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Updated: Jan 30, 2021

There are always different challenges taking place on social media, whether it’s push-ups, dumping ice water over your head or even dancing next to a slow moving car. Over the past few weeks there has been a new one making its presence felt on social media where ladies post black and white selfies of themselves under the hashtag #enough or #challengeaccepted in a an attempt to support each other. Normally I don’t pay much attention to these but when you feed is filled with these striking black and white photos, I wanted to know what was going on. 

This challenge actually started in support of a Turkish student, Pinar Gultekin, who was strangled, burnt and then dumped inside a barrel, after rejecting the advances of her ex boyfriend. A terrible story. We have many more, just like this one in our country. 

I try to keep these pieces that I write up beat, we have enough negativity to deal with on a daily basis, but last week I had an encounter with Mila (my almost 3 year old going on 23) that got me thinking about how our society operates. 

I wanted to give her a good morning kiss and cuddle but instead I had a little palm shoved into my face followed by the words “Don’t touch me fart face!” She had a determination and a resolve on her face that meant business (I would presume the same look of an ANC government official when making sure a tender goes to a a family member 😁). 

The most dominant thoughts in mind at that time where 1: I probably won’t have to worry so much about her when she gets older in terms of her personal boundaries and 2: I need to talk to her two older brothers about how they talk to each other because these words were theirs, not hers. 😁. 

The philosopher, Jiddu Krishnamurti, said “It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society.” and Mila at almost 3 doesn’t care what society thinks. She operates like she should. She doesn’t care if her hair is wild and all over the place, she speaks her brutally honest mind because she hasn’t learnt to be polite. She is busy being a little girl instead of doing what little girls should according to our patriarchal dominated society. At the moment she is free from societal constraints, unfazed about out dated belief systems, but what scares me is, as she gets older society will try and teach her that her value as a human being is only valid if linked to some else’s, that her natural beauty needs make up and that you shouldn’t wear a summer nightie over winter pajamas 😁. 

She hasn’t learnt yet, that’s it’s unsafe to travel alone at night, not to accept a drink from a stranger or to dress appropriately to keep the impulses of men in check. She hasn’t learnt to acquiesce to the needs of a profoundly sick society. And she shouldn’t have to but we live in a society where patriarchal dominance is still very much the norm. It’s the residual side effects of patriarchal religious, political and socio-economic systems and it’s a norm that we are well adjusted to. It doesn’t make it right or correct but it points us in the right direction and shows us that the societal “new normal” should exclude behavior that harms, limits or perpetuates violence against women or those most vulnerable in our society. 

I’m busy typing this on an IPad and to make things easier to use, electronic items are standardized. They all operate the same way. It allows us standardized use and understanding of them. What society unwittingly does is standardize human beings. Our group think, doesn’t allow for individualizing. Society operates as black or white. It’s lost sight of the beauty of grey and in doing so allows the dehumanizing and judgements of people based on sex, orientation, race or beliefs and as humans we follow or bow to these beliefs in exchange for acceptance.

On Saturday I was coming back from the shops with Lake and Kai. Lake turned to me and asked “Dad why do you wear contact lenses and not your glasses?” I explained that I grew up in a time where wearing glasses was something to be ridiculed and the fact that my glasses are quite thick that if I catch the sun at the wrong angle I can start bush fires, makes wearing contacts safer. They both laughed. I explained that I was conscious of what other people might think of my thick glasses and that wearing contacts was my way of avoiding judgements placed on me by society. There was a slight contemplative pause and Lake said “But dad who cares what people think and say, they are just fart faces anyway.” Touché Lake. 

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