Tag Archive: women


voice

The other day i was on the bus coming back from camp chatting to someone and they spoke a line that sends electricity through my body [and not in a good way].

i think we were talking about my blog and the other person said something about, ‘Giving them a voice.’

i can never ever give anyone else a voice. 

i can recognise and acknowledge and make space for and step out of the way of, and one thing i really try to do with this blog is share a platform for… but i can never GIVE anyone a voice. And it’s not semantics. It’s a subtle difference in speech which often carries with it a whole deeper seated world of meaning. And i think it’s often the small subtleties in our words and actions that can feed the larger mindsets and prejudices and this is an area we must target.

When i watched this video it demonstrated it much more powerfully than i could say it here and this is perhaps one of the most powerful videos you will see this year on two different fronts…

“The problem with speaking up for each other is that everyone is left without a voice.”

Let’s be aware of where we need to be quiet and step away from the mic and invite others to it so that we can start to hear the beauty and power of their voices. And let us commit to really start listening.

# Who speaks into your life? [do they all look and sound like you?]

# Who are you reading? [do they all look and sound like you?]

# Who are the people you have asked to mentor you? [do they all look and sound like you]

# Where do you get your news?

# Who are the people you follow on social media, you are friends with, you let inform you about world events? [do they all look and sound like you?]

Sh! i think someone else is about to speak… 

babies

a guest post by my friend Sindile Mlingo Vabaza responding to a much made comment on this blog recently about people in poverty, although typically been aimed at black people, having too many babies as one of the main factors of their continued impoverishment:

There are a lot of people out there who are putting up ‘family planning’ as the solution to certain societal ills in the country.

I want to assert that this is a misdiagnosis of the problem.

Let’s look at the facts:

1. Birth rates in South Africa on the whole are falling and have been falling for a while now(largely due to more women gaining access to education and jobs).

2. The population growth in the country is actually down to what the clever people call, “population momentum”. Basically, SA has a large concentration of people who can bear children and who feel the biological urge to do so(ages 15 to 44)… Our growth rates should plateau sometime in the future and eventually decline.

3. The larger problem in society, the root cause of so many unwanted pregnancies and babies is patriarchy and gender inequality.

Let me explain.

When women are given access to proper and sound education and have control over their reproduction(health services, easy access to contraception etc), they are far more likely to hold off having children and in fact have fewer children.

This is a fact anywhere you go in the world.

It cuts across race, ethnicity, religion and political leanings.

4. That’s where the rub comes in. Women are disempowered in this country.

Women of colour especially(because of poverty).

Talking just about family planning misses the larger point altogether…..

Women want to have children. It is biologically wired into them.

The reason some women hold off on children and plan is because their social milieu allows them too; they have an education, career ambitions etc etc

What compelling reason do women in poverty have?

Facing abusive men, misogynistic attitudes, nurses in hospitals who judge them and slut shame them when they want contraception and a future that is incredibly bleak.

Friends, let us not miss the point here.

We must fight for gender equity; we as men must stand with women not only because it is right but it makes so much practical sense for society at large.

The key to poverty elimination can be summed up in one sentence……

THE EMPOWERMENT OF WOMEN.

[For other posts related to South Africa, click here] 

i go outside

and sit on the top step in front of my apartment

and look around…

taking in the sights

listening to the noise

a family preparing for a celebration across the street

the sound of a car backfiring, further down the road

a laugh, an ambulance siren, a child’s excited scream, the sound of two cats fighting, the music starting up

and all seems normal

this all feels right and good

i pause and take it all in…

 

[time passes]

 

i move indoors

and sit in front of my laptop computer

and look around…

taking in the tweets

listening amidst the noise

and somehow stumble upon a hashtag

that might appear like any other hashtag

but somehow does not

 

a community trying desperately to rise above the silence and find and use their voices to start sharing their stories #YesAllWomen

a community responding with defensiveness, parody and even outright aggression #YesAllMen

a community for the most part meaning well but demonstrating a complete missing of the point #YesAllPeople

 

“Because I get more hate and looks for wearing shorts than men get from each other for sexual assault.” #YesAllWomen

“Handyman came to house to fix a door. 50% of my brain was on escape plan if he tried to attack me.” #YesAllWomen

“When a man says no in this culture, it’s the end of a discussion. When a woman says no, it’s the beginning of a negotiation.” #YesAllWomen

“Because when star high school athletes rape a teenage girl, the headline is about their ruined careers and not her messed up life.” #YesAllWomen

“Because what men fear most about going to prison is what women fear most about walking down the sidewalk.” #YesAllWomen

 

as i read and i read and try to make sense of it all

the list just seems to go on and on and on

this all seems like it is their normal

and there is nothing good and right about this

i pause and try to take it all in

 

[days pass]

 

here i am once more

i sit in a state of deep thought and confusion and sadness

and look inside…

taking in the search

listening for a sound

a sound of hope

a whisper of change

the hint of possibility

sign of a better thing to come

but still the melody plays on…

 

for all the nights I’ve walked home with my keys poking out of my knuckles #YesAllWomen

for the meaningless goodbye call of ‘Text me when you arrive there #YesAllWomen

for the fear she has when she is the only other person in the elevator even though he is in uniform #YesAllWomen

for the need she feels to quicken her pace when she realises the person walking behind her is a man #YesAllWomen

 

For every single female friend and relative of mine who has been abused or threatened in any way #YesAllWomen

For every lewd suggestionand comment my wife had to listen to on the way to work any time she walked by herself #YesAllWomen

For the time my wife had to beg two guys sitting in their car to get out and help her when he was harrassing her on the street #YesAllWomen

For every cringeworthy male and female response i have been unfortunate to read this last week by those who don’t ‘get’ it #YesAllWomen

 

[more time]

 

once more, here i am

i am a man

i feel the legacy of a system i have in part inherited

i sense the responsibility i have to shape, fashion and change what i witness around me

but also the importance of me not leading the struggle or revolution

for that requires a woman’s voice

that cries out for women’s voices

but perhaps i can in part show support

in part do my best to draw attention to the importance of this conversation

in part try my best to call for some measure of quiet among the frenzy of messed up misunderstanding and oppositional blabber

i can model and speak up and challenge and inspire and refuse to be drawn in and help and walk away from and intervene

and i can write and point and show and tell and hope and pray and teach and sing

and i can be. and be well.

 

and until, collectively, we can figure out what do to

how to move forward

how to see this change in action

until such a time…

 

together we can hold hands and walk tall and cheer each other on

looking forward together

towards a new normal

one that feels right and good

 

for all.

 

but until that time, #YesAllWomen

 

[by brett Fish anderson, @brettfisha]

[To read my original post explaining why this is so important for men to be paying attention to, click here]

 

 

 

 

 

 

my wife Valerie

my wife was attacked in the street yesterday.

fortunately not physically and thank God there were two Latino guys in a car nearby that she was eventually able to get to come to her assistance but even then they didn’t really know what to do and the [can only assume he was completely drugged up] guy continued to threaten.

many, many thoughts on this and the closest to the foreground is complete and utter thankfulness that she is okay… or as okay as someone can be who is verbally and otherwise assaulted…

Val recently shared two blogs with thoughts on related issues:

the first being this very hectic one where she shares a reaction to some of the music and attitude and behaviour we were confronted with when we lived in Kensington, Philly last year: On being woman [explicit]

and the second one in which she shared some situation she has been in where she got involved and took some kind of action to prevent the possibility of an attack or situation ending badly: on being my sister’s keeper

stop

the solution to this is not victim-blaming, nor giving women a list of ways they can dress or act and behave that can “help protect them from being raped” – we should not have to go there.

but i really don’t believe the solution is man-bashing either – all men are not evil, potential rapists waiting to happen – throwing blame at the general male population feels completely unhelpful as well.

and personally, i’m not convinced that joking about rape is EVER helpful [although i know a bunch of people disagree with me on this one – see the next post for verification of that] – for me anything that makes light of or lessens the impact of how absolutely hideous and horrendous and just plain evil rape is, counts against finding a solution to the problem.

this thing is so much huger than any of those three areas – we are talking absence of strong positive role models and negative influence of the media and prisons being punitive rather than redemptive and desensitisation of both the word and the act and a hundred other things…

but just because it looks so huge and daunting, does not give us the freedom to continue with our heads buried in the sand on this one. we need to create safe spaces for people to share their stories. we need to be able to talk about this thing without using blame language on either side and try to figure out together what we can put in place in the short term to at least reduce the risk of it while we look at bigger solutions. we need to be investing into the young men and women of the future and training them up in the way they should go…

as evidenced by my new friend Magda’s letter to her children [aged just 11 and almost 8] that she allowed me to share parts of on my blog over here, that both deals with speaking about sex and rape with her young children and teaching them how to grow up to be young men that make a positive difference.

let’s get serious about working together to put a stop to this. this should not be something we are ever okay about having as a part of our world.

[to continue to part II which involves a confusing hashtag on Twitter which got me into a bit of trouble with a bunch of people]

let me be honest, i am tired of all the Oscar Pistorius ‘stuff’ – i am tired of it and i wish it would go away.

i am also deeply disturbed by it. i don’t know that i completely understand why, altho i know it has something to do with the fact that it feels like almost everyone has an opinion, many people have made judgements, many others are just sending links and updates and quotes and there seems to be something a little too much in that – this article that calls us all vultures, seems to capture some of what i am feeling the best

i have mostly wanted to not write about it, because i don’t want to be just another voice commentating on something i don’t have a lot of facts about – presuppositions for sure, news posted comments definitely and a lot of opinion and argument and sentiment and so on, but no one really knows what happened [except maybe Oscar] and maybe we never really will. so i will keep my writing to the idea of the thing, rather than the thing itself, as that is something i do have a little bit more of a valid opinion about.

the celebrity aspect has to be a part of it – if that was James Smith [google ‘James Smith’ to make sure i haven’t accidentally picked another celebrity name] then this case would not have even registered a blip on the radar. in fact there was a newspaper headline board on a pole when i went out earlier that read ‘two more girls killed in cape town’ and no one [relatively] is going to even know that that happened. so because the guy who allegedly shot the girl [Reeva Steenkamp by the way although it finally feels like everyone now knows her name as well] is famous, somehow this case means more.

i mean at this very point i am multi-tasking between writing this blog and trying to convince someone on facebook that a cartoon of Elmer Fudd blowing a woman’s head off with a shotgun because she is making a duck face at her camera is NOT OKAY… it is not “just a cartoon bro” and even further, ” I’m 100% positive no person on their right mind will shoot a girl in the face for taking a picture like that.” Yes, i’m with you on that point, i don’t think they will, but THAT DOES NOT MAKE IT OKAY!

on a different page, my friend Megan is posting awareness photos as to how often images of violence are subtly woven into advertising as far as women are concerned and the link from her original post to an article focusing on ‘America’s Next Top Model 8’: Week Four: Crime Scene Victims just makes me feel sick to my stomach – the challenge is for each model to pose as a person who has been killed in a different way – with a judge commenting, “What’s great about this is that you can also look beautiful in death.” – i couldn’t even make it through all the images…

it just leaves me wondering how far have we gone? and how long will we continue to call this all normal?

and how can i be part of the remedy?

i think it must be along the lines of posting and speaking and pointing towards and declaring LIFE. not to pretend that darkness and death and brokenness is not happening [we must never do that – we MUST act when people share ridiculous cartoon pictures and when people are challenging the mentality behind advertising and the fact that a celebrity should not be allowed to get away with something no-one else should] but to remind ourselves in the midst of it that LIFE is happening. the smallest light destroys and chases away the darkness!

and so i want to call on you [and me] this week to look out for stories of goodness and grace and beauty and Love and to share them via your status or your Twitter or your blog – for every negative story that is out there, let us share a positive one. if we can’t stop all that is bad [at least instantly] then let us at least celebrate and cheer on and be encouraged by that which is good. let those stories give us the strength and belief to get involved in the less-than-happy ones and hopefully see more positive endings to those as well.

life to the full

i am thinking of the invitation i just received to Linawo Chilren’s home’s 10th birthday celebrations, i am talking about the children’s house Val is a trustee of and the uThando LeNkosi Work Day, i am even simply talking about Monday night’s TheatreSports show at the Intimate theatre in town – whatever it is, let’s just start speaking and sharing some life, so that we don’t get taken completely down by the darkness…

for the first positive upbuilding story focusing on Nicholas McCarthy, one-handed pianist, click here…

a story of pilots flying in water and supplies to flooded areas and also a site for daily stories of good news

the inspiring and humourous no limbed Nick Vujicic has a baby boy…

is anyone with me on this?

so i have just posted the last [for now at least] post in the marriage series which ended up being a great 18 blog posts written by a whole bunch of my friends who are married well and passed along some really great marriage-enhancing advice and tips and wisdom. the beautiful Valerie ad myself might add some thorts of our own later but we’re about to head for Texas to visit my sister and her family…

anyways, looking at blog stats, this has been the second hugest blog visitation i have had with the largest being the series i did on dating and so i thort it would be good to repost links to some of those that were really popular in case you missed them and want to check out some insights on that area of life:

i think this was the intro blog to the series and links to future blogs…


followed by ‘i kissed dating, part Step up! [Both of you!] – for the Ladies!’ which was muchly visited and discussed and forwarded

a two parter written by the beautiful Val which is a must read as with most of what she writes…

and of course for the men – ‘i kissed dating, part Step up! [Both of you!] – for the Men?’

and then if you find any of those really helpful, there was a whole series of them that you could discover on my blogsite but just thort these would touch a different group than those who the marriage ones have been for… hope you find them helpful and if so please pass on…

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