The African Femme Fatale

femmefatale The African Femme Fatale

Via weheartit.com

As the year comes to an end, I thought that I would like my last post of the year to be about something exciting, a feminine energy we could do well channeling more of in 2014. Scrolling through old posts and comments, I recognised an energy brewing, one not yet defined but one which can put an end to the erotic famine that has caused women a sense of powerlessness – namely the femme fatale.

So I am dedicating 2014 to her. La femme fatale. Why? Well, simply because her no bullshit modus operandi could bring about radical change. Hers is an archetype that is simultaneously disobedient, powerful, serious, troublesome, wise, playful, tough, kind, seductive and sensual saying “Fuck you” to anyone who attempts to diminish her sense of self. Qualities which could be useful for African women, for women everywhere, don’t you think?

Also, while she certainly exists, the African femme fatale is absent from cultural production at large. Most of us can name women such as Marlene Dietrich, Mata Hari or mother of all femme fatales, Eve, but their African counterpart is not as well known. Yet as a cross-cultural study about the female archetype found, the femme fatale is incredibly popular in sub-Saharan African folklore.

The African “Fatale” has a lot in common with Fatales all around the world but I suggest that a few things distinguish her.

Firstly, the African Fatale lives – and has for very long lived – in a world, where much like the continent from where she comes, her existence has been equally mystified and condemned. As the feminine proprietor of the torch-shaped treasure grove which is Africa, she has been exploited, abused, adored and praised in tandem with it. In ancient times before christian mythology was misused to justify slavery, declaring black the colour of evil and of the devil, dark skin was a symbol of beauty, of earth and of divinity. The African continent was in those days also seen as a place of esteem: of knowledge and wealth. This was long before fellas like Sigmund Freud nailed Africa and women into the same casket with declarations such as, uhn, “the sexual life of adult women is a “dark continent” for psychology.” The modern African femme fatale knows that her early worshippers had good taste. To her, “female freedom always means sexual freedom” (as Toni Morrison said), and she is indefatigably proud of her heritage.

Unlike her western counterpart, to whom history can seem unfashionable, to the African Fatale, reflecting back is reflecting forward. Due to the proverbial hunter-historian obscuring her continent’s magnificence, rediscovery of women like Cleopatra, Nefertiti, Nzinga, Winnie Mandela and deities like the Mami Wata and Oya, connect the dots between the modern African Fatale and her ancestors like a string of pearls.

Which brings me to glamour, for you cannot talk about the femme fatale without mentioning glamour. Whether she is diabolusly charming or eloquently seductive she uses glamour like a magician uses a deck of cards. The African Fatale’s existence is enriched by luxuries of the senses: powerful colours, waist beads, lush fabrics, indigo, henna, patchouli, nipple tassles, you name it. Glamour is her uniform as she fearlessly and “irresponsibly” navigates the edges of her world.

As for the men of her continent, they are equally frightened and seduced by her power. They sing songs, write stories and make movies about her. The myth of Moremi, NedjmaKarmen Geï… They accuse her of witchcraft, they murder and adulate her. Her insouciant wilderness threatens the status quo and precisely therefore she, the Afro-fatale, ignores the rise of conservative values. She knows that their primary goal is to make her extinct and the priority above all for the African Fatale is to avoid extinction.

The Fatale – wherever she stems from – is not necessarily feminist, at least not in the academic sense of the term. But she is most certainly a feminist archetype especially because of her determination not to let anything – nothing at all: not men who sit mightily on power, not traditions that are afraid of her sexuality, not white supremacist fantasies about racial hierarchies, not religions that dictate that women should obey men, not ideas that negate the life giving act of mothering, not media that obsesses with depicting women weakly, not even the inevitability of ageing, let alone the mortifying mythification surrounding it – compromise her appetite for life. She is her own boss and she runs her enterprise with zest.

So are we ready for the brave new world of the Fatale in 2014?

What does the term ‘femme fatale’ make you think of?

 

Interview with Iheoma Obibi, founder of Nigeria’s first online sex shop

iheomapic 640x1024 Interview with Iheoma Obibi, founder of Nigerias first online sex shopWelcome back to my interview series! Over the past years I’ve interviewed inspiring women of African heritage highlighting their work and observations on life.

This time around, I’m especially excited to introduce readers to Iheoma Obibi, an African feminist writer, human rights activist and more recently the creative director and business owner of Intimate Pleasures Desires of the Heart, a one of a kind online shop offering the best selection of sexual health products and erotica sourced from around the world.

Minna: Hi Iheoma! Firstly, thanks so much for taking the time to share your story with my readers. I’ve been looking forward to our interview since we met up months ago in London.
Let’s start with your motivation to set up Intimate Pleasures, Nigeria’s first female online intimate shop. Was it a choice you came to gradually or something you always wanted to do and what have the main challenges and joys been?

Iheoma: My motivation came after several years of being told that since I had relocated to Lagos for work and who travelled rather frequently, that since “I had no shame” here is a list of items from friends all wanting something from an adult store in whichever country I found myself visiting. By the time I had attended the African Feminist Forum in 2008 and 2010, I knew that this is what I wanted to do but still had a few stumbling blocks in the how it was going to take shape.
The idea for an online store was therefore organic, because I knew enough to know that no Nigerian would visit a store. In fact, getting staff to man the store would be problematic.

It makes me glad that my business idea has allowed for women – single or coupled up – to begin to address issues around intimacy, sexual fulfilment, lust and love. In fact, I have had to engage a counsellor because some women will call the order line and burst into tears. There’s very little opportunity for women to discuss issues of intimacy, sexual fulfilment or even address previous history if they have been survivors of sexual abuse or rape in Nigeria.
I must say that my business has opened the floodgates and so now I am not the only one selling adult novelty toys, but I am the only one doing it this way. Once in a while, I appear on a phone-in radio show as “Madam Butterfly” with Wana Wana on Inspiration FM. I run wellness and intimacy ladies afternoons. It’s become a holistic approach to women and sexual fulfilment.

My challenges are daily! Since we supply all over Nigeria, a constant challenge is working with local courier companies who neglect the importance of time management on deliveries. A further challenge is a recent flood of sub-standard adult toys onto the market with no regulation and no concern about the kinds of materials used. Loving a good deal, many Nigerians are rushing for them, however, some of these toys break on the first day or do not last as long as they should. Also, customers might not trust online businesses because of fraud. So now, on our website, customers can pay using the mypaga.com platform which gives an additional level of security and discretion.

My Intimate Pleasures Logo Advert Interview with Iheoma Obibi, founder of Nigerias first online sex shopMinna: Since founding Intimate Pleasures have your views on female sexuality within Nigeria changed and in what way? Are women more or less sexually assertive, confident or knowlegeable than you thought?

Iheoma: Yes my views have certainly changed. Our society is complex when it comes to sex. There are a lot of un-spoken and hidden things that take place.  Yet the environment is extremely judgemental and the lure of the title “Mrs.” is stronger than ever. Due to pressure from family, friends, age, networks and faith institutions, women are entering marriages for the wrong reasons, making many compromises.

However, many women are beginning to appreciate the importance of a caring and loving relationship that encourages sexual fulfilment. Remember though, many women are told to be chaste and pure for their marriage; then once married, many cannot make the transition to sexual experimentation. I cannot make assumptions about women’s knowledge but the inability to discuss sex in an informative way as is done through the PSHE programme in schools in the UK means that young women and men really do not have a chance at sexual fulfilment.

Minna: Which product do you sell the most of?

Iheoma: We sell a lot of Jessica Rabbit in all its variations as well as the penis rings. Penis enhancement products are our third best selling product.

Minna: You are active in the Nigerian Feminist Forum and sit on its Steering Committee. What role does feminism play in Nigeria, and Africa at large, and where have we seen progress and where do you think we still need to work harder?

Where do I begin with the role of feminism in Nigeria – we have a long way to go but we are slowly getting there. We face discrimination on all fronts and our biggest challenge is the merging of right wing fundamentalisms with nationalistic ideology from the Christian right. Much focus has been placed on understanding situations of women in northern Nigeria, in the process neglecting that in the south the Christian right has merged with our antiquated cultural norms and sent the discourse back a generation. It has become so embedded in all families that it is a daily challenge to be able to hold a clear headed conversation with anyone on women’s choices.

We need to work harder to provide an alternative discourse for women to realise that they can make choices for themselves as mature women; including the choice to get married should they wish to; the choice to fly to the moon should they want to; the choice to leave an abusive relationship alive and not in a casket.

Minna: What are your thoughts on being an African woman in your field? Have you had to tackle stereotypes and in what ways has your background been an advantage? Also, what would you like us to imagine for future generations of African women in terms of their sexual relationships?

Iheoma: It’s been tough. I have received death threats, I’ve been told that my business is “devil business” and I’m regularly told by people that they “pray for the salvation of my soul”. According to my tormentors, I do not “look” the part of a depraved individual and I’m tickled that this is how they see me and my business. Being a feminist allows me to create the mental framework to always move on. I place the challenges in a box called obstacles to overcome and I do not take them personally.

Despite the challenges I absolutely love running an adult novelty store online in Nigeria at this present time. It enables me to tackle stereotypes and I would so much want to envisage a future in which we are more concerned with our individual sexual fulfilment rather than whether your neighbour is getting off or not. Seriously, there needs to be more focus on the self and making your relationship work for you rather than on what your great aunt thinks you’re up to behind closed doors..

I’m encouraged that we have seen progress in the online platforms – also by creating anonymity women are able to have discussions, initiate campaigns and engage the wider public without feeling that they are letting their family down.

Visit Intimate Pleasures

www.myintimatepleasureshop.com
Gplus.to/naijadesires
@naijadesires
Facebook.com/naijadesires

Thank you!

Update: Intimate Pleasures is the first online sex shop catering to women specifically in Nigeria but the second to sell sex toys online.

The objectification of men

african renaissance monument  from above The objectification of menI am intrigued, despite my previous post about how African women’s art is feminist, by how seldom women artists (from Africa but also elsewhere) objectify the male body. We lose out from this disengagement with the male as object. Whether it is fine or digital art, photography or sculpture, we are culturally deprived of an artistic female interpretation of the butt-naked hombre.

Nope, I don’t mean women artists should objectify the male body as an act of revenge. Not even necessarily as a sexual object as not all women are sexually attracted to men. But rather just as an “object” of mutual human fascination. The rarity of female artists observing the male body as a point of reference suggests to me that women artists don’t generally feel they have a right to a “female gaze”, and certainly not to declare it publicly.

Ways to objectify men

The truth is that artistic depictions of naked men (NSFW) are generally speaking created through a male – gay and straight – gaze. As a result, the male physique has historically been portrayed in a self-masturbatory way that engorges the association of masculinity with power: most of all power over other men but also over women, children, nature, animals, everyshit. Quite literally the male body has been portrayed as God.

Take for instance the eyesore that we must now forever associate with the African renaissance, namely the African Renaissance Statue (pictured). Pierre Goudiaby Atepa’s (whose other work is quite cool) demigod hunk is a man whom I imagine would protect his family from enemies while simultaneously being his family’s greatest fear. He is THE nation itself while the damsel in distress next to, wait – behind, him is the prize possession: the reward that enhances his status in the world. (Don’t even get me started on her implant-like exposed boob.)

In contrast, consider for example these Alison Saar sculptures. I’m not saying that they in particular would’ve made a perfect African renaissance monument but I love the stories her figures tell. Or compare Laura Facey’s Redemption Song Monument to the Disney-like hero now stoutly obfuscating the African west coast.

How does the unclothed male body express emotions such as beauty, vulnerability, ugliness, woundedness or strength? What details can a man’s frame reveal about human evolution? How does the male body age? How does a laryngeal prominence look when painted through a woman’s eyes? And what do women artists make of the most communicative of body parts, the penis, especially when it’s not viewed as a phallic power schlong?

… like Salt-n-Pepa

The popular idea in society is that the female body is more beautiful than the male. This view is not an inherent one, rather it has been carefully architected to suit the circular patriarchal logic that since the female body is more appealing than the male, it is therefore more “natural” to objectify it.

The female body is beautiful and expressive, don’t get me wrong. I am not suggesting that art of naked women by both genders cannot be striking. But I personally find the male body as beautiful as the female, not only because I am a heterosexual woman, but even more so simply because I find human beings beautiful and men are human.

So, I wish more female artists to do  what Salt-n-Pepa do in Shoop, namely to objectify men!

What about you? Male objectification, anyone?

Seriously though, can male and female bodies be compared in terms of beauty? Why do you think women artists, African as well as others, largely shy away from objectifying men?

photo by: Jeff Attaway

What makes African women’s art feminist?

Picture 10 250x250 What makes African women’s art feminist?

Peju Alatise, Release (2010) Acrylic on oil

It has been said that artistry in Africa is an intrinsic part of life rather than a commercial or careerist enterprise. I’d say that this notion is not only applicable to African art, all across the world art has explored the sensitivities of life and the social environment.

However, it is in this process of examining life and society through art, that African women artists are prone to, wittingly or unwittingly, explore concepts of feminism.

Feminism in an African perspective

Let me explain. Whether African women’s art is feminist in nature has not necessarily to do with whether African female artists identify as feminist, but rather with the way that their art might be interpreted.  Think about it: what do you feel when you observe a piece by Wangechi Mutu, Otobong Nkanga, Lalla Essaidy, Peju Alatise, Suzanne Ouedraogo, Tracey Rose, Zanele Muholi or Michelle Magema? What story of womanhood do their brushes paint and their lenses and hands sculpt?

Also, to understand the feminist nature of African women’s art requires that we shy away from the narrow understanding of feminism as an “unAfrican” framework. Rather, and simply defined for the purpose of this post, feminism is resistance to patriarchy.

The question thus becomes, to what extent does African women’s art stand up to the patriarchal paradigm?

It should be noted that to challenge age-old patriarchal establishments in African societies can be a risk resulting (at best) in social exclusion. It takes courage to challenge, for example, practices such as FGM or the institution of marriage, which is *yawn* seen as the pinnacle of a woman’s life. Tensions between men and women as well as between race and ethnicity are depicted by artists who are willing to produce not only aesthetically compelling but also socially pressing work. Regardless of criticisms that may be directed at them.

And yet, as Zimbabwean writer and “shero” Yvonne Vera might say, African female artists continue to produce art in which they take upon themselves the role of the confident historian, the adept raconteur and the griot whom silence will not swallow.
I agree. Well, I should do since those are my words (sort of). I am under the intoxication of reading Vera.

The artist as witness

African women artists create art which reminds you what it is to be a woman not a striking sexual object so often – sure, brilliantly –  illustrated by African male artists, but a woman-being in all her contradictory nuance; vulnerable, afraid, beautiful, ugly, delicate, crude, angry, oppressed, complacent, defiant, sorrowful and empowered.

Most of all, in the art of a multitude of African women there is a voice that shares a quality of telling what it has witnessed – the good and the bad. It is an unapologetic voice. It is a tired but yet tireless voice. It is a voice that cherishes its source. It is a voice that is screaming at the top of its chords that it must be heard, that it mustn’t be silenced. It is, a feminist voice.

Over to you, what do you think -is African women’s art feminist? Should art have a message or should it simply be visually pleasing? What kind of art do you like? Favourite female artist? Let’s discuss.

Polygamy in Africa has little to do with sex

 47413423 wives 2 Polygamy in Africa has little to do with sexAt its core polygamy is natural because men biologically need to spread their seed and it is hard for them to commit to one woman. Right?

Wrong.

But this argument is one commonly given to explain the tradition.

For instance, Ghana’s first president, Kwame Nkrumah, wrote in his autobiography that: “However unconventional and unsatisfactory this way of life may appear to those who are confirmed monogamists, and without in any way trying to defend my own sex, it is a frequently accepted fact that man is naturally polygamous.

And following a law that would protect women in polygamous marriages in Tanzania in the 1970s, male deputies protested saying: “if a man has to get his wife’s consent to a second marriage, the African tradition where man has always been superior to a woman will be endangered.” (source)

In more modern times, President Jacob Zuma of South Africa has defended the tradition in similar terms, saying that it’s better than cheating (which, he has nevertheless also managed to do).

Status not sex

Yet even if natural urges are the reason men might choose polygamy today – which I doubt, considering it would take an admirably virile man to keep an amount of women sexually satisfied – historically the sexual aspect was hardly the most relevant. Furthermore, women also have natural urges.

The truth is that polygamy was to do with status and wealth. The more wives a man had the more his wealth grew. Why? Because it was women and their children who worked the land. That is also why, contrary to popular belief, monogamy was equally common in precolonial Africa if not by choice. As historian Samuel Johnson writes in his seminal book, only the wealthy can avail themselves of the luxury of polygamy.

Even for women, polygamy in ancient times was not always disadvantageous. Through polygamous marriages women in precolonial Africa often had greater personal autonomy. As new wives joined a compound, older ones could focus on their trading. And successful women traders, such as the Iyalodes in Yorubaland, had a lot of power. While autonomous female traders are traditionally linked to West Africa, studies have found a long history of women’s trading also in places such as among the Kikuyu in Kenya as well as groups in Uganda and Zambia.
Also, women could take lovers that would pay husbands for the “loan”, if the husband allowed it – which some would if the wife was not the first or last.
In Guinea, albeit during colonial rule, in order to escape nagging husbands and join the independence struggles, women went so far as to acquire wives for their husbands as explained in “Emancipate your husbands“.

Of course, whatever autonomy polygamy afforded back then, it was subsumed by colonialism and the rise of puritanical missionary teaching.

What about love?

I’m sure that what we today describe as romantic love could be found in polygamous homes. Humans are biologically predisposed to feel romantic love. But since couples in love would run away from their parents to be together to avoid polygamous marriages it seems likely that it was not the norm. There are accounts of missionaries “rescuing” a woman being kidnapped only to learn that it was staged. It was in fact the woman’s boyfriend “kidnapping” her so that they could escape the inevitability of her ending up in a polygamous marriage.

Polygamy has far from disappeared. From President Zuma to village heads in Zimbabwe to my own granddad (who married four women), polygamy is part of the fabric of African life.

I don’t think polygamy should be illegal. As long as our societies are marked by both poverty and patriarchy, it will continue. Women still depend on men financially and social norms entitle men to dominant roles. (Of course, I wish both poverty and patriarchy would end.) And I certainly think that as long as polygamy is legal, women should also be able to marry more than one man. Also, some people might be genuinely happy practising polygamy.
But please spare me the macho spiel that polygamy in African society is about men’s natural sexual urges.
It’s not about sex, it’s about status.

We need to eroticise society

tumblr ml We need to eroticise society

I know what you’re thinking: What do I mean by “eroticise” society and why on earth should we do that? Surely we are obsessed with sex as it is!

Well, yes, sex is everywhere but Eros, i.e. Erotic love, isn’t. Our sexual culture is either prudish or pornographic. On one end, we are surrounded by explicit sexual images that objectify women and make men seem vulgar: and on the other end, lurking underneath our hypersexualised culture are proscriptive Victorian values. In reality, pornographic and prudish cultures are two sides of the same coin: they shock and feed off each other.

In 1970 Shulamith Firestone wrote in The Dialectic of Sex that “heterosexuality has been restricted to the genitals, rather than diffused over the entire physical being”. Still very true today. We still hardly talk about the  psychological processes to do with sexual desire (NSFW). Nor do we culturally uphold genuine intimacy. Yet so much of the joy of life is about showing our real selves. Or as Brooke Magnanti a.k.a. Belle de Jour put it, what everyone wants is “someone who accepts them exactly as they are.”

By contrast, in creating a culture where sex is either superficial or taboo, people are stuck with all sorts of hang ups about sex. Even worse, as a 2009 study showed, poor self-esteem, stress, and self-doubt are associated with a hypersexual culture.

This is why we should eroticise society, as Eros per definition involves desire, intimacy and love.

Now it is, in many circles, unfashionable to speak of making love. Making love is associated with a particular idea of romance: R&B music in the background; rose petals floating lightly on velvety cushions that rest invitingly on a silk-clad bed for two; champagne, chocolate, home cooked dinner, cunnilingus.

I’m not judging anyone for whom I’ve just described a perfect recipe for stupefying sex, but I think making love could equally be a quickie in front of the TV. To me, making love is not so much about the format: the set up or the schmooze, but rather it is a mindset. When sex is seductive, honest, sweaty, soft, tactile, emotional, connected, etc., the phrase that best describes it, regardless of where and how it takes place, is making love.

Fucking, on the other hand, is characterised by detachment. You know you are fucking when there is a sense of indifference to whom you are sleeping with – never mind he is your partner of fifteen years and you have five kids – all that matters at that moment is that he is satisfying your animalistic urges.

Let me be clear: one type of sex is not better than another, I think most people engage in both, but to eroticise society, we must talk more about making love.

It hasn’t always been this way …

There is no golden age to look back to when it comes to sexual relations, but before western male supremacist sexologists (such as Sigmund Freud, Richard von Krafft-Ebing, Havelock Ellis etc.) systemically “phallocentrified” sexuality, historical remnants provide examples of reciprocal sexual exploration. Some very old (NSFW) examples are The Turin Erotic Papyrus of ancient Egypt, the Lakshmana Temple Reliefs and the Japanese Shunga. Attitudes toward homosexuality were also much more relaxed than today. For instance, as far back as 2000 years ago in San cave paintings in Zimbabwe and in 15th century European prayer books there are drawings of male-male sex.

Ultimately, a more erotic society would mean that humans interact – lust, learn, pleasure, care, explore, share, disappoint, love – each other with more finesse. As the Congolese author, Sony Lab’ou Tansi said, “Eroticism is the art of cooking love well”.

What do you think?

What makes a clitoris dangerous?

picture 5 What makes a clitoris dangerous?

Estimates suggest that out of the 140 million people in the world whose clitorises have been removed via Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), 100 million are African. Three million African girls and women are at risk of undergoing the procedure annually. The countries with the highest rates are Sudan and Somalia, which unsurprisingly are two out of nine African countries that do not have a law prohibiting FGM. (Cameroon, DRC, Gambia, Liberia, Mali, Nigeria and Sierra Leone are the remaining seven.)

Just to be clear, there are different types of procedures from partial or total removal of the clitoris (clitoridectomy) to removal of both the clitoris and the labia minora (excision) to the narrowing and repositioning of the labia- minora and/or majora, with or without excision of the clitoris (infibulation). I’m referring to them all by FGM. Not because of a tradition of western feminists calling it FGM, as some African scholars have taken issue with, but because of a tradition of African feminists doing so.

The most common causes given for FGM are “a mix of cultural, religious and social factors within families and communities.” But that leaves me wondering still, why? Yes, social, cultural and religious factors keep the practice alive, but what is at the root of it – why do social factors dictate that a woman is more desirable after she’s undergone FGM and why do people use religion to justify it? 

To get to the bottom of it, we must ask, what makes the clitoris in itself so dangerous that millions of women are prevented from owning one?

Female Genital Mutilation Source fightagainstfgm.yolasite.com1  400x250 What makes a clitoris dangerous?

I’ll tell you what. The clitoris is the only human body part that exists purely for the sake of pleasure. Unlike the penis, which is responsible for urination and whose reproductive function is tied to sexual pleasure, a woman’s clitoris has nothing to do with babies or pee. In other words, the scientific reason for the clitoris is simply to enable a woman’s orgasm. Of course this is a problem. Why is this a problem? Well, because it means that female anatomy is at direct odds with the idea that women’s primary sexual role  is reproduction. A woman’s biology presents a threat to the myth that a woman’s ultimate role is mothering, a myth which people are so fond of that to challenge it can be to risk your life.

I’m not saying that FGM is not intertwined with cultural/religious factors or that motherhood is not an essential aspect of womanhood. But when looking at the underlying causes of FGM, the relationship between sexuality and motherhood is key. It is not coincidental that many FGM practitioners believe that the clitoris is dangerous during childbirth, or, that FGM is a pre-requisite for the good health of a baby, or, that an unexcised woman cannot conceive. Such beliefs are demonstrative of the fear of women’s anatomy bringing her pleasure beyond procreation. I think this is significant.

What do you think? Would love to hear your thoughts as always.

 

 

Valentine’s Day Give-Away – My free poetry e-book

cache jpg Valentines Day Give Away   My free poetry e book

 

I don’t consider myself a poet but that’s an odd thing to announce given that I am next going to offer you to download cache, my poetry book. And for free too in the spirit of Valentine’s day and love!

Poetry is a form of writing that I’m compelled to engage in when I’m at a threshold in life, in between endings and beginnings, however subtle, as I was when most of the poems in cache were written.Life, as we all know, is full of enchanting thresholds and writing poetry is something I will probably always do in between other writing. So I’m excited and proud that cache is my first book! I hope you’ll like it as much as I do! Let me know what you think! Did I say that I’m excited?

Visit the cache page to download it or find it directly here.

Oh, what’s cache about? Here’s an excerpt from the the blurb on my publisher’s site:

Weedmark Publishing is proud to present Minna Salami’s first collection of poetry. This collection invites the reader to witness the simple magic and myth in life, love and the journeys along memory and identity.

Enjoy, share the love and thoughts!

 

 

 

On Vagina by Naomi Wolf and the reviews that followed

 On Vagina by Naomi Wolf and the reviews that followedThe release of Naomi Wolf’s “Vagina: A New Biography” was met with scathing criticisms from feminists like Laurie Penny, Ariel Levy and Zoe Heller. These influential writers all bring up some valid arguments about problematic ideas presented in the book. Vagina is indeed a book that in many ways feels unfinished and often naïve.
It is in a sense two parallel books in one: The first part tests the validity of the obvious idea that the brain and the vagina are connected while the second – if still incomplete – is much more interesting and true to the title looking at historical ideas about female sexuality.

However, frankly what is even more frustrating than Naomi Wolf’s tendency to draw premature conclusions based on incomplete research and then furthermore present platitudes as though they were revelations, is that even though she doesn’t fully succeed, her attempt to honestly and critically discuss female sexuality is met with reviews that take it too far with their vitriolic and personal criticism.

As a black/African feminist, I find myself in familiar territory reading the reviews. The gatekeepers of mainstream feminism’s underlying message is still that firstly, there is just one kind of feminist dialogue and women who don’t fit into this box may not contribute to it and, secondly, that the conversation should be of the type of Cartesian, unemotional writing that is held above all other types of social discourse in western society.

While the hole-as-goddess language that Naomi Wolf employs is over the top for me personally, what’s laudable is the endeavour to connect women’s erotic and sensual lives with their creativity and power.
However, it is therefore important to emphasize that this is a discussion that feminists before, especially those from the south and black feminists around the world have been having for decades. Black feminists have necessarily sought women’s own re/interpretations of sexuality in creative, erotic and spiritual realms of painting, pottery, poetry and so on because heavily male- dominant and often racially oppressive worlds of academic and historical “truths” do not account ‘herstory’ or African heritage reliably.

In 1978, Audre Lorde for example urged women to find our “internal erotic guides” and explore the erotic as a source of power. In African Sexualities, Nkiru Nzegwu describes that unlike the dominant ideas in 20th century sexology, in Osunality (or African eroticism) the penis is not in charge. Instead, the vagina is seen as the dominant organ as it swallows the penis, it pulls it and makes it disappear during heterosexual sex. (This is comparable to the ‘upsuck theory’ that Naomi Wolf discusses.)

In other words, there are much better resources that attempt to connect intimacy with a form of female knowing (as in the links above) than Naomi Wolf’s

Apart from continuing to reject the idea that cerebral thinking is more of a guarantee for profundity than is knowledge that has its seeds in emotion, soulfulness and creativity, I hope we will continue to explore connections between women’s creative and erotic lives as an antidote to woman-bashing in our hypersexualized society. I also think that we should seek counter-narratives of the penis as an erotic symbol of maleness and explore how that is psychosexually related to ideas of male power. Oh, I wrote a post about that a while ago - male genitalia and ideas of power. I also wrote about somatic approaches to psychology (which is really what we are dealing with here,)and of how prejudices against African spiritual philosophy for example, continue despite evidence that there is knowledge available in this field that modern science is only just beginning to understand.

Have you read it? What’s your take?

Is it unAfrican to be gay? The Nigerian case

6399301555 7ddb83fa60 Is it unAfrican to be gay? The Nigerian case Since 1960 Nigeria has had no more than eleven years of unbroken civilian rule. Out of those, the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) now led by Goodluck Jonathan has held a tight grip on power whilst barely contributing to any growth. Shell has just admitted that thousands of barrels of oil have spilt in the Bonga oil leak, the worst Nigeria has seen in over a decade. Nigerian universities are currently shut down on an impermanent strike. There have been more than a dozen bomb explosions this year. Schools are still teaching children more about Lord Lugard than of African icons that shaped history. About half of Nigerian women have been beaten by a male partner. Maternal death rates are the second highest in the world, widows are mentally and physically abused and acid bathing affects an increasing number of women across all ages.
I could go on but I’ll stop before I get the ‘rebrand Africa crusaders‘ on my case.

Instead of questioning the morality in a government that upholds such living conditions for its citizens now planning on legalizing homophobia, the hot topic on facebook and several other forums is paradoxically the ‘immorality’ of homosexuality. Apparently it is unAfrican to be gay.

I don’t know whom I respect less; the Nigerian government, or people like this that appoint themselves as gatekeepers of traditional African culture and in so doing defend the obviously incompetent regime. How unenlightened to use the Judaeo-Christian-Islamic canon as proof of the unAfricanness of homosexuality when the historical truth is that homophobia was introduced to Africa through organized religion and Victorian values. Before then there is historical evidence that homosexual practice was accepted and even revered by tribes such as the Dogon, Bangala, Hausa (Yan Daudu), Nzema (Agyale) and others.

Personally, I’m interested neither in glorifying nor condemning homosexuality. It’s like having an opinion on the incident that human beings breathe.
And I’m suspicious of traditionalist fantasies. The truth is few of us would want to return to 19th century Africa just as little as we would like to return to the Europe of those days. The romanticizing of African values is a piously camouflaged reaction against western imperialism. If the west  claims pretends it cares about the environment and animals – we are quick to say it is African to kill elephants and wipe out our vegetation since it is man that is made in the image of god. If the west asserts pretends that feminism made women equal to men – we remind ourselves of the ever loving, enduring, protecting African woman who accepts her position as the rib of the African patriarch. When the west alleges pretends it is pro-gay – we decry western decadence on one hand, and then conflate its mythology with African values.

It’s unfortunate that we don’t see that the (pseudo) liberalism in western politics is actually largely a political tactic aiming to position the west as the monitor of the ‘free’ world; of ‘free’ trade; of ‘free’ speech; of a world order where freedom means dominance. Unfortunate, because by reacting defensively against it we only reinforce its supremacist position.
Culture that is born out of defense is just as problematic as that which rises from ignorance and it is ignorance, not culture, which we would be preserving with this legislation.

Oh and merry Christmas everyone! icon wink Is it unAfrican to be gay? The Nigerian case

cc Is it unAfrican to be gay? The Nigerian case photo credit: smagdali

Why men love feminists

tumblr lq1j32QiK21qmffl3o1 500 large Why men love feministsContrary to popular belief many feminists have active, and even pleasant love lives.

Before I continue let me clarify, and oversimplify (terribly) for purposes of this commentary, by saying that there are two types of feminists. It’s oversimplifying by the way, because we live in an age of individual feminisms rather than theory-centered doctrine. And it also doesn’t matter if a woman who opposes patriarchy calls herself a feminist, a womanist, motherist, mujerista, goddess etc., we have similar hopes at the end of the day, there are many ways to transform society.
Anyhow, there are those that are feminists in a girl power, women are better than men kinda way and there are the vast majority who see feminism as a woman-centered part of humanism, where equal value of all human beings in all realms of life is the fantasy.
I belong to the latter group and feel slightly uncomfortable about pseudo-feminist themes like Beyonce’s ‘Girls rule the world‘. It’s nonsense to think women better than men. Our souls are gender-neutral, it is our minds that have created masculinity and femininity and boxed our biological make-up into definitions:

Feminine: softgentletendermodestdelicategracefulgirliegirlishladylike effeminatecampweakunmanlyeffete

Masculine: strongpowerfulboldbravestrappinghardyrobustvigorousmuscularmacho,

resolutegallantwell-builtred-bloodedstout-hearted

(http://www.thefreedictionary.com/)

Don’t most people have a bit of all of the above in them? A man can be delicate and a woman bold, right? What do you think about these definitions?

Fact is, the most evolved people have always been those that have learnt how to step out of the mind, as a result transcending also whatever their societies defines as masculine and feminine, as black and white, as handicapped or talented etc. Questioning binaries like masculine/feminine causes controversy, people prefer to stay in comfortable, and might I add eurocentric, man- and woman boxes.

The media myth is that feminists are lonely, unattractive women whom men shun. But in actuality, it seems that we humans are intrigued by people who don’t pigeon hole themselves. Many feministas are interested in doing precisely that, digging underneath the layers of being ‘woman’. I ain’t saying there aren’t challenges to dating while feminist. Hey, we live in patriarchy, which must mean that a majority of people want to live in patriarchy, which means that someone who doesn’t want to live in patriarchy is a minority, which means that it is a challenge for many women and men today, the mating thing. Many talk about a gender crisis. And maybe they are right, considering that in the UK one third of families consist of a single parent.

We can endlessly apply power to certain genders, skin colour and characteristics, but we cannot euthanize the power of our souls. This is where the term soul-mate comes from. The thing that pulls people to each other is a thing that appreciates equality. A relationship where a man can also act ‘feminine’ and a woman also ‘masculine’ has larger chances of surviving because those involved are allowed to be well-rounded and whole and that is a much bigger challenge than being the perfect feminine or masculine type.

So if you think that feminism is a man repellant, think again. Ask feminists you know about their love lives. If you are shy to ask, then subscribe to adventures from the bedrooms of African women.

Don’t ask me about my private life, I reveal enough on here as it is icon wink Why men love feminists

Rihanna gets it right with Man Down

 Rihanna gets it right with Man DownAfter commenting unfavourably on Rihanna in an article in The Guardian as well as in this post some months ago I didn’t think I would be praising her any time soon.
But I am feeling her new song ‘Man Down’ and the accompanying video.

The actual song makes me feel like dirty dancing with a pleasant male specimen with the wind and sunshine cocooning us from the rest of the world. YUP!

The video is not similarly inciting. Rihanna acts the role of a woman who follows up a rape by chasing her rapist down and killing him. Of course two wrongs don’t make a right, it would not occur to me to justify murder. But the video is metaphorical, and as such, I think it’s raising an important topic, namely how frustrated many women feel that rape is often not judged as the vicious crime that it is.
We still hear bizarre arguments when it comes to rape; that if a man refuses to use a condom it is not really rape, that there are different categories of rape, that there is a biological factor that prevents men from controlling their ‘natural urges’ and that if a woman wears certain clothes she is asking to get raped and so on.

Here’s an example of the invalidity of the last argument. Last week, was on my way home from yoga wearing a very casual outfit. Not a hijab exactly but by far not the sexiest thing I own. There I am, walking home, minding my own business when a guy stops his car to ask me how much it would cost. To sleep with me, that is. And as if that was not enough, he received semi-encouraging winks from a group of men standing in the corner of the road where this all happened. I wasn’t raped this time, but I definitely felt violated. This is just one example of many, I have more, my friends have more, there are countless examples that prove that what you wear has absolutely nothing to do with sexual assault.

Men who violate women do so primarily because it makes them feel powerful. The guy who stopped the car was after a power trip more so than anything else. He actually knew that I wasn’t a prostitute but he wanted to feel like a Don.

Rape is a power battle, and hence it’s no coincidence that as women demand more power in society, the rape stats are shooting up. In Rhianna’s video the protagonist gets even the only way she can, winning the fight with another weapon and in that fantasy world, buoy, vengeance feels good.

Fela in Lagos, reflections and ruminations

Picture 4 Fela in Lagos, reflections and ruminations

I don’t know what to make of the Finnish elections last weekend, where the nationalist True Finns party won 39 seats of a 200-seat parliament.

The Nigerian elections, which have led to violent clashes in Northern Nigeria where hundreds of people have now died, sadden me even more so.

To make sense of things, I tried to find similarities between the Finnish and Nigerian elections, which took place simultaneously, but I could not find a single link flowing through my Finn-Nigerian blood other than the timing.

Ultimately, the things I love about Nigeria and Finland are not affected by the elections. One’s soul has no political or ideological affiliation.

Being Finnish and Nigerian, I’ve always wanted to find links between the two apart from myself. One such association that always amused me is the story of Nigerian musical legend Fela Anikulapo-Kuti, forgetting one of his twenty-seven wives at the airport in Helsinki, Finland’s capital.

On Thursday at the Fela in Lagos show, the role of the wives was ever-present. Ah, the Queens!

When asked what attracted him to his wives, or his Queens as he referred to them as, Fela once said:

“Sex! I thought they were sexy and fuckable. That’s what attracts me to a woman first … It grew into something else after though. Something special…Did I sleep with all of them on the night of the marriage? No. Man, I said I married twenty-seven, not seven!”

After his longest stunt in prison Fela returned to his home, the Kalakuta Republic, to find that some of his wives had new boyfriends and some had even born children for other men.

Patriarchal and chauvinistic as he had been, Fela now refrained from any accusations of infidelity. He understood his wives, he said. Shortly after he divorced the Queens but those who wanted to were welcome to remain in his Kalakuta home. The reason he gave for the divorce was:

“People marry because they are jealous. People marry because they are possessive. People marry because they are selfish. All this comes to the very ugly fact that people want to own and control other people’s bodies. I think the mind of human beings should develop to the point where that jealous feeling should be completely eradicated.” – Fela Anikulapo-Kuti

When Fela died in 1997, he was a tormented man. Although he suffered from AIDS, the disease, which he himself never in fact acknowledged, was not the entire cause of his pain. Instead his agony arose from a life dedicated to empowering Africans through activist work and getting little in return. Despite the sacrifices he made for his countrymen – the turning down of huge amounts of ‘dirty’ money from record labels; the weekly donations of his accumulated wealth to his community; the establishment of the Shrine; the multiple and soul-destroying imprisonments; the telling the truth at all costs – in spite of all he suffered for his people, Fela felt his attempts to create any significant change were unsuccessful, the masses were too brainwashed by ‘colonial mentality’. As stories of heroes such as Fela often end, it was not until he died that his sacrifices became fully appreciated.

Sahr Ngaujah plays Fela in the critically acclaimed musical which now has also arrived in Fela’s hometown, Lagos. The false Nigerian accent takes away from the magic of Fela, but what the portrayal truly lacks is actually the poignant and intense passion for political justice that drove Fela to pursue his musical career. Fela’s music is not primarily about dance, or fashion, but about pain. If you listen carefully, almost every song is characterized by a deeply entrenched agony over Africa’s maltreatment, and of African’s blindness to this maltreatment.

Don’t get me wrong; I think Ngaujah was great, the musical is vibrant and its aim is to make the audience feel good which it does. As such, it represents one side of Fela’s life eloquently, the beautiful Queens, their energetic African dancing, the magnificent Afrobeat energy of the music. Sahr Ngaujah does a very decent service to Fela in that light. On the other end, however, the side of Fela’s life that he suffered sorrow, tears and blood for – the political and spiritual activism– that side of his, Ngaujah was unable to capture.

The question is, could anyone?

Tickets for Fela in Lagos are available here.

Is masculinity in crisis?

5490362371 d008421f20 Is masculinity in crisis?Recently, two elderly men came into the same crowded train carriage as me. One had a walking stick so the other assisted him on to the train and on to the seat which I stood up to offer. I’d guess the men were in their early 80s but I’m not good at predicting the ages of either the very old or very young.
‘Thank you young lady,’ the man with the stick said as I stood up. They were in good spirits.
I’ve written here about my tendency to eavesdrop. Maybe because of this I have developed a skill of “hearing” even the unsaid. I sensed namely that without saying much these two old men were reminiscing about someone whom I reminded them of. They flirted with me in that charming way old men do  by not meaning it really, with a kind of nostalgic respect. The conversation about the woman whom I resembled either physically or metaphysically lasted no longer than a minute.

‘I wonder what happened to her, ‘ one of the men said.

‘Yes,’ the other responded, thoughtfully, exhausting the topic.

I stopped listening to the rest of their conversation. My inner storyteller was satisfied. The observation I’d made, which I am now writing as much as an attempt to understand it myself, as to share a story with you, was that the men shared a physical closeness which came along with a perceivably comfortable emotional component to it. Their friendship was coated by a comradely intimacy which I rarely see younger men demonstrate to each other.

As there is guilt in innocence, there is innocence in guilt. – Yoruba proverb

One thing that irks me about much of the written word about Africa, whether in newspapers, academic books or novels, is the uncritical way in which many writers still produce so called historic facts about Africa without reflecting about their own objectivity and the understanding of the society they write about. For example, it’s one thing to defend the European slave trade by writing about how Africans also heartlessly sold slaves. It is another, often more truthful thing, to write about the Africans who sold slaves as men who indeed were as heartless and brutal as the white slave-traders, but who nonetheless also were leaders of communities and saw the transactions as a way to enhance their positions. History can not erase an atrocity but if written carelessly it can erase power. It is untrue that influential African men gave up their sovereignty. Yes, at the expense of the less fortunate they negotiated their authority, sometimes selfishly, sometimes carelessly and often, as leaders do till this day, because they believed that making sacrifices would produce a greater outcome for their own power.

My great granddad donated a piece of land to the British so that they could build a school because education was a welcome bargain. If we look at that example, historians could account that he yielded to British superiority, or, as his legacy remains in his town, that he was a philantrophist who didn’t even request a payment for an exchange which would benefit his society.

The lengthy detour from my topic serves to say that I’m reluctant to write about masculinity with anything else but cautious objectivity and distanced curiosity.

It occurred to me on the train, listening to those two old men, why masculinity may be in crisis. It somehow seems that there is a level of intimacy which human beings thrive on, that our current definition of masculinity oppresses. To an extent, it seems that only when death lurks, such as at old age, or war, or illness, does patriarchal culture allow intimacy and sentiments between males.

In so many ways, being able to show vulnerability as well as defense, tenderness as well as protectiveness and closeness as well as cool, seem to be characteristics of many of our heroes like Jesus, Ghandi, Mandela, Einstein to name a few. Yet we live in a culture where even women increasingly dispossess feminine traits and where people would blame feminism for this rejection rather than the fact that masculine traits are those that succeed in patriarchy. The fact is, neither masculine nor feminine have to be tied to biological sex. Men can possess some qualities that are considered feminine and vice versa. However, if feminine features are tied to women only, then aren’t men denied some of the most important tools that humanity has been given to develop with?

Looking at history it isn’t difficult to distinguish leaders that estimated power over strength and toughness over compassion and the crimes that were committed in their names. In a culture where male leaders outnumber females by far, I wonder, how can our current definitions of masculinity look after people that need not only muscular protection but also an intimate understanding of what it means to be alive and human with a range of sentiments?

Would love to hear your thoughts, ladies and gents.


cc Is masculinity in crisis? photo credit: Steve Snodgrass

Mixed race femme fatale, or blonde bombshell?

tumblr lf6udt00sR1qfa5zko1 500 Mixed race femme fatale, or blonde bombshell?Returning to the race topic, not because I love talking about it but because it makes me feel somewhat uncomfortable and pushing ourselves out of our comfort zones is good.

I also do think we have become too p.c. in how we tackle racial tensions. I agree we should be speaking of them delicately, but honestly. And like I already touched on in my last post, I also think that white people should talk about racism more because the discussion seems to be dominated by other races. I should clarify that I don’t mean that white people should be talking about racism from an angle of  guilt, because why should anyone take the blame for something they themselves are not guilty of, and perhaps also feel victim of. What I do mean, is that the racism conversation cannot be one-dimensional or it’s not going to go anywhere but round in circles. Where concerning race, white people should be engaging in conversations of what it means to be white, and to have white privilege and/or white guilt, the way other racial groups engage in what it means to be black/brown/Asian etc. In a sense, we cannot heal unless we do it together.

Writing this reminds me of a conversation I overheard the other day whilst in a grocery shop. I was by the till and ahead of me in the queue was a white couple.

“Grab some chewing gum also please,” the woman said to her partner who was standing nearer the gum section.

“Which one do you want?” He asked.

“The black one over there,” she replied pointing at a black chewing gum packet.

“Feeling naughty eh,” her partner teased to which she side-glanced at me and punched his ribs.

Make of that what you will, but it made me reflect over sexual and racial stereotypes. Of how just hearing the word black (or blonde or mixed race or Latin) can bring sexual images to people’s minds.

I started to wonder, what are the sexual stereotypes out there? And well, I’m just touching on this topic for now, and focusing on female stereotypes to start with but I’ll no doubt be elaborating in future as I’m curious to explore the topic further. Not through physical research so no need to send any offers, thank you icon wink Mixed race femme fatale, or blonde bombshell?

 Mixed race femme fatale, or blonde bombshell? Mixed race femme fatale, or blonde bombshell? Mixed race femme fatale, or blonde bombshell? Mixed race femme fatale, or blonde bombshell?There’s the mixed race femme fatale, who like the original femme fatale, Eve, is beautiful and exotic but also vulnerable, unattainable and troublesome. Or the archetype blonde bombshell, who is tempting and independent, but uses her innocent beauty to lure men of all races into her nest, only to manipulate them to cheat and lie often to their own detriment. Or the black beauty, whose ethereal symmetry and amazonian figure resembles the beauty of earth itself, and just like earth she is wild and motherly and may be abused and loved simultaneously. Not forgetting the Latina, passionate like a volcano to start with, but once you have her, as loyal as a dog.

These are my (incomplete) impressions of racial stereotypes of women, and many are missing, (list in comments if any come to mind), but when I think about the people I know in these particular categories, they might physically possess these qualities but the rest has absolutely nothing to do with reality.

When you think of sexualized racial stereotypes as described above, do similar images come to mind or is your perception different?

Smart women should watch porn

fishburne family fued Smart women should watch porn

I probably should not title a blog post like this. After all, both my parents and maybe even some of my friends parents and who knows, maybe their parents parents read my blog.

However, with the news of Laurence Fishburne’s daughter, Montana Fishburne (aka Chippy D), deciding to go into the porn industry at 19yrs, I felt I wanted to write this post.

For those of you that don’t know, Montana Fishburne, who wishes to become an actress has decided to follow the footsteps of Kim Kardashian and become a porn star to boost her career.

Now Laurence Fishburne is a role model. If one could look up ‘proud black man’ in an encyclopedia, his image might pop up. He is wealthy, good looking (enough), smart and outspoken. Not the kind of man whose daughter one might think would end up a porn star, especially given that he himself was a virgin when he started his acting career. Yet any man’s daughter can end up a porn star, and many do every day.

Basically, I’m concerned by the overbearing online reaction being that because Montana is who she is it’s somehow worse. Every young girl going into porn is a sad story.

Smart women should watch porn, and by watch I mean observe

One reason it’s always a sad story is because violent and abusive porn is becoming so popular that even the porn industry is shocked over the demand for it. As a smart woman it’s important to be aware of porn trends to understand where intimacy problems and violence can stem from. The average age a boy starts watching porn at nowadays is 11, and researchers in the sex arena agree that the earlier a man starts watching abusive porn the more difficult it will be for him to be in an intimate relationship with a woman who does not like extreme porn type of sex.

Did you know there are sites where men can rate the violence in porn tapes, and sites where prostitutes too are rated based on how obscene they are willing to act? Smart women should observe that we are now bringing up a generation of boys on cruel porn, and that whilst porn is becoming more mainstream, with even pop stars getting naked in videos, it is simultaneously becoming more savage with videos of women being dragged on their faces, having their mouths clamped for penetration etc. easily accessible.

We need for our brothers and fathers to take a stand against this kind of porn, because otherwise we cannot blame anyone but ourselves for our daughters going into the industry.

Beware though, if you oppose violent porn, many will wrongly label you as a woman who doesn’t like sex, or men, or both combined. Re-educate them, let them know that there is a porn industry which is more ‘ethical’, whether or not you oppose that one as well, it does exist.

Porn in Africa

Africans have not gravitated towards violently pornographic websites the way other continents have. There could be many reasons for this; cultural values as well as bandwidth issues seem to play a role. Some statistics say that extreme porn is more largely a white problem than a hispanic or black one in general.  Could this be true and why?

If it is, then I really and truly hope that we can maybe even lead by example in this particular area. Violence towards young girls is not OK on TV, online or in real life.

American Apparel joins the black hair debate

So in short – Zeitgeist brand American Apparel prefers Solange to Beyonce.Beyoncesolange1 American Apparel joins the black hair debate

Following the recent revelation that when it comes to staff the company is more interested in the natural hair look than what they wrongly referred to as the trashy look, there’s been a lot of hoo ha about American Apparel having policies on Black hair. On many blogs and forums many black women were getting upset, claiming that we can wear our hair the way we want to.

Folks, we are getting upset for the wrong reasons. We don’t need another natural vs straight hair debate, I think the majority of black women now sympathize with India Arie, when she sang ‘I am not my hair’. American Apparel’s target group is the 20-something yr old student that is sexy and the trendy. As part of their marketing strategy, they also seem to want the staff to be young, sexy and trendy. According to American Apparel, trendy, when it comes to black, is natural hair.

The fact that natural Afro hair is now trendy, is not a bad thing. After all, we have spent at least a century believing that our natural hair is unmanageable and/or ugly. It is the assumption that if you are not trendy in an eclectic kinda way, then you are trashy in a commercial hip hop kinda way, which is prejudiced. What American Apparel doesn’t seem to get is that you can be eclectic and trashy OR hip hop and classy.

Personally, as confessed in a previous post, I do shop at AA quite often, but after having read Gawker, I’m starting to wonder whether I need to make my shopping decisions more in line my ideological views… Anyway, more about that in another post.

Check out Solange’s damn blog btw, she and her friends look like the quintessential American Apparel girl, don’t you think?

pixel American Apparel joins the black hair debate