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Yesterday,  one of my friends celebrated their birthday so we drove up to Birmingham to eat out at a restaurant. It was a fun evening, we had a lot of laughs, and on the drive back down we began talking about why so many young people who are Christians end up having sex before marriage. So apparently, everyone’s singing the Hallelujah chorus in church on Saturday morning’s, and then grabbing their significant others and getting their groove on on Saturday night. Houston, we have a problem. The big deal is that… everyone pretends that they don’t. Or at least I’m not hearing about it from them.

Now, these people aren’t necessarily the dubious church goers who sit at the back playing Temple Run during the sermon, or who take two trips to the front at Communion so that they can get extra bread – nope, they’re people who seem to be generally committed to their faith, engage with church activities and are presumably genuine. Seeing as lots of people are doing it, why is no one really talking about it?

I think it might be because as a church or a faith in general, we’ve put far too high a value on virginity, and people are scared of how much they will be judged.This might sound crazy, but I genuinely feel that if I went out getting drunk every Saturday night, or was a pathological liar, I would probably feel a lot more ‘holy’ than if I lost my virginity once and then never had sex again. Now, my relationship with God would still be damaged by lying, or shoplifting, etc, but I think the rest of Christendom see pathological lying as a fairly minor misdemeanour in comparison to me losing my virginity. That scares me that I even think that could possibly be true, even it’s not the actual reality.

Not only that, but I think if I was a guy, it honestly wouldn’t be that much of a big deal. Many Christian men say they want to marry a virgin, but when I say it, I know deep down in my heart that the chances are pretty slim. It’s just not as important for men to be pure as it is women. Theoretically, we know that God requires it equally of men and women, but practically that’s not what we insinuate to young men and women. We expect men to struggle sexually and eventually give in, and if they hold out till 24 they’ll probably get an extra dollop of stew at church potluck.

I distinctly remember being told somewhere by someone that the most precious gift I can give my husband is my virginity. What? Not my glowing personality or sparkling wit and intelligence?  Nope, the fact that I haven’t had penetrative sex. Oh ok, thanks for that. Not only is this deeply sexist, it’s also slightly dehumanising. Not to mention the fact that it’s not biblical. Put it this way – I’m fooling around with a guy, we almost reach the point of no return, but thankfully someone opens the front door and we do the embarrassing scramble for shirts, re arranging sofa cushions etc. Am I still a virgin? Yeh, technically I guess.

Does God place value on virginity? Yes, in the sense that God values obedience to the biblical teaching of abstinence. Is it a beautiful thing to be able to marry someone and both be able to learn together sexually without comparisons of other people invading that space? Certainly. God places a far higher value on purity though. A non-virgin who has a character that seeks to serve others, to be honest, to be kind, to be courageous, to deal with lust that threatens to taint her mind and not just his/her body has more than a virgin who spends the whole day lusting after other people or watching porn, screwing his/her face at the general public, and knocking over little old ladies in Tescos.

The greatest gift I can give to my future husband isn’t my virginity, although that would be ideal and I’m aiming for that. (not sure about the terminology of ‘give’ and ‘take’, but that’s another post). It’s the fact that I’m generally a pretty cool person, with (I hope), a pretty cool personality, and I love God. And I can climb trees, even in a skirt. And I have a secret love for Country and Western music. And I cook a good chickpea curry. And have this little clicky thing I can do with my pinky fingers…. Ok, so I do definitely do value purity over strange party tricks, climbing trees and curry – but you get my point. We value technical virginity too much and don’t value sexual purity enough. I’m trying to get to the point where I’m just as concerned about what goes on inside my mind as in my body.

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“Courage is not simply one of the virtues but the form of every virtue at the testing point, which means at the point of highest reality. ” ~ C.S Lewis

Courage is one of the virtues I admire most, and struggle most with. Courage and self control. 

From a young age, my Mum always drummed into my head the importance of being able to be resolute in the face of fear. She would always say to me “Shade, not many people have courage. It is so important for you to have courage”. As I got older, she has always reminded me, that one of the most important things I must look for in the men that I choose to be involved with, is courage. “Never be with someone who doesn’t have courage”, she says.

At each phase of my life, new experiences would teach me the importance of courage. I remember sitting in the car one morning before going to school in year 5, and crying to my Mum. I wasn’t going to back in there. I couldn’t go to school anymore. Why couldn’t I just read the books at home? I didn’t want to be bullied anymore. I wanted them to like me. Somehow, somewhere in my 10 year old heart, a little bit of courage stirred up. I dried my tears and determined that I was going to go in and hold my head up high. Even if they told me my skin was the colour of poo. Or that my two afro puffs looked like kangaroo ears (they would stick up and then dangle over at the front…yeh, it’s kind of a funny insult now that I look back).

I remember being a teenager and being pressured by friends to do things that I didn’t want to. I can’t say that every time I said no. I can’t claim that I was happily independent, without regard for other people’s wants or expectations or demands. I am ashamed that sometimes I stayed silent when I should have spoken. Sometimes I joined in in talking when I should have been silent. It wasn’t that I didn’t know wrong from right -I might have been kind, or true, or honest or pure or gentle deep down inside, but I didn’t have courage. Courage. It is the form of every virtue at the testing point.

When I became a Christian, I found that new type of courage was required from me. Not just the courage to be the odd one out. There are so many people who do not share my faith who have had the courage to stand up for what they believe in. Atheists can have courage. Gandhi had courage. Even Hitler had courage (no, I am not putting atheists, Gandhi and Hitler in the same category). I knew that my faith made me different,  but it was the courage to keep trying in the face of my past failures that was new to me. I had never felt so acutely the peace that came from walking with God, but I had never felt so acutely how unlike Him I was.

This week has been a difficult week for me spiritually. I have talked to God less and watched rubbish TV shows more. I have ignored His call to my heart to turn from my own selfish desires and turn to Him. I have gossiped. I have lusted. I have been selfish. I have thought things I would only confess to my Maker. It is easy to look at myself and lack courage. Fear of repeating my past failures propels me to surrender to a mediocre faith, that allows God to access the peripheries of my life but not live at the core of my being. Courage. 

I pray for it daily, that I will have enough to remember that I am utterly dependent on Him to make me who I am supposed to be. That I will have enough to get up when I fall, and then trust Him to carry me.

Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgement that something else is more important than fear.  ~Ambrose Redmoon

I wanted you to see what real courage is, instead of getting the idea that courage is a man with a gun in his hand.  It’s when you know you’re licked before you begin but you begin anyway and you see it through no matter what.  You rarely win, but sometimes you do.  ~Harper Lee

“Courage is reckoned the greatest of all virtues; because, unless a man has that virtue, he has no security for preserving any other.”  ~Samuel Johnson 

“Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen.”  ~Winston Churchill

 

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So according to national government statistics, or some sort of group masquerading as some sort of official type conglomerate, 50% of black men in this country and 35% of black women are in relationships or married to people who aren’t black. ETA – people have mentioned that I need to provide links to studies , statistic etc so here they are..(http://www.humanities.manchester.ac.uk/socialchange/research/social-change/summer-workshops/documents/unionsbetweenblacksandwhites.pdf) (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1120963/Ten-cent-UK-children-mixed-race-family.html)

Now I know this is a controversial topic, so I’m gonna start out by apologising to those people who are going to be offended by my opinion. Opinions are like university degrees nowadays – pretty much everyone’s got one, they’re all important in their own right, but some are more useful than others. Mine might be useless to you, that’s cool.

I have to put the same disclaimer at the beginning as I initially put at the end of this piece. I am not against interracial relationships. I am simply discounting the popular narrative that interracial relationships are automatically positive for racial progress. Please re-read that.  Please, please actually read the entirety of what I’ve written instead of jumping on certain things that might rub you the wrong way. Thanks :-).

Looking at the statistics, it’s clear that black people are far and away the only group that dates interracially in such high numbers, especially black men. Most Asian men marry Asian women, most White men marry White women etc. (http://www.manchestereveningnews.co.uk/news/local-news/one-in-five-wont-marry-white-1002413http://www.manchestereveningnews.co.uk/news/local-news/one-in-five-wont-marry-white-1002413)

There’s no doubt that it’s becoming increasingly more popular and according to many people, a sign that the people who date interracially are not racist – therefore we are as a society are becoming less racist, that love is colour blind etc. To which I say nonsense, doo-doo, and complete twaddle-wrap.

Firstly, it’s quite obvious that the vast numbers of black men especially dating and marrying outside their race is pathological. The fact that 50% (48% to be exact) of a group of men date or marry outside their race (primarily white women) is a clear sign of some sort of problem within that community, especially when this is not replicated by the vast majority of the male populations of other races. We can bury our heads in the sand and sing Kumbaya choruses and pretend that this is all wonderful and part of Martin Luther King’s dream, but frankly, it’s not, because the reasons why it is occurring in such high numbers are not positive.

1) Black people as a general group have deep seated psychological issues when it comes to self image.

You only have to look at a hip hop video, or a black rom com to see that black people in general idolise beauty standards that are not ‘black’.  A large proportion of  hip hop artists are dark skinned black men. A large proportion of hip hop video models are racially ambiguous. Looking at them, they could be black, they could be Latina or they could be a white brunette with some good fake tan. I know black guys who are as black as a pot of burnt rice who have only dated girls Beyonce’s shade or lighter, and then have the nerve to talk some excrement about ‘preferences’ and how everyone’s entitled to them. Of course you’re entitled to them, but if I’d been systematically brainwashed to believe that beauty was at it’s highest point when it was 5 shades lighter than me, then I think I’d try to revisit my preferences.

How many times have you heard a black person say that they want children with ‘good hair’ or ‘green eyes’? I’ve actually heard black women say they wouldn’t date someone because their hair was too ‘nappy’ (basically too African). This isn’t a small segment of the black population who talks like this, a sizeable amount of us have said or heard someone else make these ridiculous statements at some point.  I’m not sure how the majority of black men or women can be confident that their dating choices aren’t somewhat influenced by the negative images we have of black beauty around us. Little black boys internalise ideals of beauty that tell them the only acceptable form of black is Halle Berry, Beyonce and Rihanna. When they grow up, it doesn’t magically go away. The unhealthy veneration of mixed race people by black people is nothing new, and interracial marriage is only serving to feed this.

2) Many black men and women  who date interracially state that their reasons for doing so are because of issues they have with black men or women, or things that they believe other races of men and women do ‘better’.

If you primarily date black women and happen to fall in love with a white woman, it is entirely different to you spouting generalisations about black women or men as your reason for dating outside your race. “Black men don’t know how to treat a woman”. “Black women have too much attitude”. “Black men can’t handle a successful woman”. “White women are more easy going”. “Asian women know how to treat a man” “Black women don’t wear their real hair”. (Ever considered that black women are just trying to imitate the type of women that black men clearly find more attractive? i.e. Long hair, straight hair or wavy hair?) “Black men are dogs and they all cheat”.

I’ve said this once, and I’ll say it a million times. I know plenty of white girls with attitude. I know plenty of white men who are serial cheaters and treat women like crud. I’m not denying that there aren’t particular attitudes and behaviours that are more common amongst the black community, but a lot of these are to do with class and not race. Black men talk about black women’s apparent attitude, when they only date a particular type of women. I’m sorry that Shaniqua wasn’t wifey material, but have you ever considered that her life circumstances caused her to develop a certain type of attitude to cope? And that if you dated a woman with different circumstances, her attitude would be different? I’m sorry that Tyrone didn’t turn out to be the model boyfriend, but really, you were the one who wanted a Rick Ross lookalike. And you pretty much got a look alike and an act-a-like.

3) Some white women fetishise black men. Some white men fetishise black women.

We (black folk) are a race who seem to suffer from general amnesia. When has the ability of white people to have sex or procreate with us meant that they were no longer racist? Um. Where do you think all the racial mixing in the Caribbean comes from? There a sizeable number of white people who still describe black people as ‘exotic’ ‘exciting’, and rave about ‘chocolate skin’, how good black men are in bed, how black women are more spicy and passionate, how black men are more manly, and how ‘mixed race babies are so cute’.

All these statements are highly problematic and objectifying. What’s even more problematic is that some black men  and women are stupid enough to be flattered by these unhelpful stereotypes, and will go on to date and have children with these people. The offspring of these unfortunate unions often then grow up with defective racial identities and internalised stereotypes about themselves.

I’ve heard the most ignorant and ridiculous nonsense come out of the mouths of white mothers who have mixed race children. I know of people who have had their white wives turn around and call them nigger in the middle of an argument. I know of black women who have married white men only to be disturbed by their deep seated racial prejudices that were not apparent while they were dating them. Just because someone marries someone of another race does not mean they are not racist.

Black people often require very little from the white people they enter into relationships with – ignoring the fact that they have a shallow understanding of black history, white privilege and racial identity. I’ve heard many white mothers being offended when their children are called ‘black’. This shows a woeful ignorance of the politics of race in society and also the shocking lack of care the black man who impregnated these women took in being certain that the mother of their children was going to adequately equip their child to manoeuvre through society.

Many white people are socialised to be racist. They don’t choose to be, they are socialised into it, and many of them have prejudices and stereotypes that cannot simply be erased by having a mixed race child or dating a black person. It takes a significant amount for someone to change thought pattens that have been reinforced from a young age they don’t just disappear because you fancy Tinie Tempah.

4) Mixed race people are being used in popular media to perpetuate erasure of dark skinned black wowen n particular.

It’s quite obvious that presently there is a move for ‘black’ representation to be confined to ‘mixed race’ representation. Most adverts or television shows will have  a mixed race person, or a black person who looks mixed as opposed to a non-mixed looking black person. ( I say looking because phenotype doesn’t have a direct correlation with genotype, and there are any people who identify as black who look ‘mixed’/ or who are technically mixed and vice versa). It is a more palatable and attractive version of black to the general population and to black people. Mixed race black people are a way for companies, magazines, and governments to fulfil a quota of black people whist stating clearly that only a specific type of black is good. The type of black that is mixed with white.  The result is a marginalisation of non-mixed black people, especially women, which is only fuelling a divide between these two groups. I want to clarify, this is not the fault of mixed race people, or of people who marry interracially per se. This is the fault of a system of pigmentocracy that has been present in our community for hundreds of years. What the high levels of interracial marriage does do, is send a direct message to society at large as to how we perceive ourselves, how the relationship between black men and black women is fractured, and perpetuates the hierarchy that has already been created.Ultimately, advertisers, music video directors etc, present what they think will be attractive to the demographic they are targeting. Naturally, if a particular demographic has made it clear about their preferences in terms of attractiveness, they’ll cater to that. If the high levels interracial marriage were occurring outside the context of the historical colorism in the black community and the legacy of slavery, it wouldn’t be at all an issue it would be progress, but because it’s not, it IS an issue. These are cold, hard, unpopular truths.

What I’m not saying:

1)That no one should date or marry interracially.

2)That I will never marry or date interracially. (Although I openly admit that I’m wary, for the reasons I stated above)

3) That mixed race people’s ‘issues’ are any more than other people’s.

4) That mixed race children don’t have the right to self define.

What I am saying:

1) The high levels of interracial marriage are indicative of a deeper community problem.

3)Mixed race identity IS complex and IS something that needs to be discussed more.

4) We cannot love other people positively when we don’t love ourselves.

I hope I’ve generated more light than heat, and I also want to end this piece by saying that in an ideal word, interracial dating would not be a big deal. But in an ideal word there wouldn’t be a system of white, male supremacy. I can’t talk about this issue idealistically because that is not the world we live in.

Peace guys x

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So I’m like a no make up – make up kinda chick. I like my make up to be the type of make up where girls whisper to their friends “Is she wearing make up?” “Nah girl, don’t think so, I heard she’s vegetarian, she probably just has really good skin..” (I don’t by the way),  when in fact I am wearing a well applied coating of Lancome’s Teint miracle foundation, bronzer, blush, lip gloss, mascara and eyebrow pencil. No shade to those who are full face make up kinda chicks. Actually, tell a lie, this whole post is probably gonna be shade (just a lil’).

I’m not a big fan of social media either. That might seem strange to my Facebook friends, Twitter compatriots and LinkedIn colleagues, but really, really, if you look closely, I have minimal pictures of myself on Facebook, regularly deactivate, and tweet possibly once every 2 days.  In fact, I actually want to unfriend my real friends from LinkedIn because I like to  compartmentalise my life, and having my real life friends on a professional social network is disconcerting for me.

Anyway, one of the things I do find fascinating about social media is the high levels of deception that women (and some men), have the opportunity to exercise. I’m kinda a new born babe in the make up universe. I mean I have dabbled, but was pretty much lightweight until recently. I bought my first liquid foundation this year, and have spent the whole year on a continual childish high of fascination at the various ways youtube has taught me to transform myself into a Kelly Rowland lookalike . Who knew that with a paintbox filled with a variety of shades of brown paint, with some reddish plum tones thrown in for good measure, you could go from Precious to Beyonce?

Instagram is now choc a bloc with make up idols, women who have reached Picasso like levels of talent, wielding nothing but a an eyebrow pencil and a palette of Sleek eyeshadow. It’s impressive, I tell you. It’s also slightly scary. I’ve watched youtube videos where I’ve literally screamed when I saw the woman wipe off her make up. Not because the woman was even particularly unattractive, but because it was like watching a scene from Animorphs. There she was, fully human, and with one fell swoop of a baby wipe an unrecognisable creature sat before me. The difference was THAT shocking. I’m all for self improvement as much as the next person, but I’m beginning to think that our modern obsession with physical perfection has really gone too far.

We no longer accept that only celebrities with teams of make up artists, stylists and nostril hair arrangers are going to look perfect all the time. Women who have full time regular jobs, children, and hungry husbands are now buying into the myth that it is possible to cartwheel through life on a grassy plain of immaculateness. And that if it’s not possible, they’re going to spend excessive amounts of time and money trying. That is super problematic, especially in an age where many women pride themselves on being independent, self sufficient and free from the shackles of patriarchy. Lets face it, a  lot of women (although they deny it) are fairly concerned with whether they’re attractive to the opposite sex. They know that the celebrities that most men find attractive are caked in make up, have weave longer than the Amazon river, and work out about once every 15 minutes to get the super amazing look that’s plastered on every billboard and magazine. Never mind the fact that most men wouldn’t really appreciate these women in real life.

Now don’t get me wrong, make up is fun. I think a lot of men think that women only wear make up to cover insecurities, and that’s simply not true. For a lot of us, it’s part of the way we make ourselves feel good in the morning, like doing our hair or putting on a nice outfit. I know plenty of women who are happy to not wear makeup – me for instance. if you took away my make up for a week, I wouldn’t cry or hide behind postboxes in public places. But there are some women who would practically wear a Lidl’s bag over their head than be caught dead going any where further than the corner shop without makeup.

I’m a big proponent of natural beauty, but I’m also a big proponent of women doing what makes them feel comfortable in terms of their appearance without being ‘judged’. Having said that, I think it’s really important that before we modify ourselves, we ask ourselves hard questions about WHY we do what we do?  Why are you uncomfortable with your naturally curly hair? Why do you feel like unshaved legs are gross, when 100 ago years women wouldn’t have batted an eyelid? Why do you have HD brows, when they clearly look ridiculous? (sorry, that was a judgement, couldn’t help myself). Why can’t you leave the house without makeup?

I think we’re all caught up in a strange cycle of being envious of what’s not even real. Imagine if all the women in the world, including celebrities, refused to wear makeup for a week and didn’t shave their legs? I think we would all breathe a collective sigh of relief in realising that we all have things we don’t like about ourselves – it’s ok to put on our best face, it’s even better to do it with the knowledge that our not so best face is ok too.

Peace and Love guys x

ImageI’ve always been somewhat baffled at the attraction some women apparently have to ‘bad boys’. There’s this rumour that’s been spreading for the past few hundred years, that women are attracted to men who might possibly have criminal record, have a low verging on shocking command of the English language, and who generally treat them like some kind of dog’s excrement. Erm, Is this really true? Do all women secretly want to date the super sleazy yuppy player, or the thug drug dealer they see hanging around on some back road?

I wanted to gain a consensus, so I asked 3 different women to give me their different opinions. I didn’t have time to ask the general public, well actually, I make up my blogs as I go along, so the idea of a survey didn’t occur to me until about 3.7 seconds ago. These 3 women are 3 different alter egos I’ve created, that I’ve named individually for the purposes of this post.

1) Felicity (Inner snob).

“Of course I don’t like bad boys. What could possibly be attractive about the fact that you are on first name basis with the majority of the local police force? I didn’t work through years of school and another 5 years of university, only to have to constantly refer to Urbandictionary.com in order to have some semblance of a meaningful conversation with you. Also, I’m not a sadomasochist, so the idea of you constantly treating me like the gum that you picked up on your shoe from your street corner activities, is not appealing. And don’t get me started on the corporate womanisers…I don’t care that you’re good looking, funnier than Eddie Murphy, have a great degree and that every woman within a 3 mile radius wants you – that doesn’t give you an excuse to play me like Xbox. Nope, not attractive – I just want a geeky guy called Eric who will bring me flowers and rub my feet, not Tupac with a degree. I don’t have a Messiah complex, and I don’t want to save you from your folly.”

2) Mary (Inner rebel)

“I don’t want some man crying with me every time we watch Aladdin! That packet of Kleenex is for me, and me only. What are you gonna do when we’re walking back from the train station and someone tries to steal my Iphone? Tell them that you have a degree in quantum physics? I want people to know your face, and know that they can’t mess with you. I want local gangsters to run to their Mum’s house every time you show up. I want KFC to give us free fries because they’re scared of what you’ll do if they don’t. I want to be that one woman who managed to tame you when every other women failed. Nice guys finish last, because nice guys are boring and pathetic”.

3) Shade (The real me)

“Most normal women don’t really like bad boys. I don’t want to be mortified when you meet my friends and they recognise you from Crime Watch. I don’t want to have to have cringy awkward conversations every time we bump into some woman that you slept with or mangled their fragile heart. Most women just want someone to be able to stick up for them when the time is right – if someone tries to mug us, have the good sense to distract them while we both make a run for it. I don’t want a wimp, neither do I want you to audition for the Mafia. The nice guys who claim to finish last are usually creepy, emotionally unstable,  and have an unhealthy and overactive relationship with their mother. Men kid themselves into thinking they’re a just nice guy when they’re really extremely socially awkward and a bit weird. Real nice guys get real nice girls in the end.”

Honesty, I think the media has fed into this idea, especially with the Hip Hop and Rock music culture. Marilyn Manson is clearly a slightly troubled man, with a penchant for Satanism (or maybe just has a clever marketing team), but somehow a substantial amount of teenage girls when I was 14 found him attractive. Lil Wayne clearly would be unable to get a job at any reputable institution with his current persona, but apparently teenage girls find him attractive as well. On a serious note, I think this is actually quite troubling and dangerous, because while these superstars are only talking about breaking the law, sleeping with multiple women, and taking illegal drugs etc, the young women who absorb this and take it more seriously than they should, begin to actively seek out men who actually do these things in real life. And then they realise that what looks cool in a rap video, in real life, leaves you with an STD and about £2.50 worth of child support, or a very expensive cocaine habit.

I think the women who actually do seek out bad boys are generally quite self destructive. It’s almost a form of self sabotage – I don’t deserve someone who will treat me well, or a challenge where they have some sort of Messiah complex.

What do you guys think? Do most women really like bad boys? Or is it a  small minority giving the rest of us a bad rep?