I am Just Another Vulnerable Woman

I must admit; there is nothing more uplifting than music. When I’m having a bad day and turn on the radio to one of my feel-good songs, it feels like I’ve just swallowed a bottle of happy pills.Woman

Then there are those songs, that bring out the inner goddess in you. The song that celebrates the power and beauty of being a woman. They’re all sung by women, for only a woman can understand the perils, pain and challenges women may have to face every day, in the workplace, our societies or amongst other women.

Then we listen to “Run the world (Girls)” by Beyonce – and you ask yourself, do we really run the world? Are we really in control?

“Can’t hold us down” by Christina Aguilera – Can we really wear what we like without being a victim of assault? Can we really stop men from labelling us because we wouldn’t give them the time of day?

These are great feel-good songs, but the feeling of being in control ends when the song is over.

The reality is that the war against women is far from over. We might have won over the boardrooms, but the physical violence against women is increasing at an alarming rate. In this era, domestic violence is still taboo. “Our mothers, and grandmothers stuck it out, because they were uneducated and had nowhere to go” – this is something we hear far too often – “I will not be a man’s boxing bag”

But the truth is when it does happen to us, we’re ashamed, we’re ashamed of what people would say if they found out, we worry about how we’d be judged by our friends and family. We wonder about the gossip that would go around. Would people say I provoked him? Would they say I must have cheated on him and I deserved what I got? These are the kind of questions that we think about, before we can speak about it.

What I have noticed amongst women is no women would let another know that she’s not happy. No women will let another know that she’s not being treated well. No women will let another know that she needs help. And the reason for that is quite simple; I cannot let another women know that I do not have it “together”; they will think I’m weak.AA-women1-300x218

We’re in a time where women are expected to juggle her career, tha family, the social circles, and all the shenanigans that come with it, all without batting an eyelid. And when it gets too much for us, we feel like we’re failing our loved ones, failing ourselves, dropping the ball, not having it “together”. Everyone is managing just fine, so why am I complaining?

What I don’t know is, my friend might have it worse than I do, but she couldn’t speak to me, afraid of what I might think of her.

It’s about time that we, as women, need to start standing together, supporting each other.

I am not safe from the violence because of the work that I do. I am not safe from the violence because of the car that I drive. I am not safe from the violence because of the suburb I live in. I m not safe from the violence because my husband is a prominent businessman.

I am not safe – I am Just Another Vulnerable Woman.


Our Fallen Hero – Oscar

2012 Virgin Active Sports Industry AwardsJust a week ago, Oscar Pistorius was just the “Blade Runner” to every South African, double amputee Paralympic medalist and first amputee runner to compete in the Olympic Games, an inspiration to millions all over the world. The positive approach that he has is incredible. He was once quoted saying “You’re not disabled by the disabilities you have, you are able by the abilities you have”
And then, last Thursday February 14 2013, Oscar was painted with a different brush.On the 8am news bulletin, I heard that Oscar has accidentally shot and killed his girlfriend, mistaking her for a burglar! And the first thing I thought was what a terrible tragedy. With each news bulletin, a different version of the alleged murder was revealed.
Within hours, social networks were flooded with comments, remarks, and jokes about the runner. People simply forgetting that a life was lost! Forgetting that Reeva Steenkamp was someone’s daughter! Forgetting that just months ago, we set glued to television sets, waiting anxiously to watch Oscar participate at the Olympics.

Then I had an epiphany – We find it easier to deal with fiction, than it is dealing with the truth. Maybe that’s how many people react to shock. And shock was the emotion that was felt by every South African as well as myriads around the world.
It’s been five days since the news broke to the world, and it’s unbelievable as to how many “incidents” about the runners’ personal life is surfacing; His love for fast cars, wild animals and guns. Is that not typical male interest? But do we admire a man who keeps a machine gun in the house? Whether he killed his girlfriend accidentally or deliberately?

Limiting ourselves to his behaviour on the track, many people lost some admiration for him at the London Paralympic games. He was beaten fairly by a Brazilian athlete, and his immediate response was to accuse his rival of cheating. There was no cheating. After a word from his team,(no doubt mentioning his $2 million a year sponsorship deals), backtracking followed, and an apology was made. But some of us wondered why, exactly, we were expected to admire this person.

Sportspeople are routinely held up as role models or, when they fall short, regarded as people who have fallen short and stopped being the role models that they surely could be. Sport is at the centre of our moral universe, sportspeople are a force for good. Everyone should admire and emulate them, right?

It would be easy to say that people like Pistorius are rare: that most sports stars offer great role models to young people. But then there is Lance Armstrong, barely apologising after years of drug-taking and violent threats against people in cycling who were the slightest bit curious.
Tiger Woods, and his infamous cheating scandal. There is John Terry, who was captain of the England football team when he was found to have called Anton Ferdinand a “fucking black c**t” – And after the hero’s career is over? The role model may end up like Mike Tyson?

Of course, sport is full, too, of decent and honourable people. With the likes of Pele, doing great things for Africa. David Beckham, clearly he thinks of how he can behave well, to society as well as to his family. They are worth our admiration. But then, seriously – OJ Simpson? Diego Maradona?

Aiming to find role models in sport is a dangerous business. Sportsmen seem no better behaved on the whole than any other segment of the entertainment business, with the distinction that strippers, on the whole, don’t talk piously about their duty to be “role models” or how much everyone admires them when they are arrested for killing their partners.
But even if the topic of our admiration is as well-behaved as anyone might wish, is it really the best object to present to our children for their aspiration? Children should be encouraged into libraries, to extra-mural studies, to regard revolutionaries, poets, painters, thinkers, doctors, professionals as their heroes worthy of their aspiration. They will most likely lead useful and productive lives.

The individual case is terribly sad – a young woman has been killed, and proves that the abuse of women occurs across all boundaries, irrespective of ethnic groups, or socio economic statuses. Perhaps, as the story unfolds and the court comes to its conclusion, we could wonder whether we really want to present this culture as anything worth aspiring to, or even taking much interest in.


Collect Memories Not Things

As an adult, I sit back and reflect on my past years, from childhood, to being a teenager, to growing into an adult. The one valuable lesson I have learnt over the past years, is that memories hold so much more value than that of things, the things I so badly wanted, and had to have because it was the trend, or because everyone had it.

Thinking back to my childhood, the memory that immediately comes to mind is playing; house with my sisters, hide and seek until after dark, hopscotch, and cricket on the road. We played school, marbles, yoyo and monkey in the middle. These are just a few of the things that come to mind. Nowhere in the memories I hold on to, is there any association with specific things.I want more

As a young adult, things became very important to me; a part of me I’d say. I used things to fill up what was missing inside me; contentment! Branded clothing became a necessity, it was essential to have the latest phone (something we can’t keep up with in this era of technology). Branded sneakers and sunglasses, to name a few “things”! I remember a time in my life when “buying” gave me instant satisfaction, from the things I’ll never use to the fancy gadgets I had no need for or clue how to use.

We’re now in a time where culture, society, television ads and every magazine encourages us or makes us believe that we “need” more. We all, at some point feel the pressure of having to please ourselves, by satisfying our thirst for more. It makes us feel good (for short periods of time). We find our “ego” voices inside us justifying why we need “that new thing” and if we don’t get it, we throw a pity party! (I’m so guilty of that, I feel terrible right now just thinking of some of  the occasions where i actually got my way!) I have given into these lies, and just like everyone else, it’s a difficult battle to fight.Colour

I have since learnt that there are so many meaningful experiences that will last in memory so much longer than the things I so desire. My pursuit of things takes away the time and energy I have from my family and from living!

I want to collect memories……Not things
Memories that will inspire joy in my heart, ignite passion for my family and remind me that some of the smallest experiences in life have the greatest impact such as;

– Movie / series marathons with friends

– Walks in the garden with Mr M

– Playing with my niece and nephews

– Staying up until the early hours of the morning with my parents and sisters when visiting

– Waking up late on the weekend, having coffee prepared by Mr M and planning the day ahead.

There are so many ways to collect memories that will last a lifetime, memories that will remind us of God’s goodness. Memories that will unify families as you reminisce with your children someday. I have entered this world with no material possessions, and will leave it in the exact some way…….Only with a heart full of memories.

“Treasure your relationships, not your possessions” Anthony J.D’Angelo