Wednesday, April 20, 2016

#WhenIWas tweets show us how often (and early) women experience sexual violence

As a feminist and particularly, as a former Rhodes student that took part in the #RUSilent campaign, the #WhenIWas hashtag really caught my attention following the #RUReferenceList trend.

What was particularly disturbing was the age of so many of the women and men that experienced sexual harassment and violence globally, because I am well aware that sexual violence and gender-based violence has reached epidemic proportions in South Africa. If you actually need facts to back this up, the total sexual offences reported to the South African Police Service (SAPS) for the year 2010-2011 reflects 13% of the population. As they reflect reported cases, police statistics understate the problem enormously. Participating in this hashtag was a no-brainer for me because it's imperative that South Africans are constantly reminded that rape culture exists; that the high rate of gender-based violence and sexual violence is a reality. It's a reality everywhere in South Africa. At our campuses, in our homes, at shopping malls. Everywhere. These tweets stood out to me as they show just us how often (and early) women experience sexual violence.

Days after #WhenIWas, the naked protest took place at Rhodes University. It has seen a lot of support on social media but it has received a lot of backlash too. Particularly for the image below. 

What outrages me, based on the commentary seen on Twitter, is how many people were perturbed by the nudity in the image above, yet they don't reflect on the fact that this is a protest to raise awareness about how women do not have a choice about being violated and harassed by sick perpetrators. As a society, we have a long way to go in terms of rape culture and victim blaming: feminism still receives judgement, sexual comments and body-shaming is a response to the image above and their chosen nudity is a problem. This that makes me even more passionate about achieving equality, about eradicating sexism, gender-based violence, rape culture, and basically patriarchy in its entirety. I haven't blogged in months and I don't particularly like my writing, but there's something more important than my insecurities, it's the achievement of equality, development and peace. South Africa has much to address in the structuring of violent masculinities that is to the detriment of countless women, men and children.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Why a job interview is just like a first date

I’ve always maintained that interviews are a lot like first dates. So maybe I’ve interviewed far too often and gone on one too many dates but I have learnt that the similarities of preparing for them are undeniable.

As you would prior to a first date, you need to stalk the company online; something I've always done. Trust me, you don’t want to be working at a place with ugly skeletons lurking that you struggle to shake off later. And go a little further than a mere Google stalk, check out the social media profiles of the people at the organisation that will interview you. I read once that a guy ruined all chances at his interview before he even arrived because he flipped the guy about to interview him whilst at the subway station.

Here it is, Matthew Buckland, Head of HR for Forward Partners in the UK, tweeted:

While being a prick is by no means acceptable, knowing beforehand who to be nice to, can help a LOT!

Okay so you’ve stalked everyone but that initial communication via your CV and email communication is a lot like what you would put forward on a dating site and what you would be careful to mention via initial texts. Spell checks, accentuating your positive traits and maintaining the eagerness necessary whilst not seeming desperate are all essential when you’re applying for your dream job, as they are when you’ve found your dream date online.

Moving on to the interview. Your CV and your grades got you here but it’s not going to get you the job. It’s sort of like your Tinder profile being a lure ‘cause you’re good looking. Great stuff! But what else do you have to offer?

While interviewing, nobody wants you to reiterate how smart you are, which courses you did, or the grades you got. That’s all evident on the piece of paper you submitted. It’s time to lean in, smile, to speak authentically about why you’re the perfect fit for the company and how you can add value. Again, this lends itself to the dating game where flirting and being genuinely interested gets you ahead. You’ll be surprised how quickly people can pick up that you’re just there for the bucks or as a strategic career move.

But this position is not just about the company recruiting the right candidate. You need the perfect fit too. So ask specific questions that can lead to you making the best decisions for you.

And let’s not forget, body language. As you would use your body language to indicate interest on a date, you also would during an interview. An upright posture (heels help), a broad smile, leaning in, maintaining eye contact and a firm handshake all leave positive impressions.

When dressing for an interview, you want to look professional, but not predictable. For me, going with a classic black formal jacket pair is always a win, but pairing it up with something a little more unlikely like a spot of colour adds something extra. You do want to be memorable, because if the company you’re interviewing at has invited many candidates, then it’s a lot like speed dating. Making that first impression all the more vital.

And remember, the environment you find yourself in for most of your day will have an effect on your overall mood, so pick well!

Thursday, March 26, 2015

The honeymoon phase will end.

It’s been two months since I married the person I consider to be my dream partner. While I acknowledge that I am currently still in the honeymoon phase, and realistically, perhaps it will fade with time, the romantic in me would like to think that we’ll always have pockets of happiness in-between the monotony that is life.

I guess it also helps that I’m not just a romantic; I am also an eternal optimist and I like to emit positivity and good vibes to everyone. I’m not a naive twenty-something that seems to think marriage, life or relationships are a bed of roses. But throwing people down amid their blissful moments is downright unnecessary.

Surprisingly, I haven’t been asked all too often, ‘When are you having kids?’. Instead I’ve been faced with people that are married or have been married for a long time giving me negative feedback about marriage. While I do acknowledge the years of wisdom behind your sentiments, my marriage, my life, my husband, is not the same as yours and I’d much prefer to look at the rare exception I find, of couples that are still in love and its visible after many, many years.

Negative feedback, uncalled-for comments and people with more problems than solutions are not welcome in my life.

I was married for a week when someone told me, “Wait till you’re married for a year then he’s gonna say, ‘Bitch, where’s my supper?’’. Just yesterday, I overheard a man ask a woman, “How long have you been married for?”. Beaming, she responded, “Ten years”. And his response? “Come back to me after 15 years, it all goes downhill from there.” I’ve also had my fair share of bitter divorcees telling me off about marriage. How does the deflection help me or anyone else?

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

I confess, I am beautiful...

Does that seem profound to you? That I would openly say that I consider myself beautiful?

Well… I figure, if I am really going to celebrate my beauty and believe that I am beautiful, then I will need to utter the words aloud, or in this case, put it to a blog for the world to see.

So often, we allow our beauty to be determined through the eyes of others. We are guilty of constantly seeking approval through compliments, mutual crushes, a glance from a handsome stranger across the room or a nod of approval from our mother or aunt.

Why is our definition of our outer beauty so dependent on the varied perceptions of others? Isn’t it more realistic and reliable to focus on the parts we like most and to compliment ourselves on a daily basis?

Perhaps the most important reason for the approval of others and the self-effacing attitude we have stems from our inability to love our outer selves in the sheer avoidance of seeming vane or narcissistic.

With a culture that breeds self-criticism and wholly dismisses self-approval and self-appraisal it is even more vital for us to encourage one another to love ourselves. And that love should extend beyond inner reflection toward the love of one’s physical self.

Because the constant need for approval and appraisal from others is one that cannot be continually fed; in fact, when this notorious appeal for acceptance by others for approval of our beauty is so dependent on our own perceptions of our beauty we are bound to crash and burn without it. Or worse yet, seek it in places where it should never be found; through seeking compliments and one night stands to reaffirm our beauty, to reaffirm our status as beautiful women capable of luring men or women our way.

Self-love is the way to happiness. Perhaps it’s too profound at this point for many to conjure, but seeking love and attention and affirmation is a false attachment with a delivery that can never be promised.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

What does your brew say about you?

Do you like it strong, sweet or milky? Do you experiment with various blends and drinks or do you stick to the same order every time you head out for a cuppa?

Well, your taste in coffee could also give you a taste for the type of person that you are, so – what does your coffee say about you – are you the life of a party or laid-back?

1. Cappuccino
You’ve got a big heart, but you can be oblivious at times. That’s probably why one of your many friends might be tasked with gently reminding you to wipe the foam off your upper lip!

2. Latte
You’re reflective, yet indecisive. Lattes are a safe pick for you.

3. Espresso
You’re friendly and adaptive. You truly like the taste of coffee. People perceive that you are clever and successful, or annoying, or both.

4. Double Espresso
You’re practical and you’re a hard worker: One shot just won’t cut it.

5. Triple Espresso
You’re overly enthusiastic and a bit obsessive! You’ve been awake since the early 90’s!

6. Mocha
You’re creative. You hate the taste of coffee, but... like other coffee drinkers, you need the caffeine boost... so you improvise because you’re creative!

7. Macchiato
You’re traditional and reserved. You don’t have time for the foam layer. Some people consider you arrogant.

8. Americano
You’re calm and conscientious. You enjoy the simple things in life, that’s why you love a simple espresso and water.

9. Frappuccino
You’re happy and energetic. You may say you love coffee, but you really just love the ice cream!

10. Iced Coffee
You’re assertive and outspoken. You don’t let seasons dictate your life, so you’ll grab the iced coffee in the heart of winter.

11. Coffee-to-go
You don’t waste time! You’re serious and focused; so – when the going gets tough, the gets cardboard sleeves ‘cos the cup is too hot!


Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Stepping out of the friend zone

The infamous friend zone. By now we have all heard about it, heard other’s complain about it, or heaven-forbid, been in that dreaded zone ourselves.

So what exactly defines this elusive zone that so many find uncomfortable?

Well, to me, it’s that comfortable space where you take someone from the opposite sex and remove any inkling of a possibility of ever allowing anything more to develop. A space so safe that ghastly things like burping or farting could be socially appropriate.

Nonetheless, it is a space where anything goes, or a space where, as many men would say ‘Having a girlfriend with none of the benefits’. I have found that it is the perfect best friend (of the opposite sex or the sex you are attracted to) that hops along for all your errands.

But that ‘perfect’ bestie might, well, want something, a little more. The day when this familiar space becomes a bit hazy and confusing and the walls to the territory that is marked ‘The FriendZone’ falls down bit by bit, and instead of dropping all defences (because you were always comfy with this BFF of yours), rather, the walls begin to shape into something completely new, into a space that is both comfortable and familiar but new and exciting.

A space where exploration is the name of the game and discovery and thrill invades. Yet fear and familiarity makes it just a tiny bit weird, yet not so weird. And at the same time as you embrace this new space you finally find yourself in (After years in fact - because the friend zone, while it often happens overnight, is more typified by the kind of familial relationship where you dismiss any possibility of ever taking anything farther).

Have you ever taken a leap out of this zone to find comfort in a new territory or do you think that the friend zone is a safe space that cannot be broken in pursuit of something more, in pursuit of something bliss in a way that friendship never really was?

Or, have you ever accidentally friend-zoned a potential suitor?

Once out of the friend zone though, is there any going back?

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

My top 10 Tata Madiba quotes

Nelson Mandela has been battling a recurring lung infection. My thoughts are with him at this time. Here are some reminders as to why I love this wise man that has shaped and changed our nation forever.
Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.

I am fundamentally an optimist. Whether that comes from nature or nurture, I cannot say. Part of being optimistic is keeping one's head pointed toward the sun, one's feet moving forward. There were many dark moments when my faith in humanity was sorely tested, but I would not and could not give myself up to despair. That way lays defeat and death.

A good head and good heart are always a formidable combination. But when you add to that a literate tongue or pen, then you have something very special.

I am not a saint, unless you think of a saint as a sinner who keeps on trying.

Our children are our greatest treasure. They are our future. Those who abuse them tear at the fabric of our society and weaken our nation.

Resentment is like drinking poison and then hoping it will kill your enemies.

No one is born hating another person because of the colour of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.

Overcoming poverty is not a task of charity; it is an act of justice. Like Slavery and Apartheid, poverty is not natural. It is man-made and it can be overcome and eradicated by the actions of human beings. Sometimes it falls on a generation to be great. YOU can be that great generation. Let your greatness blossom.

There is no passion to be found playing small - in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living.

I have walked that long road to freedom. I have tried not to falter; I have made missteps along the way. But I have discovered the secret that after climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are many more hills to climb. I have taken a moment here to rest, to steal a view of the glorious vista that surrounds me, to look back on the distance I have come. But I can only rest for a moment, for with freedom come responsibilities, and I dare not linger, for my long walk is not ended.