Why It’s Hard to Dance

In the past few weeks, I’ve been struggling with popular music that embraces the idea of women as objects and that carry an undertone of disrespect for women.

Almost every music video played on popular music channels has two things in common: fully dressed men and barely dressed women. These women are usually dancing in a suggestive manner, while the men sing or rap about these women’s physical features and what they’d like to do with these women.

Usually, when singing or rapping about said women, the focus is on her physical features linked to her sexuality, with little to no focus on any of the other non-physical multiple attributes she possesses.

Worse still are the lyrics- a painful ode to the lack of value some place on women, a sad reminder that men, and some women, view women as objects of sexual desire, with their sole purpose being to please men. An article by Sezin Koehler gives a chilling account of how the lyrics of Robin Thicke’s smash hit, ‘Blurred Lines’, are eerily similar to what sexual assaulters say to their victims.

This topic is one that is discussed regularly and one on which even like-minded women differ. One side of the debate is that lyrics are just lyrics and music is just music, it’s not really what they mean, so it’s okay. It’s… fun. The women are consensually participating in the music video, so if anything, it speaks to women’s freedom on choice.

The other side of the debate is that by dancing to this music, one implicitly endorses what it represents- a lack of regard and respect for women and their bodies.

Then there’s the middle ground most women fall into. Most women don’t necessarily agree with the lyrics or the videos, but in the right environment, with the right people, the catchy tune is enjoyable to dance to and again, it’s… fun.

Hearing those lyrics and watching those music videos make me cringe. Every time. It’s an uncomfortable reminder of the reality we live in and face. It’s jarring and deeply upsetting. But sometimes, I’m caught by surprise as I dance to the catchy tune of a song whose lyrics blatantly disrespect me as a woman.

That’s why it’s hard to dance.

I dance. Then I stop. Because my mind and heart refuse to cooperate with my body, no matter how willing. It won’t change the world, but if it means one less woman is saying okay to the status quo, then so be it.

Get. Up. And. Go.

Get. Up. And. Go.

Sometimes, we as women play the victim. Centuries of inequality and ongoing discrimination can cause us to believe that everything is against us. It discourages and disables us.

It disables us from getting up, toughening up and despite the nonsense, getting on with it and doing it. “It” can be anything from curing cancer, building robots, raising a family, managing a company or leading a country.

Whatever it is that you love to do that adds value to your life and to this world, get up and do it. Let nobody, not your fear and certainly not what society thinks you can or cannot do, stop you from getting up.

Nobody said it would be easy. But it will be worth it.

So women of the world, get up! And go.

Sisterhood: A Myth?

“If the world was run by women, there’d be no war, just a bunch of angry countries not talking to each other.”

– Unknown

The popular joke encompasses what most of us believe about how women relate to each other. It’s said that:

“Women can never get along.”

“Women are so jealous of each other, even their friends.”

“Women will always back stab you.”

“Sisterhood doesn’t exist like brotherhood does.”

For years, I’ve struggled with this idea that women inherently dislike and distrust each other and that they can never get along. I saw this manifest itself in school where girls would form cliques that in themselves, weren’t bad, but these cliques were used to wage silent wars and animosity. In media, this is enforced by movies and reality TV shows that are centred around women’s hatred, distrust and animosity towards each other.

Until very recently, I thought that this was the way it has always been and the way it will always be. I reasoned that perhaps women are wired differently and so the concept of sisterhood becomes a fantasy… Until I met women who convinced me otherwise through their actions.

One such example is of my family in particular. Whenever there’s an extended family affair in African culture, from birthday parties, to funerals and weddings, the women congregate in the kitchen, share tasks, cooperate and help each other. It is more than a chore. To me, it represents the possibility that women can work together, get along and make amazing things happen.

I do not believe that sisterhood is a myth. Yes, it may be difficult, but it is certainly not a myth. I believe in the power of women to come together in an authentic, loving, cooperative manner to help each other, encourage each other and work productively together.

It doesn’t mean that it’s easy. It needs us to be more secure in ourselves, our identity and talents. It needs us to understand that we’re in this together. It needs us to understand that there is more than enough success to go around, that it’s okay to share. It needs us to see every woman as a sister.

Some will say that for women, true sisterhood is impossible. But for as long as I live, I will endeavour to make sisterhood a reality.

Join me!

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You’re Worth It?

You’re worth it. Make-up giants preach this message in an aim to sell make-up; I’d like to preach this message because it’s actually true.

The meaning of beauty has been redefined through time. What was considered beautiful in the 14th century is different to what was considered beautiful in the 20th century.

However, what has remained consistent through time is women’s desire to be beautiful. And for too long, we’ve been made to feel that the desire to be beautiful is wrong.

Wanting to be beautiful is not wrong, but placing all of our hope and identity in physical beauty is selling ourselves short. Why? Because what’s considered beautiful changes over time, in different places and for different people.

More importantly, placing all of our hope and identity in only physical beauty means that we’re robbing ourselves of every other part of us that makes us beautiful, other than the physical.

We fail to explore and nurture everything else about us because of an unhealthy obsession with reaching society’s standard of physical attractiveness and beauty.

What if we spent as much time and energy nurturing those aspects, as we do nurturing physical beauty? What if a woman’s beauty was far more than what she looked like physically? What would that look like?

Beauty is fleeting. It comes and it goes. It becomes redefined and it is subjective. Opinions change. Let it not be the most important thing we strive for as women from early adolescence until death.

In learning this lesson and trying to walk this journey, I always tell my 7-year-old sister that “to be beautiful on the outside” is lovely, but “to be beautiful on the inside” is even better, and that’s what matters.

So let’s invest more time and energy into striving for the type of beauty that actually matters… Because you’re worth it.

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