I come from and Stellenbosch.

I got used to the harsh winter, I fell in love with the trees and I discovered that there's peace to be found on Victoria Street...

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About My Self

I am a third year electrical and electronic engineering student at Stellenbosch University. I'm a lover of all things life;  food, travel, cars, houses, family, knowledge, flowers (surprisingly), isiZulu, politics (even though it has these ugly scabs), economics, books, coffee, the list is endless.

I wish I could write something poetic. Write about how I love jogging on the beach while the sun sets (or rises, depending on where you are), how I love the eventual burn in my lungs and my muscles from exerting myself, how I love the feel of the breeze against my face and all that. But honestly I don't even like jogging, I know nothing about fitness, I wish I did though.

Instead, I'm going to write about anything and everything. From sharing recipes that I or my friends have tried, to sharing my opinion on economics. Occasionally I'll venture into the world of fitness  and the dangerous territory of religion and politics. I'm going to write about the challenges I come across in my journey of self discovery. I'll write about my frustrations, hopes and dreams. Along the way I hope I inspire one or two souls, a thousand would be great but I prefer being realistic.

I hope you enjoy journey with me on this blog and learn a thing or two ...

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