TCT :: 8 Things I Will Teach My Daughter About Sex

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Beach-Love-Photography

by Zuko Mgwili

“By and by, I noticed Wemmick’s arm beginning to disappear again, and gradually fading out of view. Shortly afterwards, his mouth began to widen again. After an interval of suspense on my part that was quite enthralling and almost painful, I saw his hand appear on the other side of Miss Skiffins. Instantly, Miss Skiffins stopped it with the neatness of a placid boxer, took off that girdle or cestus as before, and laid it on the table. Taking the table to represent the path of virtue, I am justified in stating that during the whole time of the Aged’s reading, Wemmick’s arm was straying from the path of virtue and being recalled to it by Miss Skiffins.” – Great Expectations.

Fatherhood, can there be any greater honor/privilege (apart from being married to the love of your life), that God, in his infinite wisdom, grants a man, than that of being a father. Oh, how I relish the prospect, and if God would be so kind as to give me a daughter, here are some thoughts I would share with her about sex.

1. Sex is good.

All God’s gifts are good, and sex is from God; it’s His idea. He gave it to his human creatures not only for procreation, but also for our pleasure. A husband and his wife are to delight and be intoxicated with each other in sex.

2. Desire is good.

Your desire for sexual intimacy is good; do not feel shame about it. It is telling you that your body is ready for sexual love. Do understand that the proper context for sexual expression is marriage.

3. Sex is not God.

You will have some people think of you as strange for saving sex for marriage, for subscribing to some “repressive, antiquated” notions about sex. Some will even ask, “How are you able to survive without it?” or “Everyone is doing it, what’s wrong with you?”. The culture all around worships at the altar of sex; it’s everywhere, with all its gross distortions. Sex is to be enjoyed as the gift that it is, within the confines of God’s law, but it is not God. You can live without it.

4. Hollywood sex is not real sex.

Don’t take your cues and ideas about sex from Hollywood; the well choreographed sequences, where lovers seem to effortless lose themselves in sexual ecstasy, do not necessarily reflect real life. Your first sexual encounter will most likely be a clumsy, awkward affair. Do not loose heart, as you and your husband grow to know each other sexually, you will over time indeed experience perfect rapture.

5. Sex is enjoyable.

Premarital, extramarital or marital, sex is enjoyable, but the best sex to be had is marital. A good marriage relationship established on Christ, where trust, faithfulness and love are not lacking, is an excellent foundation for passionate love making to happen.

6. Sexual power.

Be aware of the kind of sexual power as a young woman you have over men. Do your best to possess your body in an honorable manner, so that your are not a cause for stumbling for your brothers in Christ.

7. Your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit.

You are God’s. You are called by His Name. His love for you is far greater than you can imagine or comprehend. You have the Creator of the Universe dwelling in you by His Spirit; what an awesome idea. You are not your own, therefore observe God’s law about sexual behavior; his laws are for your good.

8. Sexual conduct as a witness.

You bring glory to God when you handle your sexuality honorably. Great harm has been caused to the witness of the Gospel, as a result of scandals of sexual immorality in the Church. For the sake of Kingdom of God, do conduct yourself in a manner worthy of one called by the name of Christ.

Do you have any other blush-inducing pearls of wisdom you would share with your daughter about sex? Please do mention them in the comments section below or if you want chastise me for having mentioned the word “sex” and “ecstasy”, please do also comment. ūüôā

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Men Are Like Waffles, Women Are Like Spaghetti

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In high school our choir teacher Mrs Smith taught us a song that quickly became one of our favourites. It was only later that I discovered that it was a song about the ‘battle of the sexes’ and it was only then that these lyrics made sense:

Anything you can do I can do better, I can do anything better than you!”

Looking back, it would probably have been better if we had a boys choir doing the boy part and the girls doing our part. Altos trying to do bass is awkward. Girls do not make good boys in plays and vice versa.

Men and women (boys and girls) are different and our bodies are the clearest evidence of that. Contrary to what some like to argue there are some innate differences that male and female are born with, we are not just “socialised” into our respective genders. For Trench Coat Thursday I want to explore these differences and hopefully make some interesting TCT-esque observations on the way. Here we go!

“Men are like waffles, women are like spaghetti.”

Unfortunately, I did not coin this phrase (I wish I had)! It is the title of a book by Bill and Pam Farrell where they discuss the differences between the way women and men process information, communicate and relate. Men are like waffles because they tend to compartmentalise things, whereas women tend to make connections, everything is linked to each other, like spaghetti.

Did you know that there is a scientific basis for this? Females have 10 times more white matter than males do, white matter is what enables us to make connections between different parts of the brain. In relationships, the implications are huge. It means that often, a conversation between a man and a woman is like a game of broken telephone. He says, “Have you gained some weight this holiday?”, she hears: “You’re fat. Everyone’s staring at you because you look like a Jersey cow.”

Or am I just speaking for myself?

“Men are from Mars, women are from Venus.”

If you are a woman who has sometimes felt like she is talking to an alien when you are taking to man then you may not be that far from the truth. So says the writer of the bestselling book Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus. After writing what must have been a three page email, I have often found myself irritated by the two-word replies that I get from my guy friends: “OK thanks.” What about all the questions I asked? Apparently, “OK thanks” translated means: “Everything you said sounds good to me. Thanks for letting me know…” etc.

The fact that women express themselves better is not just because we spent our lives watching talk shows and reading while the boys played video games and kicked a ball outside. In a female foetus, the part of the brain that processes language is more developed than in a male foetus, and that difference persists in adulthood. If we trace things back, evidence shows that girls speak earlier than boys and that girls tend to be better at languages in school than boys are.

“Men Are Like Microwaves, Women Are Like Slow Cookers.”

If there is one thing that I have heard repeated over and over in sermons about the difference between men and women’s sexuality, it is the above. Put differently, men have a broadband connection, women have a dial up one. I think that this point is relevant for single and married people. If I have not made it clear, I believe that sex must be between a man and woman who are married to each other.

As a single person who is not having sex it is important to know the different ways that sexuality works between the sexes. Women have a larger limbic cortex which is responsible for emotional intelligence. You will find that a woman’s sexuality is very much connected to her emotions. Women, have you noticed how you can find a man completely unattractive at first but as you get to know him better the attraction grows. Conversely, women will tend to find emotionally stunted men unattractive as time passes even of they found him physically attractive initially. Knowing this, for women (and men), emotional boundaries are really important. Remember that where there is inappropriate emotional intimacy, physical intimacy will quickly follow.

Men have a bigger hypothalamus and this is the part of the brain that regulates ‘mating behavior’. That expression is too primal for my liking! Anyway, the hypothalamus is responsible for sexual behavior and the fact that it is bigger in males is part of the reason why men tend to have a higher sex drive than women. It is the part of the brain that releases hormones that are responsible for physical attraction. This is important to note for a man because his need to have self control in the sexual arena is more urgent than it is for women, do not take it for granted. It is also important, I think, for driving men into marriage and out of bachelorhood. If women knew how very important sex was to men I think they would not give it up so easily when men apply a little bit of pressure. When faced with the option of lifelong celibacy vs lifelong commitment, most men probably view the former with trepidation.  Take a note of Paul’s wisdom when he says:

“… it is better to marry than to burn with lust.” 1 Corinthians 7:9

Women, do not give it up before marriage. Men, no ring-a-ling, no thing-a-ling.

“I would catch a grenade for you.”

I will be honest, I am a sucker for Romantic Action movies. I just made that genre up. In a movie, the more at risk the man’s life is on the woman’s behalf, the better.  And guess what, men were created to take risks! Again, it is not just a result of socialisation. The chemical composition of  a male’s brain is such that when they face a risky situation the pituitary gland is more like to excrete large quantities of endorphins, the pleasure hormone. As a result, challenging situations are more pleasurable for men than they are for women.

Of course, not every man or every woman will conform to these categories. If you are a woman who identified with characteristics associated with men, or vice versa you are atypical and that is okay! The point is that male and female have been created differently by God (Genesis 5:2), it is not just a ‘religious statement’ but a reasonable one.  Louann Brizendine, a neuropsychiatrist put it this way:

“There is no unisex brain. Girls arrive already wired as girls and boys arrive already wired as boys. Their brains are different by the time they’re born, and their brains are what drive their impulses, values and their very reality.”

I really enjoyed this week’s TCT topic, what do you think?

Thanks for reading.
Shuls

Notes:
Research is from a National Geographic interview that was done with Dr Louann Brizendine for the show “Brain Games”. If you are looking for more of her research, Google her and add “The Female Brain” and/or “The Male Brain” to find her academic publications.

Whose Lobola Is It Anyway?

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For those of you who do not know, lobola is a dowry or bride price that is given to the bride’s family by the groom’s. The word encompasses a marriage custom that has been practised in Africa for generations and has evolved as society has changed.

I recently attended a relative’s lobola ceremony where we were representing the bride’s side of the family. It was only the second time that I had been a part of one and it was both a pleasant and an unpleasant experience. And it made me think. I want to raise some issues that the custom brings up and would love your engagement on them.

The benefit and cost of lobola

Every custom and traditional practice serves a purpose for that particular group of people that observes it. Or at least it is supposed to. Traditionally, lobola has been one of the ceremonies that forms a part of the process of solemnising a marriage as well as bringing the two families together. From beginning to end, there are steps that must be followed and ways of doing things that are very specific. For example, there are certain people who can attend the negotiation and presentation ceremonies and others who are excluded. The groom’s family should be especially careful to perform their obligations lest they offend the bride’s family.

There is a blessing and a curse in lobola. It is blessing because it provides a framework within which a couple can make their relationship official, before those closest to them and before the world. This, in contrast to the “hook up” culture that prevails amongst us today.  Very importantly, it makes sure that both people know the family that they are marrying into, which ensures that the couple will not be isolated.

On the other hand, the focus on the idea that two families are coming together, while promoting a sense of community, can take away from the fact that it is actually two people coming together. I have countless stories of people whose marriages were wrecked because of interference from parents, aunts and uncles. Every decision that the couple has to make must pass through the family council first and needs their approval.

The role of women and men

A very large number of women today have been raised in single parent households, usually by their mother. And yet the process today is still dominated by male family members who consult with other family members but ultimately are in charge of making the decisions. There is a share of the bride price and gifts that is given to the mother of the bride but the father as the head of the household, receives most of it on behalf of the the family.

I attended a ceremony where the father acted as the father of the bride even though he had made no contribution to the raising of his daughter. Nothing. Zilch. Nada. I think it is worth saying that I have no issue with a father occupying a position of honour per se but I think that, in that situation, he occupies a position that he is not entitled to. And it just looks like he is showing up at the end for the financial benefits. Surely there is something wrong with this?

I am also struck by the fact that in these kinds of ceremonies, women occupy a subservient position. And regrettably, it is not just at events such as this but is a prominent feature of our culture. The men sit in the house waiting to be served while the women slave away all day- peeling, chopping, cooking, cleaning and minding the children. The men discuss important matters and call for more beer every once in a while. Someone suggested that in times gone by, the men were probably in charge of slaughtering the livestock, chopping the wood etc, but convenience has changed things.

But if things have changed for men why do women still bear most of the burden?

Tradition for tradition’s sake?

There are so many more issues I could raise, like overcharging by families, made being delayed because families cannot agree and the culture clash that arises as a result of mixed marriages. What do you think?

Is lobola important to you?

Do you plan on observing it when you get married, do you have a choice?

Finally, has lobola lost it’s meaning or does it serve a legitimate purpose today?

Thanks for reading.
Shula

TCT:: 8 Things I Will Teach My Son About Sex

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Every day, we are fed false ideas about what manhood is, most of them centred around a man’s sexuality. One of the things I am really excited about is raising boys to be men who understand the power of their sexuality and do not abuse it. Here are 8 things that I would teach my sons about sex:

1. Virginity is not just a girl thing.

Believe it or not, virginity is not a disease that you need to be cured of, it is a good thing. And it is really manly! Any man can give in to his urges, it takes a real man to discipline himself and say no. But remember, virginity is not the same thing as sexual purity. Purity happens when God transforms your heart and by His power and enables you to stay on the straight and narrow.

2. The measure of a man is not the measure of his ‘ego’.

As you get older you will hear jokes about shoe sizes and will notice “Dr Makabimba from the Congo” posters. Do not be deceived. What makes a man a real man is the state of his heart, your body will fade and wither. “Guard your heart because that’s where life starts.” Proverbs 4:21

3. Sex is not essential to life. You will not die without it, I promise.

4. But “the thirst” is real.

5. So if you want it then you better put a ring on it.
“Drink from your own rain barrel, draw water from your own spring fed well.” Proverbs 5:25

Sex is good and beautiful and it was created by God, He sets the ground rules for when and where it happens. The answer is simple: between a married man and woman. No ringy, no thingy. And when you commit you are doing it for life to that one woman so choose wisely.

Having said all of that, more than anything I want my son to be a man who knows how to:

6. Talk that talk.
“Remove perverse speech from your mouth; keep devious speech from your lips.” Proverbs 4:2

Your words must communicate your respect for women, you’re not a rapper, don’t call women names. As for sexual jokes, to be honest they just sound stupid, avoid that nonsense.

7. Try a little tenderness.
“Do not envy a violent man, and do not choose to imitate any of his ways.” Proverbs 3:31

A man’s strength is a gift that is to be used to benefit others, to be given wisely. Never EVER take forcefully or use your strength to take advantage of another, there is no excusing this.

8. R-E-S-P-E-C-T (take care TCB).
“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge.” Proverbs 1:7

Aretha said it right. Firstly, be a man who respects God, this is where wisdom starts. Secondly, respect yourself as a man and treat others with respect. Women are not conquests that you “take down” or objectify. Real men regard women as their equals and treat them accordingly.

As usual, I would love to know your thoughts.

Thanks for reading.

Shula

The liberation struggle was about land.

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Joza Township, Grahamstown South Africa

Joza Township, Grahamstown South Africa

Take a look at all the biggest conflicts in the world today, what are they about? Underlying the wars about oil; where borders should end or begin; and which tribe should live where, is a struggle over one thing, and it is usually land. It seems almost ridiculous to me that people would kill each other over some dirt, that even after so much violence and death, peace talks and ceasefires, Israel and Palestine continue to fight over the same issue: which people have the right to own a certain strip of land.,

“The liberation struggle was about land.”

This was a comment made by my uncle who fought in Zimbabwe’s war of independence. Every so often, the land issue in Africa comes up in popular debate. Recently, Julius Malema made a comment about how South Africa should adopt Zimbabwe’s land policy and everyone had their two cents to add. Strangely, no one mentioned the shallow graves, secret meetings, arrests, detentions, countless nights spent in the bush, exiles to Russia, beatings, torture, bombings and kidnappings – all of these endured for what exactly? Ask that question in the context of your nation’s struggle for freedom, what is it that people died for? According to my uncle, for him and his peers, it was all about land.

The meaning of land.

To me, that was a revolutionary thought. See what I did there? And it got me thinking about what land means to people. If you have watched the news at all this week you must have seen reports of the floods happening around the world. One of the interesting (and really sad) reports that I came across was about people in rural Zimbabwe who were warned of the coming flood but refused to move because they were determined to remain where their ancestors are buried. They lost everything. But having weighed things up, they considered the risk worth it, because to them they were not just leaving one piece of land for another, they were abandoning something that bears meaning and significance to them.

Truth be told, I do not understand this. Neither do I completely understand why arguably the most prominent African in the continent’s history would want to be buried in a tiny village that he left as a young man for the big city. This is not just sentimentality, it was something deeper. He could have been laid to rest anywhere in the world, even in a gold plaited tomb at the top of Mount Everest if he chose, but he wanted to be laid to rest in the place where his ancestors were buried. What did that land¬†mean¬†to him?

In South Africa, the land reform issue comes up periodically. The arguments against land reform tend to go along the lines of:¬†“Implementation of a land reform policy today in country X can only have negative economic consequences. Sure, they will have land but what will they do with it? Look at Zimbabwe, it was the bread basket of Africa and now it is a basket case.”¬†And then people will bring up valid issues like compensation to current owners, food security and the need to preserve political stability. Valid, yes, but they completely ignore the history of the majority of people living in Africa. For many people, land is not just economic or political, it is highly personal:

Their land and their identity cannot be separated.

And it is something they were willing to die for. A generation bred in four cornered houses and buttered on the heels of urban migration cannot understand this. We cannot understand why the parents insist on visiting that place and those relatives every year: the roads are bad and the living conditions are worse (I mean, who does not have running water in this day and age?). We are told of place names that meant something at one time but mean little to us, in a language that we could never wrap our tongues around.

Their struggle is our struggle.

In our boardrooms, lecture venues and Facebook/ Twitter ivory towers we debate crime rates, unemployment, monetary policy, terrorism and fire pools. We write papers and articles and blog posts, we want to make the world a better place. We want solutions. For our directionless youth, fatherless children and corrupt leaders. For our alcoholics, murderers, rapists and hijackers. But how do we find a solution when we do not understand the problem?

We continue to struggle to rebuild but we fail to understand that those who lost their land, lost more than their livelihood, they lost their inheritance. They lost a sense of belonging and were removed from permanence and security. The ground removed from underneath them.

What is done is done and, yes, we have come very far. But we would do well to look back. Because it is there that we will see where the seed of brokenness was planted, generations ago. Maybe then we would see that we are reaping that fruit today. And as we enter into commercial contracts, halls of governance, and courts of justice, may our ignorance  education not blind us to fact that their struggle is our struggle.

A struggle for identity.

Thanks for reading.

Shula.

If your ever need to contact Shula, please email realmukoko@gmail.com. You can also follow her @ooeygooey. 

Behind Closed Doors :: Is your private life R18 or Fam?

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Doors, by Shula

Over the years, hundreds of scandals have broken involving celebrities, politicians and clergy/ preachers. The scandals are juicy and larger-than- Hollywood, tales of how money, power and sex corrupts.

We watch in fascination as their secrets are revealed: philandering presidents, crooked “tenderpreneurs” and perverted priests. This kind of news breaks every day, squeaky clean reputations spoiled forever.

If your behind the scenes footage was released on YouTube, what would we see? An uncomfortable question! Some of us have stuff going on that we cannot reveal to even our closest friends, especially in the sexual arena.

We portray one image outwardly but if the curtain was drawn back, it would reveal a scene that would make Hugh Hefner blush.

My intention today is not to make you feel embarrassed or ashamed but to open our eyes to the fact that what goes on behind closed doors does not stay there, it comes out eventually and if it does not hurt you, it will hurt those you love.

Here are the details of an ancient scandal, as told by Jerusalem Today (a local paper):

“One late afternoon, David got up from taking his nap and was strolling on the roof. From his vantage point he saw a woman bathing. The woman was stunningly beautiful. David sent to ask about her and was told, “Isn’t this Bathsheba… wife of Uriah the Hittite?” David sent his agents to get her. After she arrived, he went to bed with her…

Then she returned home. Before long she realised she was pregnant.”
2 Samuel 11:1-

Can you imagine the panic in Bathsheba and David’s heart at that moment?

What followed were two cover up attempts: firstly, he sent for Uriah, Bathsheba’s husband and gave him friendly advice to “go down to your house and wash your feet”. Theologians say “wash your feet” was a euphemism for sexual intercourse. Evidently, this was an attempt to make it look like the pregnancy was Uriah’s. When that did not work (Uriah for some reason was not keen), David ordered that Uriah be put in the front line so that he would be killed in battle.

I can guarantee that when David was taking care of his father’s sheep, he never thought that he could ever do such a thing. Lust can make you do crazy things.

No one is immune.

If David could fall into the trap of a sexual secret, so can you. But you do not have to. There is one crucial, critical, vital question that we need to ask ourselves:

What kind of people am I choosing as my doorkeepers?

A doorkeeper (DK) is that person who is close enough to know what is going on inside of you and influential enough to sway your decisions about what you keep out or let in, because you trust them. Your DKs will either help you guard your sexuality or allow you to abuse it. Look around you, which DKs do you see?

1. Messengers

These are people that you have influence over, but they have minimal influence over you. The nature of the relationship is similar to one between an older and younger sibling. It is close but one person clearly exercises more “power” over the other. David’s messengers or “spies” could not challenge him when he asked them to investigate Bathsheba or to bring her to him. They had to do what he said without asking questions.

2. Joab

In David’s story, Joab was the guy that David ordered to send Uriah to the front line, he was the commander of David’s troops Joabs are the people you trust to advise you, you trust them with your life. They love you to death but do not have the courage or wisdom to challenge you or correct you when you are wrong. They want your approval and will often be heard saying, “Just do you boo!”

3. Nathan

This is the guy who had the nerve to come to the king and call him out for what he had done, he did not mince his words, he did not make it look pretty. Nathan is the person that you can trust to tell you to check yourself when necessary and will dish out some tough love. When you do wrong she will call you out on it and help you get back on the straight and narrow where you will find grace and forgiveness.

Which DKs do you have, messengers, Joabs, or Nathans? Ultimately, whether we are kings or servants, we will be held accountable for the choices we make. But surrounding ourselves with the right people will go a long way in keeping things safe for family viewing behind closed doors.

Thanks for reading.
Shula

Please forgive Bryan Adams for starting apartheid in Zimbabwe

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Some of you recognise the name Bryan Adams but cannot really put a face or a song to the name. The Canadian singer, who is on tour and recently performed a concert in Harare, is famous for songs like ¬†“Summer of ’69” and “Everything I Do (I Do It For You)”. Believe it or not, the concert brought up some discussions about race in Zimbabwe, including reports in national newspapers. What started this racial debate? The first report that I saw was in the Sunday Mail in an article titled “Full House at Bryan Adams’ show” which alleged that the concert tickets “went on sale almost clandestinely”. The second newspaper article that I came across was “Keep your Bryan Adams and we will keep our Warriors” which focussed on the fact that the concert had a “99,9 percent” white attendance, with only 2 black people attending out of total of about 3,500 concert-goers.

Ridiculousness?

While¬†The Sheepish Shulamite¬†is still on the topic of race etc., I thought it was out of place¬† ridiculous silly¬†¬†appropriate (along with the articles mentioned above) to put impute a political motive to what was just a fun night out for most of the party goers. Who knew that as Bryan Adams strummed the guitar, he was strumming the pain of black people with his fingers? Or that “Please Forgive Me” are the words that black people have been waiting to hear from a white man’s lips? Who would have thought that this was yet another “us against them” spy operation which was calculated to deprive black people of 1980’s rock music blaring through the speakers.¬†Amaiwee!

All ridiculousness and jokes aside, this scenario does bring up some important racial issues that are relevant for most southern African countries. Regarding the fact that the show was attended by and advertised mostly (or exclusively) to white people, a friend on Facebook argued that it is hypocritical that we do not seem to have as much of a problem with the fact that concerts by black artists such as Oliver “Tuku” Mtukudzi are attended mostly by black people. But this misses the point. Bryan Adams posted a picture of his audience on Twitter and when I saw it, my first reaction was shock. To be honest, I was shocked to see such a huge number of white people, I did not even know that there were so many white people in Zimbabwe! It was a weird picture because there was not one dark brown hand raised in that crowd, in a country where the majority of people are dark brown.

Contextualising the problem::

Allow me to make my point clear:

i) in a context where the majority of people are black, it is unusual and problematic to have spaces where only white people are. The inverse is not as unusual because the majority of people are black and it makes statistical sense that they will dominate most spaces, simply because of their numbers.

ii) in a context where there has been a history of segregation of races (colours), the creation of “white spaces” that result in the separation of races is problematic, regardless of the motives of the people involved in creating these spaces.

We need to understand our present and historical context, even a concert is not independent of it. We need to stop defending images that are clearly problematic and start addressing the issues behind them. We need to address the issue that people feel marginalised – both white and black people, and we need to stop asking questions like:¬†Why can’t we all just love each other?¬†The real questions we need to ask are: Why are so many black people still angry with white people, decades after independence?¬†and¬†How can people living in the same context (black and white) see the same issue so differently?

Ignorance is bliss::

The reality is that we do not live in the same context, black/white and rich/poor. I am a black Zimbabwean who has a privileged background and I have never existed within the same context as my white contemporaries. We spent most of our days together at school but it very rarely went beyond that. The white girls had parties and holiday getaways that the black girls were never invited to and vice versa. We had our boyfriends, they had theirs. Separate and sort of equal. By the time l was in high school, Zimbabwe had already gone through a lot of changes, private schools were racially integrated and the controversial land reform programme was in full force.

Things had changed but they were still the same. In spite of the fact that my high school was made up of a majority of black pupils, the school leadership was still made up of mostly white people. The school board was mostly white, the prefects and sports captains were a majority of white people and the head girls were white. In 2007, a year before my last year of high school, my friends and I drew up a guess list of who we thought would be elected into the school leadership in our final year. The votes of the pupils would count but we knew that, ultimately, the decision would be made by the higher powers that be. Our list went something like this:

Head girl : obviously, a white girl.

Deputy head girl: token black girl / black girl who should have been head girl.

Senior prefect: one white girl, one black/ indian girl.

Games captain: Ah, white girl (what black girl can swim?).

Cultural captain: Can go either way.

And so on… Every year the prefects were announced on Speech Day and there was always a sense of anticipation in the air. In the entire history of our school, we had only had two black head girls and the last one was ten years before our year. On the 10th of October 2007, the tension was palpable. My journal entry from that day tells me that I broke into a cold sweat just before the head girl’s name was announced and I was still in shock and overwhelmed by the hugs, screams and kisses ten minutes later. The name they had announced was mine.

Lest we forget ::

“Never say never”¬†

were are the words that I wrote on that day when I came home, still on a once in a lifetime high. People say that we cannot change anything in one day but I am telling you, my life was changed on that day. It was my very own ‘Nelson Mandela inauguration’ moment, my 17 year old heart shifted, I saw something historical on that day. I was the first in what has been a string of gifted, capable and promising young black women who have occupied the position of head girl at my high school.

Make tea not war, by @shooeygooey

Make tea not war, by @shooeygooey

Over 5 years later, that day is forgotten to many people, but it will never be forgotten by me, never by me. Because of that day, I believe.

I believe that there will come a day when white people understand where black people are coming from and understand the generational effect of things like colonisation and apartheid. And take some responsibility for it, even if it is not their fault. I believe that we will see black people embrace their blackness and choose forgiveness and reconciliation. And take ownership of their own destiny. I believe that one day the voices that will be heard in the public square are the ones that speak out on behalf of justice for all and not just the majority or minority. As crazy as it sounds, I believe in the kingdom of God coming to earth.

He said that unless we become like children we will never enter this kingdom. So I guess I’m always going to be a few months short of 18 ’til I die.

Thanks for reading.

Shula.

TCT :: What is your flavour, chocolate or vanilla?

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This is the chocolate milkshake I had this week - yum!

This is the chocolate milkshake I had this week – yum!

It is Trench Coat Thursday and I am writing about a topic that is fraught with controversy, you may identify with a lot of what I am going to say, or you may disagree completely. This is me being honest and real about this issue. Whether you agree with me or not, please let your voice be heard! The point of these posts is not for me to just state my opinion but for us to engage in a conversation. I am really forward to hearing what you think!

This Tuesday was my birthday and my mom, sister and I went for a celebratory lunch. As we walked in a young white guy looked our way and smiled. Let me clear something up, it was not that weirdly condescending smile that you get when you walk past some people and it was not that leery look that you get from dodgy men, it was not brief either. Actually, it was more like a Ryan Gosling-esque¬†“Hey girl…”¬†kind of smile. We were charmed because he is really cute and athletic looking, we were surprised because, well, because he is white.

Who was your first crush?

My family says that mine was Daniel and I was 5 years old. I used to come home from pre-school every day and talked about him all the time. And then there was Ross who was cute and sweet and sporty. I will never forget Mark who was American and best friends with a guy who liked my friend. We were in Grade 5 and their school had come to ours for a rugby tour. We sat and chatted for ages about who-knows-what and by the end of the night I was faint with love. I have a list of crushes as long as my arm: rugby players, hockey players, swimmers, head boys, captains and a pastor’s kid. Looking at my list brings up some questions because, well, because all my crushes are white.

While I was still wondering if we would see that cute guy in the restaurant again the waiter came. My sister wanted me to order a vanilla milkshake but I preferred chocolate. So that is what I ordered.

Preference or Prejudice?

Do people have a physical type? If yes, is it something that people are born with, does it develop over time or is it a choice? I have two male friends that say that they will not/ cannot marry any woman other than a white woman. ¬†Let’s call them Tristan and Sandi. Tristan is white and Sandi is black. My initial reaction to this was “No man, that’s racist!”,¬†but is it really? Some would argue that it is just a preference. Like how some women are attracted to tall men and not short men. And how some men find that they are attracted to women with short hair and not long. Some people like chocolate flavoured milkshakes, others prefer vanilla.

But can we reduce our physical attraction to mere preference?

A few years ago, I was at a mall with a guy relative of mine who was disgusted at the sight of an interracial couple. We will call him Dali. We had a chat about it and he was vehement about how a black man should be with a black woman and he did not understand why any black man or woman would want to cross over to the lighter side – whether that meant white, light brown, green, blue or red. What do you think he was expressing there, preference or prejudice?

Which of these makes less or more sense to you, and why?:

A. white man only attracted to white women (Tristan).

B. black man only attracted to white women (Sandi).

C. black man only attracted to black women (Dali).

A complex issue::

These questions are framed as black/ white issues but they are not really that simple. Firstly, black and white are not the only colours out there – you can add in whatever colour (‘race’) you choose and the questions would still apply. Secondly, for most of us, a person’s skin colour denotes something more than the amount of melanin in it. In our minds a person’s skin colour tells us something about where they come from, their culture, their level of income and education, their class or lack thereof. And everything is rated within these categories – low to high.

I would argue that a lot of what we call ‘preferences’ are borne out of either an inferiority complex or a superiority complex, depending on what rating you put on a certain skin colour. Of course, this does not apply to everyone but it does apply to many of us! My mom thinks that my childhood crushes were mostly the fruit of who I was exposed to from a young age. Outside of home, most of my interactions were with white people, my friendships were with white children and I existed within the white cultural context. It was not anomalous that I liked white boys.

But what of the fact that I liked white boys only, even after having been exposed to a whole spectrum of colours of men later on in life? Many black women will tell you that they dread the thought of marrying a black man and they have made up their mind to marry a white one or not to marry at all. Why a white man? Well, because he is better! A white man will be faithful, true and will take care of you. A black man will cheat, lie and will probably drink his salary away for the rest of your married lives. White culture is easy, liberal and gives wives a place other than in the kitchen. Black culture is strict, traditional and makes a wife subservient (not submissive) to her husband.

Let us revisit my friends Tristan, Sandi and Dali.

If you had a discussion with Tristan, he might first respond by saying that he did not think the questions were important or relevant:¬†You cannot help who you love!¬†If you pressed and challenged him on that, he might admit that this was not really about love, but physical attraction because a woman’s looks are the first thing that a man is drawn to. He might also defend his choice by saying that this was not primarily about race but about culture – we are all naturally drawn to people who are like us and there was nothing wrong with that. Tristan is either blind to his own prejudice or being dishonest. Some honest white men have told me that they have been attracted to women of other colours but consider a relationship with them taboo (what will my family think?!) or something of an exotic adventure rather than something serious. They also admit they think that black culture is primitive and white culture is civilised and the two just do not mix.

Sandi will probably have some good reasons why he is only attracted to white women. Allow me to draw from an actual conversation I have had. Sandi thinks that black women are dramatic, demanding and difficult to please and his sisters have put him off black women for life. Of course, he has black women friends, none of whom he would seriously consider. He has always been told that he will marry a white woman and that is what God has called him to. He played the God-card which is really difficult to argue with! But here is the thing: firstly, Sandi is making his decision out of a place of past pain or hurt. Secondly, he makes generalisations about black women and white women and his generalisations are not true!

Dali already stated his stance clearly: black people should be with black people. In many ways he is much like Tristan, except that he is willing to admit that his are not just preferences but prejudices. He justifies his prejudice with arguments like: Black people were put in Africa, White people in Europe, and Chinese in China so this means that like must be with like! Getting through to Dali will be a struggle but you might win him over by pointing out the fact that his arguments are much like the eugenics theories that people use to justify apartheid, other forms of segregation and genocide. Prejudice is harmful and unjustifiable.

What do you think?

I have so much more to say but will stop there! Now it is your turn, what do you think?

Thanks for reading.

Shula 

TCT :: 8 things that make a woman hot.

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“My milkshake brings all the boys to the yard and they’re like, it’s better than yours.” Kelis

Last week Thursday we had a list of 8 things that make a man hot. And as a result, I started thinking about beauty, attraction and the role those play in a relationship.

What makes a woman hot? I asked some people if they were willing to explore and no one took the bait – I am not surprised! It is a difficult topic to address and my experience is that women tend to be more sensitive to generalisations (such as the one I just made). All the “SoS” verses are taken from the book Song of Songs. Here we go, 8 things that make a woman hot :

1. She knows she is beautiful.
“I am dark like the tents of Kedar, yet lovely as the curtains of Solomon.” SoS 1:5

Scholars say that at the time that this book was written, society’s idea of beauty was pale skin. This woman did not conform to this standard and yet she declared herself beautiful. Insecure women are constantly seeking affirmation and approval from someone else but it is never enough. That is not hot. Hotness is embodied in a woman who values what she has and makes it work. Security is never outward but comes from being at peace with who God made you to be, whether that conforms to other people’s ideas or not.

2. She has a sweet voice.
“Let me hear your voice; for your voice is sweet.” SoS 2:14

Some women have beautiful voices though! Like silk, or melted chocolate, dark and warm. But you can have a nice voice and talk about nonsense. What makes a woman hot is firstly, that she lets her voice be heard, she is not voiceless even when she is quiet. She is not ignorant and does not dumb herself down. She has a message: “She opens her mouth with wisdom, and loving instruction is on her tongue.” (Proverbs 31:26)

3. She is mysterious.
“Behind your veil, your eyes are doves… Behind your veil, your brow is like a slice of pomegranates.” SoS 4:1,3

You know those people you meet and can immediately figure out? Boring. People who reveal a little bit of themselves and leave you wanting more – that is hot! A veil represents a layer of covering, it reveals a little bit but not everything. A beautiful woman keeps herself veiled, not because she is shy and retiring but because she knows that she is a hidden treasure that must be sought out. There is a Bible verse that says “It is the glory of God to hide a matter, it is the glory of kings to seek it out.” A frog will try and make her give it all up with minimal effort but a king will patiently and diligently work until he finds the treasure.

4. She is inaccessible.
“My sister, my bride, you are a locked garden — a locked garden and a sealed spring.” SoS 4:12

One of the things that I found interesting was how my guy friends were always pursuing women who seemed hard to get or women who were completely out of their league. They said that they liked the challenge. A woman who does not let just anyone in her heart or does not give her body up indiscriminately before you are together is attractive. This is because you can trust her not to do so after you are in a committed relationship.

5. She is clean.
“You are a garden spring, a well of flowing water streaming from Lebanon.” SoS 4:15

When I was younger my mother was always, always trying to get me to bath twice a day. But there were always better things to do. Her usual tactic sounded something like A real woman baths! What kind of woman are you going to be? I neither deny nor admit that that pep talk is still necessary. There is a deeper kind of cleanliness that is attractive- a pure heart and mind. Sexual purity. That kind of purity is not something that you can work for, it comes from God. And specifically comes from coming to God with your dirt and letting him wash you with his love.

6. She is powerful.
“You are… awe- inspiring as an army with banners.” SoS 6:4

Some women just have the ability to command attention. They walk with authority and exude strength. Remember Xena warrior princess? Haha! There is a strength that goes beyond the physical. A truly powerful woman is not intimidated by people or circumstances but has the strength to persevere through difficulty and to carry other people, “she draws on her strength and reveals that her arms are strong.” (Proverbs 31:17)

7. She is not Barbie.
“There are 60 queens and 80 concubines and young women without number. But my dove, my virtuous one, is unique.” SoS 6:8,9

Barbies are mass produced and all look exactly the same. If you took several of them and laid them side by side you would not be able to tell the difference. Have you heard about the actress Lupita Nyongo-o? Since her appearance on the Golden Globes red carpet, everyone’s been raving about how gorgeous she is. But she looked nothing like anyone else on that red carpet. Her skin is not pale, her hair is not long and flowy, her face is not covered in cakes of make up. Her uniqueness is what makes her incomparable and that is hot!

8. She has pretty feet.
“How beautiful are your sandaled feet, princess!” SoS 7:1

My sister has the prettiest feet and it’s something that people always comment on. The way your feet look is important and the only thing worse than nasty looking feet is smelly feet! But what is the deeper revelation? One of my favourite Scriptures says, “How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of the herald, who proclaims peace, who brings news of good things, who proclaims salvation.” (Isaiah 52:7). A truly beautiful woman is one who owns the journey she is walking and makes every step about bringing peace, good and salvation to every place where her feet tread – like Jesus did.

As you pursue hotness, never lose sight of what truly makes you hot and what is of eternal significance. I hope you enjoyed this as much as I did!

Thanks for reading.
Shula

TCT :: 8 things that make a man hot.

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“SOS please someone help me, it’s not healthy for me to feel this way.” Rihanna, SOS

It is Trench Coat Thursday! Here is a list of 8 things that a woman will find hot in a man. Or, better put, things women ought to find hot in a guy. Every one of these is taken from Song of Songs (SoS), the most romantic book in the Bible ever written. Coming up with this list was fun, let me know if you agree!

1. He smells good.
“The fragrance of your perfume is intoxicating; your name is like perfume poured out.” SoS 1:3

Like the scent he is wearing, a man’s reputation precedes him, and like a cheap cologne, a bad reputation is not something that escapes a woman’s notice. Proverbs 22:1 says “A good name is to be chosen over great wealth.” Long before she knew him well, one of the things that attracted my friend to her boyfriend was that everyone spoke well of him – his kindness, love for people and generosity.¬† Your reputation is evidence of your character and there are few things more attractive than a man who is known by everyone for the right reasons!

2. He leads.
“My beloved is fair and ruddy, the chief among ten thousand.” SoS 5:10

Men who distinguish themselves from other men are super attractive! But what if the tall, dark and handsome guy isn’t really the kind of above averageness that women long for? The truth is, a super attractive man is a man who leads. Not the domineering know-it-all who has an opinion on everything, but a man who distinguishes himself among his peers and does not just follow the crowd. In a society of passive and irresponsible men, he takes the initiative proactively and handles his business.

3. He knows stuff.
“His head is of the purest gold…” SoS 10:11

I have a friend who once described herself as a sapiosexual. That bizarre term refers to someone who is physically attracted to people they find intelligent. Guys who have something other than Kim Kadarshian going on in their head are like gold. Men whose thoughts are pure and full of wisdom are hard to find and really attractive. Like Proverbs says, wisdom is supreme.

4. He has beautiful eyes.
“His eyes are like doves besides streams of water, washed in milk and set like jewels.” SoS 5:12

Season 20 of America’s Next Top Model featured a guy named Don whose one stand out characteristic was his beautiful eyes – those eyes! His eyes may catch a woman’s attention for a moment but the kind of eyes that will hold her gaze forever are those that look at her purely and tenderly. Eyes that see her as more than an object of his desire. Eyes that reflect emotion, passion and compassion.

5. His mouth is gorgeous.
“His lips are like lilies, dripping with flowing myrrh.” SoS 5:13

In my first year of university, one of my friends had an intense crush on a guy whose lips she went on and on about. He also had a beautiful voice – an irresistible combination for her. But what about what passes through those lips? Proverbs 12:18 talks about how “the tongue of the wise brings healing.” Men who are careless or cruel with their words are turn offs but a man who speaks encouragement and healing has serious game. This is not just about being charming, it’s about using your words to build and not to tear down.

6. He’s strong.
“His arms are rods of gold… his body is an ivory panel covered with sapphires.” SoS 5:13

Maybe it is all the knight in shining armour fairy tales we’ve been fed as children but there is something really attractive about a strong looking man whose arms look like they could carry you across that threshold! Ultimately though, the kind of irresistible strength is not the kind that Samson had but the kind that Jesus demonstrates. A strength that can bear burdens not his own and carry her through the difficult times in her life. The kind of strength that is not intimidated by hers.

7. He’s taller than me.
“His legs are alabaster pillars set on pedestals of pure gold.” SoS 5:15

When we were in high school the tall boys were always the hot boys, regardless of their facial appearance. And that’s because most boys were late bloomers and all of us wanted the tall ones who were few and far between. A man who stands tall is attractive. But a man who takes a stand for what is right is irresistible. Courage and conviction is what makes a man cut above the rest.

8. He has presence.
“His presence is like Lebanon, as majestic as cedars.” SoS 5:15

Some people can walk into a room and immediately own that room. They are sure of themselves, they have authority. Yes, women love that! But the source of one’s confidence is key. Proverbs 14:20 says “in the fear of the Lord one has strong confidence” and a man whose presence and confidence comes from knowing His presence is hard to resist.

Which explains why people fall for worship leaders.

Often, we get really caught up in the physical characteristics of a person and we forget that people are like candy. The outside may look really good (and of course we want it to) but what really counts is what’s inside!

I’d love to hear what makes a woman hot from a man’s perspective, any takers?

What are your thoughts? Do you agree?

Thanks for reading.
Shula.