All posts by sisterdirector

The clitoris is a gift, so why is there an ingrained fear of talking about it?

If we want to make progress with FGM, we need to first tackle our outdated, misogynistic views on sex

The first UK conviction for female genital mutilation (FGM) this month was a milestone in the fight for the basic human rights of women and girls. But one of the things that stands out from the news reports of that case is how oddly furtive they were about communicating the key facts – in particular their avoidance of the C-word: clitoris.

In reporting such a prominent case, are readers unable to be shown the correct medical terminology? Why do the media carefully avoid mentioning what occurred, using highly generalised anatomical terms before quickly moving on? If this lack of detail was to spare the victim the indignity of having such a personal matter discussed so publicly, I would have sympathy, however I do not think that this is the case here. What I think is at play, is a deep-rooted fear of the clitoris.

Mother of three-year-old is first person convicted of FGM in UK
Read more
Let us consider if a man were to suffer a similar injury: would we shy away from using the word penis? Of course not. A quick internet search is enough to reveal a whole plethora of penis-related news stories (not to mention non-news stories). In fact, there are so many that we seem, as news consumers, to be a little bit penis obsessed. Huff Post and the Independent have gone so far as creating a “penis” news keyword tag, for all your penis news in one place. To some degree, the media has also now acknowledged the existence of the vagina, and its linguistic appearance is reasonably acceptable in polite conversation (perhaps depending on the context). So why are we so reticent about the clitoris? Why is a mention of it seemed to be deemed too sordid for BBC news?
The big difference here seems to be that while the vagina has an obvious functional utility, the clitoris exists entirely for female pleasure. It seems that the issue stems, not from the provocative nature of a word, but our continued societal taboo regarding women daring to enjoy sex. Sure, we can see depictions of women shrieking with pleasure plastered all over any porn site. But that is exactly the point. Female sexual enjoyment remains exclusively in the realm of the forbidden.

This aversion to discussing, or even acknowledging, female pleasure is instilled early. As a teenager, I remember it being commonplace for boys to laugh and joke about masturbation; if anything, it was downright encouraged. For girls meanwhile, it was impossible to admit even to your closest friends that masturbation had ever crossed your mind, except as something disgusting and shameful. We were all doing it, yet no one would dare to ever admit it and risk being branded weird and somehow dirty.

In an age in which we’re revolutionising the debate around sexual experiences and consent, why are we stagnating when it comes to the discussion of mutual enjoyment? Rebecca Kukla, a philosophy professor specialising in practical ethics at Georgetown University, has written about the problems of a linguistic framework built around consent, with its implication that women are passive recipients of an act. Sex is framed as something a man asks for, which a woman may either consent to or decline, rather than an experience of mutual participation, agency and pleasure. This is not to say that consent is not important; on the contrary, it is essential. But to reduce our discussions of sex to this kind of dichotomy is to fundamentally misrepresent what is an active and reciprocal enjoyment.

It’s time that we grow up and get over our fear of the C-word. Even more than this, we need to cease viewing female enjoyment of sex as sordid and instead catapult it into the mainstream. Yes, a woman has a clitoris! Being able, at the very least, to talk about clinical aspects of female anatomy when reporting factual news is vital to accepting female bodies in their entirety. We must be able to mention a clitoris without feeling uncomfortable, without feeling like we’ve crossed some invisible line and left the realms of civilised conversation behind us.

Young girls around the world are suffering horrendous mutilation because of a deep-rooted cultural fear of female pleasure, and the same fear is preventing us from even articulating the problem. If we want to make progress on this issue, there are many positive actions we can take (I would recommend looking into the work of Forward UK among other FGM-focused charities). But we could begin by examining our own views and free our speech from the shackles of outdated and deeply misogynistic views on sex.

By Lucy McCormick
• Lucy McCormick is a Guardian editorial data analyst and a feminist blogger
sourced from: The Gurdian


A year has passed since minister of health and social services Bernard Haufiku called for the revision of our abortion law at a media conference. Two previous health ministers, Nickey Iyambo and Libertina Amathila, also called for the liberalisation of our abortion law. They saw in the 1990s already, the heavy burden that a restrictive abortion law has on the state. A report published during Amathila’s term noted that it costs the state more resources to treat the effects of an unsafe abortion, than it does to have a safe abortion in a health facility. After major resistance from churches, the abortion and sterilisation bill was tabled and withdrawn in 1999. That was the last time we really talked about it, until last year. But then it was on the nation’s discourse agenda for about a month only.

We are still guided by the Abortion and Sterilisation Act of 1975, which allows for abortion in cases of rape, incest, or when the woman’s life is threatened by the pregnancy. In 2016, there were 138 such cases handled by our health system. During the same year, 7 335 cases of women and girls with various injuries were recorded by the system, all as a result of unsafe abortions. Haufiku noted that figure could go up to 10 000, because many remain unreported. The ministry has to be applauded for not notifying the police when confronted with such cases. In addition to the 10 000 cases, I suggest we add the number of women and girls who can afford a safe abortion by a medical professional willing to take the risk here, or travel to South Africa for an abortion at a Marie Stopes clinic. Then, add a bigger number of women and girls who buy the pills that are advertised on Facebook, and succeed. Then, add the number of women and girls who dump their babies when still alive. Then, add the number of women and girls who flush fetuses down the sewerage system; According to a 2013 Nampa report, it was an average of 40 fetuses per month. Then add the number of women who consume whatever poisonous, acid concoction they can drink to abort, and die.

I was confronted with this as an 11-year old when my cousin’s unsafe abortion resulted in her lying in a coma for days, while the acid she drank destroyed her on the inside. I will never forget the combination of pain, shame and anger on her mother and siblings’ faces at her funeral. In our community, her legacy became that of being used as an example on why not to have sex before marriage.

The abortion debate is even more complex because it is framed within bigger contexts that are even more convoluted, and these are women’s bodies, sex and religion – all in all patriarchy. It is understandable that this will be a difficult conversation, but it is one we must have. At the press conference Haufiku noted that a national conversation, which includes consultations with various sectors, will be held. This is critically important. But the ministry and civil society will need to come prepared for a big fight from the churches and religious groups, yet again. Traditional leaders will not be a difficult target group to convince. Abortion was recognised a necessary part of life among indigenous groups before the arrival of the missionaries. We must also have this conversation while considering that women and girls’ sexual and bodily autonomy is severely compromised. Our rape, domestic violence and murder statistics speak for themselves.

We must also admit that liberalising our abortion law will not put an end to all the challenges women and girls face, but it certainly will drastically reduce the number of them who resort to harmful measures to end an unwanted pregnancy. The health system will also be left with resources that can be applied otherwise. Very importantly, this is a conversation that must be led by women and girls. This is a discussion about our bodies, our lives. Who best to have it?

Further, we should not limit ourselves to the idea that contraceptives are widely available at health centres. This is true, but do women and girls have access to such? What are the conditions under which women and girls gain access, when they do? The woman who is a domestic worker rarely has time off to go to the clinic. When she has time on weekends, there is one clinic in Katutura that provides contraceptives. The 16-year old is too terrified to ask the nurse for condoms or a pill, because she may tell her mother. Access is not as simple as stacking our shelves.

We also need to hear the I-stories of women and girls who risked death and imprisonment when making the desperate decision to have an unsafe abortion, dump a baby, or flush a fetus. The I-stories of families that endured the pain of tragic loss, in addition to the judgement of their community, need to be heard too. The conversation must happen everywhere – on social media, blogs, newspapers, radio, television, bars and street corners.

However, as a life-long Namibian-born feminist, I can vouch for the fact that patriarchy is deeply embedded here, it will not be overpowered by a consultation process and a multi-media campaign of a few months. The fact is, the collective unwillingness to address our outdated and repressive sexual and reproductive health policy and legal framework will still remain after all that work. Patriarchy is a powerful beast.

But, we should not allow the abortion debate to become dormant again. Civil society has a huge advantage in the ministry’s willingness to revise the abortion law. The ministry has an ally in civil society for this campaign. Working together towards a more progressive abortion law can be an easy collaboration.

Our women and girls deserve access to safe, non-judgemental abortion services by medical professionals. They also deserve access to information on sexual and reproductive health and rights so that they can make informed choices about their lives. This is a battle we can actually win.

by Natasha H Tibinyane
Extracted from our Volume 30#2 edition

Eric Schneiderman on Women’s Rights: In His Own Words

By Austin Ramzy
May 8, 2018
Before his abrupt resignation Monday after four women accused him of physical assault, Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman of New York cultivated an image as an advocate for women.
Here are some of his own recent comments about gender equality, abortion rights, and sexual harassment and assault.
Violence against women ‘prevalent and dangerous’
On the 20th anniversary of the Violence Against Women Act in 2014, Mr. Schneiderman said that despite legislation, threats to women’s physical safety remained a problem across the country.
He said in a written statement:
“Twenty years ago today, President Bill Clinton signed into law the Violence Against Women Act, a major milestone in our nation’s efforts to prevent violence against women and help the victims of such reprehensible acts. But two decades later, despite the significant protections established under VAWA, recent events have shone necessary light on the fact that violence against women remains a prevalent and dangerous problem across our nation. Basic safety is not a privilege: It is a fundamental right. Protecting all Americans from harm, regardless of their relationship to their abuser or their gender, is and will remain one of the most important aspects of our ongoing pursuit of equal justice under law.”
Support for victims of domestic violence
Mr. Schneiderman’s office published a brochure to inform victims of domestic violence of their rights under state and federal law.
In announcing an updated brochure in 2016, he said:
“We’ve made tremendous progress protecting victims of domestic violence through enhanced legal protections and enforcement actions. Yet this month, we must recognize that our work keeping New Yorkers safe from domestic violence is far from over.
“We know that domestic violence victims are often some of the most vulnerable residents of our state. Our hope is that our enforcement actions, as well as our education and outreach efforts, will assist domestic violence victims to escape the violence they face at the hands of their abusers and assist them in building safe, productive lives.”
Honored for abortion rights advocacy
On May 1, Mr. Schneiderman was honored by the National Institute for Reproductive Health at its annual Champions of Choice luncheon. “If a woman cannot control her body, she is not truly equal,” he said.
He added:
“The federal government has been taken over by anti-choice and anti-women extremists. We need to reimagine the pro-choice movement and build a stronger, louder movement for women’s freedom and equality than we’ve ever seen. Movement politics is not the politics of accommodation, it is the politics of perseverance.”
Health care cuts ‘oppress and disempower women’
Mr. Schneiderman was a vocal supporter of the Affordable Care Act, and he saw his defense of President Obama’s policy to expand health care coverage as a protection of women’s rights.

He told GQ magazine last year:
“It’s important to keep in mind that in one respect the health care fight is part of a wider effort by radical conservatives to oppress and disempower women. Denying women access to contraception and abortion services is a critical part of the larger machinery of oppression, discrimination, and violence against women and it’s incumbent on all of us to fight.”
Pursuit of Harvey Weinstein
After the Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein was accused of sexual misconduct by dozens of women, Mr. Schneiderman filed a lawsuit against Mr. Weinstein, his brother, Bob, and their studio. “We have never seen anything as despicable as what we’ve seen right here,” Mr. Schneiderman said in announcing the civil rights suit.
He said at a news conference:
“Our investigation uncovered a pervasive pattern of sexual harassment, intimidation, discrimination and abuse at the Weinstein Company. Women were coerced into facilitating Harvey Weinstein’s misconduct. Sometimes they were targets themselves. If they refused they were threatened with insults. Their careers were threatened. They were threatened with physical intimidation and violence.”
He added:
“The board and management knew all of this. They knew how pervasive it was, and not only did they fail to stop it, they enabled it and covered it up.”
Praise for reporting that inspired #MeToo
Last month, after Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey of the The New York Times and Ronan Farrow of The New Yorker were awarded the Pulitzer Prize in public service for their reporting on Harvey Weinstein, Mr. Schneiderman praised their work in a tweet.

Without such reporting, “and the brave women and men who spoke up about the sexual harassment they endured at the hands of powerful men — there would not be the critical national reckoning underway,” he wrote.

Conservative or Liberal?

OTTAWA — Rachael Harder took it as a personal insult.
“Women and girls from across this country had a prime minister stand up and say, ‘As the prime minister of Canada, it is up to me to dictate whether or not you hold the right beliefs,” said the Conservative MP for Lethbridge, Alta.
“What prevents him from saying that to any one of the women in this room?”
She was speaking to a crowd of Ottawa-area Conservatives gathered at a pub overlooking the Rideau River one weeknight last month, refering to the time last fall when Liberal MPs on the House of Commons status of women committee decided to block her nomination as chair over her views on abortion.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau backed the move, saying the committee should be led by someone who would unequivocally defend the rights of women.
“There is a prime minister that claims to be a feminist prime minister,” Harder, the Conservative critic for the status of women, said in an interview.
“Yet, he has shown very little to no respect for personal choice or individual liberties among women.”
Trudeau has made the push for gender equality a top priority for his Liberal government.
The gender-balanced budget. The feminist international assistance policy. The proposed gender chapter in the North American Free Trade Agreement. The G7 gender equality advisory council, featuring none other than Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai.
And, of course, the because-it’s-2015 response when a reporter asked Trudeau why he chose to name an equal number of men and women to cabinet.
The Liberal government has firmly branded itself as a feminist one. So, where does that leave a Conservative woman who considers herself a feminist?
Sabrina Sotiriu, 31, who came to hear Harder speak that night, said it leaves her frustrated. And, reluctantly, a little impressed.
“I hate it,” she said with a laugh, “but I think it’s very successful.”
Sotiriu, a Conservative staffer on Parliament Hill, said the Liberals have done a good job of defining feminism on their own terms, so that if critics disagree with the Liberal approach to gender issues, or the economy, they’ll be dismissed as an anti-feminist.
“You know, you have to be progressive and progressivism has to do with feminism and if you’re not progressive, you’re not feminist,” she said.
Finance Minister Bill Morneau suggested as much when he appeared before the House of Commons finance committee to discuss the budget, which had undergone, for the first time in Canadian history, a gender-based analysis.
“Isn’t this just a way to get a woman’s vote?” Conservative MP Lisa Raitt, the deputy leader of her party, needled him at the meeting.
Morneau said he took offence — and then he went on the offensive.
“My view is that we will be more successful collectively if we’re actually able to successfully promote women into leadership roles,” he said.
“We will drag along the neanderthals who don’t agree with that, and that will be our continuing approach.”
Rachel Curran, who served as policy director to Conservative prime minister Stephen Harper, said that as a long-time feminist, the commitment to championing the rights of women was one of the things she liked about Trudeau when he first came to power.
Now, she thinks the Liberals are using feminism as a political weapon.
“They are turning gender issues into this sort of wedge issue or identity-politics issue, which pits women who maybe hold a certain set of beliefs, or approach women’s issues or feminism in a certain way, against what the government sees as the true or correct or right version of feminism,” she said.
The controversy over the Canada Summer Jobs program is seen as one such example.
The Liberal government is now requiring organizations seeking federal grants for hiring summer students to attest to their respect for sexual and reproductive health rights — including abortion — as well as other human rights.
Many faith-based organizations said they were being forced into choosing between their values and grants that helped them run programs having nothing to do with abortion.
There are also ideological differences in approaches to gender issues that are more broadly about how Conservatives and Liberals view the world, which, according to Harder, boils down to this: equality of opportunity versus equality of outcome.
To illustrate her point, she brings up a figure included in the 2018 federal budget: women represent four per cent of apprentices in skilled trades. The budget committed $19.9 million over five years for a pilot grant program aimed at narrowing the gap.
“Should we be making sure that all barriers are taken down and women have the opportunity to enter these fields? Yes, absolutely. But should we be somehow social engineering a society where there is 50 per cent women and 50 per cent men in every single sector?” Harder said as she accused the Liberals, inaccurately, of imposing quotas for the skilled trades.
“That doesn’t respect a woman’s choice. That doesn’t respect her freedom. That doesn’t respect her interests and her objectives for her own life.”
She also has no time for the idea that, even if the conservative vision of ‘a rising tide lifts all boats’ is true, there may be some — including women — who could use a hand getting out of the sea.
“That is the most patriarchal thing that I have ever heard,” she scoffed.
Raitt, meanwhile, does actually believe in setting targets in some cases.
She recalls that when she was transport minister in the Harper government, and responsible for naming some 400 people to the boards of Crown Corporations, she made it clear she would be looking to improve the statistics.
“Little by little, we started seeing progress,” said Raitt. “But I didn’t come out and announce, ‘Boom! Everything is going to be 50-50.”
That, in her view, is the whole problem with the Trudeau approach to feminism.
“Capital T, capital F: ‘The Feminist’ government,” she said.

Joanna Smith, The Canadian Press
Published Sunday, May 6, 2018 1:47PM EDT

Free Pads for girls

Sister Namibia raised the issue of menstruation in the youth consultative meeting with the President of the Republic of Namibia on 25/04/18.
We acknowledged that it is deemed an uncomfortable subject, even in Parliament, but that it needs addressing.
In the presentation to the platform from the collaborative entities; statistics from the 2016 youth unemployment by gender stood at 33% for males and 43% for women in urban areas, however that figure stands at 60% for women in rural areas.
We pointed out that lack of sanitary supplies and the inability to afford them forces more girls (than boys) to miss out on school education and solicit for basic products like this.
1. This puts them at risk of teenage pregnancy and or HIV and STD’s (further marginalising them)
2. Reduces their learning and in return
3. Lowers their chances to compete in the economy through decent/quality employment
So we cannot talk about improving the socioeconomic status of especially rural women in isolation without addressing issues like free pads and taxation of menstrual supply products.
Providing the free reusable sanitary pads (SisterPads) is not just a charitable and noble act.
It is vehicle of Sister Namibia to rattle the cage on bigger issue of providing free pads for girls in school across Namibia.
This is a basic necessity and our girl child should not have to be further disadvantaged because of lack of provision.
The President mentioned that his wife got into trouble with religious leaders he had met a day before us; for talking like we (Sister Namibia) do.
Pointing out relations older men have with teenagers that lead to teenage pregnancy and others (an option they sometimes undertake to supply themselves with basic needs, including sanitary supplies).
He however also agreed that it is something neglected even in Parliament, but that it is a reality on the ground whether it makes a selected few or everyone uncomfortable.
We were encouraged to continue our role of community education, advocacy.
Our request was that this be rolled out and led as high level policy influencing discussion in Parliament by our Head of State because it is an issue that must be enacted.
What we are doing at the moment with the SisterPads is putting a bandage on a cracked dam. Our government’s role is to fix the bigger problem.
I don’t care how many people are made uncomfortable by issues of “menstruation”, because quite frankly our discomfort and therefore lack of active discourse does not change the situation on the ground for the girl child!
So yes, menstruation, menstruation, menstruation!
An uncontrolled biological process CANNOT disadvantage one gender.
Sister Namibia will drive the change of “culture”, will change the way we look at “uncomfortable issues/words”, will transform the none-gender-progressive status quo.
We will do this one dialogue at a time.
Let us stand behind Sister as we lobby for free pads for girls in school.
We can do this!
There are means to revise financial resources and allocations to cater for a move like this for Namibia.

By Elsarien Katiti

Trustco Ad: The Voices

The Trustco Advert saga brought so many voices out to speak.
Not all were positive.
Here is a collection of some of the voices.

Martha Mukaiwa: In case you’re on the sidelines wondering what’s wrong with it: Women are “broads” . A sexist, objectifying and derogatory term for a woman. We look better in board photos. Calling attention to our appearance and our appeal in the context of the male gaze in the age of #MeToo and the global move towards ending sexual harassment in the workplace and beyond. We should be able to stand our ground against the best men. Patronising, connoting some level of accepted and thriving gender weighted intimidation inherent in the workplace. And then “#Yes of course of men are also welcome to apply” thus rendering all of the above just the usual sexist, misogynistic and careless language preceding disgraceful behaviour not even in the context of some misguided move towards equality. As for the use of Annie Leibovitz’s incredible image of Caitlyn Jenner. Transphobic at worst and reductive at the same. Jenner’s former and probably continued struggle with her gender identity minimised to “doing anything” rather than a difficult fight for truth, her life and legitimacy as a human being and a woman with the right to choose and pursue her happiness. Just disgusting, tone deaf, oblivious and disgraceful. Get serious, Trustco Group Holdings. Whoever dreamt this up is clearly not living on this planet or they are severely deaf to the efforts being made against the violence of sexism, transphobia or simply walking out your door as a woman. Open your eyes, apologise, retract, look around and do much (and I mean MUCH) better.

Sister Namibia: It seems our voice has been silent in the matter of the Trustco advert.
But it has not been, we have been so shocked we didn’t know what to say.
So here goes.
The term “Broad”:
• A word for a woman. Less respectable than “lady” but much more respectable than “bitch”.
• A term originated in the 1930’s meaning woman; derived from the fact that the most defining characteristic of all females are their hips, which are proportionately wider than hips of their male counterparts.
• Usually offensive, a term used for to refer to a woman. A promiscuous woman.
• Often men who felt threatened by strong-willed and successful women would call them broads in a derogatory sense.
The board is a strategic head of an organization, it develops and guides policy. And if on that level there is such disdain and disrespect for women, it speaks of a rotten institutional culture.
Example trickles down from leadership to the workforce, and it is an absolute shame to see such behaviour tolerated in an institute such as Trustco.
This explicitly reveals sexualisation of women, harassment and a complete disregard for their intellect and leadership capabilities.
It is greatly upsetting that we still have to keep saying that women are more than their figures and their breasts, that they are capable of being leaders. It is also upsetting that we have very few women considered for strategic leadership and managerial positions.
Until we have a balanced representation in leadership, this are battles we still have to fight.
If there were enough women on that board, this behaviour would never have been tolerated in the first place.
So we hope Trustco gives more than an apology (which was not an apology at all mind you), but increases women representation on the board.
Sister Namibia is in support of all the voices who stood up against this ad.
We strongly reiterate your cries.
Let us as a sisterhood fight against and uproot every misogynistic ideology and practice against women.

Blu H Mathews: That is because you wish to look at it in that light. The transgender in the picture lived for years in self imprisonment due to fear of what society and family members may say. Trustco using her image could mean that they are calling out all women who think less of themselves, women who feel because they do not have an education will never be in a good position at work. Women that deem themselves as nobodies due to their circumstances. You focusing on the negative says a lot about you. Hence you aren’t really able to assist people that come to your offices for assistance most especially women. For an establishment such as yourselves to stoop so low to bully a company just because they decided to go a little extra on their creativity says a lot about you and the entire organization. Learn to see a little positive for goodness’ sake. I remain supportive of Trustco
Uaaruka Happyforever Kandjii: Blu H Mathews, finally someone that saw the ad in the way I saw it…. I didn’t see anything wrong with it and took it positively and thought it was actually funny and creative! Yes they used a transgender woman but people should just take a chill pill and see the bigger picture.

Lizette Feris: I’m sorry that you ladies see nothing wrong with the ad. I guess it is the effects of living in a patriarchal society, and Namibia is definetly one where women should know their place. I wish that you too like Caitlin Jenner break free of the prisons you live in. Stay woke sisters, and you only have to work hard and be passionate to get a seat.
Don’t worry we don’t judge you, we want to emancipated you.

Jholerina Angel-Khoetage Timbo: It may seem like a nice ad to you ladies .but ask me who is the transgender woman living in this country with all the challenges of transitioning , stigma and discrimination that I face daily as me how I feel. This ad is a misinterpretation of what we are as a community .We do not transition into who we are because we want a seat at Truscos table for power.we transition to align ourselves more in how we see ourselves. This ad is misleading to me as a transgender person and a slap in my face as our lives seems to objectified to promote Transphobia by saying we are man and would do anything to get a seat. Transition has never been about a seat but about self and self love and being true to yourself.if i am transitioning only to get a seat it is a selfish and degrading notion for me as a transgender person in Namibia that constantly faces such bigotry and trans misogyny on a day to day basis. I am utterly disgusted and disappointed in Trustco.
Also as part of the community that is negatively impacted by this you can’t imagine to start to tell me how I should feel.As a transgender woman this is I walk down the street and now the Trustco slogan or tag line is used again. They do anything to get a seat oh shame. So you can’t take away my agency and bodily atonomy and tell me how I should feel about this trans degrading add. Trustco must put money where thier mouths are and used that money to promote engagement and not incite stigma and discrimination without recourse of how this will impact and effect me .who is a visible transgender woman out and about.faced with so much prejudice and insults. This ad is adding salt to my daily injuries

Alexis Zakarra: Everything about this ad is wrong, The message it is sending to the Namibian people about, first, how they should treat women, inclusive of trans women, and secondly, the language used and the surprisingly overt misogany and bigotry. The missing element in all of it, is who was responsible for the creation, approval and dissemination of the content, all men. The way those responsible for this distasteful ad responded afterwards. It says a lot about how patriarchy at its core is a tool used to undermine and subjugate women and those who don’t have a voice. As funny as it is, there lies truth in humour and jokes, but it doesn’t make it right. If you see nothing wrong with this as a women, than I challenge you to explore how you have and are internalizing patriarchy, that has numbed you in detecting your own oppression. Look past the funny and see the ad for what it really is within the bigger picture. A tool used to oppress; not in total isolation but as part of myriad ways in which women, trans women included, are trivialized and oppressed by those with power and means. And I won’t get into how a message like this can play out in actuality within the everyday context for women, trans women and those directly affected by this irresponsible ad.

Tuya Amakali: I don’t understand why people are saying it’s funny and we should see the humour in it. Why is it okay to make fun of someone because they are different, what makes trustco and everyone in agreement with this add think that Jenner transitioned for any reason other that is not internal and emotional. It’s not an easy thing making such a decision and it’s not an easy thing living such a life. How can it be funny and okay to make fun of other people’s struggles including the struggles that women face on a daily basis. When we walk down the street and men touch us inappropriately without our consent, is that okay? Is it funny to you as a victim of it because the men that do it are laughing? When you work in a men dominated environment and they laugh at every idea you bring because you belong in the kitchen even when your ideas are good, is that funny to you? As a member of the trustco board, if they constantly look at you and address you as merely a woman that looks good in board pictures, will that be funny to you? What kind of men are on that board and why do they see it fit to categorise and objectify women in that manner? I for one don’t think it’s funny, I personally think it’s insulting. We are all entitled to our opinions though

Manuel Oghlian: They really should stop watching The Wolf of Wall Street…

Monica Geingos: This is wrong on many levels and quite frankly, unacceptable. What scares me more than the crass and casual disrespect, the overt sexism, the transphobia and innuendos, what scares me the most is @qvr_ calling it “brilliant”. Don’t trivialise how this ad makes people feel.

Gordon Joseph: I don’t understand how no one in the production process saw how trashy and offensive and disgusting the advert is… makes make one question/wonder just how much diversity there is at that company…

Compiled by
Elsarien Katiti

Clothes aren’t an invitation

“The Society” tells you not to wear short skirts, or dresses or shorts as a lady.
“The Society” tells you that these clothes might attract attention, the type of attention you don’t want to get.
“The Society” tells you that you will look blowzy.
“The Society” tells you that the rate of being molested or raped is higher when you wear short things.

We should think about these assertions.

It is clear that people might look at you because they can see your thighs or boobs because of a bigger neckline. And it is clear that we have to deal with this malignant glances, because we will never change everybody’s mind.
But just because some men can see more of my skin is not an invitation for anything.
You shouldn’t whistle at me just cause you can see my legs.
You are not allowed to touch me just because you can see my skin.
And most of all you don’t have to molest, harass or rape me!

You should call to mind that my outfit isn’t asking for anything like that.
I have autonomy to my body and anything that happens to it requires my consent and approval!

Clothes are one way to personal fulfillment, and you should wear what you are comfortable in.
If you love green, wear green. If you love high heels, wear high heels. If you love tops, wear tops.

In a nutshell you should wear whatever you want, if it gives you the ability to feel beautiful.
Of cause there are occasions requiring you to wear clothes adaptive of the circumstances, for example church, wedding or school.
But what you are going to wear is never an invitation for anybody to take advantage of your body

I really wish that “The Society” will understand this someday.

By Ronja

Prevention is better than cure

As known, at Sister Namibia we organize workshops in schools about self-defense. “Unfortunately” we have to.
And I say “unfortunately”, because rather than safety techniques, wouldn’t it be better if pupils were trained how to be respectful and kind?!?
For example, what about integrating every school timetable with weekly classes of Kindness, Respect, Awareness and Commitment into social and environmental issues?
Young generations must be raised in a way to make the difference, to desire to live in a better world.
Actually, we all must open our eyes and be more sensitive regarding nowadays issues.
We must be more conscious, aware, AWAKE!
Sometimes we might feel desperate and hopeless, especially when we hear or read of dreadful horrible stories.
We end up by loosing hope in human kind and we wonder “What’s going on? Where the heck is this world going?”
We cannot lose hope though. We cannot give up.
Let’s commit ourselves and channel our energies in terms of sensibility, responsiveness, empathy.
We all are just transient on this earth and precisely because of this, we should spend our time here in the best way, make it worth it by changing it, somehow, into a better place.
So, again, let’s raise our kids in a way that they do NOT have to defend themselves from anybody and anything, without looking at the other as a potential enemy.
Let’s set up a world with NO FEARS.

By Chiara

Sorry-But Not Sorry

I am sorry that my sentiments on stopping rape-victim blaming are not politically comfortable enough for you.
I am sorry that you’re so ignorant to think that the rapist’s side of the story is suppressed.
I am sorry that you were not taught that sexually violating someone else’s body without their consent is wrong and unjustifiable.
I am sorry that you are not a woman, having to live in constant fear of a possibility of harassment.
That you are unknowing that actions against women are always diverted to them being in the wrong.

Where do I begin to educate you young sir?
Perhaps with a recent case. In the The Namibian newspaper dated 9 January 2018 (which was yesterday) a headline of a story read: “Father rapes own daughter
You know how old she was?
Six (6).
You know how old he was?
Fifty-two (52).
Which side of that story is it that you want clarity on?
Would you want a list of countless rape stories?
How about a mother who was raped after being dragged into a riverbed while carrying her two month old baby?

I am terribly sorry that you’re backwards, not sympathetic enough, not informed enough and ignorant.

But I am NOT SORRY for speaking up about, and against rape and victim blaming!

So do me a favor, with time reflect upon your words and think about “what if it hit close to home”.
Think about your mother and sisters, about your daughter or one you might have in the future and if any of them are raped, and then repeat this (your very words):
“I am sorry mom or sis or my little daughter (angel), but you’re trying to tell us that we must always blame the person who rape (you) without hearing both sides of the story?”

Practice telling them that over and over (that’s the lesson I will give you today).
Maybe only then will you grasp the damaging magnitude of your words and the pain and plague they allow to grow in the world we are trying to heal one message at a time.

By Elsarien A. Katiti

Inform, Not Criticise

Growing up as a black child there are so many things you can’t say.
Topics you can’t question.
Actions you can’t receive satisfactory reasoning to.
Sex is one of those.
It is assumed that there is an egg in your head that will one day hatch and reveal all the secrets of the mysteries.
First kids are isolated according to gender, then they can’t play together. So many rules but never good reason for them.
Almost every adult had to learn it the hard way and still we expose our young to the same ignorant shadows of life.
We are so scared to bring up the topic of sex.
We are afraid that by talking about it we will encourage promiscuous behavior.
I remember picking up a box of condoms at a clinic for one of our teenage pregnancy classes and the pharmacist handing me the condoms was criticizing how “we” are the ones teaching children bad behavior and promoting sex.

The reality is young people are getting sexually active without our (parents, guardians, & educators) influence and they are doing so poorly informed and sometimes 0% safety equipped.

Societal criticism has scared our young ones away from seeking health care services.
So applaud those bringing information to your children!
Let us promote positive actions by individuals and organisations that stimulate change in society.
Our youth deserve a chance at being well informed, they need advice before the “wrong”.

It is us that need to take the reigns on being educators at home and in the community.
We cannot continue the culture of “They’ll figure it out themselves”.
Let them pre-learn from our mistakes.
Matters of sex should be openly engaged.

By Elsarien A. Katiti