What do we want? Control over our own bodies. When do we want it? Now!

My favourite things about people is that we are such paradoxes, or lazy and unmotivated, depending on how you look at it. We say we want to be happy, but stay in unfulfilling jobs and relationships. We say we want to be successful, but do nothing about that idea we had. We want to be respected and appreciated, but do not stand up for ourselves in the face of an injustice. But more than that, we have this immense capacity for compassion, even at the expense of self. There is very little we wouldn’t do for the people we love. This, is simultaneously my favourite and least favourite thing about myself. I don’t like it, because sometimes it gives me an excuse for my laziness and failures. You take a word as ugly as procrastination, over-indulgence, recklessness and you wrap it up in a beautiful word such paradox or a difficult word, say, complex, and just like that, our less proactive moments become palatable. But it also beautiful that I can be mean and kind, I can be selfish and generous, I can be good and bad. I like that my human nature allows me to be everything I want to be, that it doesn’t box me. I believe an understanding of this makes it a lot easier to live in a world that endeavours so much to make extremes out of us. A world that doesn’t seem to place tolerance, understanding and equality as the foundation for all human interactions. A society that has decided that there are certain aspects of femininity that girls and women should be ashamed of.

The hardest thing I have had to do in my life (apart from being a semi-normal human at social interactions) is unlearn the sexist, subjugating ideals I internalised as a child. Even now, I cannot completely say that my outlook on these things is purely based on my understating and appreciation for their necessity and not the vague memory of the careless, misinformed opinion of an ignorant acquaintance, an agreeable parent or a well-meaning grandparent. I cannot tell you how many times my mother remarks about my dressing and it takes all of me to not weep.

Here’s the thing, I generally do not like long clothes. I don’t even know why. I just don’t look at a long skirt and think, “hey, I would like to wear that.” That only happens I see shorts and above the knee dresses and skirts. I think my mother has nightmares about this. So I do her a favour and stick to pants and keep my less than “modest” clothes to when she can’t see me. The problem occurs when I’m home and I do not intend to leave the house and I’m in shorts and a vest. Even when she doesn’t say anything, it says everything. And I know I am not the only girl who goes through this with their mothers and aunts and grandmothers.  I cannot count how many times girls are told to not dress like prostitutes, or wear a longer skirt because short skirts make boys uncomfortable and they might just get this urge to rape you (I hope you guys can hear the sarcasm in my voice because my eyes are rolled all the way to the back of my head) While they do mean well and all they want is an assurance, as feeble as it may be, that we will be safe, the language they use to express this concern is counter-productive and just serves in perpetuating the implication that a woman’s dressing and largely, her body is not under her control. 

See, when you tell a little girl to not dress like a prostitute, you are implying that dressing is an assessment of morality. Which is absurd. As far as I am concerned, the only thing that makes you immoral is doing immoral things; like killing people. And the only thing that makes you a prostitute is getting paid to have sex. And even then, that is a personal choice and it’s none of my business. Even if there was a correlation between dressing and morality, a certain way of dressing does not cause immorality. Correlation is not causation.  As I see it, dressing is about comfort and expression and attractiveness and presentability. Would it not make more sense to tell a girl, “Wear a longer dress because it is chilly outside. Or because you look more attractive or more presentable in that.” And when I say attractive, I do not mean for the sexual gratification of men, I simply looking your best self. And when I say presentable, I mean appropriate; not subject to the judgement of others. Because dressing is never about other people, especially men. Which makes it even more absurd when we make girls feel like their dressing should take men’s comfort into consideration. Not only is it an appropriation of the rape culture of victim shaming, it is also dehumanising and sexually objectifying. As Chimamanda Ngozi put it, we are teaching our girls that they are mere props in managing men’s sexual appetites.  We are teaching them that they are only avenues of blame should the said management of men’s appetites not work and we end up with a rape victim.  We are teaching them to value themselves less; to put a man’s comfort above their own.

I am all for decency. But decency should never be used as a justification to undervalue others. To shame them for the things that they love. We cannot want to control how women view and treat their bodies and hide under the guise of decency, at the very same time shaming victims of rape and sexual assault and blaming it on a supposed indecency. A case example, a guy who sags doesn’t get little more than a few scornful looks but a girl who wears a short dress gets a myriad of things, starting from insults to rape threats. Why do we treat women’s bodies as some sort of abomination? Why do we shame them for letting someone see them? More importantly, why do people who are not the women themselves even get to have a say? We make our girls think that their naked bodies is something that should make them uncomfortable, something they should be ashamed of. Is it not enough that women already have to try to attain these impossible standards of beauty imposed upon us? I understand and support the concept of healthy living and having a body that doesn’t weigh you down. What I do not support is that the toned thighs and flat stomach and clear face should only be for the guy(s) you are intimate with. It’s everywhere; from status updates on Facebook to anecdotes on WhatsApp groups. Women are constantly told to cover up, that there are some parts of their bodies are only meant to be seen by certain men. So we are telling women to do the hard work and get a nice body, but not allowing them to flaunt it? I’m not saying that people should walk around naked, I’m saying that the decision to not walk around naked, should be left to the women to make. My point is, women looking good naked shouldn’t be about the guy she’s having sex with. It should be about promoting a healthy perception of self, about women loving their bodies; loving their reflection in the mirror. It should be about women feeling beautiful, for themselves.  Also, if we are going to treat naked bodies as taboo, let’s do it for all genders.  Let’s raise hell when men are shirtless all over the place as they always are. 

But above all else, women are sexual human beings. There shouldn’t be shame in this. We need to  be open and honest about sex. I’ve always thought of it as a pity, that I have never been able to tell at what point exactly I developed a healthy opinion about sex. It means, I don’t remember an authority figure being open and honest with me about sex. For most of my pre-teen years, I thought talking to a boy would get me pregnant. I remember when I was ten, my social studies teacher decided to talk to us about sex. Actually it wasn’t so much a talk as it was a reprimand after he asked the girls who are not virgins to raise up their hands and everyone was too confused to raise up their hands. I have never understood why a teacher would find it appropriate to ask ten year old girls in a mixed classroom about their virgin status. I remember feeling attacked and exposed and later on swearing to never have sex until I was married. 

While waiting till marriage to have sex is a beautiful decision, it is not a decision that should be made after a tirade. It should be based on information and experience. Choosing to not wait, is also a valid decision. It is not right that we tell girls shit like, “being a virgin is the best gift you can give your husband on your wedding night.” It is not right that we make girls feel like losing their virginity before marriage is a failure on their part.  It is not fair that the same standards and embarrassments are not imposed on men. What we should teach girls is that sex is beautiful and sacred it should be between consenting people. We should tell them that it would be easier if they were adults and are better equipped to deal with its consequences. But more than that we should make them understand that losing your virginity doesn’t define them. It doesn’t make them whores. It doesn’t strip them off their dignity and make them less worthy of respect.  But they should know it matters because it’s fucking personal and as my roommate says, “it should be with a friend. Someone you are comfortable with. Someone you aren’t scared to say no to.”

Can we just let women issues be decided by women? Can we not make it about men? And can we not shame women for being women?    

    

A little forwardness, that’s all I ask. 

I have this admiration for people, especially women, who are forward.  I mean forward about sex.  I guess it is because I struggle so much with social interactions, to be able to walk up to someone and go, “hey, I wanna have sex with you” feels like a stunt out of a super hero movie. Don’t get me wrong, I am in no way saying random people should walk up to random people and request a dalliance. Depending on who and how you do it, it could be sexual harassment. And that’s not my brand. I’m all for people respecting each other, I’m all for consent if anything sexual is to happen. What I am saying is, if in this lifetime, or the next, but preferably this one, I am able to comfortably express my sexual needs to a man, without hearing society’s voice and judgement in my head labelling me a slut and a freak, it won’t matter much if I achieve little else,I will definitely go down in my books as the most phenomenal woman to ever traverse this planet. And just so you know, that book has the likes of Maya Angelou and Audrey Hepburn in it, so it’s no small feat.  

As a child, I unfortunately internalised the prettiness of a woman’s silence. We are taught from a young age as women that we are supposed to be seen, not heard. We are to do our hair, smile and look pretty. We are supposed to evoke desire, but not express it. Men are to find us attractive by the broadness of our hips, our inviting smiles, the glow of our skin and not by the contents of our brains or the words out our mouths. We are taught to let men hit on us, and only encourage the ones that actually do. Don’t flirt too much, don’t show too much skin, don’t laugh too loud. It’s desperate and it turns off men. We are not allowed to be picky, or even go out of our way to attract the kind of men we want. All we have to do is keep the man that wants us. So we have to cook and manage the house and raise the children, but more than that, make sure our men don’t stray. Because a man cheating on a woman, is somehow a reflection on her; the blandness of her food or her unwillingness to try certain positions in bed. Which is ironic, because we live in a society that deems it perfectly okay for people (read men) to use phrases like, “good dick will hypnotise a woman” but an abomination for women to applaud their sex game. It is understandable for a woman to stick by a less than average guy, because he gives her good dick, but incomprehensible for a man to stay with a woman because of the sex. She has to be a slut, if sex is the best thing she brings to the table.

So while, this is not the 1950’s and I cannot deny that men understand the essence of a modern-day woman. The woman who won’t do your chores and suck your dick (metaphorically speaking), but will give you great conversation and pay half the bills. Society still struggles with the concept of a woman being able to express her sexuality. We still tell little girls, to let the boy text you first, let him kiss you first, let him ask for sex. And even then, don’t put out on the first date, play hard to get, don’t make him think you are available, he might mistake you for a whore. We teach our boys to categorise the women in their lives. The kind they’ll just have fun with and the kind they’ll marry. We make our girls feel like they have to choose, will you be the fun girl or the wife? Will you be the booty call or the mother of his children? Why can’t girls have it all? Because I want it all. I don’t mean the booty calls and giving lap dances to strangers at a party. I don’t do that. But that decision doesn’t come out of judgement for people who do, it is out of an understanding of the mechanics of my soul. I am not a casual sex kind of person. I am not saying we have to be in a relationship, I am saying I want to have an emotional understanding of my sexual partner. And that is the only place that kind of decision should come from. It should be from an awareness of self and not because people told you that you have be a certain way, that you can’t do certain things because of your gender.

Because beneath my cynicism, I still believe in fairy tales. Well, sort of. I believe in finding the love of your life and marrying them and not getting divorced. I believe in making relationships work and not giving up on people. I believe in marrying your best friend (or at the very least a friend) and being there till death do you part. It could be the dumbest of my dreams, but it is the greatest of my hopes. I just want someone I’ll make puns with. I just want a friend I’ll be sexually attracted to for a really long time, eternity if I had it my way. But in the meantime, I also want to have fun. I want intimate dinners and poetry by a fireplace. I want Coldplay concerts and bitter-sweet goodbye kisses from an exotic man I just met on a trip; the inevitability of the end of an affair and the relief that my sins will stay with him. I want star-crossed love and blurred lines with a friend.  I want sexual innuendo and geek talk. I want to be able to wear sweatpants and mini-skirts just because I feel like it. I don’t want to be asked if I am not worried that sweatpants dull of my femininity. I want to be able to wear a short dress without being asked who I am trynna look good for. I want to be able to wear shorts to class and not have to worry about the lecturer misjudging the content of my character.  I just want to be able to be comfortable in my sexuality. I just want people to understand that I own my sexuality and whatever I do with it, or how I choose to express it is not a statement on my morality or intelligence or humanity.  And if I can get at least one person to see things this way, then my work will be done. Because to me, there’s more to feminism than ending rape and equal pay for women. My favourite bits are the ones that make women comfortable in their skin, the parts that allow women to stand tall and unapologetic for wearing their skin as they see fit. The kind that makes us realise that the quality of our lives should never be determined by society’s willingness to allow it. 

Chill out, it’s just her virginity.

You know how it is when you run into an ex, or an almost ex. You know, somebody who could have been something but life got in the way, or the timing wasn’t right. Not just any type of ex, someone you had a profound connection with, maybe even loved. So it is a chilly evening, you are walking hurriedly past Mr.Price, the one near Archives, trying to catch a bus home. On a good day, you’d stop and window-shop. On a better day, you’d get in, maybe get yourself a necklace. Not today though. Today you are too broke to even window-shop. Because window-shopping is an implication of sorts, that you are going to be able to afford that stuff someday. It is a sad, cheap, kind of hope. And you know what they say, that hope is for the birds, and the brave. You think about this for a while, and you realize that maybe birds and the brave is just a metaphor for the rich. This makes you laugh, a sad, hollow, self-pitying laugh. And then it happens.You bump into someone. And even before you look up, you know you recognize that scent. The way it brought butterflies to your stomach. He says hi, you mumble something back. small talk here and there. He says something about losing your number, asks for it. You want to give it to him, but what good would that do? So you look away, pretend to notice the sunset. How it makes Tom Mboya street almost look beautiful. How it makes you want to sit on a roof top and kiss someone. It is funny, because you’ve never been one to watch sunsets. He brings this up. You tell him people change and there’s really no point in trying to go back to the people you once were. You stagger away before he can say something else, get into a bus and as it leaves, before you leave  behind the piece of your life that could have been, you allow yourself a moment of total honesty. You know you miss him, that you will always carry with you this sense of loss, that your bones will always ache for him. You know that feeling? That does not even begin to compare to this craving I’ve had for French fries and chicken these last couple of days.

So just yesterday I am in a Samsung  shop getting my laptop charger replaced. But they are taking forever because they are out of stock and so they are getting me one from I didn’t care where. So I figure, screw calories, I’m getting myself chicken and fries. What else was I going to do to kill time? Also,people have just been on me incessantly about my weight. And if I’m being totally honest, it is getting hurtful. I know they do it with the best of intentions,(well, some of them) but sometimes it just feels like they are body shaming me. And yes, body shaming isn’t something that only happens to plump people. So I hop over to some fast food place and order my chicken and fries. Which if you think about it, is a pacifier of sorts, like the way traditional Africans poured libation to appease ancestors. The pacification was a huge mistake. The food tasted horrible. Okay, maybe not horrible but it wasn’t spectacular either. I couldn’t get past few bites. So I just sat there, wallowing in regret for squandering my fare for the next few days for food that wasn’t spectacular to please some mean women who didn’t even see me. Really, the food would have been put to better use as libation. I was still staring at my food, trying not to cry when this guy who I’d say is twenty four years or so sits next to me with some cute, I’d say six year old. My first thought was, “what a nice guy. taking his time to spend time with his little sister. she is probably going to question the niceness of the brother after tasting the chicken, but it really is a nice thing to do. ” Turns out the little girl is his daughter. A very curious one at that. I feel like i should tell you how I know that. Okay. But don’t judge me.I was eavesdropping. Not purposefully of course. The seats are so close to each other in these fast food places, it is impossible not to catch snippets of other people’s conversations. Also, the little girl was asking very intriguing questions. I’d say the winner was, “daddy, was it wrong for mummy too get pregnant before you got married?” The guy froze. Who wouldn’t? Even I chocked on my own saliva. So I left. It felt wrong to listen on afterwards.

I couldn’t stop thinking about the question though. I do not think there is an easy or direct way to answer that question especially when it is a six year old asking. That is a loaded question especially to a father who obviously doesn’t want her daughter to ever be in the same position he now was, but also doesn’t want her daughter growing up with an unhealthy attitude towards sex. It has so many variables like society’s perception of virginity, pre-marital sex, responsible sex, you name it. All I can do is hope he did the best job he could at answering the question. Here are my two cents though. There’s is very little on this planet that is absolutely wrong or right. Is it difficult to be a parent before you are married? Yes. Hell, I think it is difficult being a parent even when you are married. But just how do you tell a six year old that her mother should not have had her? You can’t do that. But you know what you could do? You could tell her she will grow up, she is going to learn about sex and intimacy and she is going to make her own decisions about them. All you can do is do your best at ensuring that when she gets to make those decisions, she won’t regret them.

But let us face it, our attitude towards sex, pre-marital or not is not solely shaped by the people that raised us. There is peer pressure, societal misconceptions, personal choice. Some choose to wait till marriage to have sex, others do not. Ideally, there should be nothing wrong with those choices as long as you are responsible about it. But for some reason, society shames girls who do not wait. And that is not cool. If you ask me,all this hype around virginity is a societal construct designed to perpetrate some misogynistic agenda. Don’t get me wrong. I am not saying that people should go around recklessly breaking their hymens. All I am saying is that it doesn’t have to be such a big deal. So while sex is a sacred, spiritual affair, the idea that a guy inserting his man bits into a girl’s lady parts is such a life-changing event especially for the girl is just unwarranted and a little bit cocky(and yes, I heard it when I said it.) A girl losing her virginity in no way alters who she is as a person, it does not make her any less worthy of respect, it should not earn her insults and name calling. The long and short of this is slut-shaming is not cool. Girls are allowed to have a sex life. They are allowed to express desire and have fetishes. Society needs to stop slut shaming girls for the very things that they consider men fucking legends for(pun definitely intended.)

On sex and vulnerability

So I just read somewhere that the average person has an average of eight sex partners in their lifetime and my first reaction was ” that’s just hoeing about.” then I thought about it and I realized that is not so bad. Plus, what really makes someone a whore? Like, I’m really asking. This question keeps me up at night, no kidding. I feel like someone’s body count doesn’t accurately represent their whole story. Plus, i’m one of those people who think people are fully souls, our bodies are just casings. So what if someone has a gentle spirit, a beautiful soul but life just pushes them into doing some sexually aggressive things, don’t you think it is a little harsh to call them whores? And speaking of beauty and souls, how cool would it be if our ideals on beauty were defined by souls and not faces, breasts, asses? I feel like that would eliminate almost all causes of self-esteem issues. Why hate your body if it your soul I am interested in? (Haha, that sounds like a threat) We wouldn’t have to worry about being overly sensitive, I mean if you called someone ugly, it is because they have a rotten soul. That doesn’t make you a jerk.

Anyway, my reason for this post was my thought process after I read this average-person-sex-partner-thing. I think the reason I was taken aback initially was because think having sex with someone requires a certain level of vulnerability. And if you know me, you know I absolutely freak out when I hear that word. Mary mother of God, I hate being vulnerable. I think on average it takes me two years to even show a hint of vulnerability to anyone. It is a good thing most people do not stick around that long. Why? Two reasons. First off, I strongly believe that most people, if not all will definitely take advantage of that. Second, I am dangerously intense, once I feel comfortable enough to be vulnerable with you, there is no going back. I’ll probably do and tell you everything short of handing you my soul on a plate. And trust me, if that was possible, I would do it. And on that note, I just want to show my appreciation to my roommate(partly because she has been subtly threatening to get all emotional on me if i didn’t at least mention her in my blog posts. Guys, I don’t feel very safe.) who bares with all my conversational segues. I almost always make everything deep, or passionate. Even things as simple as what we are cooking for supper.

I digress. What I am trying to say is that I am definitely not comfortable with being vulnerable to eight people. I feel like that is just leaving pieces of yourself everywhere. At the end of the day all you are left with is emptiness, and a void in your chest that even alcohol won’t fill. So what do you do when you get to that point? Do you have more sex? Drink more alcohol? Have drunken sex? Speaking of drunken sex, how does that work? Like when you are drunk, don’t you just want to text your ex, cry, then sleep? But maybe that’s just me,  I am only sexually attracted to someone, after I get to a certain emotional level with them. Unless that person is Miguel or Adam Levine. C’mon!! They are just so in your face. I have a Miguel problem. Like, when I am having a bad day, I just watch Miguel music videos. Always make me feel so much better. But i am talking about regular, real life people. A lot of times I’ll be with someone and we see a cute guy and they will get all graphic, but all that comes to mind is, “he’s cute.” Nothing more.

so yeah, I am not one-night stand kind of person. You know how they say, the only way to get over someone is to get under someone else? I firmly believe that is not literal. Because my idea of getting under someone else is having a deep, riveting conversation, pillow fights, dumb jokes, lame puns, watching re-runs of comedy series, sitting in silence, staring at the stars. I’m not the type to date a guy just because, I’m not kissing you just because, I’m not saying I like you just because. And I realize, that is a somewhat sad state for a college student. But that’s just who I am, I don’t do casual. I’m not gonna lie, sometimes it makes me a tiny bit sad. And I guess that’s okay.