We’re in the early days of a new year, and so there are still many messages around about being a new you and how to set goals so you can adjust the parts of your life that aren’t working as well as you think they should.
This type of message – FIX YOURSELF IN ONE YEAR OR LESS – can be a real mood dampener because it forces you to focus on what you don’t like. Way to make you want to reach for a croissant or lie in bed watching a whole series of Sex Education in a weekend. What? Who did that? (No seriously, go watch it).
Instead, this year I’m trying to take the advice I got from a very rad podcast I listen to called Kombucha and Colour. They suggest setting an intention as a guide to your year – i.e. how you want to feel / what you want to live like. This seems way easier than setting a resolution or a goal because it provides a bit more spaciousness for mistakes.
Create writing. Create time and space for rest and for exercise and being outside. Create art. Create yummy food. Create energy in my relationships. Create new work. Create creations (whatever those are! the mystery! the intrigue!)
It’s big enough to fit all my hopes and dreams into, and small enough that I can’t judge myself. Loving it.
I’ve started out the year on creating time for writing, especially for new writing. I’m not sure how other writers feel but for me the writing is way more fun than the editing and refining process. The act of putting ink on a page and watching words come out of your own mind is thrilling. So I’ve:
Finished an edit on my novel and sent it off to the publishers for feedback (hold thumbs and cross your fingers and toes please).
Signed up to a monthly writing workshop with Maire Fisher and Chantal Stewart.
Yesterday my husband and I celebrated ten months married. When you read that you might be laughing at the fact that I’m dishing out advice like a seasoned married person – don’t worry, I’m laughing with you.
Last month I had the honour of being asked to speak at my uncle’s wedding. He asked me to write something from the heart for him and his future husband, and so I put my mind to the past few months of my own life and tried to be honest about what I had learned. Disclaimer – this could all be wrong. Except for the bit about the psychic.
First – here is a picture of the happy couple ❤
1: Your partner is not, except on rare lucky occasions, a psychic
This means you need to learn to explain what you need, rather than assume that your partner knows just because they love you. (Thanks Alain de Botton for this bit of advice, by the way).
2: Love is a second chance
Love is a chance to be the very best version of yourself. To amplify the goodness and kindness in you, and share that with another person. Marriage allows you to do this for the rest of your life. That being said…
3: Nobody is perfect
At our wedding, Sam’s cousin Kevin gave us some very valuable advice. He said
“You choose your partner not because they are perfect, but because they are perfect for you. There is a big difference. They have what life wants and needs to teach you. Some lessons are hard, especially the ones that deal with your ego and insecurities…Marriage will bring out the best in you, it will also bring out the worst. No one will make you happier, and no one will be as proficient at pressing the wrong buttons as your partner.”
4: You must own up
See 3 (above) – nobody is perfect. At a friend’s wedding a few years ago the pastor said there are two phrases that are essential to make a marriage work. The first – I love you. The second – I’m sorry, I was wrong, please forgive me. Hopefully, you get to say the first more than the second, but just in case I’d suggest practising in the mirror.
5: Be honest – to yourself and to your partner
Love and marriage require you to be incredibly vulnerable – to acknowledge that there are parts of you that sometimes feel unlovable and to ask another to love them. This is an act of radical bravery.
6: Don’t worry about how anyone else does ‘being married’
Love is not a competition. There are no marriage Olympics. Your marriage doesn’t have to look a certain way to be good. It has to meet your specific needs as a couple. Love is not in grand gestures – though they can be very nice – it’s in the little things that only the two of you notice. Treasure those.
7: You are not alone
Though the wedding day is a day about just you two, if you look around you’ll notice that everyone at your ceremony is there because they love you, both separately and in your togetherness. This is your support system, and they are not only there for the wedding day.
8: Marriage is not just the wedding
I know that at the wedding you feel like your hearts might explode with love, but amazingly there is still room for more. More love and more happiness. Put as much effort and thought into each day of your marriage as you have into today.
9: Write down your vows
Keep them somewhere special so that you can look at them often. Remember what you’ve promised, and keep your promises.
10: Marriage is magic
Always feel grateful that in the world of billions of people, you found each other and chose each other. Enjoy the adventure and never forget how lucky and wonderful it is to love and be loved.
The past years months weeks have been full of news that would make even the unobservant reader realise that South Africa is not a country for women. On paper we are equal. Yet, in the day to day, we are living with the constant threat that we will become the victim of violence if we have not already become one.
I don’t believe we’re hearing more about this just because it’s women’s month, and if women’s month is just an opportunity for everyone to remind us of how truly traumatic and tiring it is to be a woman in this country then I’d really like us to forget about women’s month altogether.
As a society at large, South Africa is fine with women’s suffering.
In the past 24 hours, three stories that would have other countries starting commissions of enquiry and plugging resources into social crime prevention will simply disappear by the end of the week amidst the many other stories of violence against women. I don’t want these stories to disappear.
This year’s Open Book Festival in Cape Town has, as usual, an amazing line up of writers and public intellectuals coming together to talk about literature, politics, and many other things. The festival takes place from 5 – 9 September in Cape Town.
This year the Open Book Festival team has given amazing support to Feminism Is, and has five events scheduled around the book, as well as many others with a feminist focus.
20.00 – 21.00
Feminism Is: Pumla Gqola, Dela Gwala and Thembekile Mahlaba explore their journeys to feminism and answer FAQs in the company of Sara-Jayne King
Feminism Is: Listening Room: We invite all persons of trans experience and/or those who identify as women/womxn to share personal experiences that shape their feminist identities in a safe and respectful space. Please keep contributions to a maximum of 5 minutes to allow as many voices to be heard as possible. Hosted by Joy Watson with contributions from Janine Adams, Kit Beukes, Michelle Hattingh and Ming-Cheau Lin and Tshepiso Mashinini.
Following incredible marches all over South Africa this month I’m excited to let you know that I have an essay in a forthcoming collection – Nasty Women Talk Back: Feminist Essays on the Global Women’s Marches edited by Joy Watson and Amanda Gouws.
The collection will launch at the Open Book Festival on 6 September at 8pm at the Fugard. Get tickets here
In this month’s South African edition of COSMOPOLITAN you can read an article I wrote that explores the cost of having a period in South Africa. Here’s a quick summary.
Isn’t that crazy! We shouldn’t have to spend this much to bleed. In the article I also explore some SA pad and tampon brands, as well as some South African greener alternatives to tampons and pads, like period panties, and menstrual cups. Get their June 2018 edition to find out more.
COSMO has decided to launch a petition to end Tampon Tax in SA, and you can read more about that, below.
COSMOPOLITAN magazine has launched a petition to end tampon tax, calling on all women to join the campaign against period poverty in South Africa.
In its June issue, currently on newsstands, COSMOPOLITAN Deputy Editor Sarah Browning de-Villiers collaborated with feminist journalist Jen Thorpe to investigate the plight of tampon tax in South Africa. In the report, they argue that tampons and pads should not be subject to the same value added tax (VAT) that other ‘luxury items’ are. Basic items considered a necessity (such as brown bread and milk) aren’t taxed with VAT. They’re zero-rated. So why are women being taxed for having their period? And why are tampons and pads being classified by the government as ‘luxury, non-essential items’?
‘It seems illogical and sexist that women are forced to pay VAT to look after their menstrual hygiene. It begs the question, why are we being taxed for sanitary care that is a basic biological necessity? Not only has the recent VAT increase made these products even more expensive, it has also highlighted the thousands of girls who cannot afford them and are forced to use old rags and leaves – compromising their health, dignity and school attendance. It begs another question: if we can afford to give boys free condoms, why can’t we afford to give girls free tampons?’ – COSMOPOLITAN Editor Holly Meadows
In the 2016/17 financial year, there was an estimated R45-billion in irregular expenditure by government – enough to buy more than 205-million menstrual cups. Not being able to afford sanitary care affects school attendance. UNESCO estimated in 2016 that one in 10 girls in sub-Saharan Africa misses school during their menstrual cycle. In Africa, Kenya became the first country to scrap tampon tax in 2004, followed by Nigeria and Mauritius. It’s time for South Africa to end tampon tax and period poverty.
1) Remove VAT From Sanitary Products, Especially Sanitary Pads And Tampons, Classifying Them As Basic Necessities
Tampons and sanitary pads are subject to the same value added tax (VAT) that other ‘luxury items’ are. This year, the budget speech announced that VAT went up to 15%, meaning that these so-called ‘luxury items’ became even more expensive on 1 April 2018. Basic items considered a necessity (such as brown bread and milk) aren’t taxed with VAT. These items are zero-rated. The question is, why are women taxed for sanitary products that are a basic necessity?
2) Provide A Clear Timeline For The Actioning Of The Sanitary Dignity Policy Framework, Including A Commitment To Begin Rolling Out Free Sanitary Products To South African Women In Need, Nationwide, In 2018
In 2016 and 2017, Treasury recommended the provision of free pads to those in need, funded by the national and provincial government. The commitment to providing free pads was reiterated by the new Minister of Women in the Presidency, Bathabile Dlamini, in March this year. Yet still, women across South Africa do not have access to free sanitary products.
Last year, the Department of Women called for input on a national policy framework for sanitary dignity. According to the department’s 2018 budget, there is provision for a task team to develop a framework for the supply of free sanitary products to indigent girls and women. Once that’s in place, they promise to pilot the framework in one province. The budget for this work is R4,2-million over the next three years. But we need to see this plan actioned and rolled out across South Africa – sooner rather than later.
It’s been a year since the government introduced the Sanitary Dignity Policy Framework, yet it’s still unclear when their commitments will be translated into action, or whether alternatives to pads will be considered. We’re planning to take a petition to the Portfolio Committee on Women, chaired by Thandi Memela, to remove VAT on sanitary products and ensure they’re affordable for everyone – and to remind them that they need to action their Sanitary Dignity Policy Framework stat. We need your voice – and your signature!
PLUS: Donate to women in need
COSMO has partnered with Sheba Feminine and Femme Projects to distribute pads to women who cannot afford them. Click here to donate – just R40 provides a pack of pads to those in need with Sheba.