My Feminism Looks Like Dineo Tsamela

E0pmrMSq1. 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

My Feminism Looks Like Lineo Mabulu

1. Can you tell me a little about DSC_0006yourself?

My name is Lineo (said: Dee-neh-oh). I’m a 20 year old varsity student, professional procrastinator, introspective introvert and a living water feature (I cry a lot). I love cupcakes, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and Melissa Harris-Perry’s lisp. I have awesome nails, and people on Twitter say I’m witty. 😉

2. Who’s your favourite feminist?

I have two and I can’t pick one; Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and Nthabiseng Nooe.

3. When did you first identify as a feminist?

About a year ago *hides*

4. Are you an intersectional feminist?

I don’t think you’re doing it right if you aren’t one, so I’d like to think that I am. If I’m not, then it’s definitely a goal of mine.

5. If you were to write a book, what would it be about?

It would probably be a children’s book aimed at encouraging black girls to love themselves.

6. What’s something you wish you were told as a young girl?

That I’m enough for myself. That through changes, mistakes, and life really – I’m enough.

7. How did you “discover” feminism?

Through twitter *chuckles*. I remember there was a discussion on black hair in predominantly white schools. I immediately identified with the grievances people had put forward, and that’s kind of what opened the door for me.

8. Free-write, tell me your general thoughts and feelings on feminism…

Feminism is starting to feel like a home, and like a home I need to look after it and improve it where necessary. I also need to make it accommodating (in order to learn from people, and them from me), but make sure it reflects who I am in the best possible way. It can be my source of comfort, or the place within which I face my greatest challenges, where I’ll experience love, and where others can do the same.

9. What do you do to heal?

I allow myself to feel whatever I’m feeling, cry and vent (by writing or speaking to my friends) for as long as I need to and/or for as long as time allows.

10. What’s a challenge you see Black girls are having to overcome recently?

It’s not a recent problem, but the fact that that many black girls miss school during their period because they can’t afford feminine hygiene products is something that’s been on my mind lately. Not to mention the possibly debilitating menstrual cramps. Being denied opportunities for personal growth because of biology? That’s fucked up.

Catch some of Lineo’s shade here.

My Feminism Looks Like Damilola Williams

Photo on 04-05-2015 at 21.461. Can you tell me a little about yourself?

20, International development undergraduate & passionate about greater income equality. I’m also unable to keep my mouth shut in the face of injustice. I think it might be a personality flaw or something. I’m socialist, which means my world view is that injustices, (e.g. patriarchy, racism, structural poverty) occur due to economic inequality. Money is power, I think. Women and people of colour have a lot less power than others, and so those that do have power subconsciously oppress them. Basically I believe legal, political, social, and cultural equality can only be achieved after we gain a significant amount of economic power.

2. How did you discover feminism?

I grew up in a home where my mother constantly talked about the unfair plight the women she worked with faced in life. She would tell me about the burdens society placed on women, and how women’s work was often under appreciated and thought of as ‘other’ from a very young age. Growing up, I saw the things she spoke about all around me. She constantly ranted about many feminist talking points without using the words feminism, misogyny or patriarchy. My mother is one of the staunchest feminists/ advocates for women’s rights I know, yet she refuses to identify as feminist (but we’ll come back to that).

 

3. What do you say to people who attempt to undermine feminism with, “but THESE women suffer more”?

Something like “so because black people are being killed in the US we should not speak out for the black people that are being stolen from in Ghana? Or if your father has his identity stolen he won’t go to court because other people going to court have been tortured?”

 4. What would you recommend a young feminist does?

When people say sexist things, speak up! Even if it’s your dad/mum, or husband’s dad/mum. Don’t stress too much about being liked/hated, stick to what you believe in. I also think people only get what they think deserve in regards to romance and relationships. I think a lot of women don’t believe they deserve certain things due to patriarchal socialization. And then we mistake a long list of men behaving in a certain way for natural or biological behavior. Basically, don’t let anyone tell you your feminist dream won’t happen because it goes against biology or something.

 5. What is your take on pornography?

I believe it should not be illegal, it should be regulated and the safety of workers and equality / autonomy in the work place should be guaranteed as in any other industry. Also have issues with the fact that due to such a high imbalance between male economic power and female economic power, women are often found catering to male desires, and female desires are left stored in a box labeled “unrealistic” or in the case of pornography, “unlucrative”.

However, I’m no expert on sexuality so I feel I am in no position to encourage or discourage pornography from a moral standing point. It’s like feminism 101 not to judge women based on patriarchal values, so don’t think for one second that I don’t think that women should be empowered rather than slut-shamed by their sexuality! My issue with trading sex for money is not even religion based. I just wonder if it isn’t kind of creepy but no one has found out yet. Like how 13 year olds used to get married in the old days…

 

 6. How do you usually respond when people ask why feminists are so angry?

We have a lot to be angry about.

 7. What’s your favourite myth to laugh at that centers feminists?

“There are no pretty feminists” or “Feminists just want a boyfriend/husband/sex.”

LIFE DOES NOT REVOLVE AROUND THOSE THINGS. ESPECIALLY WHEN YOU’RE CONCERNED WITH THE SUFFERING & INJUSTICES OTHER HUMAN BEINGS HAVE TO FACE.

8. If you were to write a book, what would it be about?

An adventurous power struggle of some kind.

 9. Who is one Black woman you’d love to spend a day with?

Assata Shakur! Is there a way to make this happen?

10. Thoughts on transphobia?

I think it’s unfortunate that we have to live in a world where this is even a thing. Gender is not, and has never been, binary. Loads of men are feminine and loads of women are masculine, this is a natural thing. People should be able to dress how they want and act how they want and be who they want to be. Judging someone based on your limited understanding of who they should be is stupid.

11. How do you deal with women who speak out against feminism?

Well (if I have time – which is never, I never have time to invest emotional energy into people), I talk them through the basics like women who had to fight to have the right to own property, to divorce and to have an education. Now we have to fight for different rights. For the right to have cultural equality i.e. for my job to be seen to be as important as my husbands job, for the right not to be slut shamed as we express our sexuality, for the right to have my spouse clean up the house as much as I do, and for the right to be listened to, and thought of as a rational human being.

Of course you have the faux biologers who say, “but women ARE more emotional” and, “men’s jobs have to come first because we bear children and so should not inherently be career driven. Our careers are just a plus” or, “a key that opens many locks is preferred, while a padlock that is opened by many keys is worthless” – to which I lazily respond, “maybe you, but not me”. I don’t know, I just find it harder to say “I think you’ve been brainwashed by society into thinking less of yourself.”

Damilola tweets over here.

And Tumbls over here ❤ 

My Feminism Looks Like Black Porcelain

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1. Can you tell me a bit about yourself?

I am a storyteller. Music is one of my voices. Not sure whether that is interesting or in-depth enough. Born in Soweto, middle child with 2 brothers and now marooned in Cape Town (don’t tell me it’s not an island).

2. When did you first identify as a feminist?

I like to think that I have always been a feminist. I was always aware of the differences in the way my parents raised me and my brothers. The inequality has always been apparent to me, even as a child. It was only when I started reading about feminism (in my teens) that I knew the word for what I have always been. Feminism also made me less angry at my parents for raising me differently from my brothers. It made me realise that this wasn’t something in my family, school or community etc.

3. What do you think first when people say Feminism is an Western idea?

This is funny. I usually tell people that equality is not a western idea. Not at all. Ha ha ha ha ha.

4. What’s your take on people who identify as Feminist allies?

The most important part of being an ally is listening. Listen. You can never listen too much. If you’re an ally with a platform, give the stage to people of the community you support. I do believe that the work of allies lies mainly in educating people in their own communities. If you’re a white person against racism, try to educate other white people etc. Always take your cue from the people you support. Let them tell you how you can be a better ally.

5. What is something you wish you were told as a little girl?

I wish I had been told that it is okay not to be a happy all the time. Little girls get told to smile way too often. It makes us deaf to our inner dialogue and emotions. In high school I smiled through an emotional breakdown. It wasn’t until the family GP told my parents about my panic attacks that they knew how I was feeling. I tell little girls all the time “you don’t have to smile if you don’t want to.”

6. What’s your favourite memory including Black women?

My mom and her friends would get together once a month at someone’s house. A friend would host them and they would just sit around and laugh. I remember one particular get together (don’t know how old I was). I was sitting in the corner just watching all these beautiful black women laughing. It was a diverse group of women. Red lips, bare faces, beautiful dresses and “at home” outfits. Some were smokers, others were smokin’ hot, beer was flowing, so was the tea and they just laughed all afternoon. Ma was immersed in her own world of gossip, loud laughter, perfume and sisterhood. It was beautiful to watch.

7. What are you thoughts on body shaming?

I think we body shame ourselves way before we start doing it to to other people. What with images of “perfect bodies” on billboards, TV, magazines etc, being thrown at us from a young age. Companies want to sell all kinds of things to “fix” what ain’t broke. There is more body shaming in media than we are aware of. It is subtle though “whiten your teeth” and “make your underarms lighter” etc. Why would we need any of that stuff if having slightly off colour teeth and underarms wasn’t ‘shameful’? Lots of companies make BILLIONS from subtle body shaming.

8. How important is self care to you?

Self care is something I wasn’t very good at, as a people-pleaser who believed that others came before me (messed up definition of love). Lately I unplug and make myself unavailable. That means staying home with chocolate cake/ribs/wine and books. Switching off my phone is an essential part of self care as well. Self care days are great but I also try to do small things for myself everyday; drink water, put on sunscreen, give myself (at least) 30 minutes of quiet before bed and not allowing energy thieves take up my time.

9. What’s your favourite book by Black woman author?

I have many but the one that always stands out is Nervous Conditions by Tsitsi Dangarembga. It was a high school setwork and before that I had never read a full novel just about African people. When I was little my brother would bring some books from school (written in Setswana) but they were very short. I was in high school and that book made quite an impression on me. I suddenly saw myself in fiction. Before that my friends and I would write Sweet Valley High fan fiction but it often came off as “fake” because that world was so far away from ours. After reading Nervous Conditions I started writing my own little novellas about things in my life. Tsitsi Dangarembga gave me the nerve to right honestly. Before then I had never thought of it (weird right?)

10. Is your country be open to a feminist political party?

No. Not for a long time. My country is beautiful in many ways. It is also ugly to women, in ways that break my heart (daily).

Miss Blck Porcelain is a beautiful singer, soon to be author and she deserves all the swoons. Stal- appreciate her here:

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My Feminism Looks Like Lerato Motaung

Lerato1. How would you describe your political beliefs?

Reckless. Evolving. Contradictory, sometimes, but with one goal in mind. My politics are, in a lot of ways, a reflection of my personal journey through this life. In short, a lot of like my life, a beautiful and entertaining mess.

2. Can you tell me what your experience of being a black woman is and includes? What do you love? What do you hate?

I’m going to be cheesy here, but my experiences are best encapsulated by Ntozake’s words. “Being alive, being a woman, being colored is a metaphysical dilemma I have not conquered yet.”

Ntozake beautifully captures the complex and often tragic nature of the black skin in modern society and the inherent difficulty of trying to navigate something as vague as the black skin, especially when it finds its expression through the female body. My experience of this black female body is, on the one hand, an experience of restriction and regulation and on the other hand, strength. I’m living out a paradox I didn’t invent, but I’m forced to fight through and make sense of, everyday. I love the body my soul chose to occupy. What it represents. There is a history being lived out by this body. I just haven’t named it yet.

3. What’s something you wish you were told as a young girl?

That my rage matters. That it’s worth a whole lot in a world that’s constantly trying to dictate how your existence should present itself in its eyes.

4. Who’d make a brilliant president in your country?

Ngaphandle kwami…? I’m not joking though.

5. Free-write, tell me your general thoughts and feelings on feminism…

Feminism, for me, is a fight for my life. It’s daring to live in this world without apology or shame. In short, feminism is my claim to life. Whether the world agrees or not. It’s my language for survival.

6. What’s a challenge you see Black girls are having to overcome recently?

Being fed false beliefs about their silence; about their existence and how they should exist in this world. Being told that their strength lies in enduring bullshit, rather than fighting back. I honestly feel like black girls should be fed fire with their breakfast every morning. Black girls are brought up in a world that is consistently and conspicuously at odds with their existence. They are brought up in a world that negates and erases images of anything that looks and sounds like them, at every turn. They are both seen and unseen, much like God. Except, unlike God, no one is taking up arms in their name. If they are not being silenced, they are being spoken for or about. They are given voices that are not their own, a language that is not their own. They’re being indoctrinated with self-hatred long before they can even conceive of the self. They are burdened with history, but are expected to thrive nonetheless.

7. How important is self-care to you? What does it involve for you?

Very important. I’m slowly and painfully learning this. Usually solitude, music, books and a dash of silence. Silence is healing when it’s not being used against you. That is, when you’re not being silenced.

8. What do you do to heal?

I fall apart. As strange as that may sound.

9. What’s your favourite book by a black woman author?

Without a doubt, Sula by Toni Morrison.

10. What words do you use most often to describe yourself?

Everything. I am everything. Good and bad. It’s these parts of myself that I often try to balance. I think that I should highlight that during that everything, there is a great big dollop of adorable. My bark is worse than my bite, but if I’m forced to bite, best believe that I’m not walking away without a limb. Otherwise, I’m a tame somebody.

[Posted with an apology because I previously posted someone else’s questions. Thanks for understanding, Lerato.] Lerato tweets over here

My Feminism Looks Like Tiffany Kagure Mugo

Tiffany1. Can you tell me a little about yourself?

We live in a world where you have to wear many hats to keep your head warm I am a media consultant specializing in working with NGOs dealing with socio-political and human rights, I write about sex and sexuality, politics and for I also curate HOLAAfrica! a pan Africanist womanist collective that deals with African women’s sexuality.

I am a lover of literature and good wine and of course my amazing partner. I love having people around, until I don’t then I crave being alone.

2.What do you have to tell men who’d like be feminist “allies”?

Do it! The matters concerning feminism and gender do not just suffocate us they affect you too. But the key is not to come in and decide to take over the space. Listening is key, understanding is key and realizing that there will be times when the conversation is fully about us, as women is important. Because sometimes it is just about us. Also understanding it is not about coming into the feminist space and teaching women how to empower themselves, or trying to speak on their behalf. It is about learning from a space and going and teaching what you have learned to those male buddies of yours with the funny ideas over a few beers/coffees/squeezed juices.

3. Do you have a favourite non-problematic Black man?

Other than the amazing men in my family (who admittedly are somewhat problematic) I am a huge fan of Kopano Ratele a lecturer and academic at UNISA who works with men on issues of gender and sexuality. He also engages a great deal in matters of sexuality in general including LGBTIQ issues having even written on African Queer Women and Tradition. He has an amazing blog called New African Men.

4. If you could fill up your day with things you love to do, what would they do?

I would read. Read everything and anything. Online articles, journal articles, books, anything. I love to read. I would also fill the time with movies, the cinema is addictive. I would fill it with tales of the lives of those I love and friend. Maybe even a stranger or two. I would fill it with curating the lives of African women on continent through HOLAA!.

Basically I would fill my time with stories and the whole experience would float along on a sea of Chardonnay.

5. Are you an intersectional feminist?

I am as my lived experience has meant that I have to be. I have found that often women’s movements have been divisive with some ‘female identities’ seemingly being more important than others. Being an African bisexual woman has meant that I am confronted with aspects of own identity that can be condemned, silenced and ignored in some cases. As an African woman there is the battle to be heard internationally, as a bisexual woman some women’s spaces within the continent seek to silence and as a woman there is just the patriarchal struggle bus. My lived experience has made me realize how different facets of existence do not exist in isolation no matter how much we try and compartmentalize.

This has meant that I have had to think about what it means for all facets of ones identity to come into play in a given space.

6. What’s your take on sex positivity?

The most epic notion ever! Coming from a background where sex and sexuality are so taboo they are barely spoken of at a bachelorette party but living in a world where sexual violence is rife

There is also the fact that sex positivity is so delicious. Absolutely delicious, with the potential to be as fun as it is powerful. I am so about that life I even have a plan to one day open up a burlesque club that has women being able to perform and show of their sexuality.

7. What’s your least favourite thing about feminism?

The sense of sisterhood and the ability to come together. Yes, sometimes feminists can fight like a bunch of cats in a sack but when it comes time to come together it is the most beautiful thing to see. There is a power in the love and the strength that comes from coming together.

8. Can you tell me what your experience of being a black woman is and includes? What do you love? What do you hate?

In terms of being a black woman I love the fact that being a fighter is almost a given. That there is a certain amount of expectation that there will be some sense of scrap in me. I love the idea that I have a limitless capacity to love, laugh and handle pain. I love that these are traits attributed to us as black women. I also love the fact that we have so much to overcome and continue to try and do this

What I hate about being a black woman, the fact that I must be apologetic about it. The fact that I must battle to love myself and doing it is not a given but an accomplishment.

9. How important is self-care to you? What does it involve for you?

So important. The older you get the quicker you realize that there are a lot of things that are trying to tear you down. When you are broken and run down you will not be able to do any of the things you want to or are meant to do in life, if you are running on empty you cannot get very far. You have to realize being a martyr for one’s existence means that you only half live and thus half accomplish.

10. Thoughts on body-shaming?

Body shaming is whack, not matter which way it goes. People often think that body shaming only happens to bigger women but it is any and all instances where women’s bodies are policed. Body shaming is a way of causing us to ever strive for some form of perfection because no matter how far you go you will find another policeman of perfection pulling you over and calling you out for not being thin enough, thick enough, having big enough boobs, small enough thighs. Give you trouble over something and anything . And with the rise of the interwebs and social media it has become even easier to throw shade on a monumental shade.

Body shaming is hard to escape but the heavens knows we need to at least try.

Tiffany is all over the social media streets, so follow and engage her:

Twitter: @tiffmugo and @HOLAAfrica

Facebook: HOLAAfrica

Blog: holaafrica.org

My Feminism Looks Like… Alyx Carolus

Processed with VSCOcam with x1 preset1. Can you tell me a little about yourself?

I’m Alyx Carolus, a content producer who currently works in the pretty city. I write for a pretty popular online magazine in Cape Town, manage social media as well as juggling volunteering and my own donation drives. A recent transplant to the Mother City, I’m a recent graduate from Rhodes University (majored in Anthropology and English Language & Linguistics) and honestly, I would love to get my Masters in Anthropology. I have a penchant for body modifications (worked in a tattoo studio) – I have seven tattoos and seven piercings! I currently have an obsession with all black outfits, vintage clothes, Kehlani Parrish and Zoe Kravitz.

2. When did you first identify as a feminist?

I must have been in my first year at Rhodes University when I realised what my “beliefs” meant. I participated in the now well-known Silent Protest in 2010 with my late best friend and it completely blew my mind. I realised then, I was making a choice that some people weren’t going to find easy to understand. But I’m really not here to make other people comfortable.

3. What would you recommend a young feminist does?

Read, read and read! You’ll need an arsenal of magnificent texts when you encounter ignorance. Most importantly, find the people you can relate to. It helps to know who you look up to and having that present in your life. On a practical note, get involved with a NGO to learn about how you can make a difference, but also to meet like-minded people. It can be tough out here with some of the blatant ignorance feminists face.

4. Are you an intersectional feminist?

Hell yes.

5. What is your take on pornography?

I personally have nothing against it, I think the way the industry is run and managed is flawed and standards rather unrealistic when it comes to the female form. I don’t agree with the idea that it’s shameful and there are already women making feminist focused content. Sex happens. And if it’s done right – it’s pretty majestic.

6. What’s your take on White Feminism?

Can one eyeroll into another dimension? I think it’s entirely limiting and often trying to explain this to other feminists can be tiring.

7. Who is one Black woman you’d love to spend a day with?

It’s so hard to choose, my God. But ultimately, I’d really just like to spend a day out with ol’ Toni Morrison. The Bluest Eye was a book I stumbled on in my mother’s collection and gave me so much strength. I felt like the way I thought or wanted to write wasn’t all that weird, because Toni was doing it and doing it bloody well.

8. Who’s one black woman you think you would great friends with?

Janet Mock. I’ve watched her thrive over the last few years and her personality, no-nonsense attitude and sheer wisdom gives me so much life. I watch her show and interviews when I’m feeling low or just need to remind myself that women are doing this life thing, pretty well.

9. Thoughts on body-shaming?

It’s honestly something I find utterly deplorable. I have struggled with disordered eating and am only now able to acknowledge how badly I treated my body. The concept of shaming someone for the way they look is unbelievably damaging (especially in your developing years) I was dubbed anorexic and unhealthy by my peers in primary school and it led to an obsession with body proportion. I was measuring my body constantly and set unattainable standards for myself. And it all stemmed from someone making horrible comments about the way I looked (besides the other issues going in my life at the time. I regularly try and check myself with the comments I make. I have no right to comment on someone’s weight or appearance because it doesn’t “align” with society’s standards.

10. What’s your take on sexuality?

I truly believe sexuality is fluid and some of us float on different ends of the spectrum or know exactly what we want. In determining who you find attractive or want to be with – it can often change (and sometimes life throws you a curveball!). I honestly just want people to feel welcome to express themselves as they please, date whom they please and find their own comfort level or confidence with sexuality/sensuality.

Alyx blogs. She tweets. She’s witty and uses GIFs – so obviously a guaranteed good time.

She’s also on Insta where she shows off the glory that is her face and thighs. Swoon City really. 

My Feminism Looks Like… K

1. Can you tell me a little about yourself?

My name is K and I’m 26 years old. I was born and raised in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe and I’ve spent the last fourteen years in New Zealand. I have a Master of Arts in History and I’m hoping to pursue a Master of Teaching. I prefer to give my family the opportunity to plan graduation parties rather than a wedding they keep asking about. I’m currently tutoring a course on the history of Western sexuality at the University of Auckland. I love Kanye West but he’s making it increasingly difficult for me to ride for him like he rides for Beyonce.

2. What does feminism mean to you as an African woman?

Feminism has become incredibly meaningful to me in ways I did not expect. My feminism looks like a critique and dismantling of the various intersecting systems of power hell-bent on oppressing us. I’ve spent the last few years building my tool-kit by reading feminist literature (Black feminist texts have become my survival literature) and connecting with amazing women who share these ideas. But I need my feminism to go beyond academic discussions and I need all this knowledge to mean something. It has to translate to everyday life. Feminism has allowed me to interrogate the issues that affect my life and the lives of those I love. I’m supporting a family member who was diagnosed with several mental health conditions and autism. My feminism has helped me to have discussions with my father (!!!) about how and why telling this family member ‘to be a man’ or to just ‘snap out of it’ was inappropriate, unhelpful, and erases the very real mental health conditions this person faces. My feminism has helped me to confront the patriarchy present in my own household and attempt to dismantle it, one difficult and painful conversation at a time.

3. How do you answer people who question the importance and/or validity of feminism?

I find that the people who ask this question or a variation of it are the same people who fail to pluralize ‘feminist’ in their attacks on all feminist. They reduce feminism to a set of superficial ideas held by angry women. Feminists are dismissed as angry, selfish, and one-dimensional for focusing on ‘women’s issues’ as opposed to ‘real issues’. What some people don’t realize is that feminism interrogates the oppressive power structures that underlie the ‘real issues’ feminists are accused of ignoring.

4. Are you an intersectional feminist?

‘My feminism will be intersectional or it will be bullshit’ – Flavia Dzodan

5. What is your take on pornography?

I’m fascinated by the ways in which race, gender, and sex are constructed on the pornographic screen. I wrote my MA thesis on the representation of race in interracial pornography. I’ve encountered my fair share of backlash within academia and outside it and I can no longer engage in debates with people who refuse to critically examine porn before they condemn it all. I think that pornography is a problematic, though important cultural source precisely because it reveals so much about our culture. To dismiss it before we deconstruct it means we miss a crucial opportunity to analyze how these often-problematic representations are actively constructed, by whom, and for what purposes.

6. What’s your take on White Feminism?

Patricia Arquette’s comments at the 2015 Academy Awards sum up White Feminism effectively. I’d just like to apologize to her because while my gender has been fighting the good fight, my race and sexuality haven’t been pulling their weight in helping white women. That’s all I’ll say about her.

I’m sceptical of White Feminism especially when it claims to be intersectional. A white feminist once asked me to join a reading group that she was a member of. I was excited until I found out that I was going to be the only Black woman in the group. She asked me to attend in the week the group was discussing Audre Lorde. She tried to bait me with my own survival literature.

Dear white feminists,

If you invite me to your party and it isn’t intersectional, I will swiftly R.S.V.P ‘NO’ because you will not be catering to my intersecting identities. If you invite me to your party in the hopes that EYE will bring the intersectionality, I send my regrets.

Best,

Kim

7. How important is self-care to you? What does it involve for you?

Self-care is crucial to my survival. My self-care is mine. It is the care of my mother fucking self. I say this in light of a poem I came across recently that listed a bunch of things that self-care is not or should not be. The only thing self-care should not be, is policed. My self-care consists of a number of things that give me immense joy:

  • drinking tea with my mother
  • spending time with my beloveds
  • watching Love and Hip Hop (ATL, NY, Hollywood – and in that order)
  • deep-conditioning my hair
  • making hair and body butters because I’m obsessed with watching tutorials on YouTube – shout out to HeyFranHey
  • reading
  • special ME time – I’ll leave this open to interpretation

8. Thoughts on body shaming?

I detest body shaming! There’s a special place in hell for people who body shame under the guise of ‘health concerns’. This is my usual response to these ‘health concerns’:

Unless you have suddenly become a health professional who now has access to a person’s medical records, you have no right to speak on their health and you need to shut the fuck up.

Weight-related body shaming is a particularly sensitive topic for me. I’m 5’3” but I’m not a petite girl. In fact, everything about me is big: my hair, my titties, my arms, my belly, my ass. I take up space and I’m shamed for doing so in ways the world does not approve of. The first time I posted a full-body picture online was to celebrate #PlusSizeAppreciation on Twitter because I was so inspired by all the beautiful people who posted their pictures. Who do I talk to about maaaybe, like, auditioning for Big Fine Twitter?

9. What’s your favourite quote?

‘There is really nothing more to say except why. But since why is difficult to handle, one must take refuge in how.’ – Toni Morrison

10. What is your favourite memory that involves black women?

This memory is painful but it has become my favourite memory because it was transformative and healing in many ways. My cousin Naomi is five years old and she is one of my favourite people. A couple of years ago, I was watching TV with Naomi and her mother, Lesley – another one of my favourite people. Naomi looked at me and said ‘I need to get a haircut so I can be a princess’. This confused me until she pointed at the image of a white woman on TV. I knew exactly what she meant by ‘haircut’. She then pointed at my 26 inch, virgin, Brazilian hair and said ‘you can be a princess, she can be a princess, but I can’t’. Despite the fact that she loved Princess Tiana, at three years old this little girl already had an understanding of white beauty standards and felt that she could not be a princess without straight hair. My aunty and I cried painful tears. We talked about how we noticed Naomi doing something we did as little girls: wearing towels on our heads to pretend we had straight hair. Naomi is a big part of the reason I went natural. She has beautiful curls and we reinforce and affirm this at every moment because Black girls are magic and they have to grow up knowing and believing this.

11. What’s something that you’re still navigating your way in?

I’m navigating the complexity of being a black feminist and being willing and able to recite Tupac Shakur’s ‘Hit Em Up’ – and many other tracks – in their entirety. To know me is to know that I love Pac. I’m well aware that this statement will probably invite charges of hypocrisy because how can I call myself a feminist and love rap? I critique and contextualise rap music, just as I critique and contextualise other problematic cultural sources. My intellectual sister Joan Morgan has been helping me through this since the 99 and 2000s.

Kim shares all her glory on Twitter and on IG (all the muhfucken swoons).

My Feminism Looks Like… Simphiwe Dana

Screen Shot 2015-08-07 at 13.04.471. Can you tell me a little about yourself? 
I’m a village girl turned techno-age, high flying super everything I was told I would never be. Including supermom.
2. What do you have to tell men who’d like be feminist “allies”?
As a feminist ally you must lead from the back. And don’t ever think it’s your struggle, if you do, you’ll surely get it wrong. Your responsibility as an ally is to convert your kind (pardon the word), not to tell women how to feminism.
3. What does feminism mean to you as an African woman?
As an African woman I am doubly oppressed by patriarchy, more than my global counterparts. Because patriarchy has been concretised into culture and tradition. So my struggle for freedom is seen as a betrayal on two levels.
  1.  As a black woman I’m supposed to worry about the freedom of blackness before gender politics. Otherwise my black brothers and sisters (go figure) dismiss my struggle credentials.
  2. As an African woman I’m supposed to adhere to culture/tradition, if I do not, I then do not deserve respect. I am whitewashed by europolitics. And I have turned my back on my Africanness. Africanness right now is so fragile, it’s holding on to everything, good and bad.
4. How do you answer people when they say feminism is a Western idea?
This is a hard one because simply put, they’re saying freedom is for white people. I don’t know about that. But then again patriarchy doesn’t see itself as oppressive. So I really have no business explaining myself to patriarchy. You will respect me, qha. Same way I will not coddle racism. You will respect me, and if you need to know why, open a book, google, just educate yourself.
5. Who’s your favourite feminist?
Lebohang Pheko is my fave feminist.
6. When did you first identify as a feminist?
It must have been around 2013. I was always scared to call myself one even thought I strongly felt I was a feminist. There was just too much negativity around the word. Some people even call feminism evil. So I called myself a soft feminist for a while. Just to take the sting out for those who might feel aggrieved by me calling myself that. Apparently the idea of a free woman is sacrilegious to the patriarchy gods.
7. What do you say to people who attempt to undermine feminism with, “but THESE women suffer more”? 
I see right through their insincerity. They do not care for feminism, they only live to discredit it.
8. How do you answer people who question the importance and/or validity of feminism?
I feel sorry for any woman who questions and dismisses feminism. Not the ones who might wanna use a different word for the same concept (ie. womanism). But those who actually question why women should be free. Or those who don’t see how women are not free.
9. What’s one thing you do to bring feminism to more young girls?
I’m mother to a young girl who questions a lot. I have taught her to stand up for herself. To respect all people. To never see herself as less. And to never ever use gendered slurs to insult others. I have gotten rid of any social conditioning in my home. My son is not the man of the house. My daughter is not the cleaner of the house. Her friends are always grateful for all these lessons when they come over.
10. What’s your take on White Feminism?
White feminism is disingenuous as long as it does not adhere to intersectionality. I therefore do not take it seriously.
11. How would you describe your political beliefs?
I’m a socialist democrat feminist.
12. What words do you use most often to describe yourself?
Village girl
13. What’s your favourite feminist quote?

“Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.” – Audre Lorde.

“If any female feels she need anything beyond herself to legitimate and validate her existence, she is already giving away her power to be self-defining, her agency.” – bell hooks

14. What’s your least favourite thing about feminism?
I don’t like it when feminists penis shame. But honestly there are very few things I don’t like about feminism. I know that feminist aggression, how explicit feminists can be also, is very much frowned upon. Because it shocks people into dealing with feminist agency. And I honestly don’t see anything wrong with that.
15. What’s something amazing that women in your country are doing for themselves?
Women are running corporations. South Africa is second after Rwanda as the country that empowers women the most. Probably why there’s an increase in domestic violence. So called emasculation of men.
16. What advice would you give other on being more verbal and active in social issues?
Follow feminist dialogues, learn learn learn. Way before you open your mouth. Ask questions, and respect the answers.
17. Who are some of your favourite Africans?
Thebe Ikalafeng, Panashe Chigumadzi, Japheth Omojuwa, Cobhams Asuquo, Asa, Marang Setshwaelo. I have plenty.
18. Can you tell me what your experience of being a black woman is and includes? What do you love? What do you hate?
I love that I have never seen myself through the eyes of patriarchy. I still get a shock when I realize that some of the responses I get are due to my gender not my intellect.
19. Which black woman would you love to be for a day, just for the experience?
Excellency Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma
20. How important is self-care to you? What does it involve for you?
Very. Self care means that I might cut out people that make me uncomfortable in my own skin. I am an empath and there am very susceptible to people’s energies. Therefore I’m guarded about my space.
21. If you had to spend your life doing a job that advances feminism what would it be?
Girl education.
Simphiwe answered almost 50 of my questions and I would love to share all of them but I’ll do it in two parts. This is Part one and I’ll post the rest of them in a couple of weeks because I don’t want you to miss out on this brilliance. 
She tweets over here and does incredible work so I’ll say nothing else. She speaks for herself. 

My Feminism Looks Like… The African Siren

IMG_20150731_1313321. Can you tell me a little about yourself?

Most people on my TL know me as “Nafe”. I’m a globetrotting Malawian, professional student, soap-making witch, & that angry, militant, man-hating Internet feminist your father warned you about.

2. What do you have to tell men who’d like be feminist “allies”?

If you want to be an ally to anybody, the first thing you need to do is shut the fuck up. Seriously. Shut the fuck up. It baffles me how many people want to be allies but want their voices to be heard over those of the marginalised. We have mouths so stop speaking for us. Let us tell our own stories. You are here to listen & stand in solidarity, to vote for legislation that makes our lives easier, to help put candidates in power that will stand for us, to help bring down employers that have discriminatory practices, etc.

In my opinion, the only time allies should speak for the marginalised is when they are in spaces that we don’t have access to/aren’t present in. In your all white male boardroom? At your golf club? At your homophobic friend’s house? That’s when you should say something. Because those spaces are the kind many of us don’t have access to & that’s where a lot of shit is talked. Also STOP expecting praise for acknowledging our humanity. What kind of backward ass mentality is that? Where we have to say thank you & kiss your ass for recognising us as human beings who are entitled to the same respect as everyone else?

3. Who’s your favourite feminist?

I don’t have a favourite feminist per se but there are a lot of feminists I admire and respect, most of whom are on my Twitter timeline. When I first signed up to Twitter, I was a gotdamn mess. I “thought” I was a feminist, and perhaps I was(?), but I was homo- & transphobic as hell, didn’t give a fuck about sex workers, & had a lot of unpacking & unlearning to do. The feminists on my TL helped me do that. I can count on one hand how many white feminists I’ve actually learned extensively from. I discovered womanism, & intersectionality, & historical accuracy, & acquired the necessary vocab I needed to articulate my politics. I’ve had multiple Twitter accounts but the people I’ve followed have been pretty consistent. I’ve learnt and grown so much. S/O to the feminists on my TL, you’ve helped evolve this bad witch.

4. What’s one thing you do to bring feminism to more young girls?

I don’t really interact with young girls but I have little sisters, three of them. What I try to do is catch the problematic bullshit they learn & “unteach” them. One of my fave stories (which I’ve told on the TL at least once) is when my little sister and I were outside looking at the stars. She commented that the stars are pretty and I said yes they are. She then said boys can’t like stars because only girls can like pretty things. And I told her “No, everyone can like pretty things”. She paused for a moment to let that process and then she said, “Everyone can like pretty things”. And that was that. I don’t complicate our conversations with theories or jargon they won’t understand and, to them, life is as simple as everyone doing what they like and playing with the toys they want and becoming whoever they want without being discriminated against for it. They don’t yet know it is feminism but as they grow, they’ll become more aware of the world they’re in & realise its importance.

5. What’s your least favourite thing about feminism?

I don’t think I have a least favourite thing about feminism but the application of feminism is what bothers me sometimes. I believe in intersectionality & acknowledging the complexities of peoples’ identities and situations. I hate it when people think that there is only one way to be a feminist, usually the stereotypical career woman who shouldn’t want to be a mother or partner to someone. I’ve seen feminists talk shit about people who are happy being stay-at-home-mums or housewives. Shit, I used to be one them. We often forget that feminism, boiled down to its simplest form, is about choice. To have the right to choose the kind of life you want to live, the people you want to love etc without being marginalised for it. All that I ask is that we constantly examine why we want the things we want. Sometimes it’s internalised BS that causes us to want certain things. And that’s what also bothers me about people who are against feminism. Not understanding what feminism actually is.

6. Who is your go-to African woman inspiration?

Wangari Maathai. She was my first real introduction to feminist bad-assery in African political & environmental activism. The more I read about her, the more I wanted to know. From becoming the first East & Central African woman to earn a PhD & a Nobel Peace Prize to launching the Green Belt Movement to adding the extra “a” in her last name to piss off her ex-husband after he demanded she drop his name. Funnily enough, he divorced her because he claimed she was too wild to tame. Basically, she was #GOALZ. Unfortunately, she passed away before I got to meet her.

7. What’s something you wish you were told as a young girl?

“Just be, baby girl. Just be. Your existence is revolution enough.”

8. What’s a feminist issue you hold closest to you? (Not to say that any issue is more important than others.)

Hmmm… this is difficult. I’d have to say two issues that are really sensitive for me are: gender based violence and sex workers’ rights.

9. How important is self-care to you? What does it involve for you?

Self-care is incredibly important to me. I suffer from depression and the only reason I’ve been off medication for nearly two years (whoop! whoop!) is because of self-care. For me, self-care involves taking days off when I feel it’ll be too much to try and participate in daily activities or going shopping or for a massage or dressing up for absolutely no reason and treating myself to lunch. Sometimes, self-care for me means deactivating my Twitter account (my TL knows I do this often) & just unplugging. Once, I went a whole year without a phone. It was one of the most stress free years of my life. Self-care means responding appropriately when your body and/or mind says “Not today, Satan” and it means removing things from your life that give you unnecessary headaches, from bad sex to internet trolls to trash friends. Let that shit go. Or, at the very least, minimise contact.

10. What one word describes you as a Feminist?

Nothereforthebullshit

I met Nafe via her shade on the Twirra streets. Catch some over here.