TCT :: does your (D) cup overfloweth?

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Would you ever get a boob job? That’s the topic a friend of mine were discussing the other day. We sat in the restaurant like teenage girls, whispering quietly and making inappropriate jokes. #Totesinappropes. My friend says she would get a boob job and gave some really interesting reasons for. This week, I went around asking women that same question. Most of the responses were negative and fell into three broad categories. Here they are:

1. The “God don’t make ugly” argument.

The argument is that if God created us in a certain way then it would be an insult to Him to change it. If God in His sovereignty assigns a double portion to a woman then that is what he has intended – a woman must be content with the assignment she has been given. Those with smaller portions should not seek to artificially increase their portion. Getting a breast enlargement would be to throw God’s work in His face. All things bright and beautiful, all creatures great and small… the Lord God made them all! If we extended this argument, does that mean that it is not right for a person to chemically process their hair, are we to leave all things ‘as God made them’?

2. The “My body, my choice.” argument.

The emphasis here is on a woman’s right to make choices about her body, independent of society’s (or a man’s) opinion of it. Someone holding this view asserts that going under the knife to change your boobs would amount to conforming to society’s (or a man’s) ideas of what a real woman looks like.It is not only bad for  the woman personally but it is bad for women as a group because it encourages the objectification of women. But what about about a woman’s right to choose to have her breasts enlarged regardless of what society (or a man) thinks- surely the argument can work both ways?

3. The “Health risk” argument.

The argument here is that breast implant procedures, because they are surgical procedures, are a serious health risk and a risk not worth taking. Here people differentiate between surgery that is “necessary” ad surgery that is merely cosmetic. To take an example: having a procedure to fix a busted (whoop, there it is!) knee would be justifiable but having your boobs enlarged would be unnecessary. Consider this though: a woman who was diagnosed with cancer has to have a mastectomy done which will leave her completely flat chested. In that situation, if she elects to have implants, is that justifiable or unnecessary? Where do we draw the line?

This question: Would you get a boob job? is one that really goes to the heart of a woman’s self image. If you are flat-chested you may feel less womanly than your more well endowed sisters. You may even have had to endure joke after joke from your friends about how you are an ‘ironing board’ and (one that I heard recently) have mosquito bites on your chest. If you are more well endowed you may have endured teasing too and your one reason for hating sport is that.

Or maybe you are completely happy with your body.

The best answer may not be one that is backed up by the most well supported (see what I did there?) arguments. Actually, it is one that comes from a place of being secure in the fact that our worth as women does not come from how we look but it comes from God who has endowed worth on us, independently of our outward appearance. This ought to be the foundational basis for every choice that we make about our bodies.

I would love to hear your thoughts on this, men and women.

Thanks for reading.

shula.

in defence of women who kick butt:: how I got myself into a street fight yesterday

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“Shoot me down but I won’t fall, I am titanium.”

Sia

Tuesday 19 November was International Men’s Day. Happy belated every IMD everyone! Tuesday 19 November was also the day that I started an argument with two young men on the street. Let us call the them Mr Hapless and Mr Clueless. As I was walking along I overheard an exchange Hapless and Clueless were having with a woman who was walking past them. It went something like this:

Hapless: Hey girl, how are you?

Woman: Fine.

Clueless: Hm, you look so good.

Woman: [shuffles past quickly with head down]

[Hapless and Clueless stop, turn around and watch woman as she walks.]

Hapless: Hm, you have a nice butt, very nice. Hm…

Clueless: Yes, hm. I can see myself –

Hapless: But the face is not nice!

[Raucous laughter. End scene.]

And then something in me snapped and I thought: “That’s all I can stands and I can’t stands no more!” So in the most commanding voice I could muster I asked them: “Excuse me, Mr Hapless and Mr Clueless, do you realise that what you are doing is harassment?” And so ensued the argument. Mr Hapless shot questions at me asking what business I had interfering in their conversation, how dare I speak to them about harassment, who was I. Mr Clueless echoed his friends sentiments and coloured them with a few expletives thrown out of his foaming mouth. I mean that literally, his mouth was literally foaming. I used my big girl voice and said something about how I was not fully a lawyer with a few more years to go and would report them.  And so we walked along, talking over each other, my courage fueled by adrenalin and a temporary break in my sanity. At some point Mr Clueless said to me: “You are ugly. If you were looking pretty we would have spoken to you like we spoke to her, so shut up.” To which I replied:

“Oh my goodness, your brains are tiny. Seriously? Do you really think I care if you think I’m ugly? So what? You’re embarrassing. Stop harassing women on the street!”

That exchange lasted all of three minutes and afterwards they went their way and I went mine. But it was three minutes that really had an effect on me. For a number of reasons. Firstly, I kept asking myself if confronting those guys in that way was right and I went to my usual What Would Jesus Do? question. I felt bad for getting angry and getting into a shouting match. I also felt shaken because of the way they attacked me back. On the other hand I felt a weird sense of triumph on the inside, you know, that feeling of satisfaction that justice has been done? So instead of letting it go I gave it a think and have decided to share my thoughts with you, here they are.

Women put up with a lot of nonsense, particularly from men, and instead of confronting it we just let it be. This is a fact and I do not need sociological research to prove it (although I think that it would sure this to be overwhelmingly true). How many women have you heard of whose husbands/ boyfriends were cheating on them/ beating them/  even stealing from them and in response all the woman has is an excuse for him. Yes, of course we know that women do all these things too but the majority of these things are done by men (and incidentally, the majority of crimes too). We also know that the reason why women put up with things in relationships is complicated. The point is though, a lot of women think it is okay, normal and even justifiable for a man to do as he pleases because he is a man. 

Interestingly enough, it is the men in my life who have shown me just how ridiculous this idea is! I have a man friend of mine (whom I will call The General) who sets such high standards for other men and has helped me raise my own standards. He is strong, disciplined, outspoken, principled, knows how to say sorry, treats women like they have brains, is not intimidated by strength in women and is not afraid to call out a man who is being a dog when he sees it. In our relationships, in the workplace, on the street, we need to become women who are not afraid to say no to the nonsense that is dished out to us.

Can I get an amen?

Having said the above it is clear that women are a big part of why some men behave like dogs. Many of us women are enablers. When men behave badly, we condone it or just keep silent, usually because we are too scared to rock the boat or are fearful of the consequences. There is one tiny detail that I forgot to mention about my street fight: there was a huge iron fence between me and Messrs. Hapless and Clueless. The chances are, had that fence not been there, I was was probably going to pass by quickly with my head down like I had done a thousand times before. Why have I never confronted men who behave badly? My top reason is that I do not want to get beaten up or sworn at! And then under that is that I have always thought that it was none of my business or that things like that are not worth starting a big fight about.

But something changed in me yesterday: I became a butt-kicking woman.

Because the way that men speak to and treat women in our society (even in ‘random’ encounters) is our business and is important. Before you all run off and start street fights like myself, understand this: being a butt-kicking woman is an attitude of the heart. It is about knowing our worth and understanding that you ought to be treated with respect and dignity, every day. It is about not being afraid to asset your strength, resisting the urge to dumb yourself down or keep silent about injustice when you should be speaking up.

Mom, you can breathe now, I will not be starting any more street fights any time soon.

Thanks for reading.

shula.

Trench Coat Thursday (TCT) :: Lesbianism // Her Story

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*Some weeks ago I decided that I wanted to do a series on sexual orientation for TCT. A few friends kindly agreed to share their stories and thoughts on the topic on this blog, this is the first of four that I will share. I have spent many weeks asking myself what my aim is and I have decided that the point is to start a conversation. Please don’t get bogged down on terminology and technical definitions about things like “gender”, “same-sex attraction”, etc let’s focus on the main issue.

Please engage: I have some questions at the bottom that I would love for you to respond to, feel free to share your thoughts. Most of all, please respect this person’s story, their experience and their views but feel free to challenge them, or disagree.

I’m going to write a follow up post to this and it will be based on your responses to this post- happy TCT!

“I’ll never forget the day – I was 11 or 12 years old when I read an article about a woman who said she was gay. She wrote about her childhood, how she had been raised by her single-parent mother and preferred spending time with boys more than she did with girls. I could relate to that. Further on, she explained how she began developing crushes on girls, in the say way as boys would. I didn’t finish reading the article as it began to make me feel uncomfortable. I knew what the end result would be and I was afraid I was heading in the same direction. I kept it to myself for a few days, but my mother could sense that something was bothering me. After endless hours of probing and interrogating, I broke down in tears and showed her the magazine article.

Sometime prior to that experience I remember my mom lamenting on how deranged and twisted homosexuals are.

I was going through puberty – apparently it was normal to be feel this way at that particular age. My mother convinced me that I was simply going through a phase. Life went on. Instead of confronting my emotions, I suppressed them.

Tertiary is where everything intensified. I entered into an environment where it was generally acceptable and encouraged to be openly gay. Once again I was plagued with feelings I had tried so long to avoid and this time they were stronger than ever. After another brief emotional breakdown, I confessed to my mom that I was attracted to women. I have always admired her for her strong faith and wisdom, but this time she looked so helpless and disappointed. I knew that she was partly blaming herself. She’d ask questions like: “If you think you’re gay, why were you in a relationship with a boy?” and “Are you saying these things to punish me for not giving you the life that you wanted?” It was an issue that would gradually cause us to drift apart.

I was raised a Christian and had accepted Jesus as my Lord and Saviour, yet there was still an emotional barrier between me and Him.

Like my earthly father I perceived God to be emotionally distant (and only willing to participate when it suited Him). Since my own mother had trouble accepting me unconditionally I had little faith in anyone else. The genuine prayers I prayed to God were for Him to either remove my attraction towards women, or to end my life. The last thing I wanted to be was gay (especially if it would bring shame to my family). Ironically, this experience eventually drew me closer to God. There were no pretenses – I was angry because I felt that He wasn’t answering my prayer.

My most severe breakdown was a turning point in my relationship with Him. Over time I was led to the right counsellors and friends who displayed compassion and unconditional love, especially when I struggled to love myself. God had kept His promise – He had been with me all along, I was just too blind to see it. As the walls of pride and distrust slowly broke down, my desire for Christ grew stronger. When I asked for my sins to be forgiven I could forgive myself for the wrong choices I had made. My relationship with my mom also improved.

Many Christians I know don’t experience same-sex attraction (I have met very few who honestly do), so they cannot relate to a gay person’s plight. Like the world, I have seen Christians fall into two extremes: they will either be liberal towards homosexuality (these tend to be young Christians), while some may hide their apparent prejudices behind Bible scriptures. Other Christians genuinely love their gay friends because they see more to them then their sexual orientation. They try to be an example of Christ and not base their acceptance on their own preferences or feelings.

I find that there appears to be too many assumptions: Christians have many preconceived ideas about gays and lesbians, and vice versa.

I have learned that when a man says he is gay, it does not necessarily mean that he is engaging in sexual activity. To him the term “being gay” is a noun as opposed to an adjective. He does not view women the same way a man with heterosexual desires would, nor does he want to be sexually intimate with her. He doesn’t believe that there is anything wrong with feeling this way, until people convince him otherwise. Perhaps then there’s also an issue with definitions?

“The opposite of homosexuality is not heterosexuality, it is holiness.”

I believe that until biblical singleness is revived, the Church will not be ready to address homosexuality. Singles fall into a wide spectrum and also have their own unique challenges and temptations. Their voices deserve to be heard, and they need to be utilised more efficiently in the body of Christ. Marriage is good and it certainly needs all the support it can get from the Church, but it has been idolised in so many respects. For this reason, it comes as no surprise that many gay people now view marriage as a right. We live in a sex saturated culture and it is therefore imperative that the Church does not shy away from the topic of sex and sexuality.

Ultimately our goal is to be Christ orientated, not fall into the traps the enemy has laid out.

I am not saying that we should wait until biblical singleness is addressed until we speak about homosexuality. It is a current topic that should be openly spoken about just like everything else. A Christian who experiences same-sex attraction should be comfortable in openly expressing the challenges that he/has faced among fellow Christians without feeling as though they are being patronised.”

Questions:

What kinds of assumptions do people have about homosexuality?

In what ways does her story challenge your views?

Do you think the issue of sexual orientation, particularly issues to do with lesbianism, gayness, bisexuality should be talked about more? Why/ why not?


Please comment, I would love to hear your thoughts!

Thanks for reading.

shula.

Femme Friday :: A letter to the woman I love

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Dear woman

I loved you because you knew me first. With a fearful yell I burst forth, head on into life, delivered by some miracle of God’s grace and your labour. 

Still you work.
For me.
Unselfishly
Wake up, cook, clean, save the world, pray, snooze, repeat.

Yet you still look like a million bucks: a dollar for every kiss of consolation, every lullaby sung and story told to put me (and fears) to bed, every death that you have died for me every day.

No one else will ever know me like you do, we share a beginning, a reproduction of the Genesis – the Playwright’s scribblings still scripted in my DNA (basically, you will forever be woven into the tapestry of my very being). You are blessed amongst women.

I have loved you since I stood before a panel of judges, fingers and toes crossed in leather school shoes, satchel clutched to chest. The new kid.
You made space for me next to you, you always have.

We have shared childish dreams of “when I grow up…”, homework and lunches. Teenage angst and love songs sung sincerely and loudly with volume turned up high. Always very high. Lyrics jotted down frantically, letters penned, secrets whispered in ears

Studded. Only studs, we hated that, we wanted freedom.
Speaking of studs – high school boys and Saturdays spent at H(e)artsfield – the home of rugby. Try as we might we couldn’t hear or see past our raging hormones long enough to keep score – ah, well. We were young and fearless with the first taste of adulthood at the tips of our tongues
wagging – gossip and tabloid magazines.

I will love you now in your complexity. I will love you through your hurts, we’ll fight off past and present ghosts of the shadowland until the Great Light comes. We walk and talk for hours on end. We pour out our hearts with ink on paper, confessing jealousies and inadequacies and love.

And wrongdoing.
Sorry. I forgive you.

You love me with stuff, I love that – earrings and keyrings and parts of your heart. You make me mad and call me out, we argue about nothing and everything.

My admiration for you is deep.
You’re gifted- you dancer, designer, teacher, counselor, singer, healer, you  moneymaker!
(Not that kind of moneymaker.)
We laugh cause it’s funny
How time flies.
You are making your way in the world now, blazing a trail…
Becoming all you were made to be- powerful and beautiful.

I’ll stop now because tears sting my eyes… A letter started but not finished because we’re not done yet.

Thank you for reading
shula

Femme Fridays:: Three “You are…” Truths That You Need To Pass On To Your Little Sister

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The Bible says that there is the power of life and death in the tongue. By the words we speak we can build or destroy.

Our words are especially powerful when spoken to people we have an influence over. By virtue of you being an older brother or sister, you automatically have an influence over your little sister. You even have an influence over that eye-rolling, gum popping girl who on occasion channels Miley Cyrus or Nicki Minaj. Today I want to encourage you to use your words to encourage the younger woman in your life – she needs to know the truth about who she really is.

Here are my thoughts on three truths that you need to pass on to your sister:

#1 You are beautiful.
Every woman or little girl needs to know that there can never be a more beautiful version of her. My sisters taught me everything I know about beauty and fashion – they taught how to dress so that I don’t look like a Christmas tree (although that’s apparently in fashion now?) and when they told me I was pretty, I believed them. They called out the woman in me and constantly affirmed my beauty even when all I wanted to be was a tomboy.

#2 You are wanted.
Over and above being loved, every woman needs to know that she is desirable, that she is wanted. When you want something you pursue it and you channel your energy towards obtaining that thing. Your little sister needs to know that she is worthy of being wanted and pursued because in her life she will often face the pain of rejection. Tell her the story of the Gospel, of the God-man who voluntarily humbled Himself and suffered death because God valued relationship with us that much. Be the voice that tells her that her experiences do not have to define her because the truth is that she is desired, longed for and pursued by God.

#3 You are great.
Within the heart of every little girl or woman is a seed of greatness. This seed will only germinate and flourish if cultivated. The first step in the process is you recognizing that in your little sister and telling her, over and over again. Encourage her to seek out what her purpose is, speak of her significance in the world and her capacity for greatness. Teach her that her passions are important, celebrate her in public. Tell her what you see in her. Don’t assume that she knows.

These truths need to be passed on to your little sister because her understanding of them will have a bearing on how she makes the big decisions in her life like whether to pursue an education, who to marry and what vocation to follow.

And to those of us who don’t have an older sister to tell them, hear it from me:

You are beautiful.
You are wanted.
You are great.

Thank you for reading.
shula

Trench Coat Thursday (TCT) :: The Naked Truth

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*Please note that any reference made to sex is to be construed as happening between a man and a woman in a marriage relationship.

This year I re-watched Season 1, 2 and 3 of the TV show Arrested Development. It is about the dysfunctional Bluth family and the ridiculous things they get up to. One of the characters is a man named Tobias Funke. He is married to Lindsay Funke (nee Bluth) and one of the running jokes in the show is that Tobias is a ‘never-nude’ – he can never be completely naked, not in front of his wife, not even when he takes a bath or showers. He wears blue cutoffs all the time and his fear of being completely naked is just one of many problems in Tobias and Lindsay’s marriage.

The show frames his nudity issue in a way that is really hilarious but if you think about it is not funny at all. It is really sad. For whatever reason, he wants to hide what is underneath those cutoffs. His behavior is bizarre but I can kind of understand it.

My friends and I often talk about how excited we are about marriage and finally being able to know a man inside- out. How wonderful! But we forget that it means giving ourselves to another person, completely – stretch marks, folds and all.

How terrifying.

Two things about sex are a little inconvenient: firstly, it is done naked and that’s something that’s really hard to avoid. Secondly, it necessarily involves someone other than yourself – someone with their own opinions, thoughts, prejudices, someone you cannot control. That is scary. And when we’re scared we hide.

Here’s a guide on how to get naked:

Strip off coat the coat of perfection.
Yes, I know that it’s been said that “God don’t make ugly!” but maybe He makes ‘unattractive’? Because there are parts of me that cannot be described as anything else. I can’t deny it! A friend recently said to me: “My friend, you are not perfect. But nobody expects you to be.” It stung a little, as truth sometimes does, but I really needed to hear it. We all need to hear that people see our imperfections but love us anyway. That our imperfections are part of what makes us human.

My friend, your body isn’t perfect, but no one expects it to be.

Tear of the shirt of shame.
For different reasons, some of us associate nakedness with being “dirty”. And the thought of being naked feels wrong. Maybe it’s cause you’re a Christian who has spent most of their life trying not to get naked and you may have been taught that your body and all things related to it are evil. Or perhaps your ideas of nakedness became perverted early on: through porn, someone else sexually violating you, or any number of things.

What we are ashamed of we will always hide. In many ways being ashamed is a comfortable place to be in because we’ve felt that way for so long and can’t really imagine what it’s like to feel otherwise. And it feels easier to hide than to deal with the stuff.

But shame has a way of growing and leaving no room for anything else. You start hiding the stuff you are ashamed about and then you end up hiding you.

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Femme Fridays – for black women: Fathers and Forgiveness (the unmentionables)

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“I’ve tried and tried to forgive this, but I’m much too full of resentment.” Beyonce Knowles

I feel some apprehension creeping in as I write this post because I know this is a sensitive issue. In a previous post I talked about how being a black woman is not easy. The first point I made was that for most black women, life is not easy because we grew up fatherless, or where our fathers were present physically, they were abusive or emotionally absent.

This post is about the role of forgiveness in relation to our fathers. I have chosen to focus on black women, mainly because this post is linked to the previously mentioned one. Of course, these principles apply to women across cultures as well as to men.

My intention is not to bash fathers, in fact, you’ll find that this post is more about us than about them.

Some of us have good fathers, others have bad ones but one thing in common that we all have is that our fathers are human. They hurt us, disappoint us, anger us and make us sad. Maybe your father hurt you in ways that you feel you can never tell anyone else about, it still hurts too much. And maybe you’ve never felt ready to face the reality of how disappointed you’ve felt about your father and you’ve had resentment for him simmering beneath the surface.

Here are my thoughts on why we should forgive and why we should not:

Do forgive :

For personal freedom. Have you heard it said that “Forgiveness is releasing a prisoner and discovering that the prisoner is you.”? Not forgiving someone has a way of binding you to that person, it can even begin to define you. Your life becomes about proving that that person was wrong about you. For example, if your father abandoned you or disowned you, you may feel driven to justify your existence to him, to the world. Often we think we’re exerting our independence but we’re actually like remotely controlled machines or puppets – your father still holds the strings of your heart and can tug at them at will. Live free!

For your relationships. We can all probably trace our wounds from our fathers back to early childhood. Maybe you can remember hearing other kids at school talk about their dads and it made you wonder why you didn’t have one. Or you have stored up years of memories of forgotten birthdays; financial issues caused by his irresponsibility; violence; things he said/ didn’t say; what he put your mother through… You may have decided many years ago to hold on to your unforgiveness until justice is done for the wrong committed against you. Is this your way of punishing your father? The truth is that when we hold on to past wrongs our hearts become like a closed fist – strong, hard, impenetrable. Sure, a great defence mechanism, nothing unwanted will ever enter. But it also means that the bad stuff gets trapped on the inside and the good can never come in. You may become insensitive, you may struggle to relate, you may really want to be open but fear that this makes you look vulnerable and weak.

Don’t forgive:

To change your father. I’ve heard stories about people whose relationships were instantly restored after having forgiven someone. I’ve also heard stories about people who forgave and died never having heard the offender repent of what they had done. Forgiveness may indeed be the key that unlocks the door to reconciliation with your father. But it is not a means of leveraging. Forgiveness by definition is about writing off a debt – by your choice, you decide that that person does not owe you anything. You don’t expect them to change.

To please anyone else. Ultimately, forgiveness is about us coming face to face with the state of our own hearts and choosing healing over pain, letting joy in instead of anger and trading in our ashes in exchange for beauty. Real forgiveness is a choice borne out of a personal conviction, not external pressure.

What’s on your mind? I would love to know!

Thanks for reading.
shula

being a black woman is not easy

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“Brown skin, you know I love your brown skin. I can’t tell where yours begins, can’t tell where mine ends.” India Arie

I am passionate about womanhood and I am always asking myself what it means to be a woman. Looking for answers in the Bible, looking around me and reading up online and in books.

Most recently I have been asking myself the question: What does it mean to be a black woman. This post will contain some strong generalisations but I am ok with that. Because I think the majority of black women fit into these generalisations. If you disagree, please comment! If you agree, comment too!

I have just asked myself why I am writing this post. I think it is because it is my way of understanding who I am and what has shaped me. And  perhaps  to help anyone who is curious to understand what it is like to live in this skin.

Why do you have to make it about colour though? It is not really comfortable to say this but my opinion is this: we cannot avoid the colour thing. For a black person, being black is such a big part of your identity. For black people in Africa, I believe that that has a lot to do with the colonial legacy. When you/ your parents/ your grandparents are a part of society that distributes income, housing, education, even freedom according to the colour of your skin, the colour thing is not just something that goes away because the government has changed. It goes deep.

For many of us, being black is our primary identity, whether we’re aware of it or not. Is that how it should be? Well, that’s up for debate! Everything I write here is up for debate, these are my views and I look forward to hearing yours.

Here are my thoughts on why being a black woman is not easy.

Most of us grew up with absent / abusive / unfaithful fathers.

I have chosen to make this one a launching pad because the first place a black woman learns what it means to be a black woman is in our childhood home. The pattern of our experiences in childhood become defining moments, for better or worse.

I don’t believe that should hate our fathers. I do believe that we should face the facts about them. How many black women do you know whose fathers are decent, loving and present in the home? Most of us just have a blank space where our dads are supposed to be. Or if he was there physically he was violent, verbally abusive or emotionally absent.

I have had many a conversation with my guy friends about their issues with black women: “Hayi (no), you guys are too strong! You leave no room for a man in your life!” Black women have had to learn to be strong, to not ever have to rely on anyone, certainly not a man for anything. For a black woman, this is not a cute ideological tag on to our lives, we feel it is necessary for our survival!

Most of us will admit that we do not really trust our fathers to be there for us when we really need them. We love our mothers to death, they have their faults. But we love them because we know that they had to be both the mother and the father, they were there when our dads couldn’t/ wouldn’t. The consequences of this is that we either really struggle to trust men, to connect with them

because we have trained ourselves to harden our hearts. On the other end of the spectrum, we may spend all our lives looking for affirmation in men, we long for their love, we trust too easily.

Most of us have serious self image issues.

Ok, granted this is a general woman issue. Or even a people issue, men included. But if you will allow me to, I would like to argue that things are a bit different for black women. For example, where I live there is an area where there are many little hair salons lining the streets. It is common to see a hairdresser standing outside trying to convince women to come and do their hair – braid it, weave it, relax it. Each time I walk past, without exception, one of these women will ambush me and tell me about all the ways they can “fix” my hair. You see, I have an afro. A big and untamed one and it is always amusing to see the look on their faces when I explain that it is not something I want remedied! It is how my hair naturally is and I want to keep it that way.

Yes, yes, we know that all women face a lot of pressure to conform to a certain standard of womanhood but many black women learn from a very young age that their hair is a problem and the lighter in complexion you are, the prettier you are. If I had R1 for every time the teenage girls I live with have complained about how “ugly” they look because they had to spend all afternoon in the sun, I’d be as rich as Kenny Kunene!

Most of my white friends do not have to worry about whether their natural hair will count against them in a job interview but that is a reality for many black women. Whether they look “professional” enough. I really love hip hop and R ‘n’ B but I realise that the portrayal of women in that genre is really harmful to women, particularly black women. I have seen it in the way that girls long to have a butt and boobs like Nicki Minaj, the pressure that black men put on women to conform to the hip hop candy/ video girl ideal. Skin lightening creams, hair extensions and hair relaxers are big business where black women live! Sadly, most black women will spend their whole lives reaching for a standard of beauty that is urealistic and unattainable.

Most black women are achievers and their male counterparts lag behind them.

Listen, I am by no means a man basher and I hope that I do not come across as one. Many black women have resigned themselves to the fact they will never meet and marry/ have a long term relationship with a man who is “at their level”. I see this amongst my relatives and my friends. Most black women I know, at different levels of income and education, are hardworking, disciplined and can take care of themselves. Many of us worry that we will never find a black man who is the same. We look around and all we see is boys. Boys still living off their momma’s money, boys with their jeans hanging way too low, boys who have no vision for their lives and are really not going anywhere.

I have seen this problem played out in church. The black women are in the ushering team, set up team, tea-serving team, the choir and the decorating team. The black guys (who probably make up about 5% of the church- I exaggerate!) are the guys who arrive late, sit at the back and leave as soon as the preacher says, “Amen!” Black men seem to struggle with spiritual topics and are really weak in that area. For spiritually strong women who think it is important to find a partner they can connect with at this level, this is really important! Most of us have given up on black men altogether and set our affections on the “white brothers” instead but in our heart of hearts we believe that we hope in vain!

Being a black woman is not easy. The understatement of the year! Being a black woman is a fight!

What are your thoughts?