1. Can you tell me a little about yourself?
I’m Cindy van Wyk, a 24-year-old wondrous writing woman slash professional grammar nazi (aka sub editor) slash columnist from Windhoek, Namibia. I have an Honours Degree in English and Print Media and I have plans to pursue a Masters in Creative Writing at some point. (Hopefully before I’m 30!) I’m passionate about literature, love and red wine. I am an eternal bookworm with hopeful romantic tendencies. Obsessed with all things Vin Diesel and Ireland. I blog at www.sugary-oblivion.blogspot.com and can be found on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram as Sugary Oblivion.
2. When did you first identify as a feminist?
I think I’ve always been a feminist at heart, but I only found a name for it in my second year of university (I was 20, 21) when I had a class called Literary Theory by the brilliant Selma Ashikuti. Not only did she teach me about feminism as a theory in literature, but she showed me what it meant to be a feminist. She has since become a good friend of mine and she’s one of the women I really look up to.
3. What’s one thing you do to bring feminism to more young girls?
I think that, having some sort of following through Twitter, my blog and my column, it is important for me to show everyone who may be watching that I’m not only a feminist, but that I’m a real, flawed human being with many great parts and some not-so-great parts. I think it’s important to not only preach feminism as a theory, but to live it and to show every young girl out there that the picture she may have had of a bitter, lonely old spinster feminist is not only wrong, but it’s ridiculous. I’m big on practising what you preach, and I think by doing that, I teach people more than academic texts could.
4. What would you recommend a young feminist does?
Read, read, read. If there’s a feminist you look up to, if there’s something you’re not sure about, if there’s things you don’t understand, read up on it. It is so important for young feminists – whether they be men or women – to educate themselves not only on feminism, but why we need feminism as much as we need oxygen.
5. What is your take on pornography?
To be honest, I didn’t really think twice about pornography and how it extorts women until I read an article about how women in the porn industry are treated. I’m not against pornography as a whole per se, but at the moment, with the industry being run by patriarchal men who oppress and extort women, watching/using porn does not sit well with me. I’ve found that the amount of ‘feminist-friendly’ porn is very, very limited, but it’s out there, especially if you’re into erotica.
6. What’s your take on sex positivity?
Growing up, it was drilled into our heads that women must be pure and chaste in order to be deemed worthy of love. I’ve long disposed of this as absolute bullshit, but I’m still unlearning the idea of body counts and that being attached to your worth. I do however believe that women should be able to have the sex they want to have without being shamed for it. Sometimes I still struggle to apply this to myself, but being part of a Twitter community where women speak openly and honestly about sex and sexuality helps a lot. As long as you’re having safe sex in a healthy environment that makes you feel loved/appreciated/cherished/wanted, I’m all for it.
7. What is a problem that affects women in your country the most?
In Namibia, many, many women have been brutally murdered by their significant others. This is something the media has dubbed ‘passion killings’, and has been ravaging the women of my country for years. The misconception that women belong to their men is still very rampant in this country, and alcohol abuse is rife as well. Women here are often financially dependent on men, and therefore tolerate abuse for years until the men kill them in the end. It’s heartbreaking.
8. How important is self-care to you? What does it involve for you?
Self-care is easily one of the most important things to me. It involves consciously being kind to myself, taking care of myself and placing my own needs above that of anyone else as far as possible. It often means retreating into myself and my books for a while, putting time and effort into my appearance (because when I look good, I feel good) and sometimes, it also means not letting myself wallow or over-think. To me, self-care can be as simple as buying a nice shampoo, to spending a lot of money on myself in order to feel as loved and cherished as I want and need to feel.
9. Thoughts on body-shaming?
This is a topic I’m very passionate about, having done my final year research project on body shaming in the Namibian media and the effects it has on young girls and women in particular. It’s so easy for us to automatically revert to body shaming. Body shaming is not only fat shaming or skinny shaming, but ranges from penis shaming to hair shaming (towards men who experience early balding, etc.). It is very, very important for us to keep putting it into the universe that your body is beautiful, no matter what it looks like, and that you, in your entirety, are worthy of love, regardless of what you look like. The body is a wonder but it is not the beginning and end of you as a person and we need to reiterate that as many times as necessary. Every body (and everybody) is worthy of love, acceptance and kindness. And often, it starts with us, with the way we speak to ourselves, the way we treat our own bodies, the thoughts we have about ourselves. That’s where we need to make the change.
10. What one word describes you as a Feminist?
Swoon over Cindy here: