all hail the hymen!

All hail the hymen! The power of the membrane! Being virginal no longer equates with being coy, nor does it mean being asexual. This is a lesson that I sincerely wish all girls would be taught at some point before they decide to go to bed with that pimply-faced youth or aging lothario, whatever the case may be. To the contrary, possession of the once-celebrated membrane gives you the power of yes; yes, touch me there, and also the power of no; no, you’re not going any further than that.

That little membrane, seemingly innocuous, is an untapped energy source.  It means you keep your wits about you when the groaning oaf above you is losing his. As my friend put it, it is power. According to her, and I wholly agree, virginity is not something women lose – we choose to give it up. So many women do not realise what power that little membrane gives them and unknowingly surrender that weapon, sometimes wisely, sometimes foolishly, always painfully. Whether she has been misled into thinking its proof of a lifetime commitment, or whether she’s just tired of the damn thing – she hands her power over willingly; as the same friend aptly put it, it’s like laying an ak47 at the feet of your oldest and most cunning enemy and then saying ‘please don’t shoot me, I’m defenceless.’

Think about it – no woman ever lost her virginity by accident; forget whatever you’ve heard about horse-riding and aerobics. Once you’ve lost it though, it’s a whole ‘nother ball game. Sex is easier, freer, and the older and more liberated you become, the easier and freer, and more liberating, it becomes in turn. Ask any ‘cougar’.  In this age of sexual freedom for both sexes, a one-night stand is not the end of the world anymore. Indeed, it might be just what you need to get you out of that state of tension after a hard week. And ending up having sex, when the original intentional was just to lock lips – well, who hasn’t done that? But this freedom is just an illusion and the time will come when you realise that there is no such thing as sex without consequences. This realisation will come when you’re alone in your bed, wondering why there are men willing enough to be called ‘uncle’ by your fatherless  children (proof positive of the liberating nature of sex eh?), but a dearth of men willing to stay long enough to be called ‘dad’. It will come when you count the number of men you’ve slept with … and need your toes to make up the digits – and lie about the total. When that happens, you’ll wonder what you thought you were doing hopping from bed to bed – and just why you thought it was liberating.

In those hazy long-forgotten days when you were a virgin, you never accidentally fell into sex – IMPOSSIBLE. The day you ‘lost’ your virginity, you actually chose to give it up. And since then, you’ve sometimes had sex by accident. Were they really accidents? Did you really think he had ‘etchings’ to show you?

Think of all those failed relationships, all the sweaty groaning, the one-night stands, the ones that screwed you, and then screwed you up – none of that would have happened if you’d kept your legs crossed, if you’d waited. Even if you’d just waited another year, your story would be different. Seriously, if you’ve been sleeping with an average of three men a year, think what a difference one year would make to your grand total. What about two years? Three? There is a world of difference between having slept with three men and having slept with nine. So to all those out there still hanging on – hone your skills while you contemplate the recipient of the greatest honour. The man who gets to share that first sexual encounter with you should be a man who appreciates it and is ready to honour you for the rest of his life. Don’t be fooled into thinking it doesn’t matter – it matters to you and it will matter to the right man. Any man who ridicules you for waiting, anybody who mocks or teases or makes light of your choice is not worth the time it would take to explain why you’re choosing to wait. Your virginity is power – and you get to choose whom to allow to see you at your most vulnerable. Is that not liberating in and of itself? You have the power to choose who gets to master your body – do you realise the freedom in that? You’ll never regret a one-night stand. You’ll never wish you’d waited longer. You’ll never wonder if he would have stayed around if you’d not given it up so soon.

Yes, men will leave when they realise you’re not putting out – but do you really want a man who’s with you because you give it up – there’ll always be someone younger, tighter, sexier than you. Don’t you want to be free in the knowledge that sex is the icing on the cake of your togetherness and not the entire cake? Who doesn’t want that?

Don’t hide your sexuality, flaunt it. Go on those dates; kiss those boys like your very life depended on it.  At any rate, your future prowess in this area depends a great deal on experience so go for it. Learn how to give good head, and how to stroke a man to satisfaction. Learn who you are in bed, tigress or timid field mouse…it doesn’t matter which, what matters is that you know and like who you are. As another friend of mine put it, you need to get to a point where you know what you like and don’t like, and can ask for what you like without apologising. Wanting good sex is something no woman, no matter what age or level of experience should ever have to apologise for. So, learn your body, and learn the male body, for just as you have to know what you like, you also have to know what men in general like, before specialising in your man in particular.  Like I said earlier, just because you’re a virgin is no reason not to enjoy your sexuality. Being virginal does not mean you are sexless and an object of pity, it means you are choosing to keep your most precious asset for a man who is really worthy of you, and no one but you can make that judgement. In the meantime, enjoy learning your body, and learning the male anatomy. Use your lips, your hands, his mouth, and his hands – just because you’re not letting him penetrate doesn’t mean you can’t make love – there are many ways to please kill a pussy-cat.


on being feminine

One question a lot of black women seem to be asking lately is: what is it to be feminine?

Here are my thoughts on the subject:

So many writings on the subject seem to focus on clothing, the implication being that it is what you wear that makes you feminine or not. While that is true to quite a large extent, it is untrue that it is ONLY clothing that makes some women appear more feminine than others.

I believe that femininity comes from within, from the core of who you are. For most of us, because of our socialisation, being feminine is not something that comes naturally, but something that we have to learn. How do you learn to change your core from seemingly masculine to feminine? Million-dollar question.

Being feminine does not mean being a push-over for others, letting them walk all over you. Nor is it turning into a simpering mess at the slightest hint of adversity. Being feminine, for me, is not about wearing dresses all the time, or skirts, or pretty pastel colours. Women can seem ‘soft’ even when wearing jeans, I believe.  It’s not about the outside, although that is not unimportant it is. It is first and foremost about the energy you give off and/or attract to you.

If you appear angry all the time, and/or tired and unenthusiastic, no amount of pastel-coloured dresses will make you seem feminine. Femininity is not brash and abrasive, but gentle and welcoming. These are things we can all learn to be, with time and effort.

You do not have to wear your hair long and straight all the time to be feminine. I do not believe any sane person can ever accuse Halle Berry or Hilary Clinton of being less feminine because of their short hair-dos. Those are just the first names that popped into my head I’m sure you can think of other examples of feminine women who keep their hair short.

You do not have to be ‘domesticated’ to be feminine – it is not the washing of dishes and mopping of floors that confers femininity. Like I’ve said, it’s about the energy you give off.

Being feminine isn’t about externals. Yes, dress matters, let’s not fool ourselves there. But the point I’m making is this: it is not what you wear or what you do; it is HOW you wear it, and HOW you do what you do. Not every woman looks good, or even feminine in a maxi-dress. Not every woman is suited to pastel colours. Carry yourself in a more feminine manner; exude happiness and joy and peacefulness. Surround yourself with things that are beautiful to you, that give you joy.

Consider your behaviour in company – how do you interact with the people around you? Are you charming, and pleasant to be around? Or are you loud and uncouth, and bent on showing that you can ‘tell it like is’? Being truthful is not synonymous with being aggressive. You CAN state your position, even if it is contrary, without antagonising those around you.

The clothes, the hair, the shoes…these are important because they are instant visual pointers to your femininity and you would do well to take advantage of traditionally feminine attire, but that is not and cannot be the end of the story. who you are on the inside counts for a great deal, perhaps even carries more weight than what you wear. Is a long-haired man always less obviously masculine than a man with the traditionally masculine short hair? Of course not. By the same token a woman in jeans and sneakers is not necessarily less feminine than one in a dress.

There are so many resources out there on what it means to be feminine -make use of them.

Check out:

what, really, is a woman?

                                          a woman is not a man. she is everything that a man is not. she is different to a man –

not bettter than, not more than, not less than –

just. different.

his weaknesses are not her weaknesses. her strength is not his. a woman is not a man, and does herself a great disservice by trying to be like one.

on how i found myself

a lot of the things i’ve achieved in my life are a direct result of my mother pushing me, as mothers do. she always believed that i could do anything. i never believed that, at least, not most of the time. it wasn’t until my mother had died that i realised how much i’d come to rely on her for unwavering support and encouragement. don’t get me wrong, she wasn’t a yes-woman, cheer-leading at all costs – to the contrary, she was wise and she knew what i was capable of better than i did. and she was smart –

when she was gone i was suddenly alone. yes, i had siblings and other family, my own family, friends all around; but like i said in the last post, none of these people really knew me. nobody knew what i was really capable of. my mother knew me very well.

when that time came, i had to find my own strength, and it took me a long time to feel alive again. i had to cheer myself on when i felt like giving up, and get myself moving again when i had given up. it was a very difficult time, and frightening. there were days when i was afraid that i was depressed and heading towards suicidal. The idea of just not having to deal with things was very appealing and i was afraid that my lack of direction and my hopelessness about the future signalled a desire to harm myself. i fought feelings of worthlessness and under-achievement; i really battled a desire to give up. i wanted to not be bothered, but i didn’t really want to be dead.

i admitted to myself that i wanted to surrender to the darkness, then i listed all the things that counted. i reminded myself that there is no one i  trust to raise my son the way he needs to be raised – and that was the single most important factor. there were others, other people who needed me, but my son was the one person that i looked at and thought of and felt physical pain when i considered someone else being responsible for his well-being. i decided to move on. but i didn’t know how to. then, the idea came to me that laughing would help. weird i know.

so i set out to watch funny tv shows and movies. i watched comedy acts. i could do this because these were things that i already enjoyed doing. i did things that took my mind off of my problems. i read a lot – not just funny books either. i did things that i had always wanted to do but felt odd doing –  like going to make-up counters and getting my face all dolled-up. i actively sought out those things that appealed to me, that would stop me thinking about my loss. i took it one day at a time.

sometimes when we’re overwhelmed, what we need is not to focus, but to unfocus. we need to get out of ourselves, to stop thinking about the cause of misery and find something to takes our minds off of ourselves. for some people, acts of service do this. for me, serving others would not have helped. i needed to get through this in my own way, at my own pace. i needed to find my own path to redemption…

the mind is a miraculous thing: its deepest instinct is self-preservation. as i ignored my issues, which is different from denying them, my subconscious found ways to cope with my new reality. surprisingly, i got to  a point where i could consider my mother’s death without feeling like i was choking, hurtling breathlessly towards my own death. i got to a place where i could cry for the pain she went through and not feel consumed by the darkness i thought i could never escape.

do i miss my mother? not a day goes by that i don’t think of her and miss her, and wish that she could be here. yet now i accept that she is not here, and that i will not see her again in this lifetime.

finding freedom

funny tv shows are not the secret -that will not work for everyone. the secret is unfocusing. the secret is admitting the hurt and the anger -then finding ways to avoid focusing on your pain and the negative emotion, without denying the feelings or hiding from them; but instead giving the mind time and permission and space to find those things that are good and right and beautiful. and allowing these things to touch and heal in a way that is miraculous and pure.

find me love me

i used to wonder why i kept feeling like none of my friends or family really knew me. people would make statements like ‘ oh, she wouldn’t like that’ when actually i would have loved that. it was baffling. they would buy gifts that gave me reason to speculate whether the gift was bought for me or just dragged from the back of some cupboard and wrapped in a flurry of guilt at having forgotten my birthday. i constantly wondered if these people actually knew me and the truth is, they didn’t.

when i got fed up and evaluated my relationships, i realised that the fault lay squarely at my door. somewhere along the line i’d become a chameleon, behaving in whatever manner i thought was called for by the company i was in. with older family members i was the dutiful obedient daughter, when actually i’m argumentative and mistrustful of authority. so, i hated when the extended family came to see my mother when she fell ill, because it meant acting like something i really was not. with friends from church i was a devout believer, with the language and mannerism and statements that they expected. no one knew that  my faith was actually being battered; you can imagine the shock!horror! when i eventually stopped going to church. i was so many things in so many settings that i started to feel overwhelmed by it all, like i didn’t even know myself. and i didn’t really know myself.

when i had a near-breakdown because of all these roles i was playing, i took a step back and disconnected from all the people in my life. i took a long hard look at the people i called my friends and thought about what made me their friend. were the relationships making me happy? were they adding value to my life? was i using people? were they using me? what made some people’s phonecalls so draining, why did i routinely ignore other people’s calls? why was i excited by some meetings and depressed by others? who did i want to see regularly, and who did i want to cut out of my life completely?

it was a painful process, but one i had to do to preserve my sanity. it wasn’t like pulling out a tooth; it was not quick and easy, but it had to be done.

i reset boundaries for my relationships because i wanted to be true to myself, so i could get more value out of those relationships that i wanted to nurture. i wanted to start living a life of integrity and passion, and i could not do that encumbered by draining relationships, and without really knowing what it is that nurtures my soul.

i’m still on that journey, and each day it gets easier as i grow into my skin. every time i make a conscious decision to listen to my conscience and actively seek out and affirm those who enrich my life, the next time becomes easier.

are you living a life of integrity? do you like yourself and the life you have built for yourself? do you know the real you? do the people around you know the real you?

beauty is all around us

i didn’t grow up travelling the world.

but that does not mean that i do not have an appreciation for beautiful places and views.

when i was 19 i saw the most beautiful baobab tree. i still have not forgotten the sense of wonder and awe and majesty that that tree evoked in me.

my boyfriend thought i was crazy to be so moved by a tree. it was in his backyard, and there were other baobab trees all around the area, but this one – this one was the biggest, most beautiful of them all to me.

each morning i would stand by the window of our hut and watch as that tree came into view with the changing light. as the sky turned from pale to bright, as dawn became day, i would stand there and marvel at that tree. how many years had it stood there? what stories could it tell? and what would i have to go through to stand as steadfast? in the evenings the sun would set behind that tree, silhouetting it as the sky turned from orange to eventual black and i would watch, feeling…inspired.

i was inspired to write – and write i did. i wrote such beautiful letters to that boy -sadly i destroyed them all when getting over him became more important than admiring my ability to evoke emotion with the written word. but i digress. that baobab tree moved me in a way no other tree ever moved me, before or since. really.

baobab at sunset

the point i’m making is that beauty is all around us, in the most unexpected of places, in the most mundane of things, in things that other people take for granted. we have to open ourselves up to the possibility of being inspired unexpectedly, and admit that what we perceive with our senses can and does affect the psyche -and then make conscious effort to saturate our senses with beautiful things and beautiful people, so that, ultimately, our consciences are pricked when we fail to appreciate the beauty of life. from the conscious to the conscience and vice-versa.

today, let beauty touch you. don’t stiffen your upper lip against it -celebrate it, wherever you find it. actively seek it out. whatever is beautiful to you -not everyone is moved almost to tears by baobab trees- celebrate and surround yourself with that. because life is hard enough.