MenAreTrash – I said what I said

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Recently, in South Africa, a young womxn Karabo Mokoena was killed and burned by her boyfriend. This had the nation in uproar against this kind of violence that womxn are susceptible to on a daily basis. This incident is yet another reminder of the hard, cold reality that womxn are not safe – with anyone – and not only from strangers but from the people we love and trust.

Many men (and womxn) on social media have shown the need to see the disclaimer, which outlines not including all men in the #MenAreTrash banner, as a prerequisite for people to be taken seriously. This made me particulary mad because I am not here for any men telling us “not all-” and so I wrote down reasons for why we can and should say men are trash without feeling the pressure of having to include “not all men”.

  1. Empirical fact

When we’re out in the street or any public spaces and in  our lived experience in that specific given time and place, these “exceptions” to the MenAreTrash narrative are almost always nowhere to be found. We endure the cruelest, scariest and most demeaning experiences in the presence of dozens of men, yet every time we are groped, beaten in public, or in our homes by people we love – onlookers walk on silently… family members prevent intervention because “it’s not their business”. So, in as long as that “exception” presence is not felt and not impactful, #MENARETRASH.

2. Victim-blaming

When men tell womxn to correct themselves when saying all men are trash, they are shifting the responsibility to womxn. Creating a reality in which not all men are trash is not the duty of womxn. It is the responsibility and duty of men. Instead of being so preoccupied with womxn using the correct wording to provide a satisfactory representation of reality for them, men ought to concern themselves with creating this reality. When we see the change and our experiences reflect this change, our words will reflect that truth. But to expect our narrative to change while we experience the same old violence at the hands of men, is an act of violence in itself.

3. Fragile Masculinity see this insistence of

I see this insistence of womxn to say not all men are trash as an immaculate demonstration of fragile masculinity because womxn expressing their lived experiences must obviously be a direct attack on you (a man). We cannot possibly speak about our realities and not leave room for you in the dialogue. As a man who is not abusive, violent, or passive in the face of injustice – assuming that this is the case – the discussion is not directed at you, so why feel the need to invalidate people’s experiences for the sake of proving that you, indeed, are not trash. To constantly attempt to position oneself as the center of this argument by trying to prove one’s own “good nature” is a diversion from tackling the actual problems and harms that womxn face and a typical demonstration of the selfish narcissism men demonstrate when womxn are victimised.

This banner is to divert our attention to the spoils of society that we need to rid ourselves of – and in case we haven’t been clear, this reason is not because we hate men intrinsically because their make-up is fundamentally evil, but because of the violence nad oppression we have to endure BECAUSE of men’s action or inaction. So fix your trashiness and that of your male counterparts and the systems that protect them, so that we can go back to being happy & care-free as we were in the womb.

4. Exceptions or Benefits of the Doubt

By insisting that we recognize that not all men are trash – potential rapists, killers, abductors, harassers – womxn are being forced to give ‘certain’ men the benefit of the doubt. We’re expected, again, to disregard all instances of people being hurt and attacked by people who “seemed kind”, “looked genuine” and were familiar and close to them and to not assume that all men have the capacity to hurt us. At the expense of our safety, having seen cases where these “exceptions” were harmless and not like the rest, we must be trusting and place ourselves in the danger of being yet another statistic of someone who was killed or abused by someone they knew and trusted.

If believing that men are trash – with no exceptions – is womxn’s way of protecting ourselves, allow us that much. Out of all the things that men have power over, allow us just the right of autonomy to hold our own beliefs and protective mechanisms without constantly trying to dictate how womxn should navigate their experiences (which men can never fully understand nor relate to).

 

 

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The Age of State- Sponsored Othering – Xenophobia

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There is a difference between a nation that upholds the ideals of cultural and ethnic pluralism (diversity) vs. assimilation (integration). Sometimes, nations do not know which of the two they truly uphold and value – not just in principle but in practice too.

A nation that upholds the ideals of cultural and ethnic pluralism is one which demonstrates tolerance and acceptance of cultural difference. It views these differences as intrinsically valuable and not only valuable in so far as these differences can be exploited for the advancement of that nation. People are not seen as a means to an end – but are appreciated for their differences and are not ‘othered’ on the basis of those differences.

I believe that both South Africa and the United States of America fall into this category, purely based on the ideals to which they “claim” to uphold and value. This is upheld in our Constitutions, in our laws and foundations upon which we have built our new order. However, in practice, the complete opposite is true – at least, in recent years.

On the other hand, a nation that upholds the ideals of assimilation is one which values people of other cultures in so far as they are able to be assimilated into the dominant culture, beliefs, practices etc. This perspective does not value cultural or ethnic differences intrinsically but values them on the basis of their adaptability to the norm and in reference to how far they have come in terms of “integrating” into the new society.

This is the ideal which is gaining popularity in both the USA and in South Africa recently. The anti-immigration policies and prejudiced attitudes towards (particularly poor) immigrants demonstrate this absence of value for pluralism where it is seen to not be beneficial or profitable for the dominant group. The value of diversity is not regarded as something valuable in itself but must also have instrumental value. Hence arguments against immigrants are closely tied to the materialist notion around the economic burden of taking in more people onto the system (not society, the system).

In South Africa, these attitudes of upholding assimilation are not exclusively reserved for immigrants, but can be seen within the different cultures within South Africa. Most provinces and residential areas are still divided across racial, socio-economic and cultural lines. Acceptance into those communities is often withheld unless one learns the dominant language, or partakes in the practices and beliefs of that community otherwise a degree of intolerance and discrimination, even violence, ensues as seen with the xenophobic attacks.

Some of the most prominent contributing factors to xenophobia include a perceived threat to the cohesion and safety of a shared identity such as nationality or ethnicity, competition for scarce resources such as low wage jobs, housing or in the tragically misogynistic paradigm – women. One of the often ignored causes for xenophobia is also psychologically repressed emotions and frustrations which are projected onto immigrants which include inferiority complexes, desperation, isolatedness, and neglect. It may much easier for people to punish others for sharing these experiences and expecting sympathy and even assistance from those citizens who are already crippled by these similar issues, therefore, treating immigrants with hostility because of this is one of the ways in which people can misplace the anger and frustrations stemming from those issues onto the person who mirrors it to them.

 

A Call to Carpe Diem – International Womxn’s Day Tribute

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Image taken from the American television series, “Westworld”. Feminist critique of the series coming soon.

 

“…I am a part of all that I have met;

Yet all experience is an arch wherethro’

Gleams that untravell’d world whose margin fades
For ever and forever when I move.
How dull it is to pause, to make an end,
To rust unburnish’d, not to shine in use!
As tho’ to breathe were life! Life piled on life
Were all too little, and of one to me
Little remains: but every hour is saved
From that eternal silence, something more,
A bringer of new things; and vile it were
For some three suns to store and hoard myself,
And this gray spirit yearning in desire
To follow knowledge like a sinking star,
Beyond the utmost bound of human thought. “

From the age of 16, my favourite poem has been Ulysses by Alfred, Lord Tennyson. What struck me most about the poem is the burning zest for life that the speaker has… his adventurous spirit so restless and irrepressible  even in his old age. Having lived a fulfilling life, the speaker reflects on his experience and looks back not with a solemn nostalgia but with a rose-tinted lens of his glorious youth & how he made the most of his days.

This poem resonated so much with me for years and one of my closest friends and I even attempted to learn it all off by heart. Our selection was a highly unconventional one since most of the popular choices in our class were the more tranquil and gentle poems about forbidden gardens, lost/reunited lovers and seasonal changes or death.

Of course, the speaker in the poem is a man… as are most heroes whose noble and brave life stories are preserved in mythology, folklore and other types of art. My friends and I knew that had we lived in the era in which this poem was written, we most certainly would not have been the target audience. Our roles would not have been the adventure-laden ones with the unexplored lands to discover, conquests to pursue and innocents to defend, save. We were a part of the hidden figures in those narratives, patiently and loyally waiting for our spouses to return from these adventures (Mariana). In these narratives, we’d have no ambitions of our own beyond tending to household duties, or as the glorified mothers, wives or prizes. Or even worse, we would be given the roles of the temptress whose sole purpose in the narrative was to blind him with lust & temptation and to derail the hero from his noble cause … another obstacle he was to conquer in order to further glorify him and his heroic achievements.

And so began my plunge into the type-cast of the angry feminist who seemed obsessed with the way womxn were depicted in the media, in literature, film, art. The one place in which we could reconstruct society and reality, to undo – in one gesture – all the chaotic injustices and inequality with which we struggle in the real world, somehow, in those fictional worlds in which dragons and sea monsters could exist, womxn were still trapped in the rigid confines of societal and cultural norms. So it was instant love when Zukiswa Wanner (who is now my favourite South African writer) said jokingly during a talk she gave at my school, “Behind every successful man there’s what? No, a doormat. Because why must you be behind any man?” It was this joke which had her written off by many of my peers because apparently she had found her own “barely funny” joke more amusing than anyone else did, except me of course.

That’s when I decided to plan my own adventures, noble causes and conquests for thee future. I made bucket lists of places I wanted to visit, causes I wanted to advocate for, people I wanted to meet etc. Slowly but surely, I challenged myself – taking subjects I heard were difficult, volunteered to go second at hiking and abseiling excursions, took a few kicks to the face in karate classes, started community service initiatives, auditioned for the Dance Company and took ballet class then competitive debating and and and… I was living my best life, seizing every opportunity that came my way.

Years later I’m still glad that I made the choices I did and I’m even more grateful that I had all those opportunities made available to me; which is more than I can say for millions of other young womxn in the world today. Just a few days ago, I read about an illegal abortion doctor who’s wanted by the police for practising female foeticide. In an entire 2017, there are still people who view daughters as burdensome and less worthy of life than boys. So of course the normative narrative of heroes,villains, or anyone whose life has been deemed worthy of recognition and immoral glory would be centred men.

So this was reflective day for me. It was a moment to look around at all the platforms I have around me to not only grow myself but to support other young womxn and to encourage them to create their own narratives placing themselves as worthy heroes and adventurers and record-breakers – perhaps by breaking records or perhaps by simply existing, daring to be in a world that says we’re a subcategory to men. to humanity.

We’re here to be more than disposable eyecandy to James Bond, more than Marvel’s damsels in distress, more than glorified pretty muses to de Vinci or yet another obstacle to Odysseus…

Obaa Boni, an exceptionally notable Ghanaian  feminist from whom I draw inspiration quotes in her piece Resolving Existential Angst Through Lemonade: Black Women Are, “I want every Black woman to understand herself not in relation to men or to whites, but in relation only to self existence. Womanhood is not the opposite of manhood. It is not a means to balance the world. Blackness is not the opposite of whiteness, it is not all that whites fail to be” …

I hope we won’t have to  carve through the misogynistic mess in literature to find versions ourselves in characters clearly not designed for us and our amusement. But I hope we become those captains of our own ships and authors of our own immortal narratives.

Asaase Yaa Mma (Obaa  Boni) blog – https://ghanafeminism.com/

Perfecting Self-Love

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I’m currently 20 years old. I’m comfortable to walk around half-naked in my room, friends’ rooms, up and down corridors at my residence in university and in my boyfriend’s flat. There are parts of my body that I dislike, such as the sprinkle of acne spots on my back, the slight bulge on my lower abdomen and on both sides of my hips. I also dislike the little scars just under my right buttock, as well as my uneven toned forehead.

On a daily basis however, I almost never think about any of these. Hardly ever, unless someone points them out to me. However, reaching this point of being completely at ease with myself and comfortable in my skin isn’t something I woke up with miraculously on day. It took years and tons of introspection & internal conflict.These are the messages & lessons which led me to my journey to self love.

  1. You’re enough. Every characteristic you have are all the carefully measured ingredients which make up the perfect you. Those who love you & mean it  are happy with “you” rather than their projected versions of you they want to see.
  2. You don’t owe anyone beauty. When you feel beautiful, that beauty belongs to you & you alone. That a womxn’s beauty is meant to be enjoyed by everyone else but her is a dangerous myth which is objectifying & dehumanising. I learned this from Michelle Obama, Oprah Winfrey, Caster Semenya, Brenda Ngxoli, Leslie Jones, Adele and so many others. These womxn showed me that regardless of your excellence and exceptional achievements in life, they are all ultimately quantified by whether or not you’re beautiful. Yet this standard doesn’t apply for men. And so they tried to preoccupy us with arguments about whether so-and-so looks feminine enough, or soft enough or loveable enough… Beauty is not and should not be a prerequisite for people to respect you, take you seriously or value you.
  3. Don’t trust “beauty”. It must never be viewed as an achievement nor an aspiration to be beautiful. Beauty constructs are people’s regurgitations of beauty standards they have been socialised & indoctrinated into (often eurocentric, ableist, or at worst, exoticising & fetishising). In many communities now, those considered the least attractive somehow have the least characteristics in common with the western beauty ideal (straight silky hair for Africans, lighter skin for Indians and pretty much every other race on the planet, double eyelids for Asians), and those who do but are considered beautiful still by those standards are called so with such emphasis that it sounds a tad bit over-compensation-ish. So “improve” or “enhance” your image if you feel it will boost your self esteem because it’s  your body & you’re the captain – but always ask yourself, to what ideals of beauty you are conforming to or are being influenced by. Question always.
  4. Beauty is the lowest form of compliment to offer. It’s nice to hear but so is the adjective “nice”… so so weak. Aspire to be more than beautiful – try  indomitable, resilient, compassionate, inspiring, intriguing… Let these be the first compliments that tumble from the mouths of your admirers or just pure speechlessness. May your presence be so astounding that “beautiful” appears a lazy, lousy description for you. Appreciate sentiments like, “your eyes are bright with warmth and character” or that “your skin shows great self-care” and “your hair style is most creative and complimentary to those lips which utter such profound ideas”. Do not accept – “you’re beautiful” for that is to be complacent & content with your majestic aura being viewed as an inanimate entity. But your beauty is alive, it speaks, walks, sings, builds, crushes. Your beauty is not an accolade, nor a cherry on top. It is not ornamental. Your beauty is a fierce, breath-taking torrent of waves which cannot be merely capped into a single word at a single glance.
  5. Do not downplay your confidence. Confidence from yourself is the best kind of reassurance & validation. When you’re feeling absolutely gorgeous and show it, it threatens those who do not feel the same. Humxns love exercising power over others (i.e. you feel good when you tell someone they look good & they smile in response) so when the power to make or break someone based on the compliments or insults they hurl is disempowering. Confidence in your physical attributes is not something to downplay because of fear of the “beauty or brains” false dichotomy. Please. Just because some people can’t handle both in a person and force themselves to choose one, doesn’t mean we have to do the same. This is a pseudo-compliment – humour it no more.
  6. Realise that the word “beautiful” is laden with power. So many people read through tons of self-help books and magazine articles by pseudo-plus sizes about how to love their bodies. Those who define  beauty hold the power, they reinforce these ideas through the media, art, family opinions, “health” tips and the toys you’re bought before you could even speak. This power isn’t concentrated in the hands of a single entity, its dispersed and anyone can own it but we’ve just somehow bought into this one sided image of what it entails. Challenge & redefine what is attractive, question your own views and who that new definition includes and excludes. Re-adjust it. And then live your greatest life.

A Personal Encounter with Rape Apologists

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I’ll never forget this 16th day of December 2016. I spoke up against a friend’s brother who repeatedly tried to kiss a young womxn on the couch at my gran’s house. Each time he leaned in she recoiled, pushing him away, though never “hard enough nor convincingly enough” and merely mumbled “no, tomorrow”. All the while awkwardly smiling at her friend (his younger sister) in that universal code for “get this creep away from me” without being too obvious that we often exchange at clubs or parties. This boy’s younger and older sister were both sitting on the couch saying nothing. One of my cousins and two other friends were also present and remained mum.

The second time round, I was more persistent. I was met with harsh retorts saying that I should stay out of it and that the girl did not protest. To which I yelled in an escalating frantic frenzy, “Is pushing him away ambiguous? Can’t you all see she’s uncomfortable? What will it take for you to realise she means no? Must she kick and scream? No is no! WHY MUST I STOP TALKING? Because he’s a man? Because he’s drunk? He obviously can’t tell that no is no. Why the fuck are you protecting him? Why did you all sit there like you don’t see her struggling to break away from his grip? How far must he go until you reprimand him, until you take her side? How far?!”

My appeals were met with indignance & were reduced to insinuations that I was a jealous previous lover of the boy or that I wanted that attention for myself. A while later his older sister then conceded that he was in fact wrong but that I had said it rudely and should’ve spoken “properly”.

I erupted in response, “This girl was polite enough and you all ignored her, including him. My rude response was 100 times better than your silence! I wasn’t going to be polite about this nonsense”. And the defence for the accused to be cleared of the disrespectful “nonsense” label was launched.

“He is a man and you should respect him”. “The girl was smiling so she obviously enjoyed it.” “It’s none if your or our business.” “For the sake of peace let’s all be quiet and just have a good time”. “Cousin, you have anger issues” ×20 “This girl is old enough to speak for herself, he wouldn’t do anything to her”…. and on and on and on.

My last words tumbled out of my mouth like alcohol induced retching. “Why do you defend him! Womxn get hurt everyday because you all sit there and let these pigs do as they please and you protect them! I don’t care if she’s old enough, grown womxn don’t get raped?! You all acted like you didn’t see her & you’ll say she was smiling though. And when she gets hurt and you’ll all still be saying “but she was smiling & didn’t say no so she enjoyed it” to protect him. Carry on! Carry on because you’re all such trash!”

So the girl was questioned, aside, by the older sister where she apparently said “she was fine with the guy”. Under immense pressure where her discomfort had been repeatedly overlooked, where I, in her defense, was in the minority, where she would be cast as the false accuser who didn’t protest or complain but “smiled in compliance” & simply played hard to get… she was expected to have been able to say “Yes, I didn’t want him and he was annoying me”. To people who had already made it clear whose side they had taken and would support. She mumbled something which was relayed to me as her concession that “everything was fine”.

Through all of this, I was furious and sad. Furious because the two people who had said close to nothing throughout all of this were the boy and the young womxn he was harassing. His case was staunchly defended by his sisters and friends (all womxn) while he left the house as soon as things got heated.

And I was sad because the girl I was defending had not said anything either. I was angry at myself for taking ownership of that space on her behalf and assuming all the circumstantial factors which made it impossible for her to do so – legitimising my own dominant voice over hers without even consulting her.

Yet, another part of me, in the throes of heated debate, had for a split second considered asking her and decided against it. To further subject someone to explaining what she meant by pulling away and turning her face away from kiss-attempts (reinforcing that as a society NO means MAYBE) was a kind of victim-blaming and humiliation I absolutely refused to part take in. And as I sit typing the last bit of this piece, I’m convinced that my reaction (35min ago) was not liquor-induced and had I the chance to go back – I wouldn’t take back a thing… not my anger, not my tone, not my vulgarity and most certainly not my opinion.

 

What’s the deal with decolonisation?

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Discussions about decolonisation have been ongoing for a number of years now yet the debates truly became heated and took centre stage in South Africa between 2015 and 2016, mainly fuelled by the RhodesMustFall campaign and subsequent Fees Must Fall nationwide protests.

The term “decolonise” is a more confrontational and bold term for what was already popularised as “black conscious”, “uhuru”, “power to the people” and “mayibuye iAfrica” which were chanted ceaselessly during the struggle against apartheid. To call for decolonisation is to implicate racist, sexist, anti-poor doctrines and their advocates. It is to reject the ideas and presuppositions that our societies and institutions have so deeply entrenched to become the norm, in which there is often no room for the African, the Indian, the Coloured or any “other”.

While the abovementioned versions of decolonisation which preceded the term as we use it today were centred on the affirmative transfer of power “to” those who were disenfranchised without any or little reference to those who held the power, this recent talk of decolonisation speaks of the affirmative transfer of power “from” those who have illegitimate monopoly of it “to” the disenfranchised. This explicit denouncing of colonial remnants in various spheres of life have exacerbated racial and class tensions across South Africa.

Part of the resistance to decolonisation is the misinterpretation of “colonial” to be synonymous with “white”. For some, this is a valid concession, however, colonial means much more than merely white. It refers to white supremacy and the structures and practices which uphold it at the expense of the rest of the population. To decolonise is to challenge the innate associations of white to the standard of success, wealth, beauty, professionalism and competency (re the African time jokes) or even purity, while the opposite is perceived of other races.

Many opposers of the decolonisation project refer to it as the revert back to a Hobbes “state of nature-like” primitive time where disease and war are rife, in the absence of law, art, science, philosophy and modern technology. This very attitude demonstrates not only a deep misunderstanding of the term “decolonisation” but the out-dated Eurocentric perception that disregards the advanced nature of precolonial African civilizations, history, art, philosophy and traditional medicine.

The biggest mistake made here is to assume that because a country is independent  that it is also free from colonial influences and constructs. The first revelation of this thinking is associating colonial rule with bringing civilisation and all the luxuries and innovations of the modern world, while ignoring cheap/forced labour, native taxes which were economically crippling, systematic and institutional racism. The second mistake made is to ignore the lost generations which perpetuated cycles of poverty as a direct result of the colonial rule and the inverse, generational wealth legacies created by the same systems.

The way forward regarding decolonisation depends on the collective effort to rebuild a society whose values, culture and institutions reflect its identity. If we claim our identity is of a reconciled or reconciling nation wherein all are equal, then those remnants which prove otherwise must be uprooted. This will require a concession to the dehumanising and oppressive nature of white supremacy and its guardians. Decolonising requires imagination, brutal honesty, reflection, co-creation and re-invention by an entire generation, as opposed to the view that it is an anarchic upheaval of civilisation and order by a politically frustrated  and free-riding few.

Shot for the free condoms, SA.

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Note: To the non-South African readers, “shot” in SA is slang for thank you.

For as long as I can remember, the South African government has provided free condoms. As children, before we even had an idea of what sex really was, we knew that condoms were free and easily accessible. Even so, (especially as girls) we were prohibited from speaking/asking about them or filling them up with water to make water balloons like the boys did. We only knew what they were for because of the illustrations for directions for their correct use.

As I grew older the taboo around speaking about condoms was even more present. Somehow girls who were openly or secretly sexually active never seemed to have any condoms of their own – not in their purses, pockets nor their rooms. There was (and still is) an unspoken code about young womxn and condoms. Being in possession of condoms meant that one was sexually active for one (which because of notions of purity being closely tied with virginity, made that an instant crime), for some it was also a sign of promiscuity, and boldly proclaiming it.

My worry at the time was that if womxm were in sexual relationships but did not carry condoms because of the stigma attached to womxn who purchase, or request the state-provided condoms, how were we meant to meant to be in control of our bodies. Social media has recently been flooded with South Africans urging the government that free condoms are not a necessity but rather that free sanitary pads are. Statistics show that in South Africa over 3 million girls were missing a significant amount of learning in school because of the lack of access to sanitary pads. The basis of the argument made by these  lobbyists is that sex is a choice while menstruation is not.

While I am in full support of the initiative to provide free sanitation pads, this is an argument which I do not buy because of its ill-conceived and oversimplified reality of the lack of agency and choice for womxn in sexual relationships. This is the reality for young sexually active South Africans in the context of a country which is torn by ‘the biggest and most high profile HIV epidemic in the world’ (South Africa), alarming rates of gender-based violence, socio-economic inequalities and inadequate sexual health education.

I recently watched a documentary including a group of young womxn in the Western Cape who mentioned that their partners refused to use condoms for a number of reasons – many of which were based on a significant lack of knowledge about safe and healthy sex, myths, and ill-percieved notions about love and faithfulness. One of the womxn mentioned that her partner refused even the state-provided condoms on the basis that the packaging made them look cheap and that they had a bad smell. Something as seemingly arbitrary as that was the reason scores of other young couples decided to not use the state-provided condoms, hence the state’s introduction of new scented and repackaged condoms – to incentivise their use.

Another issue is blatant socio-economic inequalities in the country which prevent many womxn from knowing about and/or exploring other contraceptive methods (leaving them only with knowledge of sterilisation and the Pill which is also plagued by a myriad of myths about causing infertility, weight gain, stretch marks etc). This inequality does not only limit access to alternative contraception methods for those in poor communities but also significantly limits womxn’s bargaining power when it comes to sex and their bodies. Due to conservative attitudes about sex or normative roles of men and womxn in sex which are portrayed by culture, religion, the media, family and friends…womxn are often recipients of sex and not viewed or treated as equal agents who can contribute to the terms and conditions of sex. This means that most of the responsibility is often placed on men, the responsibility to have condoms is his too – and consequently, so is the choice to use one or not. These conservative attitudes are further entrenched when men are constantly the financial providers in these relationships (as transactional relations remain highly prevalent in South Africa) because he who has money has the power to control the recipient of that money.

When we decrease the hindrances to access to condoms for womxn, especially those who cannot afford them, we take away the stumbling blocks which prevent womxn from reclaiming agency in their sexual relationships. Although access to free condoms may not ensure that they will in fact be used, it does, however, leave less womxn in the position whereby they continue to be entirely dependent on the partner for their safety. That being said, we shouldn’t look at state-provision for sanitary pads and condoms as an either/or situation because while millions of girls miss about 25% of class  because of their period, a significant amount also misses school as a result of having to drop out because of unplanned pregnancies or having to head households where parents die from HIV/AIDS.

We should be lobbying for increased collective efforts to combat the marginalisation of poor womxn in our country. Sure, womxn do not choose to have their period, but womxn who do choose to have sex should not be shamed for it, nor should they be prevented by circumstances from having access to protection from infections, diseases, and unplanned pregnancies.