1. Can you tell me a little about yourself?
I hoard stationery (please keep me away from Moleskine anything), books are my love language and a very guilty pleasure. I love being on radio (one day someone will spot me) and I want to learn how to fly a plane (a tiny Cessna will do). I’m a recovered debtaholic and rather proud that I am completely debt free. I’m slightly fascinated by Germany. I’m still not quite sure I’ve figured my life out, but I’m happy. I’m perpetually puppy broody.
2. What would you recommend a young feminist does?
Don’t get into the ‘you didn’t study gender ergo your views on feminism are invalid/my understanding of feminism surpasses yours’ school of thought. I’ve seen way too many people use this line when debating feminist issues or concepts and it’s rather saddening. Feminist is intersectional, that means classism is an issue we need to always be cognizant of whenever you debate ‘feminism’. It’s not just for the educated, and when applied to the African context, you can see how villages and communities are built on feminist concepts without the label or an active movement. Feminism is for everyone, don’t shut people out.
3. Are you an intersectional feminist?
I try to be, and I say ‘try’ because I’ve been faced with forms of oppression that I unknowingly participated in. I have had to unlearn my responses and ideas about them, and that process takes time, especially when your old views are pretty strong (and wrong). Intersectionality is necessary within the feminist movement and no one is above it. It’s important to constantly review one’s outlook as the movement evolves and addresses and incorporates more forms of oppression, while always deciphering and applying these concepts within the African context. Context informs the shape and direction a movement takes and how we combat the issues that crop up as a result.
4. What’s your take on sex positivity?
Everyone should read The Ethical Slut. It’s aligned to my views on sex positivity and sexual conduct. A lot of people are confused about what sex positivity is, how we all apply it to our lives will differ from person to person. Maintaining an open mind about gender (/roles), sexuality and the act of having sex is the cornerstone of sex positivity. I believe in sexual autonomy. Sex positivity can be very complex to navigate when expectations from friends, family and society differ from your views. I don’t subscribe to the idea that monogamy is for everyone. This view is difficult to present to my (very Zulu) family, even feminist friends who might not grasp this concept entirely. I believe that your body should abide by your rules; be aware of how your actions affect the people you’re intimate with. Keep it sane (another dodgy one to define), stay safe (for your own good and the people you love), and don’t forget consent (which you’ll need to unpack very carefully with your partner/s so that everyone is on the same page).
5. How do you usually respond when people ask why feminists are so angry?
I chuckle. I don’t see how racial oppression (or any other form of oppression, really) was overcome with a smile and decorum. Yet, by virtue of me being a woman, I’m expected to be polite about how I want to be treated. When people shut us down, we’re supposed to be graceful about it.
That struggle is compounded for black women because our oppression is two-fold (at face value); standing our ground and demanding to be heard, be visible, is not unreasonable. I don’t like having to justify my place, my voice and existence here, yet almost every day I’m forced to do so. So, yes, you really can’t blame feminists for being angry. It’s the same reason the #BlackLivesMatter movement is angry: SEE US, recognise our humanity. We matter. (Side note: I generally don’t like responding to people who ask questions like that because more often than not, their main aim is to rile you up so for their amusement.)
6. How important is self-care to you? What does it involve for you?
Very important, necessary. We take on all the issues surrounding us: family, society, work, structural forms of oppression (women’s right, black lives, black trans rights, homosexuality, hypermasculinity and how it hurts men, etc). Trying to engage all these challenges can be overwhelming. We juggle all these problems with our internal battles relating to our self esteem and how we perceive ourselves and the role we play in our world and psychological challenges. We’re fighting many battles, all at once. It’s OK to place our needs first, be selfish with our energy. Self care is a must: switching off, minding my spirit, cultivating self-love and self-acceptance and grounding myself.
A self care session includes candles, sage, meditation, a good chat to my Guide(s)/Source/the Universe/Me and sitting with my journal. I try my best to write something in any one of my journals before I sleep (I did say I’m a stationery hoarder). Reflecting on important exchanges I had during the day (‘important’ could be a short conversation with a complete stranger that shifted a perspective). Were there eureka moments? What made me happy? What upset me? Dealing with my own emotions and figuring out what they indicate as well. I try to go to bed having sorted out things that have messed with my ‘vibe’ so that I don’t wake up with a heavy heart.
7. Which black woman would you love to be for a day, just for the experience?
I’d like to be 40 year-old me for a day. I have a lot to learn between now and then, and a little insight into the person I’m becoming would be fascinating. I also have important questions for future me.
8. If you had to spend your life doing a job that advances feminism what would it be?
I’ve always wanted to be a (co)founder of an investment company that caters specifically for women and/or a women’s bank. I think women’s financial/economic inclusion is a big deal and believe that if more women were active in the economy (and in turn, were able to send more girls to school) it would do Africa a world of good. The institution would centre on creating a network to facilitate trade for women who either want to start their own businesses, find a job or whatever else is necessary, and beneficiaries would be obliged to ‘pay it forward’ to the next woman. Women empowering other women is important, it is necessary – especially in Africa.
I feel like a lot of the conversations we have tend to exclude wealth and wealth creation (and not in the ‘make it rain’ sense). Financial wellness should be a large part of all the discussions we have around ‘transformation’ and equality. Responsible financial planning in necessary for us to break out of negative financial cycles.
9. Something you adore about you woman you are?
I’ve finally come into my own. I’m self-assured, living my truth and I’m unapologetic about it. I know that I can’t be all things to all people, and I’ve accepted that – it’s liberating. Being able to filter out certain things that don’t serve me is important. The moment you embark on new experiences and learn new things, the people you encounter might project their expectations of you onto you. I know who I am and I stand by my truth, but I also understand that I’m evolving; that who I am today isn’t necessarily who I’ll be a month from now so I’m not overly attached to anything in my current experience. I also love (pretty much) every aspect of my life right now and where it’s headed. It’s exciting.
10. How do you deal with women who speak out against feminism?
I choose not to because it can drive you insane! The most I can do is speak about the movement, share what I know and understand. Anyone who is interested in constructive engagement, I will gladly entertain. What I will not do is try and convince a grown-ass woman to ‘convert’ to feminism. You’re an adult: put your preconceived ideas aside, learn, ponder and draw your own conclusions.
I’ve honestly adored Dineo since I joined Twitter and stay creeping on her. I doubt she knew before now but yeah. And one of her favourite books is one of mine. So. Brilliant, nje ❤ *Tucks stanship back in*
She tweets here.