Friday, October 9, 2015

A Tale of Two Titties

A few weeks ago I found myself at a swimming pool. It was another lazy afternoon at a local pool. Nothing special or profound about it. Nothing special about most of the people in the pool either. Just the normal people. Some fat, some skinny, some barely able to dunk their heads into the water without gasping like they're drowning.

Among this collection of humanity was this girl. She looked like she was in her mid or early twenties; very pretty, with a slightly stubby nose which only made her prettier. It was obvious she was a beginner from the way she clung to the edge of the pool and rarely left the shallow end unless supported by someone.

At first she kept everything below her neck underwater, but with time as she got more comfortable with the surrounding she started revealing more of herself. All she had on apart from a pair of white trunks was this thin t-shirt that had turned completely transparent after getting wet especially where it clung to her body. Which was just about all over. For all intents and purposes, she was topless. Her breasts were firm and out there, proud and defiant to all stares. If she was self conscious about it, then she hid it really well.

On Instagram there is this hashtag that has been floating around for a while now called #freethenipple and the story behind it is on the treatment of women's nipples like they're obscene body parts that shouldn't be exposed in public, while men's nipples are viewed as normal and no censorship is ever applied to them anywhere online or in public.

There is a point to it. If you'd ever seen a woman breastfeeding in public, it looks normal and no-one ever comments about. Is the nipple suddenly not erotic because there is a baby in the picture drinking from it? Take away the baby and they suddenly become obscene again and people start grumbling. Human psychology and culture are funny sometimes.

The girl in the pool was frolicking with her friends, and getting taught how to swim. There was some staring initially but after a few minutes it was like nobody cared or noticed anymore. She went about her business, comfortable in her own skin.

I admit that at first I was worried especially after all the incidents of women getting stripped in various parts of the country under the claim that they were immoral and indecent. I don't know what I was expecting. Maybe I was expecting someone from management would come over and tell her to dress up or wear a proper swimming costume like they do at the Kasarani public pool where they don't allow bikinis or any costume that exposes a woman's stomach. For guys pretty much anything goes as long as you don't swim naked.

Whenever you ask around why there is a such a rule, especially regarding exposure of the stomach, you get the stock answer that it is intended to protect children from immorality. African culture has changed over time. We claim that it is against our culture for women to appear topless, but when you dig around the archives you will find that in most tribes women always walked around topless just like the men. Does this mean that rather than becoming more liberal we have actually become more restrictive towards what women can do, contrary to the progressiveness we claim to have achieved over time?

I remember as a child when we went upcountry I used to love swimming in the river. At the swimming points it was not unusual to find women swimming stark naked. It didn't stimulate me and that didn't turn me into a sexually obsessed little perv(high school did that).

Do we even bother to find out why such a restrictive modern culture evolved? Or do we just accept it as it is even though evidence shows there is no much difference between male and female nipples. If the reason we dislike female nipples so much is because of their role in foreplay, and during intercourse, well, the male nipple should be banned from the public also. Speaking from personal experience.

I admit, breasts are fascinating and are a huge turn on in the bedroom or wherever a woman lets you play with them. But is this enough reason for us cut down on a woman's freedom of where she can let them loose? Of course it wouldn't be okay to expose them in many situations like in the workplace. But that is a matter of the same ethics that would also forbid a man from being topless in the workplace.

There have been arguments that breasts are distracting to men. Is it really a woman's fault when a man can't contain his idealization? Wouldn't it still happen whether a woman is topless or covered from head to foot? I'm not claiming to be a saint and that I have not ogled women in the past till they were uncomfortable. When it was pointed out, I was able to control it and actually stop. I actually try to make sure even romantic involvements are more about the companionship and less about sex. And it's working out. Sorta. But that is a different post altogether.

So is it that men aren't aware they do it? Is that what self consciously drives us into oppressing women's bodies because we can't control our own sexual urges, or rather assume we can't control them? Are all these rules we have a way of projecting our own weaknesses and denial onto women?

 Case and point, the girl in the pool. No one seemed to be offended by her nudity. No one seemed to care. Did people who would have otherwise cared not care because everyone else seemed not to care? Or was it a coincidence that in such a random assembly of people all of them had been conditioned to look at is as normal. Or is the discrimination of women some sort of mob psychology where a critical mass of bigots must first be attained and the oppression begins?

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

God, are you there?

The biggest problem with writing is that you have to keep at it constantly otherwise you lose your flare and skills. It's a muscle that needs to be constantly flexed in order to stay in working order. Haven't been doing that lately, mostly because I never had any inspiration. Until recently.

But that is not the point here.
When I was still depressed, especially the first years I used to oscillate between believing in God and not believing in his existence. Mostly because I was going through so much shit in my head and in my life that it was hard to believe that He would allow someone like me, who never had any ill intent against anyone or anything, to go through so much hell that I didn't have the will to fight it anymore.

For endless months I wished to either die or for it to stop and for months I didn't get either. It was bad, I was in  bad place and hardly saw any happiness and when it came it was so fleeting it felt like I was being mocked. Through it all I still constantly prayed it would end. But it only seemed to get worse. The little one was the one who tipped me over the edge and I ache for her every single day. But I got closure and acceptance, so that is no longer an issue.

My relationship with God was turbulent, because I didn't know whether to believe in him or to abandon thoughts of a deity and accept that life is what it is and the best we can do is just follow our instincts; and accept there is no meaning behind it at the end of it all.

I used to have moments of clarity, but they were very very rare. I just wasn't happy.

Last year was the year it all changed. After intense treatment and therapy, the light came back into my life. My opinion suddenly changed (nope, it was not gradual at all). I was suddenly happy again. Especially the months I had no memory. There was no cloud hanging over my head, and the whole world was suddenly laid out in front of me. Yes it is sad I lost so many years from my life, but I was ok.

Wasn't this what I was praying for all those years I was depressed? For it to go away and for my mind to feel like it was mine again. To be mine again. For me to be able to trust in my decisions wholly. Wasn't this everything I had wanted then? Was it because of God? Where does God stop and I continue?

As evidenced by articles written since February 2014, it hasn't been exactly smooth since it's a journey of finding my identity sans depression. But it's not as bad as it seems. I know who I am. It's the dreams I had given up that I have to catch up to again. I have rediscovered friendship more meaningful than they ever were before. It's realizing that for the most part, I had family and friends right there beside me.

A few days ago I was talking to a close friend about God. I hardly believe in most religions, and as a result I never go to church unless it's a wedding or as some form of moral support for someone. But I do pray. I pray a lot nowadays. 

It's not that I expect him to solve all my problems. I don't expect him to suddenly make someone I like to fall in love with me, like some sort of mind controlling genie. When I pray for something like love, I'm just hoping that I find someone to look at me and see me for who I am and love it and be ok with my flaws. I pray that I will be able to do the same. I don't want God's role to be the magic potion. I want it to be as the hand that brought us into the same place where we became aware of each other. The rest being up to us.

I have always been aware that I am emotionally unavailable to most people especially in the way that would lead to a relationship, and I always prayed that when I found myself available and vulnerable to someone, they would feel the same. All I know is I would give it my all.

My point is I stopped looking at God like a nosy, glaring parent, always disapproving everything I do. After all, he made us and is aware of all our weaknesses and when I look back at my life, I can see his influence all over. Things I can't logically explain.  And things even though explainable, they don't follow logic. Make sense? 

I see God's influence in decisions I made in the past that are actually making sense now. Mainly because when I made them all I had was the intention to do something right even though I didn't know how they would ultimately help me. When I put the interests of others over mine. It is in learning that I can actually gain without being selfish. Sort of like the logic in using up resources is to make our lives better. We don't know anything about future generations or if they will remember or value us, but we have the need to use it responsible so that at least they have something too, like us.

I'm not a saint. I'm not as good as the last paragraph may have hinted. I have moments of absolute selfishness sometimes. I am far from being an example of Godly. But Lord knows I try to be the best I can be especially when it comes to other human beings. 

I always try to make sure I do good things even if I don't get it in return, and I always try not to be be bitter when it's not returned in kind. I want to be happy without having to exploit the emotions of others. I want never to care about what other people think of me, while at the same time showing the ones that care about me that it's not for nothing and that they are safe with me.

Maybe I am picky when it comes to who I associate with, but it's because it is a no holds barred experience in opening up that is both intense and fulfilling. Friends and lovers alike.

Believing in God works for me. It's comforting knowing that whatever love I have inside has a higher meaning. It is comforting thinking that we're all an extension of God, and while things may be dark, we're never really alone. 

We may not know the way, but looking back it all makes sense. It really does. Everything is for a reason, even though we may not know what in the present.