Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Feminism: the Cause Du Jour

feminism is cool
Maybe it's my inherent hipster cynicism to dislike anything that becomes really popular and over saturated in mainstream media, but it's starting to seem like feminism is incredibly on trend. Suddenly, every third or fourth female (usually white) celebrity is 'coming out' as feminist, Tumblr is chock full of glitter feminist badges and anti-misogyny mini-skirts and the angry Twitterati is picking fights constantly over T-shirts and 'females these days' comments. While I'm glad feminism is no longer the angry lesbian third party, I'm not sure this is necessarily a good thing.

Hipsters always get a bad rep for "liking [things] before they were cool" but they are onto something with that. The moment a cause gains notoriety (think Kony 2012 and #BringBackOurGirls) it means everyone's quick to adopt it and tweet their blessed little hearts out but without any genuine sincerity, but more a desire to be a part of the crowd than actually research and identify with the cause. What's the point of Becky, Sue and Sally all identifying as feminists when they're quick to applaud faux-feminist events, see Chanel's runway last month, or do very not feminist things in the name of feminism (like this) or perhaps when it's time to do something very difficult or uncool; drop feminism altogether. And that's the thing about trends; they fade.

Perhaps it's not feminism itself that is becoming trendy but more the breed of white, cisgendered oriented feminism that's becoming popular. To quote a recent Tumblr post I saw, "Yeah, she's cute but is her feminism intersectional?" It's great that you want gender equality and equal pay but none of that means squat when you're quick to praise Miley Cyrus for embracing her sexuality and Emma Watson for trying to accommodate feminism for men while dismissing Nicki Minaj and Rihanna as pandering to the male gaze and passing a blind eye to Lilly Allen's use of black female bodies as sexual objects.

However, yesterday I attended a debate of feminism and gender relations in South Africa (here) and a recurring throughout the discussions was that there is no such thing as a perfect feminist. And, you know what? Does it really matter that a celebrity donates millions to an orphanage to appease the press but that progress and awareness comes out of their selfish act? What I'm saying is: not all of us arrived to feminism through reading The Second Sex or listening to Pussy Riot before it was cool, some of us learnt about it through trashy teen lit, our boyfriends or Tumblr.  We've at least arrived to the party. It doesn't matter who invited us, just that we're here and we brought dip.

Maybe it's going to have to take feminism being hotter than those stupid Chanel espadrilles everyone bought last year to bring about some serious change. Trendiness means awareness. Trendiness means we're having conversations about street harassment and rape culture, we're creating spaces to talk about our 'bad' feminist woes (see: like all of Rookie). Trendiness means we're a little closer to progress.

I just hope that feminism's coolness right now doesn't mean capitalist (therefore patriarchal) debasement and spark up a greater need for people to take it off it's pedestal and create a counter-culture (see: #IDontNeedFeminism and, like, 70% of Twitter and its trolls).

I hope feminism remains cool, like it has always been, and y'all take this wicked ideology to the streets and pledge allegiance to pro-choice and anti-anti-mini-skirt legislation.
But, hey, do you think that the rise in feminism in popular culture is due to it's recent trendiness, like Beyonce's ***Flawless and Emma Watson's He For She campaign or a part of the natural timing of things wherein something always has to give? Or do you have any other thoughts on this topic? Or do you maybe want to send me a cookie? (Yes, you do.) My comments section is always open for rants. So is my Twitter.

Saturday, 22 November 2014

Cut Your Hair Today, 7/11 Your Life Tomorrow

Change your hair, change your life. The more you change your hair, the less boredom and dead ends you'll run into. This is osmosis. How you say, science. Fact. Don't look it up, though, just take my word for it.

I'm no stranger to cutting, burning and manipulating my hair into an array of new looks that correlate into new outlooks on life. Just this year I went from a relaxed pixie cut (here) to a perm (here), box braids (here), to a very frustrating weave (here), to a more annoying weave (here), to cornrows (here) and then dreadlocks (here).

But, lately, I've reached a dead end lately in my life and projects. The only sane and reasonable thing to do, it seemed, was bring in a major change to my life and so yesterday morning I decided to cut my hair and then spent last night freaking out over how short it was and how so, so irreversible it is. Plus sides to cutting my hair, however: I get to go through 2012's nightmare of, :"oh my god, you cut your hair" (like I hadn't noticed, ay?) and "whyyyy would you cut your hair?"

I think everyone should make the very regrettable yet empowering decision of cutting your hair way too short.

Firstly, as a black woman, it's a very political decision because you're out right defying the monopoly European beauty standards that require long, straight perfection.
Secondly, as any woman at all, you're sticking your tongue out to patriarchy's restrictive beauty ideals. Thirdly, you get to reintroduce yourself to yourself. Not only do you look like a new person to other people, your reflection is a complete stranger who - hey - have you ever noticed how chiseled your jaw actually is and that your eyes are almond shaped? You wouldn't have met that handsome she-devil behind that mop you've been possessively conserving for the past three years.
Lastly, and most important to remember - it grows back. Just like most great things in life, like life, hair is temporary. At the very least, scaredy cat, dye your hair a really damaging and what-a-dumb-kid-I-was colour like fuchsia or teal.
I also feel a lot closer to my deity, Solange (who had the greatest wedding ever and now I can really never hope to get married ever) right now.
the shadows know the truth
i miss u & u just don't care.
With my new hair came some inspiration in the form of Lazy Bones Illustrations. The really cool cat behind the blog, Miranda, uses Microsoft Paint as her medium. Her illustrations, well her medium more than anything, reminded me of the dramatic illustrations I used to make for the short stories and novels I wrote as a kid with Microsoft XP. MS Paint is also such a really millennial and innovative medium too. It's not like how almost everything has been done in terms of paint (a la the Impressionists and Cubists) or how sculpture has been reinovated time and time again, you know? There aren't any limits to what is possible yet with MS Paint and that makes it rather exciting. The MS Paint artist also can't procrastinate with the excuses of not having enough turpentine, clean brushes or paper. All you need is electricity and the sheer hope that this doesn't blind. Also, a lot of patience as well because MS Paint is really frustrating (i.e trying to fill in a tree and then messing up your whole canvas with hot pink).
These are some of Miranda's most recent MS Paint illustrations. I am still actively combing through her Tumblr for more pretty things.
Come Back/Don't Go (source)
Tanning (source)
Poolside Views {a drawing about when you leave the party to be alone for a bit} (source)
All Strippers Go to Heaven (source)
In other important news, Beyonce released a music video/homage to the based god of turnt up/that lifestyle collection/everything important ever that had my whole Tumblr posting a collective 'YAAAS, Bey, YAAAS' and trying to hold down their snatched edges. Bey's reaching her peak in my eyes right now. She's just entering the penultimate phrase of being a free woman. She's successful, healthy, her weave ain't crooked and she's just having fun with her life.

Monday, 10 November 2014

5 Cool Things on the Internet Right Now

For some reason exam season also translates to a lot of Internet procrastinating time and I've tried to rework that into productivity by curating some of my favourite gems of this here Internet.

1. EVERYTHING Willow Smith
Performing a five song set at Fader Fort's Brooklyn Pop Up along with brother, Jaden Smith and SZA (source)
Willow Smith is the future of music and fashion and general pop culture if you ask me. It's been, what, three or four years since she released Whip My Hair and cut her hair in the super short sides bob that had a lot of respectability police with their panties in a bunch. So I don't know what Kool-Aid Will and Jada are outsourcing from the Pacific Ocean, Willow is only thirteen so I think she's going to have to deal with a lot of people dismissing her success and her fame as either things-her-daddy-paid-for/stuff-her-mom-writes-for-her/the-whines-of-obnoxious-rich-kids-born-with-a-verified-blue-tick-on-their-birth-certificates. It's really unfortunate that a lot of the mass culture is going to make her apologise for her name, something she hasn't necessarily ask for and write her of because she's thirteen and has a better handle on human understanding and creation than people twice her age. Her Soundcloud is a beautiful and addictive mix of punk, alternative R&B and the new wave of alternative hip-hop similar to that of Chance the Rapper and Childish Gambino. I'm quite obsessed with her, her Instagram, her Twitter and all the cool stuff she, her friends and her brother are doing. Speaking of, check out Moises Arias photography Tumblr as well.

Willow's EP 3 is out today on Google Play; it's free for a limited time.

2. The Hair Issue by Miss Milli B
"Biko and Mandela lived and died so that I could make choices as a free black girl, not to live a life restricted by the burden of being strong, resilient and hard done by as a black woman. I just want be young and wild and free like the white hipster kids who are perpetually Instagramming photos of themselves partying as if the world will end tomorrow if they don’t party it the fuck up tonight."

I'm a bit late to the party with the extraordinaire that is local blogger, Miss Milli B but her revamped site and her poignant articles that make use of language, matters and memes I can relate t and enjoy have me hooked.

A while ago she posted The Hair Issue, an interesting read on the links between stylistic and trend related choice and a long history of oppressive voices that influence those as well as the issue of being an educated Black women, uncertain of whether she is choosing to relax her hair simply because it's pretty or she needs a change or is she actually falling victim to a system that promotes the superiority of European standards of beauty.Hair, and pretty much anything to do with black women and black female choice and there seem to be very few articles examining the issue of hair in terms of South Africa and Africa, where it is rather different from its American counterparts where weave and relaxer are a longstanding culture and things like box braids and cornrows are re-surging trends.

3. Sonia Sanchez: A Course on Black Women

Initially, when this popped up on my Tumblr feed I was really reluctant to check it out because I thought it was going to be one of those things that pin-holed Black women as Angry and Mad or something really racist and upsetting that I wasn't ready for and I'm ashamed to admit that because it showed my ignorance as I didn't recognise the name Sonia Sanchez.

This is part of a really beautiful series of videos of an interview with the poet and activist, Sonia Sanchez and in this specific one she speaks about a university course she taught on Black Women and it was more about looking and understanding the culture of Black women in America and the issues that affected them that were rarely discussed like incest, rape and self-hate. Listening to Sonia is such an enlightening experience because there is such a vivid passion to her and she really does care about what her students have to say and what she has to teach and it's inspiring.

4. Under the Influence by Bryan Lewis Saunders
Psilobyn Mushrooms [2 Caps onset] (source)
Butane Honey Oil

"After experiencing drastic changes in my environment, I looked for other experiences that might profoundly affect my perception of self.  So I devised another experiment where everyday I took a different drug or intoxicant and drew myself under the influence.  Within weeks I became lethargic and suffered mild brain damage that fortunately wasn't irreparable.  I am still conducting this experiment but over greater lapses of time and I only take drugs that are given to me."

I was looking at famous self-portrait artists like Egon Schiele and Frida Khalo and a Wikipedia rabbit hole led me to Bryan Lewis Saunders's series of self-portraits, all started and completed under the influence of drugs, ranging from heroin, cocaine and marijuana to xanax, ritilin and ambien.

It's a really experiment that reminds me of everyone's favourite Instagram caption, "Who sees the human face correctly; the photographer, the mirror or the painter?" and if you consider that the only idea of what you look like that you have ever seen is from reflections and film, self-portraits are all really a matter of subjectivity. There is no objective way to reproduce an image of yourself. My friend, Shai, was telling me how she can never resist the desire to arch her eyebrow a teensy bit more or square out her jaw a little bit less when she does a self-portrait and those are based on her ideals and insecurities. Self-perception, man. And, who knows, maybe Saunders's portraits under the influence are quite possibly the most accurate representations of who he is, if you're of the brand of thought that looks at self-portraits as more than just an image but insight into the subject and the painter/photographer than anything else.

This also makes me want to try out more drugs but, ugh, expenses.

5. Rapper, Junglepussy's Twitter
"Junglepussy, a Brooklyn-bred rapper who... has been making a name for acid-tongued anti-scrub anthems, which seem to be her specialty... Junglepussy’s entire artistic oeuvre is one big call-out. And she’s not just speaking for herself—in interviews, Junglepussy makes clear her aim to empower women." - (source)

Junglepussy is the ruling empress of all things Bad Bitch Carefree Black Girl All the Women in the Building Put Your Hands in the Air.  Her Twitter is an empowering and amusing reflection of the attitude I can't wait to fully embody one day when I've attained enough self-esteem, carefree-ness, no-fucks-given and sass. Follow her right now if you want your soul to be saved.

Saturday, 8 November 2014

[Video] 11 - A Longing Look at My Version of Forever

OR None of This Is Permanent and It's Killing Me
OR I'm Procrastinating School and the Eventuality of Life
OR Forever, Blue and Home Videos

I've been wanting to look at film for a while now and I sort of pulled this together, in an attempt to have a show of productivity when I was procrastinating studying for AP English, last night with some old videos I've had lying around for the longest of time. I uploaded in a sleep-crazed whim this morning and I will probably going on to hate myself and love that I dared myself for a while after this.

Here's what I wrote about it:
Tavi Gevinson described Forever as, "the state, exclusive to those between the ages of 13 and 17, in which one feels both eternally invincible and permanently trapped." Forever is marked by a desire for permanence and immortality with the underlying knowledge that nothing will last forever. So those of us trapped/bound/confined to this forever do our best to make these fast fleeting movements immortal so that these feelings, feelings you will never feel or experience so intensely and overwhelmingly ever again, are more than just fading memories once we lose our invincibility.

For as long as I could, I've done my best to record every and everything. Whether this was a subconscious desire to escape aging or a conscious knowledge that everything is temporary, I don't know. I've kept millions of diaries, journals, sticker books, photos and, what I've found to be the best form of recording, trapping and immortalising memory; videos.

11 is the beginning of me attempting to let go of the longing and despair I associate with one day not being in Forever. 2015 will be my final year of high school as well as my 17th year, the official end of my forever so I will be attempting to record this but hopefully in a way that does not remove the sincerity from my teenage existence.

Song: Buzzcut Season - Lorde

Tell me what you think or what you had for breakfast, maybe a little advice on how to stop not studying!

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

"Instagram is a job."

For once in my life I can say I've been really busy the past few weeks and it won't be because I'm posing a perfectionist procrastinator, binge-watching Teen Wolf and choking on failed dreams. No, this time, it's half of that.
The beautiful Ogunrombi sisters, Foyin from Dear Solo on the far right. 
There was South African Fashion Week A/W 2015 two weeks ago. Blogged here and here. Amongst getting drowned in dirty mop water and getting an eyebrow pimple from all the makeup, I actually ended up on Mzansi Insider, a local breakfast show, but I missed getting to binge-watch myself. Again, it is a breakfast show. I was also spotted by A Fashion Friend and the Urban Mavericks.

Seriously, throwing it back to about a week ago, I saw Alysia Harris - based goddess of all things poetic and lyric - perform  L I V E, as in IRL, as in for real, as in I could reach out and not smudge my computer screen, at the Joburg Theatre with other Khensani, from Oh Kenzo. Our shared knowledge and love for Alysia made me realise that we are twinsies. It was such a spiritual experience; Alysia is quite possibly a witch because everything she does is magic and the whole audience shared collective pangs of heartbreak because she was real and she would leave after this night.
You're missing the plot in all its entireity if you're not already a fan.

On the same day I was doused in dirty mop water, my class friends and I threw a cocktail party for our parents so they could have a 'let's come up with crazy things for our kids' matric dances so that we can relive our  youth - things like planning their after parties or staying for the duration of their dances' meet. Oddly enough, everyone's parents dissolved into cliques familiar to that of the pre-existing cliques of their children and all us children spent most of the night gorging ourselves on the platters the adults didn't touch and I took a million photos of everyone.

 Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Africa has just came and passed in a blur of macaroons, free drinks and swag bags. I've spent the past week reporting on everything for Style Africa. You can find my:
Day 1 Roundup here
Day 2 Roundup here
Day 3 Roundup here
Day 4 Roundup here
Interview with designer, Ines Cuatrecasas of Mille Collins here
Elle Rising Star 2014, Tamara Cherie Dyson here.
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