The Politics of Pretty IV: Fair and Lovely – Daphne Lee

First of all, I was thrilled when 9jafeminista asked me to contribute a post for this blog’s The Politics of Pretty series(here, here, and here). I was also a little apprehensive because I wasn’t sure I had anything to say that would be of interest to Nigerian women. However, 9jafeminista said that she wanted the post to reinforce the fact that body shaming and unrealistic beauty standards are part of the worldwide phenomenon that judges women’s appearances and forces us to constantly question our validity based on the way we look, primarily through the male gaze, and largely as dictated by parameters and ‘rules’ established by the American and European beauty and fashion industries. WTF, right?

Think about it for a second: Asia and Africa are two huge continents that comprise peoples that are pretty different as far as cultures and appearances go. Yet, most Asian and African women subscribe to the same beauty standards set by the West. Thank you, colonialism. And yes, although our countries have been independent of colonial rule for decades, our minds are still f****ing colonised thanks to the powerful reach of Western media.

Anyway, this post is not going to be a cultural studies lecture about the way women have been taught to think negatively about themselves. I don’t want to speak for all Asian women. I don’t think I should speak for all Malaysian women either, or even all ethnically Chinese Malaysian women. The only perspective I feel I can offer is my own, so here it is:

I am fifty-one years old and I was born in a small town in Malaysia’s southern-most state, Johor. My (late) parents were officially ethnically Chinese, although my mother also had Malay and indigenous ancestry.
I have always been fat. Definitely fatter than my three older sisters who were slender, small-breasted, narrow-hipped teenagers whereas I was a D-cup by my early teens.
Let me add that while I was considered fat by everyone I came into contact with, my fair, rosy skin was seen as my saving grace. ‘Well, at least she’s fair,’ has been a common refrain throughout my life. When I married my ex-husband in the 90s, his parents objected because I was Chinese and they were Indian. However, my skin colour meant that “At least their children will be fair.’ Anyway, I digress, although of course, skin colour is just one of the physical features for which women are judged.

Anyway, when I look at pictures of myself as a child and also a teenager, I am amazed to see that I was not what I would now consider fat. I am aware that the way I think is problematic because I am implying that being ‘fat’ is undesirable. Well, I am still struggling not to think of ‘fat’ as a negative adjective and, back when I was a teen and tween, I felt (and was made to feel) that my size was a problem. I was teased by other children as small child. I was taunted by strange boys and men as a tween and into my late teens. Someone I considered my ‘best friend’ told me, when I was fifteen, that I should not consider performing at a school concert because I would be laughed at for being fat.

This idea that I was abnormally large was reinforced by the fact that, as a teen, I could not find ready-to-wear clothes that fit me. I wore my mother’s dresses instead, and was encouraged to seek out and hide my bulk in baggy t-shirts. (Thinking about that now, I am filled with rage and also sadness. Hide your body as it may be an agent of sin. Hide your body because it is not attractive enough to be an agent of sin. Either way, it’s f***ed up.)
When I was sixteen I was 159 cm (5’3”) and 54 kg (about 123 lbs). Let’s put the word ‘fat’ aside for now. Was I ‘too large’? I’ll let you be the judge, but I know I felt as big as a house.

When I lived in the UK (in my early twenties), I enjoyed five years of never having to worry about finding clothes that fit. I didn’t feel ‘too large’ because, although there were lots of people much smaller and lighter than me, there were also those who were much larger and heavier. Still, years of being told I was fat resulted in me going to see a ‘doctor’ about my weight. I was put on what I quickly realised were amphetamines. I lost my appetite and got lighter, but, thankfully, my student budget and love for pork pies and macaroni cheese meant that I didn’t continue with the treatment for very long.

In my thirties, I got married and had kids. It was OK to be ‘fat’ because I was wrapped up in motherhood and had no social life to speak of. When my marriage broke up, I lost a hell of a lot of weight. While it sucked being miserable, losing weight seemed to be the silver lining around the big, fat grey cloud of my divorce. I won’t deny that I liked the way I looked then. For the first time in twenty years I was below 60 kg, but I put it back on as I got over the breakup and started putting my life back together.

It’s interesting that losing weight was a result of things going wrong. A friend, commiserating about my husband’s infidelity, said, ‘Well, at least you’ve lost weight and look great.’ That made me so angry — probably partly because I secretly felt the same.

What would the average woman rather be? Slim and sad or fat and happy? Most would claim to prefer the latter state, but I think many identify being slim as the remedy to all woes. Obviously, being thin doesn’t automatically make you more content. Neither does it ensure good health. In fact, there are lots of people who say they want to lose weight for health reasons when they are really only interested in the effect it has on their appearance. For example, they diet and exercise, but also smoke and drink. If it was suddenly confirmed that being massively overweight was good for our health, I wonder how many of us would start trying to become fatter!

In my forties, I started dating African men as there are now, in Malaysia, many students from that continent. African men didn’t think of me as fat. ‘Fat? You don’t know what being fat is,’ said one of them.

I’ve also been told by my African dates that they don’t like thin women. They like their women curvy. Some even specify (on dating sites) that they are looking for BBW (big beautiful women) to date.

On the one hand, it makes a change from Malaysian men preferring very slim women, but on the other hand, I think to myself, ‘Why does it even matter what men think?’

Whether men like their women slim or thick, it’s still about their preference, their say. A man’s opinion of what a woman looks like should not signify, but, in reality, few heterosexual cis women are unaffected by the opinions of men.

Like, right now, I can tell myself that being this shape, this size, this weight is fine so long as I’m healthy, but I also find myself ‘warning’ guys I meet on Tinder that I am not slim. I want to pre-empt any disappointment my appearance may cause, but why should I care if they are disappointed? I tell myself I care about my own feelings and want to avoid being told that ‘I don’t date fat women’ or ‘I would ask you to be my girlfriend if you were thinner’, but wouldn’t it be great if I ceased to care that they might say that? Wouldn’t it be great if I could respond with ‘F*** you, your loss’ and not feel hurt and humiliated by their judgement? Wouldn’t it be wonderful if I didn’t want to lose 10 kg, if I didn’t desire a flatter stomach, less ‘bumpy’ hips, longer legs wobbly underarm flesh?

It annoys me that I feel this way. It annoys me that I think about going on a diet. It also annoys me when I encounter women discussing dieting and losing weight, and talking about ‘sinful’ foods and being ‘naughty’ when savouring a delicious meal. It especially annoys me that I feel a twinge of envy when friends lose weight and look fabulous in photographs on social media.
It annoys me even more when people tell me that I don’t look fifty-one. It annoys me that they feel they are complimenting me by saying I don’t look my age. I know they mean well, but I dislike the assumption that a woman would rather look (and even be) forty or thirty-five than fifty-one.

I am thankful though that, in this matter of age, I am not struggling in the same way I seem to be when it comes to my weight and size. Wrinkles and white hair do not cause the anxiety that flab and fat do. I don’t know why that’s so.

What I do know and acknowledge is that the way I feel about my appearance is complicated and that it’s OK that it’s complicated. Most days I feel like I’m fighting a losing battle against the popular belief that women should be as slim as possible. I am battling my own desire to be thin, but at least this desire isn’t tied to the idea that being thinner would make me better or happier or more successful. I know I am a product of my environment and of a culture shaped by industries that thrive on women hating the way we look.

Being aware of this is vital for my mental well-being and survival. Knowing that my appearance (the appearance of women) has no value except what the media has chosen to bestow on it, takes away its power to break me, like it has broken better women than myself.

When I turned fifty last year, I realised that I had spent more than forty years being low-key unhappy with my appearance and trying to change it. It struck me as such an incredible waste of time and I told myself that even if I couldn’t totally stop wanting to be thinner (it’s hard to overcome a lifetime of brainwashing), I should simply just tell myself that I didn’t want to be thinner. In other words, I should fake it til I made it. The battle continues.

Wish me luck!

Daphne Lee is an Editor, writer, intersectional feminist and an atheist.

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Nigerian Politics and her Diversity Problem

Diversity requires commitment. Achieving the superior performance diversity can produce needs further action – most notably, a commitment to develop a culture of inclusion. People do not just need to be different, they need to be fully involved and feel their voices are heard. – Alain Dehaze

It is election season in Nigeria, and as become the norm, our newsfeeds and timelines are chock-full of politicians, political jobbers and their shenanigans.

From the catastrophe that masqueraded as re-run elections in Osun State, to party primaries marred by confusion and hyperbolic counting of voters in Kano State, Nigeria has once again displayed an inability to manage the most mundane task without her trade-in-mark incompetence.

However, one thing that has been a constant, in Nigerian politics are the men, old men. Some of whom have been in power since Nigerian Independence 58years ago. These men that have done everything they can to keep their stranglehold on the country, running it deeper into poverty.

Reductive Reasoning: Federal Character = Inclusiveness and Diversity

The “federal character” principle, which has been enshrined in Nigeria’s Constitution since 1979, seeks to ensure that appointments to public service institutions fairly reflect the linguistic, ethnic, religious, and geographic diversity of the country. – Ladipo Adamolekun et al, 1991, “Federal Character” and management of the Federal Civil Service and the Military

Nigeria has 250 ethnic groups, speaking over 1000 languages within its borders, and in order to ensure that every cultural group participates in, and furthers its economic and socio-political growth, the Federal Character Principle was enshrined in Nigeria’s constitution in 1979, but this principle appears to have room only for these same old men.

Although signatory to the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women(CEDAW), and the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights, the stance of the Nigerian government appears to be that of dismissal and disinterest in the inclusion of women in governance.

In 2017, several attempts were made to introduce two bills that would ensure that governance and public life would be more diverse in Nigeria, Senators Biodun Olujimi, Binta Garba and Rose Oko, supported a bill seeking 35% Affirmative Action at the Federal level, and 20% at state level. The second is the Gender Equality Bill, which was practically sneered off the floor of the House of Assembly.

In spite of evidence to the contrary, especially with women running successful privately owned companies and chairing government parastatals, Nigerian Senators still subscribe to the notion of gender roles and the place of women in the kitchen.

On the surface, it appears that the Nigerian populace is, at least, willing, to entertain the idea of diversifying policy making and other government apparatus that would ensure a wider pool of opinions and voices, but the Not Too Young to Run bill, that was recently passed into law seems to be nothing but a publicity stunt.

The act ’empowers’ people who are 25years to run for office, but the original age in the constitution is actually 30years, a mere 5year gap, in spite of the fact that 30year olds are allowed to run for office, there isn’t a single 30year old in any political office in Nigeria as things stand.

Diversity and Inclusivity as drivers of National Development

In a world that has historically silenced and written out women’s voices, it is even more important that we open up spaces to all genders, especially women and other marginalized groups. So we can include their voices in the present, to build the future we all want to be a part of. Numbers matter, visibility matters, inclusion matters, and we can’t continue to sideline important voices. We must be deliberate in fair representation when it concerns our speakers, panels, attendees, contributors, consumers. We must make space for a multiplicity of voices that reflects the variety of the space we work and operate in.- Xeenarh Mohammed Author/Activist

Prebendalism refers to political systems where elected officials, and government workers feel they have a right to a share of government revenues, and use them to benefit their supporters, co-religionists and members of their ethnic group – Wikipedia

Nigeria is run on a patronage system, as made even more apparent by the in-fighting presently going on in different political parties. The system is patriarchal and deeply corrupt, these three major issues are hallmarks of countries with little or no inclusivity and diversity, which leads to poor development indices.

With a system that encourages favoritism, it would be difficult to get a wide pool of competent people putting forth ideas and having the requisite skills to execute them. Worse still, with girls and women making up a little more than half of the population, it is incomprehensible that old men are the only ones in positions to make and execute policies affecting everyone.

The more there is a perpetuation of the self and ego, over a large population and issues affecting them, the deeper the divide between the rich and poor will become.

Several studies have established the fact that diversity and inclusion are the major drivers of innovation and this affects everything. Nigeria’s present indices as one of the poorest countries in the world seems to have no chance of improvement anytime soon.

Ayodele Olofintuade is a journalist, writer and feminist.

The Politics of Pretty: Feminity and Fuckability

Take up Space – Temmie Ovwasa

The Angels sing Hallelujah,
While your Body bends,
Your left Leg over his right Shoulder,
Your right Leg around his Waist,
You wait for it to be over ,
Like you wait every Night,
You count the usual One to Ten,
You do this Eighteen times,
and then it’s over.

You know,
To him You’re just a Body with a Hole, His Ego is bigger than his Heart,
His Ego does nothing for your Body,
His Ego does nothing for your Soul,
But He tells you once again,
Maybe if your Legs could bend some more,
Without the Flesh of your protruding Belly getting in the way,
Maybe He’d actually be interested in staying a little longer,
In actually pleasing You.

So you make up your Mind,
Just like you did the Night before and the One before that,
To shed more Dead Weight,
To be more flexible,
To wear more Makeup
To be more “Fuckable”.
But no matter how much you bend yourself for Him,
He’ll still never bother to please You.

But You learnt this from your Mother,
Didn’t you?
To bend yourself for any Man that finds You worthy enough to grace his Bed,
To shrink yourself for any Human that finds you Good enough to fit into their Life;
They say You take up a lot of Space,
So if they create Room for You,
It’s a favor.

Your Meals got Smaller,
Your Demons got Bigger,
Your Weight, Heavier;
Darling, Despair weighs a lot more than Body Fat,
Every Inch of your Skin is glorious.

And I swear by the Angels your Mother prays to,
You’ve always been Beautiful,
You’ve always been Worthy.
Take up Space,
Please,
Take up Space.

©Temmie Ovwasa

The Politics of Pretty II: Womanhood as a Performance

Editorial: According to L’Oreal one of the foremost beauty brands worldwide, “African beauty and personal care market was estimated at €6.93 billion in 2012 and it currently increases between 8% and 10% per yearIt is expected to reach €10 billion in 2017Nigeria, the beauty and personal care market could reach €2.5 billion by 2017…”

As we all know, the ‘beauty and personal care’ industry thrives on colorism, fat shaming, hair and unrealistic beauty standards.

Temmie Ovwasa, visual artist, multi-instrumentalist, contributes this poem.

UnTitLed

When I was Thirteen,
I wasn’t like the other Girls in my Class,
The ones who seemed to have matured a lot faster than their Age,
Breasts were a symbol of maturity at that stage,
Big Buttocks emphasized by tight School Uniforms.

I was the early Bloomer who suddenly stopped blooming,
I could never seem to put on any Weight despite how hard I tried,
And trust me, I tried.
I was skinny, lanky and so very awkward.
I wanted to look like a Woman.

I’m twenty One,
Standing in front of the Mirror,
Staring at my wounded Reflection,
Wondering how and why I gained so much Weight so fast,
A size Ten,
Still considered “too Fat” ,
Protruding Belly,
Inconspicuous Buttocks and Breasts,
Round, puffy Cheeks.

Dissecting my Body,
Wondering if I should ditch Antidepressants,
I heard they make you Fat.
Loathing myself,
My skin,
For being exactly the way I wished to be Eight years ago,
It’s almost like the Standards are never the same,
They get more unattainable, the Older you grow.

They sell Insecurities disguised as Self-love and Healthy living,
The Teas, The Pills,
I’ve had One too many,
The quick fix for your depressing Flaws.
Nobody wants to run out of business,
Your Misery feeds their Children,
Your Misery fuels their Cars,
Your Misery credits their Accounts.

So do not Love yourself Darling,
You can always look better,
You can get that Nose you’ve always wanted,
Buy Your Hair,
Buy a new Face.
Buy a new Race.
But your Misery will never Fade.
They will keep Feeding you lies,
You will need to keep up this life,
As your Body begins to twist and turn,
New dents formed,
More needles, More needles,
But this Misery still doesn’t bend.

In one part of the world you are too Fat,
In another, too Skinny,
It’s almost like,
Your programmed to force your Body into the mold of the Capitalist,
So if he sells Black today,
Then Black is in,
And if Tomorrow,
Beauty means peeling your skin,
Then you will.

I’m Temmie Ovwasa,
21 year old post-human Artist.

The Politics of Pretty I: Feminity as performance – Susan Obehioye

Editorial: In the next few issues the platform will be featuring powerful feminists who will be discussing the politics of pretty from personal and economic angles. The politicisation and commercialisation of beauty has been the bane of women worldwide. We will be examining the topic through prose, poetry and photography. Our first guest is Susan Obehioye.
women are constantly judged based on how they look, statistics have shown an increase in plastic surgeries, and this is happening because we do not feel secure in our bodies. we have been fed negative information of ourselves and our bodies which is having an effect on the younger generation and this needs to stop. the body of a woman is beautiful, and changes should be embraced.

i got into makeup and photography as a way to express myself. as someone who has battled with anxiety and depression, of which most is from self loathing, i wanted to do something about how i felt on the inside. i wanted to not only photograph myself but other people as i found the features of black people beautiful.

i personally feel all shades of black is beautiful, however darker skinned women represent not only history but the future. the beauty of a dark skinned woman is everything. her features, her expression and her passion can be captured in photographs. putting more dark skinned women out there is inspiring and it makes us visible.

as a young girl i hardly saw dark skinned women in magazines, it made me conclude that i was ugly and unwanted. i used to look in the mirror and ask myself why i was so dark.. this was my life for over 30 years. i had to go through a healing process to accept myself. i think back in regret because of the time wasted.

colourism is a terrible thing and remains a problem in the black community. the blame lies with slavery and colonialism where people of lighter skin tones were more accepted that their darker skinned peers.

as much as i would hope for an end to it, it is present and the only way to put an end would be for us to appreciate ourselves and the beautiful shades of black we are blessed with.

as someone who is dark skinned, i have had my share of being treated differently. when i was a teenager, i was passed over by boys for my lighter skinned friends and as much as that hurt, i learnt to accept myself.

the media has also not been fair to people of darker skin tones, we are hardly visible and when we are it is stereotyped and negative.

fat shaming is also one of the issues that i am concerned about because the society has completely forgotten how important it is on the inside, instead have focused on the outside.

i have struggled with my weight for many years and though i have lost some weight, i am still aware of the fact that i will always be judged based on how i look. this is because of the unrealistic expectations placed on women by society.

people are told that fat people are lazy and are prone to illnesses of all sorts, many are described as the “walking dead” because of their size. it truly is very disturbing because the size of a person should not be a thing of judgement. people come in different shapes and sizes and whilst some factors might be determinants for illnesses, it is not completely the cause. slim people do have the same illnesses fat people have, life is what it is and we are here to live and die. whatever we decide to do with the time between those periods matter and i personally do not think judging people based on how they look is a best way to spend your time.

i have worn the shoes of “obesity” as they call it and the pain caused didn’t come from my size, it came from people who appointed themselves as medical experts. i feel people should love their bodies regardless of what size it is. living up to man made standards is not a life. i also agree that people should be healthy.

the standards of beauty these days are unrealistic. curvier women are not represented in the media, they are shamed into hiding because some people are uncomfortable.

as much as i love social media, it has played a very negative part when it comes to self appreciation. we are bombarded with pictures of people with so called “perfect bodies”. descriptions such as “body goals” and the praise given to certain features has caused alot of insecurity.

i must add that all is not lost, i am pleased to see so many campaigns out there promoting body positivity. this gives me hope that women would learn to love and accept themselves.

Susan Obehioye is an Environmental Health Officer and professional makeup artist, photographer and retoucher based in London. She has had experience working with clients of different ethnicities. She is an advocate for body positivity, Human rights, particularly LGBTQ issues. In the future her aim to make an impact in the beauty industry by promoting dark skin models and also lend her voice and support to the LGBTQ community in Nigeria.

Coerced? – a nuanced discourse about consent – Tracy Ofarn

The issue of coerced sex is not a simple one; regardless of how many confident opinions you may see flying about the place. There are arguments over the differences between force and co-ercion; co-ercion and manipulation; manipulation and convincing.
I am by no means an expert on this subject but I understand coerced sex to be sex or sexual activity that a person didn’t want but was pressured into having, by another person. It can be easily distinguished from sex they wanted at the time, but are now regretting. A lot of people think it falls short of rape, depending on the particular circumstance, because of the existence of technical consent.
In high school, I’ve heard coercion described as ’emotional rape’. The term covered a range of activities – begging; badgering and/or crying (people have reported this kind of bothering for hours); threatening shame and public disgrace; creating and manipulating circumstances so that the other person can’t leave a particular location; or creating physical barriers or restraints without actually forcing yourself on the victim; or sometimes just standing over the person, visibly frustrated and enraged, nursing what seems like a painful erection, until she gives in.
What differentiates coercion from what people usually consider to be rape is the giving in, or the failure to say ‘no’ (assuming the person is not incapacitated).
The reasons people reluctantly consent also vary. For some, there is a real fear of being attacked (whether the other party acknowledges it or not) or of the threat of blackmail being carried out. With others, it is a desire to stop the Other person’s apparent distress; not wanting to cause trouble; or giving in just to be left alone. Some freeze; others rationalise – with themselves and the other person – and a lot of women have been conditioned to blame themselves for being in that position in the first place.
The society’s reaction to claims, and complaints of coerced sex are also varied.
Leaving aside the issue of false accusations, the society’s first reaction seems to be outrage, that people are trying to categorise coercion as rape, or even sexual assault.
Some people think that once consent is obtained, however it is obtained, no one should attempt to ruin a man’s reputation by even hinting at the ‘r’ word. While others accept that coercion is wrong, opinions vary as to whether it should criminalised, or whether the term rape should be reserved for what is, in their minds, a very specific offence.
There are the usual declarations that women should take responsibility for their actions, which include not being anywhere alone with a man who is attracted to them, being prepared to confront or physically fight off their attacker, or to repeat ‘no’ loudly for as many times as is necessary.
In making these declarative statements, people frequently fail to take into account the different forms of coercion. There is a desire for a clean line to be drawn between rape (a criminal act that only monsters and fake men commit) and coercion (not great, but not a crime for goodness’ sake!) and convincing (oh come on! we’ve all done it). To people who consider themselves to be decent, rape is inexcusable, but coercion is debateable.
I think the reason that this has been an issue for such a long time is some problematic views about sex which are similar to views that justify or excuse rape. Society has only relatively recently begun to question long-held beliefs that men cannot, and should not, be expected to control their sexual impulses, because they somehow ‘need’ sex and the responsibility for providing, controlling, or resisting sexual activity, lies with women. This apparent ‘need’ for sex goes hand in hand with reducing women to a receptacle for that desire. ‘Sorry’ goes the traditional advice ‘this is just a risk that women have to wise up to’. The begging, lying and trickery are just things a savvy woman will have to navigate her way around (if she is lucky), all these does not make the man ‘a bad guy’, it just makes him a ‘man’.
It’s difficult to overestimate how much this mindset, that women should be in charge of men’s desires, is engrained in both conservative and liberal societies. Both factions provide different answers. Religious conservatives have preached abstinence and an iron-grip on your sexual desires as a solution while the left has gone for the more relevant emphasis on the importance of enthusiastic consent. This webpage illustrates the point – https://sapac.umich.edu/article/205 .
The left has also championed sexual liberation, particularly in relation to recognising that sex is not just something that happens to women; women have an equal say in what kind of sex takes place at all times.
However, I do get the feeling that the ‘liberation’ part of sexual liberation sometimes lags behind the sex part. The acknowledgement that people will have, quite often, creative and exotic sex outside of marriage and conventional relationships, has, for some, turned into an entitlement to that kind of casual sex.
There have been high profile cases involving men, whom many would expect to be very concerned about enthusiastic consent, but who have instead decided that any woman they fancy is definitely sexually liberated enough to be pressured unconscionably into casual sex with them. This is despite fairly clear signs that the women very much do not want to have sex with them at that moment.
So is the much-derided Matt Walsh right? Does ‘hook-up’ culture lead to rape culture (https://twitter.com/MattWalshBlog/status/476741565046476801)? Not in my view. Rape has existed since recorded history. The reason that it has been treated as a baby crime in so many societies, with the many exceptions and conditions that make detection, punishment and even identification very difficult, is that people have seen rape as an extension of men’s uncontrollable sexual desires (instead of an act of violence and the exertion of power that it is) and because women are reduced and objectified as recipients, receptacles or ‘plunder’ when it comes to sex and sexual violence.
Coerced sex is just another manifestation of this thinking, perhaps brought about by the stigmatisation of violent rape. Disregard for women’s sexual and bodily autonomy is still very much alive – as long as the hurdle of technical consent can be crossed.
Criminalising, at least, some manifestations of this behaviour is probably necessary, because they are so close to force (which is what a lot of coercion is) and removing any real choice and because some people will never really care about a woman’s consent anyway. However, I do think society needs to dig deeper – especially those of us who call ourselves liberals. If you consider yourself to be a decent human being, you can’t escape the fact that women – people – are autonomous beings. If someone does not want to have sex with you on your terms at that time, that should be the end of the discussion. If you are about to have sex with someone you despise, you’re at greater risk of turning them into an object for your desire and disregarding their wishes. If you go on a night out and your state of mind is that you are going to get laid tonight, come hell or highwater, you are probably on the way to downplaying autonomy and true consent.
There are other complicated scenarios. For instance, there is an expectation of sex in most romantic relationships. The question is when. For some it’s marriage, for others it’s on the first date. For a lot more others, it’s somewhere in between. No one is entitled to sex from another human being, but we acknowledge that if sex suddenly stops in a relationship (or never starts), it is an issue that needs to be addressed. However, in a relationship, when does a discussion about sex turn into coercion? Is threatening to end a relationship really co-ercion as the link above suggests or should people be as entitled to say they want sex as they are to say that they don’t want sex?
How about when you are the only liberated soldier in a backwards, conservative society and you are sure that the woman you are with wants you but is only being held back by outdated beliefs about what good girls do and do not do? Is it your noble duty to disabuse her of her unevolved, primitive ideas – the sex with you being just a collateral benefit, of course, hardly worth mentioning? Should you convince her that’s ‘it’s okay’, God doesn’t love you any less if you have sex with me this minute and it would definitely be the right thing to do?’
I don’t have all the answers but I feel very strongly that if someone does not want to have sex or any kind of sexual activity at that moment, deciding to co-erce, manipulate or convince them to go further shows a disturbing willingness to override their will. And the only relevant communication is what they are saying in the present; not what they have done in the past or what they may enjoy in the future. It sometimes is rape and it sometimes is sexual assault but it doesn’t have to be classified as such for it to be wrong. Consent is not a technicality to avoid trouble or a goal in itself; it is a recognition that the other person is an equal, autonomous person like yourself.
All in all, the issue of coercive sex clearly needs to be addressed and certain behaviour should be criminalised, in my view, if it is not already. But the conversation around it demonstrates the fundamental problems in how we understand and regard consent. It is tempting to demonise everybody or wish everyone would just stop wanting to have casual sex. However, the key may be to answer this question about consent honestly: if you are willing to plough ahead with sex with someone who has expressly said they don’t want to have sex at that time and/or who is clearly reluctant for whatever reason, in what ways exactly do you consider your mindset to be different from a rapist’s?

Sex Work and the Worth of a Woman – Olutimehin Adegbeye

Nicki Minaj wants to tell women who charge for their time, companionship and pussy to “know their worth” sis why else do you think they have rates?!

It’s so hilarious how “know your worth” is coded to mean “fuck for free”. In this capitalist world where people’s value is determined by how much money they can generate for their personal use, women’s labour is almost inevitably under- or devalued, and it is understood that sex diminishes women unless said women are expressly offering it in service to or as the property of men.

It seems to me that women charging the equivalent of some people’s monthly income (the 2k Minaj states) for sex is a sign that they know their worth.

“Know your worth” is slut-shaming, whorephobic nonsense. What a person does/doesn’t do sexually has no impact on their worth. Human beings are intrinsically worthy; it’s Minaj’s inability to divest from oppressive ideas of differential value that is the problem, not IG models.

That fake deep take of “I was critiquing myself and asking if I contributed to women selling sex because I sell sex appeal” while positioning women who actually sell sex as ‘less than’ and somehow ignorant of their own worth is traaaaaaaash and Nicki can like to gedifok.

Sex work is work. And legitimising sex work benefits everyone, particularly women. Nicki is probably just mad that a former sex worker is now being treated as a better, more interesting, more current rapper than her.

Look. Struggle all you want with the idea that sex work is legitimate labour. It doesn’t change the fact that it is. Labour = production of goods & services that have exchange value. Sex work puts material value on consensual sex the way nannying puts material value on childcare.

Sex work is a service. And heterosexual sex in particular is so often transactional, even when the exchange doesn’t involve a direct price structure. That’s why y’all’s husbands and dads are forever ‘joking’ about how they end up paying for sex one way or another.

The struggle people have is rooted in the degree of agency women sex workers in particular display when it comes to who and how they fuck, in women’s rejection of monogamy (& marriage) as the only ‘legitimate’ sex, & the radical way a woman claims ownership of her body via SW.

Sex workers claim the benefits of sex with men (bc let’s face it, most clients are male) while ostensibly escaping the costs; the servitude, denial of self etc that come with being a ‘legitimate whore’ aka a wife.

And let’s be clear: wifehood IS whoredom within traditional heterosexual marriage. Het. marriage is constructed as a contract in which a woman exchanges her sexual value for economic and social benefits. (I’m sure your feminist marriage is the exception sis, please don’t @ me.)

Bottom line: legitimising sex work will force us as a society to reckon with how our collective morality has its foundation in cis women’s vaginas. And the day society can rid itself of its obsession with all women’s bodies, vaginas or not, half our work will be done.
Go follow @thotscholar @Raquel_Savage @tilly_lawless for complex, complicated conversations about sex work. ???

Side note: there’s no place with more glamorous women enjoying their lives, drinking water, minding their biz & being sweet to one another than sugarbaby twitter lol

Side side note: dead the idea that sex work is easy, or easy money. All those memes of “if I can’t hack school I’ll just become a sex worker” are laughable. Like, have you met men??? ????

Side side side note: before you @ me to argue about wives being the ultimate whores (I use that word with intention), ask yourself why so many people believe that neither wives nor whores can be raped – that even forced, unwanted sex with wives and whores *cannot be* rape.
Okay so sex workers are agreeing with me, therefore I have done something right. I’d like to dedicate this award to my beloved mother of blessed memory.

BTW: If you’re pro-justice, a feminist, or just interested in learning about the world through a sex work(ers) lens and you’ve never read @titsandsass, you should fix that.

The article was originally posted as a thread.

Follow @ohTimehin on Twitter

There are men who walk daintily , there are men who walk like antelopes

Dear Humans
There are men who walk daintily , there are men who walk like antelopes, there are men who walk like turkeys/chickens , there are also men who walk like lions. There is no particular way men walk.
There are men who are slim and there are men who are fat. There are men who have beautiful shapes, there are men who are shaped like an amoeba. There are men who have protruding asses and there are still others who have flat asses.
Men have breasts and men have nipples. Men’s breasts are sensitive and are responsive.
There is no particular way a man should be. Every human comes in a particular way, shape and size that is unique to them.
Dear police men, stop arresting men for allegedly looking like women. Nonsense!
We are not arresting you for been thieves or extorting or blackmailing.

Laraba Oiboh is self described as a non-feminist who believes in and works towards gender equality

A love letter to Nigerian Feminists – Ayodele Olofintuade

Dearest One,

How have you been? I mean how are you really?

I hope you’re making money, I hope you’re taking out time to be with friends, time to breathe and party. I hope you’re getting laid, getting well laid. But most importantly I hope you’re healthy and happy.

I understand how difficult it is to be a Nigerian, woman, to self-identify as feminist, to do this work of nation building by dismantling the patriarchy one damn brick at a time.

I understand how it feels to have reductive terms like ‘bitter aunty’, Facebook/Twitter feminist, etcetera thrown in your face each time you stand up for yourself and other women. I understand how tired you get when you open your account in the morning to the howling of trolls in your mentions, on your feed. I understand how you sometimes despair when ignorant people with the emotional intelligence of a rock and the IQ of the size of a grain of sand starts TELLING you how to be.

I am in your shoes.

But I want you to know that you’re doing alright, you’re rattling cages, things are no longer the same and it’s because you’re lending your voice and muscles to making this change. You are doing amazing darling. You are the dreams of your ancestors, you are beautiful, inside out.

Well Done!!!

Don’t forget to keep your eye on the ball. We will have equality, we will have bodily autonomy, we will have our sexual and reproductive rights. We will use our voices.We will have anything we set our sights on because we are human. We will have all our rights, we have power, we will use it.

I’m sending you peace and love. I’m sending you basket-fulls of not-giving-a-fuck.

Soar.

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