She’s Gotta Have It

INT. TAMASHA’S SPACE – NIGHT.

She dusts the cobwebs settling around – in all the corners and little crevices – and grabs a wooden stool, dragging it to the centre of the room, her mind. She sits and stares directly at the camera. You.

“Wazzzguuuud! It’s been an actual minute, hasn’t it? Well, I can explain. I haven’t felt like blogging lately… so I didn’t blog. There’s really no profound reason behind my silence. I did try to erect my thoughts constructively for the purposes of my Weekly Sunday Post but my brain told me to chill, so I listened. I guess it was reminding me that this is my space. I created it by myself and, frankly, for myself and there’s absolutely no need to feel pressured to write anything. Also, I’m scrapping this once-a-week-every-Sunday thing. I’m not a paid content creator yet so nje buzz off. Whenever I have a thought I want to share, however small, I will do so. Cool beans!

This Sunday, however, is a particularly spayzial one for me because it’s my 21st birfdaaaaay!” (*squeals and nearly falls off the stool*)

“Today, I want to talk about individuating, which is the process required for self-actualisation. I learned this word from a series called “She’s Gotta Have It”, which is a Spike Lee joint (yes, like the critically acclaimed ’80s indie film of the same name, but in contemporary times:). After trying to navigate life as a queer black woman with multiple lovers and a struggling career in the visual arts, Nola Darling eventually gets her big break with a massive solo art exhibition called “#IAmYourMirror”. One of her paintings (which she hides behind a red curtain and can only be viewed by one person at a time) causes much controversy. It is of her naked body being lynched by her own braids. Her body is painted with the American flag and is also quite bloodied. There are different emotions evoked by different people towards this shocking yet profound painting, with some praise but also lots of protest and criticism (even from those very dear to her). At no point does Nola waver from her artistic intention and feel the need to apologise or explain herself for causing a ‘stir’.

She has individuated, distinguished herself through her art and forged a new path to a higher sense of self.

There is no sbwl I sbwl more than this sbwl.

I see birthdays as a great time for self-reflection. The idea that a birthday is meant to be a day where you’re showered with gifts doesn’t really appeal to me (kodwa phela I do like gifts nami, I’m not ruling those out!). But think of it as a New Year, as a time to see how much growth has occurred and how much more still needs to happen. I am very proud to say that I am not in the same place that I was in last year when I turned 20 and that a lot of development has definitely taken place. I will forever want to improve myself and will always be a learner, and I’ve been learning a lot about myself of late.

My mind is my greatest strength but also my greatest weakness. I am plagued by anxiety, which allows me to live in fear of my heart’s deepest desires. It’s as if my spirit knows exactly what it needs to individuate, for me to become the essence of self, but my angst builds such a great wall in my mind that I feel physically restricted and unable to attain whatever it is that is meant to grow me and lead me towards a higher sense of self. Yerr.

So what I would like to work on, from now on until forever more, is mindfulness. I want to find ways of dissolving the ego and any misconstrued ideas I have of myself. I want to say ‘fuck you’ to self-debilitating narratives I have of myself but also the misconceptions that people may have of me. I want to give rise to the magnitude of greatness within me and operate from that space.

I’m exhausted just thinking about this. But individuating definitely seems like a lot of worthwhile work.

Sooo on Thursday, I stuck my vision board on my wardrobe for the world to see instead of keeping it hidden like I normally would. It may not seem like much, but now when I lay on my bed (which is a fond hobby of mine) I am constantly reminded of my heart’s deepest desires in picture form. I feel compelled to achieve the things I set out to do (after this Coco V mess, of course) and the thought of achieving said goals gives me great joy. I also started doing yoga last week (I have no cathartic revelations to express yet, but do check out the Yoga Workout app!) and I’ve really been enjoying stretching and breathing consciously. I’ve also been practising thought rehearsal/meditation, which is consciously envisioning yourself living out the desires of your heart. Fun times. I highly recommend it!

That’s pretty much it for now. I see that this lockdown has definitely taken a toll on my mental health and your girl has done zerrrooo school work (just a reminder to some of you that you are, in fact, a registered student). Plus my sleeping patterns are jacked as fuck.

I wish everyone a happy Sunday and I hope that you can join me on this path to mindfulness and meaningful living, for the purposes of individuating.

Hugs and kisses, from a loving Unicorn.”

Periods in quarantine

I recently had my period (which came unannounced because I have an irregular cycle thanks to my wonderful implant). My implant makes me lose a lot of blood and I’ve now had to start taking iron tablets to combat the high rate of blood loss. And since it’s an irregular cycle, I could menstruate for 3 days, 7 days or even 14 days straight (all of which I’ve experienced in the recent past). But this is not a post about the horrors of birth control (TBC though, I will definitely talk about that). This is about periods in general, and the potential horrors that will be experienced by a lot of females while in quarantine.

On day 2 of my period, I was laying on my bed doing nothing in particular (if I’m being honest, I was probably on Twitter like the true addict I am). When I stood up, blood started to trickle down my leg. Through the tampon I had been wearing. For. Only. 2. Hours. My brain froze for a moment as I watched the blood almost reach the floor because 1) tampons normally last for 7-8 hours so whaaaaat the heck? (and I wear the super size ones for medium to heavy flows!), 2) I know day 2 is the heaviest day for most but I had put this thing in 2 hours ago so whaaaaat the heck? and 3) whaaaaat the heck?

I had never experienced that before. Ever. My whole reason behind wearing tampons is to avoid making a mess (TBC via a tampons v pads post). FOK. Anywho, I decided to go shower and get ready for school (even though I really didn’t feel like going at this point). Just to be safe, I wore a tampon AND a pad I’d taken from my mom’s stash and headed to school. I’m pretty sure this is not just a me thing, but whenever I’m on my period, I get really anxious when I sit down. Standing up could pose a serious threat to my sanity if I have any visible stain. Even while wearing a tampon. But now I was wearing both, and felt pretty covered. I still had to ask my friend if I “looked okay” and she said “yep, there’s nothing there.” There’s really nothing quite like the assurance you get from your faves during your period.

The next day, I decided to conduct an experiment by posing a question to myself: imagine if you couldn’t afford tampons or pads? The experience I’d had the day before had been a slight shock to my system, and it’s really wild what females go through on a regular basis without our knowledge of their experiences.

I decided I was going to free bleed. I wasn’t trying to be the next Kiran Ghandi, this experiment was really something I only thought about after my last class, which was at 15h50 that day. So I disposed of my tampon and bled freely. It just so happened that I was wearing dark jeans and dark underwear that day, so I was goooood. I went to hang out with some mates for a bit, and actually forgot I was on my period for a moment (menstruation doesn’t happen non-stop from day 1 until the end, it takes some breaks before it hits us again when we laugh or sneeze or decide to stand up. Pure science 🙂

As I was driving home, I sneezed.

Jk, but I did start menstruating again and got annoyed with myself for even doing this ‘experiment’. I just got more and more uncomfortable as time went by. When I got home, I had to fight the urge to shower and fix the mess while it was still manageable. I went into my room and sat on my wooden chair next to the bed (I really couldn’t afford a costly experiment that would force me to change my sheets because wow, I had just put them on 2 days ago. Ngeke phela.) So I did what phone addicts do for an hour or so, then went to eat and washed the rest of the dishes that were there (because, vaginas) and went back to doing what phone addicts do. I wasn’t even sitting properly on my chair, I had my right leg up and my foot resting there instead and I was leaning on my bed to ensure minimum damage was done. Even with that, I still managed to stain my poor wooden chair.

That was the last straw for me. I’d just about had enough experimenting for the day. Some of the blood had also dried around my inner thighs and I felt gross and uncomfortable. This was only from 5 hours of menstruating. Imagine if I’d tried the whole day.

Thousands of girls in SA can’t afford sanitary pads and don’t have the luxury of choosing their preferred brand or whether they want to try tampons out or not. Whether their period lasts 2 days or 8 days, they miss days of school and hours of learning. Some stuff toilet paper in their underwear (which, I cannot stress enough, isn’t good for their health) and maybe some even ‘thug it out’ and free bleed while covering themselves with jerseys. It says a lot about the people in positions of power when you realise that free condoms are distributed at schools and clinics around the country, but pads aren’t. Pads need organisations like Project Dignity to exist and donations from other women, because clearly sexual health and the education of girls isn’t really a priority in this country.

During this national shutdown, a lot has been discussed around sanitation. We all know about the importance of washing our hands with soap and having hand sanitisers, but I haven’t heard a single discussion on how girls are going to sanitise themselves while on their periods. Considering that March is supposed to be human rights month and human rights day was yesterday, I expected at least one segment on this important matter. But no news show, to my knowledge, has discussed this at all.

Our periods are not on a shutdown. We will continue to bleed while this pandemic forces us to stay home.

But anywho, happy human rights month.

If I could literally kill the male gaze, I would

Just over a week ago, I was working out with a friend at the gym. Danita and I were doing butt day (one of my favourite days from our “Gym Bunny Programme”). We searched some workouts to do online and developed a routine with reps, sets and intervals in between. Adjacent to us was an ab class, with participants not even fitting the area being used. The gym was quite full that afternoon and Dani and I had to make do with the little space that we had. For the first half of our workout, we were facing the arm machinery; there were some men working on them, chatting and seemingly having a jolly good time with their fellow brethren, as they should. However, for the second half we decided (due to space) that it would be better to turn around and give our legs a bit more room (I know you’re probably confused right now and might be having a difficult time picturing this but just roll with me. The gym is small. And full. K cool.)

So while we’re working out – sweating like craaaaazy – we keep hearing the men behind us laughing and think nothing of it. They’re just chatting and seemingly having a jolly good time with their fellow brethren, as they should. Dani and I are so zoned in, doing leg pulses and fire hydrants and cross over extensions and donkey kicks and yerr! Just a lot of leg action and beautiful sweat!

As we finish our workout, catching our breath while seated on our mats, a man comes towards me and kneels. He greets me. I greet him. Then he says “Your pants are too revealing, some of the guys… can see things and they’re looking at you so I thought you should know.” And I reply, “Oh, really? Wow. Thank you.” He goes back to working out, feeling rather chuffed with himself.

At this point, I’m assuming you want to know what I was wearing. Well, I had a pink Totalsports marathon shirt on and grey shorts. These shorts reach the middle of my thigh when I’m standing. They ride up when I walk, like any gym shorts (or shorts in general) and they definitely ride up when I work out. They don’t hug me tightly, they just fit comfortably. I never bother fixing them when they ride up because 1) they’re going to keep riding up and 2) you can’t see my vagina or my butt hole. Thank you to the designers for that safety measure.

Firstly, I’d like to thank that man. Without him, this blog post wouldn’t exist (at least not in the present time. Men are generally vultures everywhere so I would have written about this eventually at a later stage :). Secondly, I’d like to walk you through the trail of emotions I began to feel after that interaction:

Embarrassment: this was my initial response. The whole time while I had my bum facing these men, they were ‘seeing things’. What on earth were they seeing? How far were their eyes going and for how long? Am I meant to not wear these shorts anymore because people can see things? Were there any females that walked past me? Could they ‘see things’? If so, why didn’t they say anything?

Confusion: but I wear these shorts all the time, with a thong even? I’ve never had any complaints before. Why am I being made to feel some type of way about them now? Have there been men who stare at me without saying anything? Am I missing the point of gym? Is it meant to be a stare down between people, a competition, an opportunity for males to sexualise females they have no business sexualising?

Irritation: I cannot believe that I’ve been preyed on! This entire time, I’ve been consumed by what I’m doing and I thought everyone else was, too. Who the hell has the time to ‘see things’ ejimini? The fuck?

Anger: This ‘well meaning’ strange man said “your pants are too revealing,” meaning I’m the problem? I? Am the problem? I am the problem, not them?

Could never be “sorry, these perverted men were trying to see your butt for their own sexual gratification. They were hoping if they stared long enough, or made a scene by laughing that you would notice and feel uncomfortable.” No. Instead it’s “your pants are too revealing.” Sorry, let me just have a word with the designers real quick, I’ll get back to you guys. Is that what I was meant to say to ‘appease them’?

Yes, I’m wearing shorts and then what must happen? Focus on your damn self, bro.

Uncomfortable. Unsafe: I’m 20 years old. These men all looked older than me. They have girlfriends, sisters, young daughters, mothers. What kind of satisfaction do you get from staring at a 20 year old in shorts working out, especially one who is clearly oblivious to your perverted behaviour? You don’t have to imagine the same thing being done to a female you care about. Why would you act like this at all in the first place? There’s nothing mutual about this kind of ‘interaction’ at all.

Rage: how dare men think they can govern how women should dress? How dare they think they can garner sexual or whatever kind of gratification in whatever perverted way they please? How dare they make me feel like I’m the problem, like we don’t have an entire planet constructed on the basis of ‘cisgendered heterosexual penis bearers first, everyone else can go die’.

I was sickened and disgusted. A really productive day was ruined by a few assholes. Assholes who were taught from a young age that they can stare at, and touch, women inappropriately without facing any repercussions.

As advanced as we keep telling ourselves we are, there are simple things that get in the way. Really simple things. And in light of #yamkela, I am still startled that we have to write “parents, teach your sons consent” on social media as a form of protest or awareness. What complex issues can we possibly tackle in this society if males don’t even understand what consent means?

If I could literally kill the male gaze, I would.

There can never be enough words to express my desire to fuck shit up. To create a space that disturbs paradigms. A space that perpetuates bad assery, affirms the female form and ensures that unborn girls don’t have to live under the male gaze.

“The black female form. I’ve grown protective of it; my foolish attempt to control the gaze of gawkers who think the black female form is simply here for their consumption, their scrutiny, their enjoyment, their grabbing hands. When all the black female form wants to be is free.” ~ Nola Darling (an excerpt from “She’s Gotta Have It”).

Note to self: buy more shorts.

Resistance and her bitch ass cousins

“Most of us have two lives. The life we live, and the unlived life within us. Between the two stands Resistance.” ~ Steven Pressfield, “The War of Art”.

We all do it, right? We fantasise about the fulfilling lives we can live every day; TED talks, interviews, acceptance speeches, trips to Italy (well maybe not right now) and what accomplished adults we’d be in the process. I, for one, talk to myself a lot so I do this UNASHAMEDLY every day OUT LOUD (until someone catches me and I have to pretend that I’m somehow singing a song they don’t know of).

The endorphins released from these thoughts alone are enough to make me want to move out of my parents’ house, spend money I don’t have on a production company that’ll become the biggest thing to ever hit the entire planet tomorrow!

But I haven’t.

I live at home. With my curfew of 18h00. And do nothing but sit in passivity, with my dreams and desires tucked neatly in my mind. Why? I’m certain that the thoughts in my head aren’t the same as yours, doesn’t that mean I’m meant to fulfill them?

Well, that’s where Resistance comes in: a toxic drug that seeps into your mind, body and soul with the intention of killing the essence of who you are, slowly but surely.

It’s a force that almost always overpowers the yearning of fulfilling your dreams. Its relatives are self-doubt, procrastination, excuses and comfort. Not the i-work-hard-and-im-that-bitch-so-i-deserve-to-spoil-myself sort of comfort but the cyclical patterns and behaviours that shelter us from the effort and potential failure of trying to reach our goals. If we let Resistance and her bitch ass cousins get to us, we’re surely signing ourselves up for mediocrity.

I don’t plan on being a motivational speaker and I might cringe when I read this again and see that it’s moulding itself into a ‘motivational talk’ (gag), but you have strange things happening in your mind right now. Beautifully strange things. It makes absolutely no sense for you to turn your back on yourself and the reason for your existence on this planet by doubting those strange things.

But lolzzy, let me expose my hypocritical ass.

I gave into Resistance quite a lot last year, but there was one moment in particular that really stood out for me. I wanted to audition for the Flatfoot Dance Company at school and had been pestering this one guy about the date and time, what I needed to prepare, what I should wear and ugh, I was annoying! And I’d dream and fantasise about being on stage again. Dancing when I was home alone felt amazing, but it just wasn’t enough. Up until the day of the audition I’d been good, confident and ready to do my shit. The auditions were taking place at 17h00 and I decided to go home after school since I’d had early classes. A little over an hour before the auditions I was stuck at home with my little brother. No parent in sight, just vibes. I started to panic, not just about the time but about my dancing abilities.

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I haven’t danced since 2016 and African contemporary is going to need technique and flexibility I no longer have. Even though we’re going to be taught a dance, what if I can’t do those moves? Vele, I’m more into hip hop than contemporary so I won’t be missing out on that much. And vele I need to put petrol in the car before I can go to school (why didn’t you do this earlier? Stupid ass hoe). The rents aren’t here and I’m gonna end up late and people are gonna stare at me and call me ‘the late girl’. Fuck. Yazini, nevermind. I’m not going.

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This whole exchange happened in a matter of minutes! And just like that, Resistance won and I lost. I sulked in my room and even wrote “I’m so disappointed in myself. Wow” on my WhatsApp status before falling asleep waaaay too early and not wanting to exist. *sigh*

Moral of the story: don’t do it! Don’t give into Resistance. Recognise when the bitch and her bitch ass cousins are tryna rear their ugly ass heads in your life and fuck shit up!

Thanks to Twitter, I went on a Nicki Minaj marathon on YouTube last week. I ended up watching the music video for “The Night is Still Young”, which is one of my favourite Nicki Minaj songs. There’s this part of the song I used to butcher in high school (ukubhimbha is a global phenomenon, y’all) but I actually heard the words properly for the first time last week: “How dare we sit quietly and watch the world pass us by (ah-ahy)”

I was like, “shit”. Like daaaang. We’re always hearing the same message in different ways but we don’t really hear it hear it until we’re meant to. Whenever that moment is for you, I hope that you heed to the calling from within. You’re meant to.

And if you’re still letting Resistance plague your life and limit your ability to be ambitious and fulfill your dream, how dare you sit quietly and watch the world pass you by?

Greetings, from a Prophetic Unicorn

On the 30th of September 2019 at 17h26, I woke up from a dream. I don’t remember much of the contents of the dream; maybe I was being held hostage at gunpoint at a nudist festival in Costa Rica or had superpowers and had been especially chosen to solve the mystery of the missing fish in my small town in the middle of nowhere (I’m a pescatarian so I need that shit), or maybe I was in perpetual danger and kept trying to run away from someone with a malfunctioning voice and peanut butter legs. I don’t remember.

What I do remember is that I literally (in the literal sense of the word) dreamt that I was the millionth subscriber to a random woman’s blog (I think she was white, or black or both). When I subscribed to her blog, she immediately wrote about it and an idea popped up in my head: I should start a blog! So I did that (we’re still in the dream, people).

Despite my many years of anti-blogism, I committed myself to writing “blog stuff” every Monday and Thursday for the masses (by masses I mean my two best friends, since no one really reads this stuff). At some point I was ascending a heavenly looking staircase with someone who’s identity I’ve since forgotten. That could mean that I’m going to die soon and my companion might have been Saint Peter. Who knows?

And now. Finally, on the 1st of March in 2020, I’ve made the decision to start my blog. Again, I’m still an anti-blogist (like for real, no one really reads this stuff! Well, at least not until the very end). I guess I’m just tired of writing essays on my WhatsApp status (my contacts will surely appreciate this gesture of kindness).

If you’ve made it this far, you might be wondering why I took so long to start my blog (it literally – in the literal sense of the word – took me an hour to create this). I’ll get to that a little bit later and dedicate a whole post to explaining myself and most self-doubting creatives.

The whole point of this blog is to firstly, share my thoughts and opinions with people on a different space (you can’t really cement your ideas on WhatsApp, this seems more permanent, you know?), secondly, it’s to affirm myself; to actually believe that those thoughts and opinions that I have are, in fact, valid. Thirdly, to keep me busy. I’m going to do the whole once-a-week sort of post and be a consistent hoe, but we shall see what course-the-infamous-chower has to say about that in a few. There’s more reasons but I think the general picture has been painted? Cool beans:)

There will be typos, cussing and some grammatical errors (I blame my internet brain and American english). There is no formality (free blog tings) or seriousness (although I will be addressing serious issues on occasion). I’d like to think I’m funny, so there should be humour somewhere in the mix. If you look hard enough.

I don’t really know how to end this? But “if youre reading this its [not] too late”. It’s only the beginning.

I hope you enjoy your time with me:)