Now this blog post probably isn’t going to be funny. I like to inject a little sarcastic humour into everyone’s lives, but this topic is sensitive and serious.  Any writer that can make rape ‘lol’ humorous and not be handed a trophy for insensitive toilet specimen of the year, probably deserves a medal. In my opinion, the only people who are ‘allowed’ to make jokes about rape are people who have been raped. And I haven’t. So I have no humour credentials here folks.

The question is, when is sex actually rape?

Chris Brow hit the headlines once again, this time not as an abuser, but as the abused. Weird thing is, HE doesn’t seem to think he was abused.

The Guardian writes:

“He lost his virginity when he was eight years old, to a local girl who was 14 or 15. Seriously? “Yeah, really. Uh-huh.” He grins and chuckles. “It’s different in the country.” Brown grew up with a great gang of boy cousins, and they watched so much porn that he was raring to go. “By that point, we were already kind of like hot to trot, you know what I’m saying? Like, girls, we weren’t afraid to talk to them; I wasn’t afraid. So, at eight, being able to do it, it kind of preps you for the long run, so you can be a beast at it. You can be the best at it.”

Um. Yeh. So I am really disturbed that he finds this funny. Now, an article I read over at Clutch magazine about the same issue (see link below), basically insinuated that this episode is probably the root reason for Chris Brown’s obvious life issues. I’m not sure about that either.  There are just so many unknowns in this case. And the law seems pretty murky on this issue as well. I’m no law expert, but from what I understand, and I’m sure one of you can correct me, statutory rape is different from other forms of rape. Statutory rape is when one of the participants is under the legal age of consent. In this case, both participants were under the legal age. There’s also something commonly known as ‘Romeo and Juliet’ laws, when both participants are teenagers. In this case, the age gap between Chris Brown and the 14 yr old is probably too big to be regarded in that light. Chris Brown seems fine with it, he indicates that it was consensual, and he doesn’t seem to believe that he has any lasting issues from the incident. Is it our place to tell him that it was rape and that he’s severely damaged if he seems to be dealing with it just fine? Modern psychology tells us that he must be messed up for sure, but modern psychology also tells us a lot of poopy things that make no sense whatsoever.

On the other hand, even though we don’t know the emotional and sexual maturity of the 14 yr old,  I DO know what I was like when i was 14. Folks, 8 and 14 is a stonking massive big age gap . When I was 8 I knew what sex was functionally, but I definitely didn’t understand what sex was. When I was 14, I was still pretty naive about sex but I knew a truckload more than  when I was 8. I never, ever, looked at an 8 year old boy when I was 14 and was sexually attracted to them. Probably not even an 11 year old boy. In fact, at 14, I think I pretty much was only attracted to teenage boys the same age as me, or J-Boog from B2K (don’t judge me). If my 14 year old daughter came home and told me she fancied one of the 8 year old lads from the local primary school, I think I would internally combust, and repeat over and over to myself “Oh my goodness. My child is a paedophile. What on earth am I going to do?”. I think most of us would be at least slightly disturbed by this, right? Right?!

I’m pretty certain that a 14 year old having sex with an 8 year old boy is rape. Why? because rape has everything to do with power and consent. An 8 year old boy in a Western society almost definitely does not have the emotional and mental resources to understand the ramifications of sexual intercourse, and therefore cannot consent to it. The 14 year old girl is in a position of significant power in comparison to the boy, both physically, sexually and emotionally.

What’s sad, is that our conversation around sexuality, rape and manhood has probably left many young men proud of experiences that may have significantly damaged them emotionally. Women are taught that their sexuality is something to be somewhat ashamed of – we’re supposed to be pure, virginal, and ‘give’ ourselves away to a deserving Prince Charming. Men are supposed to be virile hunters, amassing as many points on their sexual score table – almost like their sex lives are some sort of PSP game. Although the culture is changing – I don’t think being a virgin at my age is seen as ‘good’ anymore, probably slightly weird but possibly admirable – I definitely think if I was a man I would be subject to a lot more ridicule.

This needs to stop. Little boys need to be taught that their emotions are just as important and valuable as little girls, even if they choose to express them in a different way or not vocalise them as often. Fathers need to stop congratulating their sons on having as many girlfriends as they can, and sewing their wild oats. Real men are responsible. Real men are kind to their own hearts, and understand that just because they have different genitalia from women it doesn’t mean that the sexual act has no impact on them. But real men don’t just materialise, they are molded. It doesn’t always have to be from a father (although that is ideal), it can be from a mother who takes time out to talk to them, and who places positive male role models in their son’s lives. Or from the romantic relationships they enter with positive women who allow them the space to grow.Or even from life experiences. Most certainly from a relationship with God. So many men unfortunately, don’t have these opportunities to be molded, so they just make the best of what they’ve been given.

I feel sorry for Chris Brown, because I just don’t think it’s possible that he’s escaped from this experience completely mentally unscathed. But then again, I’m not Chris Brown – which is why this situation isn’t as clear cut as maybe we’d like it to be.

When is sex rape? And why are men so hesitant to admit that they’ve experienced dome kind of sexual abuse?

(http://www.clutchmagonline.com/2013/10/chris-brown-lose-virginity-8-years-old-raped-8-years-old/)

But she ain’t messin’ with no broke….you know the rest.  One of my good friends, who shall remain nameless, is someone who  appreciates the finer things in life. Her cat, a pedigree Russian breed of some sort, only eats turkey from Marks and Spencer’s. Well, apparently so – I’ve tried to explain to my friend that cats are like children. If you starve them, they will eventually will eat what they’re given, but she insists on pandering to his upper middle class cat palate.

They say that pets tend to mimic their owners, and my friend definitely doesn’t mince her words when it comes to her standards in a prospective partner. As far as she’s concerned, if you’re not earning 40K plus, you can bounce. Yup, hit the road Jack, and come back when you’ve dug yourself out your overdraft. As she explains, it’s not that you’re not a nice person- it’s that she’s aspirational, and wants to better herself, and if you’re stuck in a job that’s only giving you  40K, then clearly you and her aren’t compatible in terms of aspirations. She doesn’t need your money, she’s making her own – but she wants to be with someone who has the same ideals. Frankly,I don’t wholly disagree with her. No woman wants to be with a man who can only afford to buy Christmas presents from New Look at the age of 28. There’s only so much cheap polyester a women can take before she gets chronic eczema.

There’s been a push recently in the black community especially, to encourage professional black women to date the ‘blue collar brother’. Every film with Gabrielle Union (popular American black actress) has the same plot. It goes something like this:

Gabrielle (or insert other bougie black girl name), is a 29 year old corporate exec/lawyer/doctor/teacher/white collar professional, doomed to a life of perpetual singleness due to in part to her ridiculously high standards, and in part to the general shortage of eligible bachelors worldwide. She’s a daddy’s girl, went to the best schools, has supportive parents, a nice house of her own and a circle of friends/sisters/cousins who are continuously trying to get her to relax, let go and find a man.

Cue bad restaurant date with fellow corporate executive/lawyer/teacher who she finds out is secretly a husband/father/fraudster/two timing rat. As she sits on the side of the road weeping at this travesty of an evening (why is her car always missing in this scene?), along comes Tyrone. Tyrone is the local bus driver/handy man/ jack of all trades with a good heart, a gold tooth and no university degree. He dries her tears with his mechanic hanky and tells her she deserves love, even if love doesn’t have a bachelor’s degree.

Gabrielle finds herself caught up in a whirlwind of love, infatuation, cheap dates, polyester dresses, conflict wit her own inner snobbery, alienation from some other bougie black people, encouragement from the black bougie people who aren’t snobs, and eventually ends up marrying Tyrone. They live happily ever after. The end.

So is it wrong to require a man do earn as much or more than you? And is the issue really money, or is it class? I’m going to go out on a limb and say it’s the latter. I think most people need to be with someone who they feel they can relate to, and someone who can understand them. I wonder if my friend met someone who was a struggling author but was amazingly funny, treated her like a Queen, she would reject them in favour of Wiz Khalifa. I don’t think she would… Having said that, I’ve seen people who have professional jobs/middle class backgrounds marry people who have more traditionally working class jobs/backgrounds and it works out well for them. Love doesn’t have a price tag, or a particular accent or degree classification. Personally, I’m honestly not that bothered if a man earns less than me. If all goes well this year (please Jesus), I’m going to have a decent career. Now, doctors are NOT ballers, but we ain’t exactly broke either. To expect any man I dated to earn more than me would probably be a bit much. Having said that, I don’t think it’s wrong for my friend to have her 40K limit. Everyone has their standards. Some guys, won’t date women who they rate less than a 7 in terms of attractiveness. Some won’t date a woman that can’t cook. I like geeky guys – if you’re not well read, I’m probably not attracted to you. Nothing personal. If you have a degree but you’re not well read, I’m equally as uninterested, it just so happens that people who are well read usually (not always), have degrees.

Traditionally, women have always required men to be able to demonstrate that they can provide, which is why the courtship rituals we have still hint at men paying for dates, buying gifts etc. Times are changing, with women being more able to financially provide for themselves, but I still think many women want to be able to feel like the man COULD be the main breadwinner if he wanted to be, even if he doesn’t have to be.

On the flipside, I know men who have point blank told me they are uncomfortable with the idea that I’ll earn more than them and wouldn’t want a relationship where that was the case. Now to those men, I say your loss sucker *sticks out tongue*, but again, their frail and pathetic egos are perfectly entitled to their medieval standards :-). (Yes, I am particularly scornful of men like that). I’ve lived in a house where my Mum has a more high powered job than my Dad, and they don’t care. It doesn’t change the relationship – my Dad is secure enough in his manhood to support my Mum in whatever she does.

Men, would you date a women who told you that she wouldn’t be with you if you were earning under a particular wage? Would you date a woman who earns more than you? Women, would you date a man who earns less than you? Do you have a wage lower limit?

Peace guys x

I’ll never forget the day I went to one of my friend’s house for tea in primary school. It was a chilly September afternoon, perfect for forcing 8 year olds to play netball in the drizzling rain,  with no jumpers to insulate them from practically sub-Artic temperatures. In hindsight, I’m pretty sure this was child abuse and a violation of my human rights. But moving on.  Becky was the model pupil – conscientious, happy, rosy cheeked, brown hair cut in the standard bob. A generally inoffensive private school specimen; the type of person they put on the front page of prospectus next to the token Asian child, playing happily under a tree wearing their pretentious bottle green boater hats and blazers. But this isn’t about the ridiculous uniform stipulations in private schools across the UK (I had regulation green knickers in reception. Yes. Regulation. Green. Knickers.)

No, this is about discipline.

Now, being a 1st generation Jamaican child, I had an extensive knowledge of various forms of discipline, how to avoid them, damage minimisation, escape tactics etc. I knew that if you cried too hard at the beginning of a round of licks (spanking), you would be spanked harder for overreacting (my parents didn’t do this by the way, but I know people who had this happen to them). I knew (from personal experience), that grabbing onto the belt as it came through the air and then refusing to let go, would not end well for you, or your rear end. I knew that attempting to run was futile, because Jamaican mothers and Usain Bolt are pretty much clones of each other. I knew that wearing two pairs of tracksuit bottoms was a good idea, but 3 would  be too much cushion, your parents would cotton on, and you would be told to remove them. I knew that Nigerian parents were even worse than West Indian parents, and so I better thank my lucky stars that our diluted Africanness had also diluted the intensity of punishment.

What I did not know, was that it was possible to threaten your parents with something called Childline. I thank Becky for the information she gave me that day. We were sitting, playing with some kind of 8 year old amusement, reading Mizz magazine or whatever nonsense that was banned from my house but Becky was allowed to read. The topic of discipline came up. Or in 8 year old speak “what happens when you are naaaughty”. We shared battle scars while trying on lipgloss, and somehow I let it  slip that my Dad occasionally used a belt to punish me. Becky gasped. “He’s not allowed to do that! You can call Childline!” I knew what Childline was, it was the number children called who were being abused. I was confused though. I didn’t feel abused. I just felt Jamaican. In fact, I’m pretty sure Kesh (who’s (whose?) parents were Sri Lankan), had regaled me with tales of derring do involving some sort of implement that had been used to hit him.

So I did what any stupid 1st generation child does. The next time I got spanked for some misdemeanor, mid bawl I screamed out “You’re not allowed to do this, I’m gonna call Chiiillddllliiine!!”. All action stopped. There was a chill in the air. The smell of burnt rice and peas wafting from the kitchen caused my eyes to water even more. If either of your parents are from any country below the equator, I don’t need to tell you how that worked out for me. For my more melanin challenged friends, I’ll just let you know that I didn’t get to make that phone call.

Despite my run ins with the law, I think I turned out alright. I don’t feel any deep emotional scars from being physically disciplined. That could be because my Mum usually grounded me, and my Dad only occasionally hit me (which is why I remember most of them). Having said that, I don’t think I’ll hit my kids. I still don’t agree with children being allowed to talk back, assert themselves unnecessarily – I don’t believe in human rights for children; if you’re living  in my house, you have the right to eat, sleep and give thanks. When David Cameron starts feeding you, he can start telling me how to deal with you…No, seriously, I do believe that children probably learn more from having to think about what they’ve done ,be isolated from their friends for a few days, have their reading books confiscated (this always happened to me :-() than associating anger with physical punishment. I think English culture has a ridiculous attitude towards children – I see kids kicking their parents, screaming at them, all sorts. I also think the traditional Caribbean mode of parenting can be somewhat ridiculous as well. We shouldn’t normalise child abuse. It’s not normal to hit your children with your shoes. Or (correct me if I’m wrong African peeps), insert ginger or pepper into your child’s orifices. I don’t know what sort of person I’ll end up marrying, or what culture/race they’ll be from, but I think it will be interesting to see how we discipline our kids. What do you guys think?

My friend posted a blog entitled 7 ways Christian women go wrong regarding relationships. It was kinda interesting, and it got me thinking. We always hear about the ratio of men to women in the church, and how the numbers are low yadda yadda.  I’m not intending to blog about the reasons why, or give tips on how we can manage to smuggle in some unsuspecting males into our congregations. Neither am I going to give you tips on how to manage your singleness. I suggest you rent a Tyler Perry film, and click your heels together really fast like Dorothy in an attempt to transport yourself to your ideal life. Sorry, no further advice. (Guys, I’m joking, singleness is not a curse)

No seriously, my main problem with this apparent man shortage isn’t so much that they aren’t around (although obviously that is worrying), it’s that the ones who are left often have egos bigger than the Biblical canon. Now this would be understandable if these men were Denzel Washington lookalikes, with the brains of Stephen Hawkings, the athletic prowess of Usain Bolt, and the spiritual fortitude of Moses… but no,no, not really. The majority of the men I encounter in church are fairly decent individuals. Polite, relatively hardworking, kind to their Mothers (sometimes a little too attached, but that’s another post), can hold a conversation without eliciting sleep, not bad looking – all round good eggs. The kind of men that you don’t daydream about, but you might end up marrying. Cos you realise that they aren’t Prince Charming but then, neither are you a Princess – you’re just two average folk trying to make it through life, right? Wrong. Because some of these church men are as arrogant as Boris Johnson on a good day.

Why arrogant Shade,  you ask? Because I’ve heard shocking stories (thankfully haven’t experienced it), of men playing several different women off each other because they KNOW they have options. Because the sheer length of what they require from a woman is frankly, ridiculous in relation to their own relative mediocrity. Now, on initial meeting, these men may appear humble. “Praise God”, they say, “Not I but Christ”..all that good stuff. Then the topic of relationships comes up..and the everlasting to everlasting list begins.

His future wife must be:

1)Super spiritual (but mate, wasn’t that you at the club on Saturday night?)

2) Exceedingly good looking (now with all due respect, but…really? Should men who are 5’s be reaching for 10’s?)

3)Have chef like cooking abilities. (Says he with the assorted Pot Noodle collection in his cupboard)

4)Have effortlessly long natural hair.. (ummm..how many pots of Dax do you go through weekly to get your ‘waves’?)

5) Be intelligent, well read and able to hold an intellectual conversation. (Yet you spend the majority of your free time playing Grand Theft Auto )

6)Be a Virgin/ or have a looowww number of previous sexual experiences. (LOL. That’s all I’m going to say to that one. LOL)

7) Wear no makeup (Erm..wasn’t that you banging on about how Gabrielle Union or Kim Kardashian are the hottest things going? You DO realise they wear a full face of makeup for every public appearance right?)

I could go on and on. So this post is tongue in cheek, and I’m sure there are lots of super nice Christian guys who aren’t like this. I know some of them personally. Something I always say to myself though, is that I am to never ask of someone else what I do not require of myself. It’s just downright cheeky to expect the opposite sex to exhibit this list of qualities when you fall faar below that list in your own day to day life.Women are guilty of unrealistic expectations too. I might fantasise about an amazingly handsome man with no character flaws to sweep me off my feet, but then I realise that I am not physically flawless, and neither do I have a flawless personality or character. Only God is perfect. And he knows exactly who to put me with so that we can walk this journey with.

Humility isn’t being unnecessarily self deprecating. It’s realising your strengths and your weaknesses and being realistic abut them with the knowledge that God is the giver of your intelligence, good looks, musical talent, whatever. Seek to marry your equal not your daydream.

Peace guys x

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I’ve always been a bit rebellious. My parents told me that from an early age, out of me and my brother, I was the one who just seemed to have a knack for bending, twisting or blatantly disregarding the rules. Apparently, I often took some sort of perverse thrill from doing things that deep down, I knew would gain me nothing but disapproval.

Take the time when I emptied a pot of eczema cream all over my brother’s face… I had just turned 3 and he was barely 18 months, but somehow I managed to climb into his cot, with a full sized tub of cream in my hand, and smear half it’s contents all over his face. My parents materialised to find their supposedly walnut brown son’s face mysteriously white and contorted in distress, and me attempting to climb out of the cot with a slight smirk on my face. When asked why I would do such an awful thing, I simply said “his face was dry”.Smiling the whole time. No apology. No remorse.  Actually, to this day, I don’t feel bad in the slightest. My brother still doesn’t moisturise himself properly, his face probably was dry, I don’t really see what the big deal was. Isn’t that what friends are for?

My current spate of rebellion involves my new super vegan housemate. It’s supposedly an all vegan household, which is great. I basically kinda got the room on the understanding that I’m vegan. The problem is, I’m what I like to call a flexi-vegan. Meaning that although generally I try to avoid dairy, if a brie sandwich calls my name, who am I to not reply? It’s rude not to answer when someone calls you,  it’s just rude. Anyway, my new housemate/landlord seems very nice. She’s also VERY vegan. She buys shoes from a special shop called ‘Vegetarian Shoes’, and she owns a vegan market stall. And it’s making me want to be rebellious. If I was living in a house of carnivores, I would probably smugly and piously parade my non-cheese macaroni, and my dairy free, gluten free, egg free cupcake, but living with someone who expects it of me makes me want to do the opposite. I want to buy a block of cheddar cheese and secretly eat it in my room under my duvet  while giggling to myself ‘haha, and you thought this was a block of SOYA Mozarella… not even sucker!” Which frankly, is immature and ridiculous, because she probably doesn’t care THAT much. She probably doesn’t care at all in fact. (I really hope she doesn’t read this).

I write all this to say that I’m pretty sure I’m not alone in this. This isn’t just a Shade thing (although clearly I’m slightly mentally unstable and take it to whole new extreme), it’s a human thing. Human beings are rebellious.

Yesterday, I watched half of a show called Unsafe Sex in the City. It was amusing in parts, but mostly shocking, scary, and made me want to sit with my legs folded for the next..10 years maybe? I’m looking at the general public in a whole new light. As far as I’m concerned, all of y’all have chlamydia. And the rest of you have syphilis. Which is why I love working at a hospital, no one gets offended when I anti-bac my hands after I shake hands with them. It’s ‘routine health and safety’ – that’s my story and I’m sticking to it. (On a serious note, you can’t get STI’s from shaking hands, and I don’t think you’re a disgusting person if you’ve had one/have one. And I’m aware that not everyone who isn’t a virgin/celibate is sleeping with multiple partners). What struck me, was the fact that in a world where we are the most liberated about sexual behaviour than we ever have been before, we are also the most fearful about sexual behaviour. Our rates of diseases are rising, teenage pregnancies are out of control, and young people are having sex more and earlier. I’m not sure we’re particularly happier though. We seem to have thrown off the prison of Victorian morality but I don’t think we are freer. We’ve just transferred to another jail. There are no rules anymore, and we’re left wandering around trying to make up our own individual guidebooks,  forever out of sync with each other.

“For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry”1 Samuel 15:23.

It’s not popular to talk about God and freedom in the same sentence. Modern society teaches us to be unashamed, to dismiss anyone who tells us that there are rules – that there are standards for sexual behaviour, or pretty much any behaviour outside of don’t kill, don’t steal, don’t cheat, don’t lie (depending).

I believe God describes rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft because rebellion against His moral standards makes the statement that your power is greater than God’s. That you, the created being, know more than the Creator. It’s a deceitful spell that charms you into believing that you will find happiness and freedom living your life your own way, but often you are left wondering what has gone wrong, and why something feels like it’s not quite right.

True freedom is not the freedom to do as you want. It’s the freedom to do as you should. Being a slave to whatever takes your fancy isn’t really radical at all, it’s what humans have been doing since we got here. I’m praying that I learn to be a real rebel.

“The only way to deal with an unfree world is to be so free, that your very existence is an act of rebellion”. Albert Camus