I was not going to weigh in on this particular debate initially and have been biting my tongue but now that most of the fracas seems to have abated, I can bite no more. Mainly because my tongue is beginning to swell and my jaw is aching.
So “the gays”–let me quickly interject and say that I use this term very affectionately because I have many gay friends, whom I love dearly–Elton John and David Furnish had a bit of a tiff with Messers Dolce and Gabanna recently.
If you have been under a rock or perhaps are not on Twitter or Facebook (which is really the same thing), the ubër designers came out in support of heterosexual marriage, heterosexual families and natural conception vis-à-vis gay marriage, gay adoption and IVF babies.
I am not opposed to children conceived by means of IVF. I have friends who have IVF babies, beautiful little creatures, every inch as human as any other child, obviously because that’s exactly what they are.
Chatting to my mom about this D&G thing and about the “plastic children” remarks, she remembers the day news broke of Louis Brown, the very first baby conceived via IVF.
Initially, she recalls a lot of people with raised eyebrows and unsure expressions, mutterings and conversations filled with “You know it’s not natural” and “It’s a little bit too much like playing God” even.
And then you know what happened? Louise was born and pictures of her started to circulate and no one looked at her like she was any different from any other child, because she wasn’t. What people did see though, was hope.
I can scarcely imagine the utter horror of a miscarriage. It shakes me to my very core to try and conceptualise it and I have friends, and a family member who have struggled through a miscarriage and in some cases, multiple miscarriages. How that has not devastated them and their marriages is just beyond the scope of my understanding.
To say that I have the utmost respect for them as women and as couples would be a gross understatement.
What IVF did for the few couples I know who chose to go that route has been utterly joyous and wonderful and looks a lot like a miracle, to me anyway because I believe in miracles.
Then we have the comments that Dolce & Gabanna made about how they support the traditional family. A bold statement, apparently.
Am I in agreement? Yes and no.
Am I condemning homosexuality or homosexuals? No
I am a believer in Christ? Yes
I am a Christian but there are so many of us who have it so wrong that I almost don’t like being called one. However, that’s another story*.
Personally, I have always felt a much stronger pull towards adoption of a child who has no parents and no home rather than bearing my own children because I see the children who have no parents as my first responsibility. There are so many vulnerable and at risk children who need love and care and before adding to the tally of people on this earth I would rather take one of the children already here into my care. And there are other people who feel the same. Those other people happen to be gay. Okay. Surely the child benefitting from a home and love should take precedence? If you agree, okay. If you don’t, that’s surprisingly also okay.
And here comes the clincher, gay men who don’t support gay marriage. Gay men who don’t agree with gay parents raising children. As one can imagine there have been boat loads of people who have taken umbrage with their views and have taken to social media to share (spew) their distaste (utter hatred) and voice their disagreement with (condemn) Dolce & Gabanna for their opinion.
Many have gone as far as to boycott their fashion label and products, an action which I initially laughed at, but then I recall Asher’s Bakery and Sweet Cakes and the smile fades from my face because I find it disconcerting, to say the least, that people who speak of (march, protest, picket and demand) tolerance and acceptance of their different way of life cannot put their money where their mouth is, frankly.
Not everyone is going to agree with what you like, what you believe or what you want and guess what? That’s ok because, by your very own standards, people who preach tolerance should be tolerant. Honestly, I think this entire issue reeks. This issue is not about tolerance. It is about militant acceptance of the views, beliefs and life choices of other people.
I absolutely do not in any way condone the harming, bullying or otherwise treating unfairly people who do not subscribe to your way of life, your world view or practices so long as your way of life, world view or practices do not cause harm to anyone either. Seems fair right? Right.
Well then, why was it not within the scope of possibility for Elton John to just ignore them? The D&G views are in no way affecting the fact that John and Furnish have a family and they are happy.
Why was it not within the scope of possibility for Rachel and Laurel Bowman-Cryer (in the Sweet Cakes debacle) to just say, “Fine, we will take our business elsewhere” because there are plenty of bakeries who would be only too happy to have their business.
Why was it not within the scope of possibilities that tolerance was extended to people who had values that differed from Elton John and David Furnish, and Rachel and Laurel Bowman-Cryer? Isn’t that exactly what you want for yourself? Well then, be the change you wish to see in the world.
I find it unacceptable that Sweet Cakes were shamed, humiliated and threatened with harm for having views that differed from the views of someone else. Do you see the pattern?
I have known gay people who have been bullied, called names, shamed, belittled and had their businesses and lives threatened because their view, lifestyle and practices differed from others’ and do you know what I do not find acceptable? Doing the very same thing to someone else, over a cake or a comment about plastic kids.
Dolce and Gabanna don’t support IVF or gay marriage, I’ll hazard a guess that they are not going to get IVF or gay married. They told people their opinion. Great. If you are offended by it, ignore it.
At any rate you won’t change their opinion and I dare say their business is not supported only by Elton John and his friends. People are so fickle that their desire for a pair of Dolce & Gabanna frames or handbag or t-shirt is going to overshadow the fact that Elton John asked that people boycott the designer duo.
Companies like Asher’s Bakery and Sweet Cakes however are not so fortunate. I hope the people who insulted them, sent death threats and had a hand to play in their business closing feel proud of themselves. Do you see the pattern here too?
When you insult, shame or threaten to harm you become the person/people you hate. Instead be loving, be tolerant, be kind to the people who are not because they need it the most.
Thank you for reading.
*One day I’m going to have to actually get to these other stories I keep talking about and perhaps one day I will.
Relationships, especially romantic relationships require work, they require love in action, they require compromise and a necessary element of working out our issues comes in the form of a fight.
A fight does not have to be a screaming match, nor does it necessarily have to be something we look at negatively. A fight that is fair, has boundaries and is constructive can do your relationship the world of good, clear the air, set things straight and often bear some pretty tasty fruit aka make-up sex.
If you want your relationship to be one that weathers the stormy days, then implementing some clearly defined boundaries when you fight is essential. Though not an exact science because no two relationships are alike, here are some practical and helpful guidelines to ensuring that you are not only heard but that you hear what your partner is saying, which will in turn help you to address concerns levelled at you and most importantly, deal with the issue at hand and move forward. No one wants to fight over the same thing time after time, it’s frustrating, not at all constructive, demoralising and largely unnecessary.
Fight Club Rules
1. You do not talk about fight club
Aside perhaps from trying to gain perspective and guidance from only your closest and most trusted confidants do not get caught up in the trap of bad mouthing you partner every time you have a disagreement.
Constant bad mouthing will create a negative and one-sided perception that you would not appreciate were the shoe on the other foot. After you’ve kissed and made up, your relationship may lose credibility in the eyes of your friends.
2. You do not talk about fight club AT ALL on social media
This really should go without saying but having witnessed couples having a go at each other whilst still together or shortly after having broken up, it warrants repeating.
Break-ups can be messy, emotional, and traumatic events for the couple going through a separation, yet are largely storms in teacups taking place in a land far away for bystanders and friends.
If you condemn your partner or ex on a public platform, prepare to be judged for every utterance, which can severely affect relationships with mutual friends. Always remember, when you fling mud, you’re likely to get some on yourself.
3. If Someone Says Stop, The Fight Is Over
No two people have the same temperament, tolerance levels and attention spans. To expect your partner to sit through an overly detailed account of everything they’ve been perceived by you to have done wrong can be exhausting. When tensions rise and you are nowhere near to resolving the conflict, you may need to take a break and calm down.
No one likes to be shouted at. No one likes shouting because they feel they are not being heard either. When it stops being constructive, take five (or fifty) minutes to breathe. Come back to resolve the issue when you are both calm. Be respectful of your partner’s desire to take a time out and conversely, don’t leave it for too long if you know your partner likes to sort things out and move on faster than you do.
4. Only Two People To A Fight
There are two people in the relationship, there should only be two people involved in any given argument. The moment you involve a friend or family member in your intimate relationship, things are going to get messy. If you are arguing about what a third party said or did, look at the incident in and of itself and put yourself in your partner’s shoes.
If someone close to your partner offended you, for example, speak to that person directly and do not take it out on your partner. If a friend says something that is unwarranted of your partner, have your partner’s back and do not undermine them because you want to put on a show for your friends. This will damage the trust aspect of your relationship in the long term.
5. One Fight At A Time
Multi-tasking is an illusion – so are 2-in-1 shampoos but that’s a story for another day. Give arguments the attention and closure they deserve to prevent them from rearing their ugly heads time after time. It is not constructive to dredge up long buried events, especially if you are using that event as a form of defence against a gripe levelled at you by your partner. That tactic is tantamount to emotional manipulation and has no place in a healthy relationship. It may be that you don’t like what your partner has said; however when we face the truth about ourselves and the effect our actions have on others, it can be painful. Put your pride in your back pocket and commit to working on your flaws as much as you would like your partner to work on theirs. If one person is doing all the compromising—which in fact is no longer compromising but sacrifice—it’s going to cause resentment and that is relationship cancer.
6. No Fists, No Weapons
If you or someone you know is trapped in an abusive relationship, please contact one of the following organisations;
Lifeline South Africa’s National Helpline on 0861-322322
Stop Gender Violence Helpline on 0800-150150
POWA – People Opposed to Women Abuse on 083-7651235
Family & Marriage Association of South Africa on 011-9757106/7
7. Fights Will Go On As Long As They Have To
Though do whatever you can to prevent an argument lasting past bedtime. Take the time to listen to your partner. Too often we listen with the intent to respond and are busy formulating our counter argument before that person is finished speaking. This will cause undue frustration.
I once heard of a couple who fought over text message in different rooms of the house, so they did not shout at each other, talk over each other or have their children witness their spat. They did have some guidelines like one message at a time and at intervals of a minute. This may not work for everyone but find a method that helps you minimise fallout, as it were.
8. If This Is Your First Night At Fight Club, You Have To Fight
It’s much easier to lay down some ground rules for a fight before you actually have one. Some rules that I apply to myself are as follows;
Never use absolutes (pun intended) – No matter how valid your point, you will derail your entire argument by using absolutes.
Cruelty is unnecessary – In my experience, cruelty is only ever used to detract from a valid argument. Don’t fall into the trap. When you calm down you will likely regret having said something awful and you will be unable to take it back.
Afford your partner the same courtesies you seek – For instance, if you hate being spoken over, do not interrupt your partner. If you don’t like being sworn at, do not swear at your partner. If you expect your partner to change minor behaviours, you should be prepared to do the same.
Do not use accusatory language – Speak in the first person, say ‘I’ more than you say ‘you’ and try not to point. If you appear to accuse then your partner will go on the defensive and is less likely to listen to you.
Apologise when you are wrong – When you realise you are wrong, apologise, sincerely and do not use the words “I’m sorry” as some sort of fix all that you bandy about to get you out of trouble or the words become meaningless.
Make amends – If you have unintentionally hurt your partner and are sorry, make amends immediately. Find out what your partners love language is and make it up to them.
If you still find yourselves unable to navigate the stormy seas, you may want to enlist the help of a relationship counsellor.
Before you balk at the idea of therapy, take cognisance of the fact that your car needs fuel, oil, and regular services to keep it in good mechanical health. Your relationship is the same. You can take precautionary measures and stop problems before they start or you can address the problems when you encounter them. Long gone are the days where couples therapy was perceived as a failure or something to be ashamed of or laughed at. In fact, it demonstrates your desire to maintain and in many cases, improve your relationship.
You often hear it said that ‘all you need is love’ and I am not here to argue that. Love is essential but you need more than love to preserve your relationship and couples therapy is one of those tools that can help you do that.
In the wake of the utterly reprehensible murders of 12 people including a policeman and ironically a Muslim man in Paris, there have been a vast many things said regarding the incident, one of which said that if you insult someone by exercising your right to freedom of speech, you should not be surprised at the consequences.
Firstly, let me start by saying this; it is never acceptable to kill someone for what they say. You can insult them back, you can ignore them, you can walk away, you can take an inexhaustible array of actions – not all of them enlightened, intelligent or sympathetic – but it is not acceptable to kill someone for saying something you do not like.
It has also been said that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. Well if you know anything about how Islamic children are educated, you will know that Christians, homosexuals, and Jews in particular, are referred to as pigs, thereby utterly dehumanising and debasing them as living, breathing people who have as much right to their place on earth as anyone else. The Charlie Hebdo satirical comics, therefore, can in fact be seen as a reaction to those anti-Semitic teachings, if you want to split hairs.
It has also been said that it is “a stupid thing to do” to poke fun at something that someone holds dear. But is it really? A great number of comedians have made their entire careers out of doing exactly that.
There are plenty of people who hold a great many things dear to them and someone is always going to have something to say about what you believe. It is unlikely you will be able to change his or her view and honestly, are you going to waste energy trying to convince someone of something? If you need to try so hard, who are you really trying to convince?
It is acceptable to poke fun at Hinduism for their reverence of the cow, or the Christians for reverence of Jesus, or to vegans, or any other number of things across the known universe, so why not Islam?
The overwhelming question burning in my mind is therefore this: What is it that Islamists and Imams are so afraid of? Are they afraid that their prophets and intolerant god, Allah will be found out for what they really are? Are they afraid that education of women and girl children will expose said women and children to the truth of how maligned they are? Let us not forget what the Taliban did to Malala Yousafzai, effectively showcasing that they are indeed afraid of the power that a 12-year-old girl with a book can yield.
The Catholic Church kept the peasantry illiterate and uneducated for exactly the same reason, until the protestant reformation by Luther, Calvin and others.
If that fear is loss of control of the masses then let me be the first (not even close but for the sake of emphasis) to stand up and defend the right to freedom of speech that every single person is entitled to, Christians, atheists, homosexuals, Buddhists, Hindus, etcetera alike.
I may not agree with your view that poking the bear remotely justifies the killing of 12 innocent men and women, but I acknowledge that it is your right to say so and in doing so you have exercised the very right you deem others should not.
I would like to offer my sincere condolences to the families of the victims of the Charlie Hebdo killings and I pray that they will, in time, find solace and comfort in the knowledge that their loved ones did not die in vain. It is my hope that this tragedy sparks a wake up call to the clear and present dangers of Islamic, in fact, all religious extremism.
May their memories be a blessing.
Thank you for reading.
‘Twas the eve(ish) before Christmas and I spied on my Facebook feed a post that said simply “I am feeling so down”.
I immediately thought to offer some words of encouragement and as I looked at the comments on the post, I noticed a particularly ill thought out response that read; “Don’t be, it’s Christmas!”
Let me first say that this time of year means little to me. It is at best a time to spend with those close to me and share a meal. Though I am Christian, I do not celebrate this particular holiday. I did as a child but as I have grown and delved deeper into my faith, the reasons and machinations of what Christmas is became less of a production and more of a farce. I am however not here to discuss that—or any person’s choice to celebrate the holiday but it means more to some than it does to others and offering that as a suggestion to fix what may in fact be causing the problem in the first place is largely callous.
There is what feels to me to be a deluge of forced joy and displays of ‘look at how fabulous I am’ that you can only wonder if any of it is genuine or if people are merely trying to keep up with (or out do) everyone else, which is not a little farcical, and don’t even get me started on the metaphor that is the gaudy bauble and tinsel draped trees that are hacked down, dressed and lit up and left to die a slow death as some sort of symbol.
This time of year is loaded with so much expectation by way of bombastic and for-the-sake-of-others’ show, social media plugging about what a wonderful time I’m having on my island holiday or on my destination ski trip, that it creates a very skewed yard stick against which we measure ourselves.
With so many high expectations and people running around behaving like pseudo jetsetters and hotel chain heirs, there are equal, if not greater, amounts of people who succumb to the pressure that this time of year is known to bring.
However, getting back to the “Don’t be, it’s Christmas” statement on my friend’s page, it struck me first as glib and then as a little insensitive. I’m certain that was not the intention but Oscar didn’t intend to kill Reeva, and well, she’s dead… but I digress.
I believe it is paramount that we feel free to acknowledge and express our feelings in order for us to deal with and move past them. Unless we do so, we have little hope of ever overcoming them and growing as individuals.
Furthermore, there still exists an inordinate amount of stigma where mental illness is concerned.
Speaking up is one of the scariest things a person can do because saying the words “I need help” can lead to feelings of incredible shame and failure.
So what am I trying to say with all of this? Well I guess it is that we need to encourage people to talk about the things that are bothering them without fear of recrimination and judgement. That we need to foster an attitude of acceptance regarding how we feel, especially when those feelings appear to be the opposite to what’s going on around us and/or despite what is going on around us.
It can be murder to constantly force a smile because we are expected to be happy and fulfilled.
It takes a super human effort to pretend that everything is okay when you feel like you are breaking to pieces inside. We can often feel a great sense of isolation and loneliness as a result.
The good news is, if we do not feel able to talk to a friend or relative, you can seek the help of a professional. There is absolutely nothing to be ashamed of, everyone—including myself—has at some point had feelings of extreme sadness and/or depression and the important thing to realise is that there is always a way out!
My personal philosophy is “Throw the closet door wide open, monsters hate the light and the more you shine the light on them, the smaller and less scary they become.”
To some this will come relatively easily but for others this can be very intimidating and even frightening. If this is the case for you, reach out to someone, which you can do anonymously but make the effort to reach out.
If you need help or if you need someone to talk to, here is a list of places you can find help:
Alternatively, contact a support group in your area.
In closing, I hope that everyone reading this does find some joy this holiday season. Be safe and may the next year be a better year than this one.
Thank you for reading!
What a difference a year makes.
It is amazing how much you can accomplish, how much it can bring you, how much it can take away and how much you can learn.
I leave my finance job tomorrow. I open my own business in a week. I am now a content developer. I have been invited to collaborate on a women’s lifestyle book. I am emotionally in the best place I have ever been in and I am living a love that makes me light up every time I think about it. All of this is of course not solely thanks to simply starting a blog but it is largely due to the fact that writing has served as the catalyst in helping me reset the tape inside my head. It has served as a way for me to work through all the hurt and pain of the past and to look at it objectively, learn and grow from it and allow that pain and those experiences to change me. To make me better.
It has helped me redefine myself, clarify what I want from life, who I want in my life and all of this has ultimately helped me to find a meaningful balance. Still lots of learning and growing to do, most assuredly, but I am far more centred and at peace now than I was even a year ago.
It is from this vantage point that I can see not only the great strides I have made to get here but I can also see the bright future ahead of me, an exciting, fulfilling and promising future and that is truly priceless.
When I was younger my father would ask me why I was so angry. I never had an answer for him because I never understood my own emotions and thoughts enough to make sense of them, much less communicate them to someone else. This journey, however, has led me to uncovering and exposing the empath side of me and that knowledge alone has made me more consciously aware that the feelings I am experiencing are not all mine. Awareness of this has enabled me to better choose my reactions to external stimuli. I don’t always get it right, sometimes my conditioned response–especially when under stress–is a negative one but I’m working on it and that’s what matters.
Not long ago I received a text from an ex-in law. She berated me, my blog, issued a kind of threat and an instruction. My reaction to that message partially baffled me and impressed my nearest and dearest. Once so quick to speak up, lash out like the cornered animal I felt, this time I swiped to the left and hit the ‘block’ and then ‘delete’ buttons.
On another occasion, I received hate mail from a toxic former associate. Once I realised who it was I simply deleted the messages.
The overwhelming sense of peace and relief I experienced was heady. I realised that I did not have to get into the ring on every single occasion. Of course being told this by people is one thing, coming to a realisation through your own experience is vastly more meaningful and empowering.
I never understood how liberating simply walking away is until I did it, until it was the only reaction I wanted to have. I was never able to do it until I started analysing, organising and categorising my feelings. Until I started searching for the “why” underneath it all.
Nowadays I don’t always have to get the last word in. If you don’t understand what or why I’ve said something, I don’t need to fight tooth and bloody nail to get you to do so. All that got me was statements like “You just want to be right” or “You just want the last word”. It’s at that point that I now walk away because that person is really just telling you that they are not willing to part with or see past their dogma, which borders on wilful ignorance when you strip it down.
Instead of trying to get them to understand, thank them and walk away. Seek out people who are intelligent and open minded enough to see more than just their own subjective view, who will converse with you and explore with you – you learn a vast amount more that way. It’s also how you solidify or change your own opinions based on new information. I’m not saying one should be blown about like reeds in the wind, have the courage of your convictions but don’t shut out every other voice in favour of your own. You will come off as arrogant and the only thing arrogance will do for you is make you a wholly unattractive person to converse with.
So with that in mind, I aim to take the lessons I have learned and work at putting them into practice daily. I really believe that life is that simple.
Be graceful when you are being taught a lesson in life, knowing that you are partially responsible–in small or large measure–for where you currently stand in life and you can either let it make you stronger or you can let it defeat you.
Thank you for reading.
Recently the results came back for Mr M’s sperm count. He scored zero. He has successfully been “neutered”. Good thing because there was no way in hell I was going to get him to go back under the knife for a second go at the vasectomy! Apparently, it’s like taking a swift kick to the balls. Truthfully I could not, in good conscience, make him endure that again.
This vasectomy thing has been on Mr M’s mind for a very long time, so while my unwillingness to spawn did not affect his decision, it did perhaps encourage him to go through with it. He is very squeamish and I can’t say I blame any man who hesitates. You can’t go boldly into an operating theatre when there is a chance the scalpel may slip. However, I digress.
I would have gone this route myself (a tubal ligation not a vasectomy, just so we’re clear) but thus far, each and every discussion regarding my own “spaying” with various doctors has resulted in the very same response; “You have not had children, you are too young and there are no health concerns to justify sterilisation at this time.”
From female doctors, no less. You’d expect there to be a fair amount of empathy, or sympathy at the least, from a woman who has seen enough babies born to very young, unprepared and unwilling mothers to at least entertain the thought of sterilising a woman who has made the choice to remain childless.
Though by the same token, they would also have seen many women who’ve struggled to have children. Still, I suspect they are the same breed of women who insist I will one day “Meet Mr Right” and “change my mind”.
In any event, the deed is done, the vas deferens has been severed and the stitches have dissolved.
There is a lightness about both our steps and we are a lot more carefree in our affections. Crack the champagne and bring on the oysters!
More importantly, I am no longer pumping my body full of hormones.
I could whinge on about the patriarchal nonsense that prevents women from making decisions that affect their own bodies, but I shall spare you. While the rhetoric seems spoken and written of to death, little seems to have changed for the every woman.
And now here’s the seeming contradiction: I am a pro lifer. I do not advocate abortion but I cannot in good conscience mandate how or what a woman may or may not do with her body. There are situations where, were I myself in the position, I would want the choice and I would want access to licensed medical doctors, clean hospitals and after care. Those instances are rape, incest and endangerment to the mother’s life. I am in complete disagreement with abortion as a method of family planning or convenience. I support the right to life of the innocent, not the guilty.
I am a proponent of sexual education aimed at girls and access to birth control. I firmly believe every woman should be able to make this choice for herself, free from the dogma of society, pressure from her partner (and/or her family) and religious institutions–be they Christian, Islamic or other.
I believe woman should take the bulk of the responsibility for birth control. Before you organise the lynch mob, allow me to quantify that statement.
We need parents to talk more openly with their children about sex, the responsibility that intimate relationships involve and the life long consequences thereof, especially for girls.
We need to instil in girls from a young age that her body is hers and hers alone, that she is the captain of her future.
Because the glaring reality is that it is always the woman who is left holding the baby.
There will always be mistakes and bad choices. We all make them. This is how we learn. I am advocating arming our girls with the facts, unbiased and unashamed, as well as access to contraception to minimise the fallout of impulsive decisions.
The argument that this is like handing your children the license to have sex is moot, especially if you look at where we are today.
Because of the double standard that exists in society between male and female sexuality and what we consider acceptable, or not, in terms of sexual activity, I am in favour of providing as many tools to girls as possible. Because in the end, she is the one who will suffer the lion’s share of the consequences, not her partner ‘in crime’. It may not be fair but it is reality.
So having said all of that, I do not believe this is where the responsibility ends, on the contrary this is where it begins.
Sexual education for boys requires a vastly more honest, responsible and frank approach with regards to the female perspective. The more we teach boys how precious and valuable women are in society, the vastly better off we will be. The less we malign, denigrate and subjugate women, the healthier our society will be.
It is NOT a woman’s responsibility to ensure she dress a certain way to avoid being raped, it is not her responsibility to behave in a certain way to avoid being groped in a night club or leered at on the street. What a man does with his penis is NOT her responsibility nor should she bear the weight of consequence.
So what do we do about the scourge of violence and oppression?
Start with your own children.