dear men | honest letters #3

Oh boy.

Hello, men. Male human men. I have a lot to say to you, and less patience than I once thought. So, I’m going to tell you some things and I’d like you to bear in mind that this isn’t even half of what I’d say to you if I could address you all as a collective group. I know this letter comes across as though I am, but having this space on the internet allows me to do things I would never be able to do.

So, without further ado, let’s begin. TW: assault, sexual harassment

Men, you exist. You are real. Every. Single. One of you. You are real, and when a man is abusive, a rapist, a murderer, I see far too many things saying that “real men” would never do such. I’d like to pull your head out from under your “I know I would never do that”-shaped thought hole, and remind you that real men did that. Real men who exist are the biggest threat to women’s safety and life expectancy. Real men. Not the imaginary ones that you seem to never relate to, those evil guys! Real men. Like you. Your masculinity doesn’t give you a pass on decency. When you absolve men of any responsibility, you are standing by and letting it happen.When you create a defensive movement in response to a movement that was never about you (see #YesAllWomen & #MenAreTrash and vs #NotAllMen & #NotAllMenAreTrash), you are doing it for real.

Why are you offended by #MenAreTrash? Are you offended because you are not a trash man? Because you’ve never, and would never disrespect women? Because your ego is taking a knock? Because the statement makes you question whether or not you’re the nice guy that you claim to be? Look, #MenAreTrash isn’t about one man. It’s not about two or seven or a million. It’s a movement about the treatment of women in greater society.

We know that there are “good men”, we understand that not ALL men are trashy bigots. That’s not the point of the movement. In fact, “Not all men” misses the point every time. It [quiets] us [and] it’s an attempt to shut us up. It has to stop.

The “not all [insert problem]” argument is not constructive, it doesn’t bring forth any substance to the debate and it certainly doesn’t bring forth any solutions to the problems *womxn are systematically faced with.

Is it not relevant that the majority of [men] are raping, abusing, killing, disenfranchising, undermining, patronising, policing, pirating, mansplaining to and widely victimising *womxn?

Must we just pack up and go home, forget this is happening because “not all men”? So what are *womxn to do? Nurse our wounds, overcome your systematic oppression and also have enough energy to try to figure out who’s trash and who’s not?

-Thabi Myeni, News24

You are dismissing real life problems that women face every day because your ego is bruised. You are dismissing the fact that I have never, in my entire life, met one woman or girl who has not been sexually harassed or assaulted. You are dismissing the fact that no matter how many times you are told that catcalling is not a compliment, you do it anyway. Or you watch your friends do it. Men, you are real. You are a real threat to my safety, whether you choose to acknowledge it or not.

Men, stop using “she’s someone’s sister/mother/blah blah blah” as your basis for respecting women. I don’t know if it’s crossed your mind, but there is not a single person on the planet that does not have some familial relationship with a woman. Not one, buddy. Every person deserves respect, regardless of who they’re related to. Stop placing women’s worth in their relationships with men. Honestly.

Men, stop calling us females! What the hell is with that, you guys? Did you forget how to say women? I just…I don’t get it. I don’t understand why you do it, or why “females” is near always used in a demeaning or disrespectful way when talking about women.  First off, female is an adjective. Your grammar is bad. Female as a noun works when it’s derogatory, and why the heck are you so rude? Secondly, have you ever heard anyone refer to men as “males”? Eugh. It’s gross. Stop it. JUST STOP IT.

Men, you’re privileged. Shhhh. Don’t debate me on this. It’s not up for questioning. It is a fact, and you need to accept that it is and then use your privilege to make things better for those who are not. The patriarchy hurts everyone – women, men, gender-nonconforming folk – and the manifestation of this is often used as anti-feminist reasoning. When men are raped, assaulted, and suffer domestic abuse, there is a misconception that feminists don’t care about those instances because we’re too busy smashing the patriarchy. We do care. The patriarchy is the reason most men do not report assault because of the conceptions they have of masculinity. When we fight the patriarchy, we fight because of how it hurts everyone.

Men, stop piping up with unconstructive arguments for the sake of it. Stop saying you’re a good guy while you creepily ask that girl,”Where’s my hug?”. Stop being transphobic douchebags, saying you’re here for women but only ones you deem acceptable. Stop being complicit, watching your friends catcall and harass women. Stop making this about you when you don’t calculate how fast you’ll have to run if some guy decided today’s his day every time you walk past a group of men. Stop killing us because you think you can, stop raping us because you think you can, stop disregarding our “no”s because you think you can. Stop because not giving a man a phone number has cost several women their lives, because a woman not responding to a man on the street resulted in her being punched unconscious, because women die when men decide that they should. Stop because women are people, and gender based violence is real. Stop it.

Be better. You have to be better.

love and light,
shalom xo

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a note to black boys

jordan edwards was killed by a police officer in texas two days ago. he was 15. innocent. eric garner was strangled by a police officer almost three years ago. mike brown was murdered by a police officer two years ago. tamir rice was gunned down by the police two and a half years ago. he was 14, and brilliant.

you probably knew all of that, because you have to watch your back. i know that with every step you take, you have to protect your neck, and i know that you are tired. i know that checking your words and tone so carefully to avoid death is tiring. i know that fearing for your life every time you put on a hoodie in cold weather is tiring. i know that no matter how small, your mistakes don’t grant you the privilege of being taken into custody alive, like dylann roof.  i know that you know that this is wrong, and i know that you know we’re trying to fix it.  baby boy, we are trying. it is a fight, and we are fighting.

first, i’m sorry. i am sorry that you live in fear because of prejudiced notions of those sworn to protect. i’m sorry that your existence is treated like a crime worthy of capital punishment. i’m sorry that you have to have living down to an exact science to be successful. i’m sorry that you grow and live in a world where #rip(insert black boy’s name) pops up every three weeks. i am sorry.

next, i want you to know that despite those who seem to devalue your life, you are worth everything. black boy, you are magic and melanin. black boy, the resilience of your mother, the fight of your sister, the adaptability of your father – you have it in you. you carry worlds within you. hold fast to the fire in your stomach, and live. live as activism. live because it is not promised. live because you want to. live because terrible people seem to yearn to take the chance from you. live and learn and love and be, because black boy, i don’t know how long you or i have. i don’t know if you’ll go for a walk tomorrow and be killed for walking while black. i don’t know if you will be the next hashtag. i know that jordan edwards should have woken up today. i know that you should tomorrow.

with this in mind, flex your black boy joy. remember your dreams, and chase them with abandon. remember your struggle, and acknowledge it. remember what makes you happy, and do it. live. live. live. put flowers in your beard if you want to. cut your hair how you want to. wear the sneakers that you want to. win three grammys without selling a record if you want to. wear a blue vest and change the world if you want to. create a film that explores racism like no other if you want to. live, because you are worthy. chase, because you can. be, because your life matters.

black lives matter. god help us, they matter. you matter, and i will never stop screaming it. not when i graduate from college, not when i finish law school, not when i run for office — never. i will never stop fighting for our lives to matter. i will never stop.

black boy, you matter. you matter. you matter.

live.

love,
shalom


featured image via

don’t worry baby

hi friends! today’s the last day of teen suicide prevention week in south africa. i’ve already written about this but i was going through some of my stuff the other day  and found something weirdly specific that i’d like to share with you. is it a bit personal? yes. is it overly personal? yes. am i a chronic oversharer? also yes.

today i’d like to share a suicide note that ended up not being a suicide note from 2015. yikes. it’s a weird thing to share & put on the internet, but this week is important and this is important and i’m doing this. in june 2015 i wrote a note in my journal (named janine). this is it:


i am so tired. i’m just so tired of being tired and then not being allowed to be tired. i can’t do this. i wish it was different but i can’t do this every day. i can’t do this. i’m not even seventeen and i feel like i have forty lifetimes lived out inside me, each with a dreadfully unhappy ending. i can’t do this. i can’t just go to school and exist and come home and exist and get up and exist if existing is the problem. i can’t do this anymore.

i want to be sorry and i want to feel and i want hope that it’ll be better but i can’t do this. i can’t cry for help because nobody is out there and i can’t even cry these days because it takes too much to cry. i can’t do this. i wish i could tell you to show this to people after but you can’t because you’re a journal and nobody even i can’t fucking do this. i can’t do this.

okay, if someone finds this, and i half hope nobody does, i want you to know some things. i’m sixteen and i’m in my final year of high school and i want to stand in front of a fast moving vehicle twice and make sure there’s nothing after. i know it’s pretty disturbing because sixteen year olds are supposed to be living out the hype of grade ten and being a senior and kissing boys and drinking alcohol you shouldn’t but i…i am not them. i am sixteen and tired and the more i sleep the more tired i get. i have some friends at school but they’re not really my friends. they like doing stuff and leaving me out of them and then telling me that i’m not part of that part of the group. and i have some friends from my old high school but most of them are too busy living out their final year of high school to be bothered and…i can’t be bothered anymore. i’m too tired to do this.

i’ve written notes like this before but they used to be dedicated to whole people and how i wished i could have done more for them because any semblance of sanity or functionality disappeared once i let them down. i hope i haven’t made any promises to you. i’m sorry that i can’t live them out. i can’t live anything out anymore. i’m so tired, reader. i’m so tired and i can’t do this and i can’t feel so much and nothing at the same time anymore and i can’t long for life and love and normalcy when i look the way i do and am the way i am and i am so sorry.

i love you so much. i wish i was okay, i wish i could show you how much i love you. i love you, and i know you might not know me but i love you. i want you to know that you’re so strong and brilliant and i’m so proud of you for having made it so far. your story is so far from over and i am so excited for what you will become and what you are. i’m sorry i won’t be around to see it but it doesn’t matter because you will be and it will be brilliant. i know it’s a lot of pressure because this strange girl with nothing to show for herself is leaving you a message to continue when she’s quitting, but it’s all true. i believe in you. now and later and always.

if you meet someone who feels like me one day and you don’t know what to say to them, tell them…tell them that they’re enough. tell them that even though they are done, the world isn’t done with them and that there is so much left for them to do, see, live, love and be before they go. tell them that they aren’t cowardly or craven for wanting things to stop hurting. tell them that you care for them and mean it. tell them that one day they’ll find people who care about them as much as they care for everyone else. tell them that their capacity for love is endless and that everything that hurts sucks but that they can make things with it. tell them to talk to someone and if that person won’t listen, tell them to talk to someone else. to a billion other people who will. tell them that even though the world acts as though there is no room for them, that your world has room for them. tell them that they are brave and honest and raw and valued and important. tell them that they are important and that the world needs them. call them friend, and mean it.

i feel so at odds with myself. i wish someone would have told me the things i would have said. i’m so sorry. i’m so tired. i can’t do this.

tell them that it’s gonna be okay if they keep moving. tell them to get out of bed at least once a day. tell them that loving everyone is enough and that while nobody tells them that they are in love with them, that they are loved. tell them that their love is strong and bigger than their tired. tell them that the biggest thing they can do is try their best not to get lost in the nothingness that comes with tired and lonely and i want to die. take them outside. tell them to breathe and to touch and to do their best to feel. tell them to keep on. learn to live with them. learn from them and with them. live.

don’t tell them a sixteen year old told you this.they probably won’t take you seriously. (take them seriously.)

i love you, dear reader. i love you and my mom and my siblings and my friends and my “friends” and the kid who stole my shoes in first grade and the teacher who humiliated me in grade five and everyone else. i love you and it’s so not your fault and i’m sorry and i love you. you are so loved. i want this to be different. i want…i want to live too. i want to love too. i want to keep loving. i’m just so tired.


i didn’t kill myself that night. i read the letter again and again and again and felt too much like a fake to give all of that advice and then disappear. i’m still around, and every day is a struggle. i have a bunch of these letters and most of them don’t end with a realisation that i wanted to live. this one did, though. i’m grateful to my past self. i called SADAG and went to school, told my teacher i needed to be in therapy because i wanted to die, and walked out of class when she told me i was being dramatic. suicide is dramatic. it’s a matter of life and death. take it seriously.

do what you need to do to stay alive. the sun will rise and we will try again. don’t worry, baby.

love and light,
shalom xo

it’s kind of a funny story

hi friends! it’s national teen suicide prevention week! a lil warning: there are a good bunch of triggering mentions of death n suicide ahead. so, if you’re not up for this, visit the lovely dora @ for the goldfinches or this post from matt @ the lil engine that couldn’t that always makes me cringe laugh in support.

In 2014, I did the best school project I ever have done – I got to create an anthology on whatever I wanted for English. I could talk about anything. I had to write a really big essay as the preface and talk about all of the pieces I’d be using, and I could write about anything. It’s still the most I’ve ever enjoyed an academic project.

The title of my anthology was “life, interrupted” and IT focused on mental illness in young people. It was a crazy experience because most all of the works I included came down to choices rather than first time reading. There’re only so many books, in my experience, that captured what I felt to a point where I could rest in the fact that I wasn’t alone if someone could write about it. I chose Susanna Kaysen’s Girl, Interrupted and Ned Vizzini’s It’s Kind of a Funny Story. Today, I’d like to talk about the latter, and it’s author.

IKOAFS is the kind of book that I had to stop reading after the first three chapters because it was too personal. It was too real, and too accurate, and Ned Vizzini was looking into my head and would tell people how messed up I was because they would know exactly what and how I was thinking. Because I was Craig, and I was Craig right down to the standing on the bridge and feeling free and wanting to jump a year later.

It’s Kind of a Funny Story is about Craig, a smart kid with some douchey friends (some (one) of which are okay) who finds himself depressed, and then suicidal. He checks himself into a psychiatric hospital because he wants to get better. He learns a lot & works through a lot. He realises he’s not into the girl he thought he was into. He meets people who help him to work it out. He starts taking his medication again. He chooses to live.

Ski. Sled. Play basketball. Jog. Run. Run. Run. Run home. Run home and enjoy. Enjoy. Take these verbs and enjoy them. They’re yours, Craig. You deserve them because you chose them. You could have left them all behind but you chose to stay here. So now live for real, Craig. Live. Live. Live. Live.
Live.

It’s Kind of a Funny Story, Ned Vizzini

This story is hard. It’s hard because it fits, because it’s mine, because it’s Ned Vizzini’s, and because Ned Vizzini didn’t live.

I’ve always hated the phrase, “commit suicide”. Since I was nine, I’ve hated it. If you commit something, it’s a sin. If you end your life, if you commit suicide, are you a sinner? Are you a sinner for feeling too much? Are you a sinner because it is unbearable to hold up a universe of suffering on a daily basis?  Are you a sinner for wanting it to stop? Am I a sinner because I wanted to?

(The answer is no. This is a topic for another day.)

Ned Vizzini died by suicide on December 19th, 2013. He lived, he inspired, he loved, he wrote, he tried,  he won, he became a beacon for depressed teenagers, he pulled me from the edge, and he died. It was said best here: “the great, unspeakable tragedy of The Bell Jar is now the tragedy of Funny Story.”

Everybody dies. The personalities of Ned Vizzini & Craig, the protagonist, line up really nicely. He captured Craig’s spirit because it was his own and showed Craig’s victory because it was his own. The whole book is based on wanting to kill yourself, and then not. Craig & Ned didn’t line up there.

It’s not as though it’s as simple as stating that Craig lived on and Ned didn’t. Ned could have ended things when he was 23, before he admitted himself to that psychiatric hospital. He didn’t. He could have not written IKOAFS. He did. He could have been so brilliant by doing so much less, but he did more and more and more than enough people will ever be able to thank him to. Ned was strong, and brave, and honest. He was talented. He was – he is – life changing and influential.

Life can be a lot sometimes.

This is Ned’s legacy: he tossed a bright, orange-and-white ring to us drowning kids and pleaded with us to stay afloat. And we read his words, and we understood, and we eventually made our way to shore.

If there’s something to take from this, from Funny Story, it’s what’s kept me around. It’s what keeps me around.  If you feel like you’re going to kill yourself, or if you feel like you want to, it’s a medical emergency. Call a hotline. Walk into a hospital. Call a friend who can look after you, if you have one. Don’t wait until you think you’re bad enough to be hospitalised. Suicidal ideation is a medical emergency.

Nothing would be better off if you weren’t around. I say that to myself every day. I have to do my best to believe it. I think you should, too.

South African National Teen Suicide Prevention Week runs from the 18th of Feb til the 24th. Take care of yourselves, and of your friends.

Live. Live. Live. Live.
Live.

love & light,
shalom xo

 

united divided states.

i’ve taken several deep breaths before starting this. my name is shalom. i am eighteen years old, and live in south africa. i am an american-south african dual citizen. i was born on the east coast of the usa. i voted for hillary clinton in the presidential election. the last sixty hours have been a mess – in my brain and in the world. here’s what we know:

  • donald trump won the us presidential election
  • mike pence will be the 45th vice president of the usa
  • mike pence believes that state funding should go into electrocuting and torturing lgbtq youth until they are heterosexual
  • donald trump, the man who wants to ban a religion, will be the 45th president of the usa
  • donald trump, the man who is on trial for child rape, will be the 45th president of the usa
  • donald trump, the bigoted, hateful man endorsed by the kkk will be the 45th president of the usa

now, if all of the above doesn’t bother you, your privilege is beyond belief.

when hillary clinton lost the election, so much more happened. i don’t care about how you feel about hillary clinton. i don’t care if you think she’s a scammer. i don’t care if you hate her for being a woman. i don’t care if you think obama was wrong for supporting her. i care that so many of us have now lost.

a win for donald trump  is terrifying, not only because of trump and pence, but because of what it means. what it means is that the people who stand against immigrants, literally built the country from the ground up, are free to act on their hatred. the people who agree that lgbtq youth need a good beating, electric shock treatment, or death to cure their queerness are backed by the president. the people who believe that america was great 200 years ago when black people could be stolen, bought, and sold are validated. hatred won. sexism and misogyny won. homophobia, radical racism, and white supremacy won. america; red, white, and blue. is black in there too?

so what now? what does the muslim family that has lived in a republican state do now that 48 hours after the announcement, and 69 days before he takes office, trump’s supporters have threatened them to the point where they cannot walk in public? what do the people with so many intersectionalities, like black, trans, disabled, woman, do? what is to become of this country that voted ethnic cleansing in, when it’s founding fathers were immigrants? what are marginalised minorities to do when white americans — who’s ancestors were ALL IMMIGRANTS — threaten every element of their safety? what is to become of the united divided states of america when the commander is chief is literally a demagogue flexing? he is history repeating. seriously.

 

america, we messed up. to the 17 000 people who wrote in harambe, and hennessey – is this still funny to you? lives are at stake, now more than ever. is this a joke? to the bernie sanders supporters who wrote him in after he asked you to vote hillary – you knew what would happen. i will not hold this against you, but you took action fully aware of the consequences. same thing for third party voters. you know what you did.

now, we rebuild. again.

we remember that the sun will rise tomorrow. we remember that the capacity for kindness that we all hold can never be taken away by someone in the white house. we cry. we drink. we listen to fourfiveseconds on repeat really loudly. we pray. we protest. we do all that we can to continue every day fighting the hardest that we ever have for all that we believe in. we unfriend and unfollow the trump voters because they do not care about us. we remember why we believe in this country. we listen to president obama. we practice gratefulness. we use our voices. we create. we listen to senator clinton. we do not grow weary. we continue to do as much as we can for as many as we can for as long as we can. we keep on. we rest in each other.

 

the world is broken, but hope is not crazy. the usa was built on immigrants like founding father alexander hamilton, who time and again, get the job done. the usa was built on my parents who came for education, and threw their hearts into a country that never loved them back. the usa will be rebuilt on the love of our generation and not the hatred of trump. commit to love.

only only only love & hope,
shalom xo

 

Once again, #FeesMustFall

This isn’t Fees Must Fall Reloaded, like Rihanna’s Good Girl Gone Bad with three new tracks. This is a new year, and a new look at the struggle for affordable if not free education that started long before last year. Let’s talk about the fees, again.

I got exhausted writing this and made this video instead, so watch this, and read my last year’s #feesmustfall post. Fighting is tiring.

I’m so tired. I can’t imagine how my fellow students who have been wrongfully beaten and teargassed and arrested by police must be feeling. Kubi.

Love and light,

shalom xo

#BrockTurnerisarapist | rape and rape culture at universities in 2016

I’ve had this post unfinished in my drafts for six weeks now. I am angry, more than anything, as I write this. I am angry and afraid and upset and I have started too many posts this way, and yet, I still cannot fathom the anger and sadness that the victims of rape must be feeling.

Brock Turner is a rapist who is good at swimming. After raping an unconscious Stanford student at a frat party, and being proven guilty – he was pulled off of an unconscious woman by two grad students. The day after the rape, Turner remembered nothing. He couldn’t remember what she said, or whether he left with her. Come the trial, dear Brock, guilty of  ‘twenty minutes of action’ according to his father [that sentence made me throw up in my mouth. Twenty minutes of action? He raped an unconscious woman. RAPED. To call that ‘action’, as if a swimming feat accomplished is everything wrong ] could remember everything. He could remember that she said ‘yeah’ repeatedly. FYI: if all she can say is yeah and can’t form a coherent sentence, you shouldn’t be having sex with her. Brock Turner received six months imprisonment, because Judge Perksy believed that a confirmed rapist would not be further harm to society. Because Brock Turner, the rapist, shouldn’t have to suffer the adverse effects of a longer time in prison.

John Enoch is a rapist who is good at academics. After raping two women in 2013 and 2015,  he was found  faced two counts of felony rape, but was only convicted of misdemeanour battery with moderate bodily injury. Enoch, the rapist, with a bright future in  economics, avoided jail time and was sentenced to just one year probation.

At Rhodes University in Grahamstown, South Africa, earlier this year, a series of rape protests took place. The #RUReferenceList was released, displaying the names of people who had raped victims. You can catch up here.

I was in a protest at my university this year. We lay on the ground in silence, showing solidarity with the one in three women in South Africa who are raped. I cried. We sang, and talked, and cried.

I am tired. I am tired of sexual assault being a recurring theme in my blog posts. I am tired of being angry about my friend who was raped. I am tired of having to explain to nineteen year old boys why ‘she was pretty drunk, so’ doesn’t count as consent.

There is one way to have sex. ONE. You ask for consent. If a partner disagrees, you don’t have sex.  It’s that simple. I don’t know what to say anymore. I don’t know how to write about this anymore. I don’t know. I am sad.

Rape culture is your rape joke, your slut shaming, your fetishisation, your victim blaming. That is rape culture. That is why Brock Turner and John Enoch will walk. That is why this victim’s letter is nothing but a scratch to her rapist.

You don’t know me, but you’ve been inside me, and that’s why we’re here today.

Rape is a lack of consent. If you rape someone, you’re not a good kid who made a mistake. You are a rapist.

shalom

rebuild | orlando, islamophobia & unity

this is a response to today’s one word prompt


i don’t know how to write this, really.

i can’t adaqueately express the anger and sadness that i am feeling for the victims of tragic and senseless gun violence in the usa this past week, and for the victims of a tragic bombing in lebanon. i can’t imagine the pain and suffering brought about by the senseless loss, or the foolish backlash that the lgbtq+ & muslim community must be receiving.

i can be sorry, and i can pray that the god i believe in will have mercy, and i know that it isn’t enough. but i don’t know what else i can do.

fifty people were murdered at pulse nightclub in orlando, while almost fifty others were injured. fifty people had their lives taken for no reason apart from being in a space that promoted loving who you love. pulse is a beacon for so much of the lgbtq+ community in orlando, and because of a sensless act of cowardice, people have lost so much.

the entire lgbtq+ community has been shaken by the shooting. if queer people cannot be safe in a space for them, amongst other queer people, where can they be safe? a day after the shooting, a man carrying heavy explosives and weapons was apprehended. he was on his way to the l.a pride parade. he was headed to a space full of queer people with the sole intention to kill them.

what part of this doesn’t look like a hate crime? what part gives you the inclination that there was another reason, apart from rampant homophobia, for these attacks?

is it ignorance? is it trump? i hate to mention trump’s name. i believe that the guy from the apprentice is only in the posoition he is in because of the press we give to him. trump needs a mirror, but more so, he is a mirror.

the fact that so many of the senators tweeting their condolences and prayers voted against gun control, and can’t seem to realise that they need to answer the question, “how do these people get their weapons, and why is it so easy?” in order for us to make any progress is troubling.

the same people who called the lgbtq+ community animals are the ones offering their sincerest regards. those who claimed that the lgbtq+ community in bathrooms is a danger to public society are now looking at the slain members of the community, and finding something else to talk about. calling up islamophobia, and terrorism, ignoring the fact that crime after crime after crime like this can be so easily prevented if some fucking republicans would get their heads out of their asses.

what, then, do these muslim-hating republicans, have to say about the religions of the white perpetrators of the biggest mass shootings in us history? what do they say about the religion of the white people who shot children at sandy hook elementary school, who prayed with unarmed black people and then shot them? why are queer lives not valued enough for this to be seen as what it is – a crime against them?

i am beside myself. i feel selfish for being sad, when so many are directly affected. i feel helpless, because every time something like this happens, a ‘pray for’ hashtag is generated, and the president makes a speech, and some people cry and change their profile pictures and post things on instagram and nothing changes because it always happens again. america, it always happens again.

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in light of all of this pain, what is left? what is left but the countless souls who will mourn, who will bury the lost, who will have to continue with their fragmented lives – those who will rebuild. the lgbtq+ community will rebuild because it is what must be done when your entire existence is reduced to someone’s intolerance.

twitter is always wild when something like this happens. he-who-must-not-be-named with a nose and bad hair tweets something stupid and ignorant, someone makes a “joke” that’s hate speech, and so many of us spend hours fighting with people trying to stir up hate. i am christian, and my friend yasmin is muslim, and we spent three hours online yesterday trying to explain why islamophobia is (a) always senseless, (b) always unfounded, and (c) should always be avoided in every way. i got hate from several christians for advocating for lgbtq+ rights, as did yasmin from many muslims. i’d like to share a passage from the bible and the quran each with you:

There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the one who is able to save and destroy. But you–who are you to judge your neighbour?

-James 4:12 (NIV)

Whosoever kills an innocent human being, it shall be as if he has killed all mankind, and whosoever saves the life of one, it shall be as if he had saved the life of all mankind.

-Qur’an 5:32

there is no place for hatred. there is no place for prejuciced christians who love selectively. there is love, and love wins. my god is a god of love, and love wins. as lin-manuel miranda said last night at the tony awards, “love is love is love is love is love is love, and cannot be killed or swept aside”. hate will never win.

“if anyone knows how to rebuild, it’s us.”  please watch this stunning & evocative piece by anna oakes-monger. to the entire lqbtq+ community: we are with you. i am with you. this is not and will never be okay, and we will fight with you. “if anyone can love through pain, it’s us.”

love and light,
shalom xo

I assaulted someone today.

I BEAT UP A FULLY GROWN MAN TODAY AND NOW I AM TELLING YOU ALL ABOUT IT.


 

I’ve had a lot of trouble with banks this year. It’s only the end of March, but I have been to 5 bank branches (mostly for the same reason), and I’ve been annoyed to the same degree when leaving each of them.

I was at a branch today (that had free wifi and lovely sofas and no queues and the most beautiful aircon I ever did feel), and I left after hearing that my card was locked because someone at a previous branch didn’t give me a form to fill out. I felt fantastic. Amazing. I love having my money locked in a card that I cannot use.

On my way to the mall where I would later meet my sisters, a bakkie (pick up truck?) carrying 13 guys stopped at the red light where I had stopped. I was catcalled (annoyingly, but expectedly) and then, I was yelled at for “seducing [them]”. In my floor length skirt and tank top, my arms (aka the mistresses of seduction) did some serious damage to these guys.

Nonetheless, I kept walking. Earphones in, head down – you know the drill. Until one of the guys climbed down from the truck and started walking next to me.

Perfect.

He did some more catcalling, perhaps believing that the proximity would help his cause. I ignored him. He yelled at me, called me a whore, called my mother a whore, and asked how I dared to put myself on display and then reject his advances.

The logical thing to do would be to get the hell out of there. Heaven knows why I did what I did next.

I stopped walking, took my earphones out and said, “If you touch me, I will hurt you”. He laughed, and grabbed my wrist.

Then, I kicked his ass.

Look, a childhood obsession with Totally Spies and three years of Kickboxing don’t go unnoticed when an annoyed Shalom finds herself in the company of threatening men. They just don’t.

I pushed him over when I was done, and said, “I told you not to touch me.” He swore at me (and my mother) again, and I walked away.

I’m currently in a café, drinking a chamomile tea and looking like the calmest calm person to ever calm. I don’t look like someone who left a grown man lying in a heap on the ground.

Honesty, though – for how long will girls have to take self defense classes so that they can go to the mall? How long will the idea that men on cars have rights of access to women on the street be perpetuated? How many more people have to kick their way out of a violent encounter?

I am so tired. I am tired of this. I am tired of having to fight because I am female. I am tired of “she was asking for it”. I am tired of “what was she wearing?”. I am tired.

If you’re reading this, you owe the world better. We owe the world better. I don’t know how we’re going to fix this, but we’re going to.


shalom xo

 

WE’RE ALL SLUTS HERE

Damn, Shalom! Back at it again with the posts about slut shaming!

(the first one is here.)

Celebrity news is not my niche. It’s not. I have very limited interest or time in and for it. I’m not big on hero worshiping people you think are your friends because they let you see into their lives by means of one of the biggest online platforms in the world. I don’t have any kind of allegiance to Zoe Sugg, or Kim Kardashian. At all.  I am, however, interested in slut shaming & double standards. And by interested, I mean fed the hell up.

Now, I’m not sure if you follow the happenings on the internet the way I do, but we’ve established that I spend 90% of my time on here. Recently, Zoe Sugg, aka Zoella (of YouTube and Girl Online (strong opinions about ghostwriting & lies surrounding said book) fame) posted this photo to her Snapchat (?):

Why #WeStandWithZoe was trending on Twitter last night

source: zoella / snapchat

The world’s Most Reliable and Truthful paper TM, the Sun, then did what any good and trustworthy paper would do: they published the selfie in their online newspaper with the Least Clickbaity Title Ever TM:

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And so it began. The article called Zoe out for “trying to widen her fanbase”(?) and essentially gave her several virtual slaps on both of her wrists for being the sluttiest slut to ever slut. In her long sleeved shirt & Calvin Klein briefs. Yowza. Hide your kids, hide your wives – Zoe Sugg’s belly button and upper thigh are changing the world and hurting your family.

Did you catch the dripping sarcasm? I hope you caught the dripping sarcasm.

The Sun is a very stupid paper that makes me very tired. In my Media and Society lectures, we talk about the tabloid, and how ridiculous it is. Basically. We study the media effects as well, but we spend a good portion of time lamenting The Sun. Sydney @ Love, Sydney is a die hard Zoe supporter, and made this post with all of the right reasons to back Zoe in this stupid stupid time.

Zoe’s fans, friends, and other supporters had things like this to say, and #WeStandWithZoe was trending within a couple of hours:

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From this all, we can deduce that the people who had made these comments are body positive people against slut shaming, and believe that “skin is just skin” and that Zoe shouldn’t be ashamed for loving her body, yes? Okay. Now, another picture:

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Shalom! Stop spamming us with this, this — this is unacceptable! How dare you give her any more attention! Kim Kardashian is teaching our children how to be — this! She is objectifying herself! She has only gotten anywhere in life because of her body! This woman is a slut! Her children will see this one day! What kind of a woman —

Okay. You be quiet.

To have such a double standard – does it make sense to you? To quote Zoe’s supporters, ” being confident and loving your body IS NEVER A BAD THING”. Sydney’s post reads,

We should be teaching the younger generations self-confidence, and to love there bodies and that we shouldn’t need to feel like we need to hide ourselves. We definitely should not be teaching them that it is okay to slut shame and tear people down when they do have to confidence to post a picture no matter what they are wearing.

Mmmmm. Okay. Are you picking up a discrepancy between what’s said by supporters and what Kim received? I mean, Zoe’s supporters are enraged because, “why is it so shameful to show skin?” Surely, Kim should have received the same support? The ethos is the same, isn’t it?

I’m pretty sure you’ve picked up my position on this matter. I don’t believe in slut shaming. I have no time for it. I have no time for selective defence. I am not here for shaming one woman who clearly loves her body, and supporting another who does the same.

Stop slut shaming, y’all. It’s 2016.  It’ll be 2017 before you know it, and I’m going to make another post like this. I can bet money on it.

Love and light,
shalom xo