Monday, July 27, 2009

Why the Gates Arrest Shouldn't Surprise Anyone

In the 'Land of the Free', your achievements, level of education and respect from your community mean null and zero when you as still a member of a minority race group. Sometimes it's as if some whites are on a mission to prove that it doesn't matter what you have done and how much talent you have you're still below us because we're the ones that are white and you're not!
Gates arrest should not be a shock, guess what colour his skin is. Yes, Obama said it right. The officers had a lot of "stupidity" for what they did. It resounded like an act of sabotage. "Ok, let's pretend we think this guy doesn't live here, ask him what the hell he's doing trying to get into his own house. Aggravate him until he is livid with rage, not apologise for screwing up his day and when he reacts as a normal human being would do who has been treated in such a undignified manner not just this moment but many moments before this for his entire life as a black intellectual residing in a nation that works against the favour of people of colour and tries at all costs to push them to the fringes of its society. Let's re-awaken those emotions so that we'll have proper reason to arrest him as we should every one of them."

They want Obama to apologise. Put things into perspective. The police are a phony institution. The supposed defenders of justice perpetrate it continuously.

They Try to Make Me Go to Readaholics Rehab I Say "No no no!"

Hi my name is Miss Sheeba and I'm a readaholic. From the external observer perhaps who may not share the same passion, it may appear that there is are strong elements of moodiness, insecurity, shyness or social ineptness in one's character. Yet avid readers know that it is anything but.

Ann Donald wrote the article that sparked these thoughts in the Sunday Times Lifestyle. She herself is an obsessive reader and will choose to reading above any other activity. Kindred. I'm often confronted by loved ones displaying a tinge of dismay about my choice to delve into the private world of my own imagination. Where the writer's words are brought to life before my eyes and I am so drawn in that all that I am able to transcend all that exists of me and around me. I elude and leave my body behind and inhabit another world that is new yet familiar in ways in which are entirely relatable. An author, Alain De Botton said this, "The point of reading is at some level to feel less lonely, to feel less isolated with feelings, and also to feel less confused. I think that books have a privileged place in letting us know we're not alone...reading is not just a distraction, it's not just about passing an exam, it's to help you get through the day." Amen. Most cannot stand reading because it smacks off a notion of being distant from others. Yet it is when I am reading that I feel the most connected. It is a paradox yes. An enormous one. But once you fully grasp it, your life is opened to an entirely new dimension of perception. And can be an intense pleasure. The bounds of one's imagination are limitless. Yet images keep our thinking in a box in the shape of television. Reading is a much more powerful and evocative exercise. Those that find reading boring have simply not observed the beauty and potence of their own right brains.

'Elizabeth Costello' by JM Coetzee offered me insight into the way Africans view the act. In essence Africans are community-driven and this spawns somewhat from the oral tradition. Other civilisations have been more book-oriented in their ways of recording history and attaining knowledge. A reader, in this continent, is somewhat of an anomaly, a deviant and therefore someone to hold in slight suspicion because of their silence. Keeping quiet and keeping to oneself are essentially bizarre in most African traditions. Which explains why my loved ones often assume that I am deliberately slighting or ignoring them by engaging in a rather antisocial activity. When in actual fact, my mind (and body) could not be any further from that of what surrounds me. Even that I am not looking for a distraction but rather a heightening of the sense-perception and furthermore an enlightenment. The indescribable and inimitable place my mind can travel to in the act of reading books. It's no wonder the act is so addictive.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Ego Surges: When Men Turn to Aggression to Vent Hurt

Yesterday was one hell of a day. But let me begin by saying that I have been reading a very pertinent book by a the mega-selling author of 'Don't Sweat the Small Stuff' - Richard Carlson. This one is a follow up and is entitled 'What About the Big Stuff?'. It's not just another load of self-help garbage as some cynics may proclaim. For those that need to get themselves on the right path to living a life guided by wisdom, it is the perfect read. I've gained so much insight from it that it's brought me to a state of inner peace. This is something I've battled with over the past several months so I'm glad to have been taught how to put things into perspective. Firstly by realising how burdensome a mind that never keeps quiet is. I noticed how easy it is for thoughts to run in and out of your head without limitation. I'm starting to develop the habit of stopping certain ones from lingering to long. This often causes a change in emotions. After all, it is true that thoughts precede feelings. The calm that has emerged in my existence emanates from this philosophy. I'm able to concentrate better and most importantly, live every moment to its fullest. What's the use of life if one can't sit back and just take in each second. It makes so much more sense. I know if I hadn't been told or at least reminded of these vital rules by which to abide by, I would've been taken upon a tidal wave of futile emotions this weekend.

Family drama like nothing on this Earth! When I look back on it, boy was it funny. Listening to Grace Jones 'Nipple to the Bottle' this morning reminded me of a male in my family who got physical with me yesterday. Now, it wasn't anything serious. He just tried to ruffle my feathers a little but with my levels of beastliness, it just didn't happen. I managed to break free from him after he held me up against the wall and then, shook me by the head repeatedly. My mother stepped in and stopped the devil from doing further damage. So, I didn't get messed up and I won't have to slash anyone with a kitchen knife in living up to my nickname - Stabs. Haha. All is well in my soul though because I have the wisdom to know that the attack had litte to do with me, I just happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time. Mind you, the male I'm talking about has a history of violence against women. I know very well that his anger stems from deep insecurities. On top of that, plenty of male chauvinistic fallacies and a not-so-latent-anymore misogyny. Well, is this the first time I've been confronted by an insecure man's aggression. No, it's happened before yet I've been knowledgable enough to see through it. One guy who happened to be anti-Semitic grabbed my neck and shook me repeatedly after I made a siding remark about Jewish people and the Holocaust but he was also mad because I rejected his advances. So that explained that one. Another male member of my family has pushed me around on two occasions. Now, they've never really hurt me at all. But my curious nature galvanises my interest in male psychology in relation to the above incidents. Men react to their hurt with physical acts. Whereas on the op-end women internalise theirs and tend to become masochism. This shows up in numerous ways. Eating disorders, self-loathing, low self-esteem etc. I've made it a habit of putting things into the right perspective by not getting into fits of rage. But since emotions are somewhat inevitable. Anger must be expressed in an outward direction. Not, I believe, at a person. As men often tend to do because society often condones men objectifying women and children, often times these are the people upon which male anger is attempted to be projected.

Unless the issue of male chauvinism is addressed in relation to male violence. Many women will often continue to blame themselves for the violence that they endure at the hands of men as my contemporaries keep on asking me. "What did you do for him to do that?" It's not a question of what a person does. No matter what a person says or does, a man has no right to lay his hands on a woman without her consent. This is a violation. No matter what. My own mother who was beaten carries this mindset. That if a woman is beaten, it means that she has done something wrong. That is what I call internalised male chauvinism. In essence, BULLSHIT! When will women wake up from these fallacies and see that a man who is physically aggressive in fact toward anyone is pathological and in need of proper psychological help as my poor father is. The first step to getting better is always admitting that there is a problem not with other people but with oneself. The wise Gandhi once said it, "Be the change you want to see in the world."

This weekend has served me with a tremendous deal of insight. Luckily I've had the wisdom to see things objectively - for what they truly are without turning to the usual masochistic way of rationalizing other people's pathologies that women often tend toward.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Michael's Orientation

Despite the many women that may have flung themselves at Michael during his youth when he was that attractive young man singing, "No one's going to be defeated", he hardly ever seemed to express any interest in women sexually. There was a celibate air about Michael. Many noticed. This was confirmed after a tape of a conversation he had with a young boy in which he expressed that his defloration took place later in life than usual at the age of 32. But he often felt lustful and longed to sleep with a woman. Well then why didn't he just hit it with Billie Jean, Dirty Diana or any of the other screaming groupies that obsessed over him? And why oh why was he having a talk with this level of mature content with a child of nine??

Eccentric Michael. I still love his music though. So, he must have been an asexual says close friend Brooke Shields. Hm, is she only saying that because he didn't display any interest of the sort in her. If so, then she is one pompous lady. But perhaps she knew him well enough considering the closeness of their platonic relationship.

Discussing asexuality. Though to the non-asexual person, this orientation seems almost difficult to comprehend, there do exist individuals out there who simply do not experience sexual attraction toward anyone at all. Though some do engage in it simply for the physical experience and satisfaction of libido, others remain autoerotic (preferring to satisfy themselves in solitude) whilst some refrain from sex altogether. Michael may very well have been one such people. All he seemed to have love and time for was music. Women may have been of little sexual importance except for when it came to his lyrics, videos and shows. He may have kissed that woman from the 'The Way You Make Me Feel' during the 'Bad' tour but what difference in importance can one attach to this than with his kissing Bubbles the Chimp? He kissed people all the time, it was non-sexual because it probably is true that Michael was asexual. Not concerned with intercourse at all. And his "lust" may have been just a way of him trying to conform or step away from his perceived awkwardness.

The Illiterates Convention

Though the anonymous nature in which people on the internet can interact is somewhat of a bonus when it comes to having the courage to air one's opinions. Such as in the wonderful blogosphere. There come an array of embarrassing repurcussions of this kind of anonymity. One of them is the perpetual disintegration of the English language.
Users of youtube are especially guilty not only of butchering the English language to shredded meat but of the most laughable racist, chauvinistic, homophobic slurs and epithets you will ever hear.
Again, I can only owe this to the level of anonymity that the internet affords a user. One has the free ability to vent all their frustrations and anxieties from daily life in a manner which is conducive to their secrecy. Then there are clowns who usually make statements in order to guage the reactions of others or begin fights on message and comment boards alike.
A mixture of apathy, illiteracy, frustrated emotions and bigoted thinking - the make up of the Illiterates Convention we now call interactive internet.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

What a Relief This Is

So, after reading about the IAT tests developed by Prof Anthony Greenwald of Harvard University I took it upon myself to try them out.

Aware of how others may perceive me based on my ethnic group and gender, I was curious to know how I may approach the following issues in my mind. I was pleased to see that I am not a self-loather. Results were as follows:
  • The Black - White IAT: a slight automatic preference for African Americans / Blacks relative to European Americans / Whites
  • The Gender - Career IAT: moderate association of career with female and family with male
  • The Skin-tone IAT: moderate automatic preference for Dark-skin relative to Light-skin

Well, I was worried I'd emerge with results that contradicted my wishes. Most individuals who took the above tests were shown to have preferences that opposed mine. Know what, I've made a conscious effort to resist many of the popularly-accepted beliefs flung at me from society. The IAT results I received are proof of that. This is proof that a conscious purging of racist and sexist beliefs is entirely possible. Had I not been one to always be so dissident, my test results would have appeared in the majority's margin. Heretical thinking pays off, telling ya.

Quit Hollering Will You

So while the objectification of the female form is hardly ever surprising at all, this post at the racalicious website conveyed in a succint manner every reason why rap videos are not offensive but destructive in informing society about ways in which Black women are viewed with respect to societal heirarchies.

While I'm all for celebrating diversity and promoting self-love through the positive presentation of stereotypically negated aspects of people's appearances across the colour spectrum, I have to admit that I have avoided rap videos for years now. For the same reasons that are stated in the above article.

It is disturbing, as an individual who considers themselves head first and body second, to have to acknowledge the fact that my body may be viewed as nothing more than a "communal" object to be publicly spoken about, groped and gazed upon. Even more disturbing is that society encourages this kind of behaviour from men as some kind of male bravado expression.

So the messages that rap videos are transmitting are harmful because they fail to portray Black women in a non-sexual light which means that as a Black women, no matter how you try to prove yourself as an intellectually-competent individual. There will always exist those latent sexual associations which hinder your capability as an intelligent individual in the eyes of those that know no better than to absorb images from rap videos without applying any sort of critical thinking.

Rap videos are essentially misogynstic. This is an aspect many scholars and academics have pointed out in their critiques. Yet as Black people we continue to support a music that rejects the idea that women of colour are in any way able to function on an intellectual level. When little boys and girls are exposed to this, what is it that they learn. That to be a man is to dominate women and utilize them as passive sexual tools, collect them in an ornamental fashion and dress them up, parade them to the public as modern-day Venus Hottentots only to exclaim "Hey, look fellas, my woman is hot!" Furthermore, that to be a woman is to tolerate this as "normal" and sexualize oneself. Dumbing herself down in the process only to be bestowed with the crown of male appreciation and have one's self-esteem boosted as a result of male applause.

As long as women remain stuck in the notion that in order to maintain self-love and that they must live up to beauty standards that society sets up for them progression will not happen. Progression toward a state of gender equality. Women are not afforded the chance to operate as individuals outside of the consideration of aesthetics. How can one spend their whole life wasting money on beauty cosmetics and hair-do's waiting for another to validate their appearance by calling it beautiful when self-acceptance of one's natural form has not taken place?

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Androgyny: Gender-Role Transcendence

This is something that rarely crosses my mind until someone makes a unwarranted remark about my style and dress-sense which is hardly feminine. I have my reasons. It may appear to be the case of a tomboy who apparently requires a little growing up or someone unrefined or unsophisticated. The other day someone very close to me who'd I expect to receive unconditonal affinity from dissed my look in terms of the clothes I choose. Even going as far as to compare me to other more conforming young women who conduct themselves and dress styles according to their gender-role expectations rather than their individual personalities.

This remark got me thinking very strongly about homophobia. Why how others choose to engage with others sexually and relationally has anything to do with those not involved. I may not be homosexual but the way I dress seems to rouse some slight irritation within the female members of my family. Far from finding it offensive, I wonder sometimes why one would waste their time this way instead of just leaving another person be. There is nothing harmful about choosing to dress in a gender-deviant manner. It's not as if a person is shooting up heroine in their veins that it should cause deep concern. Maybe it's just the individuals here. They are archetypal examples to me of people who've without question chosen to conform to their prescribed gender-roles.

I took the BEM androgyny test and found out that my personality 70% male and 40% female. There are men that would take this test and probably score with a high margin of their personality tilting toward the feminine side. These are men who've been called repugnant and derogatory words "faggot" and "gayboy" all because of their inherent leaning toward feminine thought and behaviour. I recognise the same subordination from other women toward me and wonder why one cannot transcend their notions of how each gender should be when judging an individual. Of course, more enlightened individuals refrain from this kind of judgement. Enlightened in terms of understanding the psychology that goes into the behaviour of each gender and also how this can be affected by conditioning and upbringing.

Gender-role transcendence is important to me. When a person meets me and starts judging me according to the fact that I am a young woman, the interaction become severely problematic. They'll begin to apply genderized stereotypes to me that do not even fit at all. It amuses me though because I realize how much the other will judge a person based on appearance alone. On meeting someone, that's all there really upon which to figure someone out. But that's when the aspect of determinism comes in. Why not simply consider the person at hand a mystery to be uncovered upon the case of receiving further first-hand information. Is this such an impossible task for the human psyche to undertake. Don't know. Not a psychologist but in my ideal world, I'd wish not to have female stereotypes applied to me at all because I hardly conform.

As is expected of women, I do not commodify myself heavily through excessive adournment. Though the appearance of neatness is important to me, I don't dress in a way solely for the purpose of attracting attention from men. In fact, it comforts me to know that I am not being gazed at and objectified. I've always known that for a woman or a man to act in a way that disturbs the equilibrium of traditional gender-roles is offensive to many bigoted people as is the emergence of people of colour in power roles that were traditionally reserved for whites alone.

Grace Jones is a major inspiration. I find much of my motivation from her look.

The Sport of Gazing

A self-proclaimed scopophobic I am because there is nothing in this world I detest more than being stared at by people. It's unnerving because I know it's ojectifying. My naturally curious nature compels me to ask what could be so interesting about another human going about their daily lives that it incites one to stare. So much so that one cannot divorce their eyes from them, must gaze incessantly and continue to do so even when the person gazed at notices. It's rude and we've all, if we've been conditioned by Western standards, been socialised to know that staring at others is simply impolite. But in the spur of the moment, some individuals will forget all of what they've been taught and invade another's privacy without consideration.

There are exceptions and being aware of them, I should ease up on my judgements. Lost in thought or concentrating intenseley a person will look at an imaginary spot in space for a prolonged period of time. It may just so happen that there is someone occupying the position in which their line of vision is directed. I understand that. I do it sometime. But this exception often accompanies a blank expression and a kind of absent glint in the eyes. In that case, one can know what the cause of the gaze is. A person whose mind has drifted off to Wonderland .

So when the stare is concentrated and intense on you and it's barely imperceptible. What's the deal with that? Noticing this doesn't make me a narcissist but I am slightly interested about it. Considering my "foreign" appearance in a nation xenophobic. South African blacks are hostile to those that seem foreign in appearance. Worse still the paternalistic white South Africans. Knowing this helps me understand that staring perhaps from these types of individuals implies that in me they identify a separateness, a difference and it draws their curiosity and interest as does the fact that I end up gazed at whilst going about the mundane routine of daily life. I prefer this argument to the following which I found on wikipedia under the "Gaze" article:

Gazing at someone and seeing someone gaze upon another person, say much about the relation between the observer and the observed; and about the relations, between and among, the subjects of the gaze (the people, place, thing being gazed at); and about the circumstance of the gazing. Catherine Lutz and Jane Collins say that gazing's mutual nature reflects power structures (the nature of the relation between the gazer and the gazed-at subject) that tell us who has the right and/or need to look at whom.[citation needed] Although the gaze might be regarded merely as the action of “looking at” a subject, Jonathan Schroeder says: it signifies a psychological relationship of power, in which the gazer is superior to the object of the gaze — an idea basic to feminist textual analysis.

This is where the notion of the male gaze originated in feminist theory. Because society is regarded as male dominated and slogans such as "sex sells" exist which we see manifest in the continual objectification of women in the media, the gazer is in essence the one who supposedly claims to hold the power cards.

I don't like this at all. It's unnerving - being looked upon as an object. Terrible.

Serena Beats Venus: or did she?

Serena not keen to have the smaller plate this time around.

I would hate to think that Venus is handing titles over to her sister. Between the two of them it's clear that Venus is the Goddess of the Grass Turf.
But it's hard to tell whether she actually lost as a result of Serena's genuine power or if she just threw it to give her sister another taste of Wimbledon glory.
They're sisters damn it, it's difficult to have an authentic competitive edge over someone you've grown up with. Especially if that person is your baby sister. I'm not trying to imply some silly sense of sentimentality but there's a good chance that during their off-camera discussions, they organise their plays. Who knows?
Doesn't really matter. I love them both. How can you favouritise?

Mayhem Ensues: Posthumous Drama

There is no way that this man would've died in peace. He's going down with more hype than Princess Di and Elvis Presley put together.
He's left behind a wake of questions surrounding the cause of his death, why he even considered Diprivan as a way of falling asleep.
This is abnormal, implied Dr Drew - a known specialist in celebrity addiction cases. The man found a way of attaining an anaesthetic used only within hospital ER's and surgery wards and asked one of his hired specialists to inject him with it.
That was it, his heart couldn't take it? What an enigma. Even in death he's continuing to baffle and mystify the world.
The cybernetic mayhem now ensuing is similar to that of what took place last week on twitter - system overload. Only this time it's who can clinch a ticket to his memorial this coming Tuesday. So many registered that it's now been decided that only those that are blessed by the luck of the draw will attend.
Rest assured, the MJ-saga is still to continue.
Is this how he wanted it to be? Was every step he made within his lifetime all the way up to his "mysterious" death last week Thursday all part of an ordered set of steps he took to make sure he went out with a bang as all great entertainers wish to?

If so, why couldn't he ease off the drugs a little until after the tour. That sense, he would have really left the stage in the supernova-like fashion that makes performers memorable in death.

There are few who have managed to mystify millions in death the way this man does now.