Naked women are, it seems, everywhere one turns — so ubiquitous that the sight of them barely registers shock, (except for when you live in Botswana). More and more women have over the years stripped for the masses, and have over time become renowned for their nudes breaking the internet. And all hide under one banner-feminism.
Feminists who have however done the hardest work are turning in their graves since their hard work is now being exploited by a generation of women who are feeding into the very sexist ideals they fought hard against, ANGELA MDLALANI writes.
A model last week circulated a picture of herself in a bath tub, baring her stretch marks for the world to see. Powerful? Maybe. The photo was shared countless times on Facebook and now some women have followed her to “show appreciation” of their bodies and the flaws, and they are posting on Pinterest. Before we knew it, a debate was on full force about whether she looked sexy. Perhaps that she got photographed naked in a bathtub, bubbles and all caused people to wonder about ‘sexy’.
Countless women have before her done the same, allowed their bodies to speak for them. There is nothing wrong with nudity. The naked body is a blank emotional canvas, able to convey both power and vulnerability in the same instance. Stripped bare, there’s a lot to learn about a person when there isn’t anything for them to hide behind.
Drawing attention to the way that they have been stripped of political power, many protestors have stripped themselves of clothing. In this context the naked body represents vulnerability and strength, being disarmed yet empowered.
Without doubt, women like Kim Kardashian have most of the world worshipping her and anxiously staring at the computer/smart phone screens awaiting her next ‘leaked’ nude.
While a lot of celebrities have had the whole exposing of the bodies work for them, in that like, Kim K, they have raked in money in the millions through their nudity, not all women should buy into this order as it only serves to perpetuate a sexist culture that has women objectified. For a very long time, including now, women’s bodies have been used to sell products through sex. Undeniably, female nudity is powerful, but sexualised nudity is just another way of handing that power back over to men.
A typical example of this is the infamous Berry Heart For Dinner cover. While she did come out to defend her image that looked much like something that crawled out of 50 Shades of Grey a point she painfully missed like many other times before and after that is that by objectifying herself the way she does, her “self expression” or her voice against oppression is only screaming the opposite of what she is trying to bring out.
Most of Berry Heart’s nudes have missed the whole mark, she makes the whole thing about sex, and in that way that power that should supposedly be hers is handed right back to the men and perhaps marketers who ride highly on female nudity, and so goes her campaign on “oppression” straight out the window. But when that nudity is about whole, flawed, human individuals stripping down for a purpose bigger than arousal and marketing, then I think we start to take that power back.
Something the Pirelli calendar of 2016 got right. The calendar according to online reports is a trade calendar which is received by some 20 000 VIP including politicians, celebrities and royalty. The calendar was hailed by an online site as a “feminist dream” and “a new dawn for feminists”.
Supposedly, the calendar features world female icons in their own right, but since 1964 to 2015 all the women appearing in the calendar had sexual poses, were in lingerie or their birthday suits and had their legs wide spread. The 2016 calendar is completely different in that it took a complete U-Turn in artistic direction and women featured. From Serena Williams posing topless but with her back to the camera, and Amy Schumer hiding all her assets but showing off her tummy rolls, and Patti Smith and Yoko Ono fully clothed.
Meanwhile in Botswana, in 2016, it’s another step back. Bouncy’s striping at a national show whose purpose is to celebrate the country’s 50 years of independence might as well be disregarded as she like the many outside the country and in it are still trying to figure out some of these things. The Sasa Klasses, Bouncys, Berrys and indeed Kardashians of this world need to stop helping the world exploit women. They need to put an end to the belief that women are sex objects who need only be celebrated for their bodies and seen as sex objects.
Rebecca* is a woman in her late thirties. She holds her head high and walks with a sway in her steps. There is an air of confidence when she speaks. So when she tells me how her husband has been abusing her throughout their 17 years of marriage, I am taken aback.
“Everyday is a new experience for me. I don’t know what version of husband I’ll meet; the one who will scold me for forgetting to lay out his clothes or the one who will hit me for putting too much salt in the soup,” she says while wiping tears. 17 years is almost two decades. I ask her why she has had to endure all that pain for a long time but she only shakes her head and does not answer.
Like Rebecca, hundreds of women experiencing domestic violence find it difficult to leave. For some, it is for reasons best known to them, for others, they simply do not know why or have the words. People who have not experienced abuse find it unfathomable that survivors stay in their relationships and not leave. It seems almost like they enjoy it. But until an experience has been felt, it is easy to give directives on how to act.
For Ms. Ilavbare Goldfish Rahmatulai, it took 6 years to escape the suffocating grip of her abuser. “It was a traumatic experience,” she tells me. “I can tell you this for free; the same intensity used to abuse you is the same intensity used to beg. When he does this, pity begins to set in and you become confused on what to do.”
Ms. Ilavbare Goldfish Rahmatulai
I ask Ms. Demilade Lawal, a psychologist from the University of Chester, in an interview, if there is a psychological reason behind this and she affirms.
“For a lot of women, it’s a glimmer of hope that things are going to get better. And that glimmer of hope can be understood when we are aware of the social cycle of abuse. There is a tension phase, an abuse phase and a honeymoon phase. In the honeymoon phase the abuser temporarily changes his ways and alters the victim’s decision to leave. Then the tension starts and then abuse follows.”
Another reason women remain entangled with their abusers is the fear of the unknown, the unclear reality of what would be after leaving.
“The truth is, as much as this person abuses them, there is an emotional connection. They love this person, there is a traumatic attachment whether they are aware of it or not. It is not the best love environment but it doesn’t change the fact that this is how they feel about the person that abuses them. So the thought of starting afresh without this person whom they have grown to love despite the abuse is just as frightening,” Ms Lawal says.
Although this may sound like an unjustifiable reason to some who have not walked this path, Ms. Rahmatulai agrees.
“In my case, I loved him very much. I could not imagine going to tell my family members or friends that the man I loved started hitting me as early as a month into our marriage. I was embarrassed. So I stayed back, hoping it would get better,” she says.
Research shows that one of the many reasons why women remain in abusive marriages is a lack of income which results in total financial dependency on the abuser. Could this be a strategy to trap the victim in an abusive cycle?
“While I was married, my husband would give me very little housekeeping money. He knew I did not have a job and the money would be insufficient but I could not say a word. I had to feed my children. If I complained I would get beaten. He provided for everything in the house, what authority did I have to question him,” Ms Rahmatulai says to me.
I ask Rebecca if she has a job and she says no. She mentions she’s an interior decorator but she barely gets offers. When she does, her husband collects everything.
A major factor for avoiding abusive marriages is to identify red flags. However, these flags are sometimes mistaken for natural behavioural traits. In Ms Rahmatulai’s case, she tells me she noticed her husband was quick tempered and ill mannered before marriage however she waved them aside as he had never hit her during courtship.
How then can abuse survivors find the courage to leave?
“The decision to leave is a process, it takes a shift in perspective – realising that you deserve better and that your kids deserve to grow in a healthy home where they don’t learn to be abusers or think it’s okay to be abused,” Ms Lawal says.
“When I pack my bags to leave, my husband would hit me. When I unpack, he would hit me. I started going to school to get a degree and then later I started trading. When I had what seemed like enough then (N80,000/ $192), I left my husband regardless of the worst that could happen. I realised if I stayed long enough, I would be dead,” Ms Rahmatulai says.
“It’s been 20 years since I left. I’m 51 and a lawyer now. I have dedicated my life to helping women in abusive marriages leave. So many men have called me a home breaker but I say it’s better to break a home and save a life.”
*Rebecca has asked to stay anonymous by using a pseudonym.
Claire Mom is a Nigerian journalist and an advocate for human rights. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter: speakclairely
Multitudes of music lovers are expected to throng Francistown’s Obert Itani Chilume Stadium for the highly anticipated As One Music concert next weekend.
Updating WeekendLife on the preparations of the event, Kesego Okie said the preparations for the show are going well and they are working around the clock to make sure that they fulfill all logistics that need to be concluded. She said, ATI has been working hard alongside the featured artists to give Batswana the best experience at concert.
She said that the concert has been accepted well by Batswana and they are very happy with the ticket sales. ”But of course we are looking forward to more ticket sales as more people are showing more interest in being part of this historic event and we are grateful to all our partners and sponsors.”
She appealed to the Francistown Business Community to come on board and support the initiative as it’s a concert for the people. Okie said Francistown was chosen for a reason as they believe it is a gate way to a number of other strategic places in Botswana like Maun, Orapa, Phikwe and Kasane.
“We also felt that since the city has been greatly affected by COVID-19 an event of this magnitude was befitting to be held in Francistown so that we can also play our role in uplifting the socio-economic livelihood hence we believe it is vital for the business community of Francistown to embrace us so that collectively we can contribute meaningfully together as one to the community of Francistown”.
She indicated that they have a large number of artists particularly from Francistown that have shown interest during the show activation and other artists that have collaborated with ATI in the past and those that have contributed in the growth of his music, and it would be very difficult for them to fulfil the mandate of the show without support particularly from the corporate community in Francistown.
Tickets for the event are sold at P50 kids, P150 general, 500 VIP silver circle and VVIP for P1500. All tickets are sold at all Liquarama Outlets across the country.
Founded 30 years ago by David Magang, Phakalane Estates came from humble beginnings to gradually expand into developing one of the most desirable neighborhoods in the country which attract high income dwellers.
When the development began in the early 90s the estate was to be developed into 13 phases. It is then that a decision was taken by the developers to come up with plans that would be appealing to certain groups of the society.
Phakalane Estates continues to make its mark in the property development space, this year, they have managed to invests over P45 million on major renovations to the Golf Estate properties namely the hotel, golf course, and conference center.
Already the company has erected 84 single and double bedroom apartments which commenced early this year. The construction of these new apartments has been set for Peto Estates, a gated community within the Phakalane neighborhood strategically placed a stone’s throw away from multiple shopping centres such as Mowana Park and Acacia Mall.
“We want the best for our clients that is why even in Peto, we have various apartments for every one and also bearing in mind that the people should be not far from the complex,” Phakalane Estates’ Lesang Magang said in an interview.
So far the roads tarring has started at Sebote estate which is part of the estate expansion, it is expected that even things electrically will get handed to the Botswana Power Corporation which will be the last stage plus the lights on the streets. “In terms of infrastructure we don’t compromise we ensure that it is world class so that we don’t disappoint our clients. Those that brought houses earlier when they sell them it comes at a profit.”
Following the success of the launch of Peto Estates back in 2014, when over 300 plots ranging in cost from roughly P300, 000 to P1.4m were immediately sold out with a high surplus of demand, Phakalane Estates boasts strong confidence in the market demand for new apartments in the area.
The apartments are set to follow the trend of the estates with state of the art modern designs and facilities that will unequivocally catch the eye of professionals in the market for a smaller yet upscale rental property in Gaborone. Phakalane Estates CEO Subramaniam Parthiban has expressed plans for the creation of an all-new industrial park in Phakalane aiming to expand and consolidate the existing industrial strength the community already boasts.