Saturday, 29 November 2014

She is Not Somebody, She Belongs to Somebody

I received this picture from my friend. She wrote to me: “I don’t really understand this picture. You can introduce the man in the same way”.
Of course you can. But it’s never done.
And I’m not saying about some birthday party, where you introduce some new person into the group of friends saying: “This is Fred, he is Katie’s boyfriend” or “this is Matt, he is Anna’s big brother”. This situations happen and it’s natural to mention the affiliation of somebody newly met. And in that case everybody is somebody’s sister, brother, mother, father, grandma, uncle, friend, girlfriend, etc.
But what this picture is implying is that in the outside world woman is not perceived in her own autonomy and through the lens of her own achievements. She might be successful, but she will always belong to somebody.
And that’s the problem.
There are two women that automatically came to mind when I saw this picture: Rona Fairhead and Amal Alamuddin.
Rona Fairhead is a highly achieving business woman, with lots to offer. She is the former CEO of the Financial Times Group and a former non-executive director at HSBC. And she was on the path to yet another success: becoming the first woman in charge of overseeing the BBC. Being the person that Rona is, it shouldn’t be difficult to write an appropriate headline to announce that she is a probable choice for this position. Some of them were, but not all. For example, The Telegraph, for which they were later on slammed. “Mother of three poised to lead BBC” was written loud and clear.
We can argue many things in this instance: that it was just one incident, that Telegraph might be biased at a time, that it’s not a big deal… But it did happen and it is a big deal. Tell me, how her motherhood has anything to do with her credentials to do this job? She could have a small kindergarten with adjacent zoo for all I care and it still shouldn’t matter whether she is cut up for this job or not.
And most important thing: this is a headline that we have never seen describing a man.
Second person, Amal Alamuddin. Amazing woman, accomplished international and human rights lawyer. She hold a degree from Oxford University where she won Shrigley Award and she has LLM degree from New York University (plus Jack J. Katz Memorial Award for excellence in entertainment law). She represented clients in cases before the International Criminal Court, the International Court of Justice and the European Court of Human Rights, etc. So pretty much she rocks!
But she got engaged. And she got engaged to a famous person – George Clooney.
There is a whole wide world of possibilities how to describe the engagement of two such high achieving people. But apparently it’s too difficult for some…

The headline of The Telegraph: “George Clooney engaged to ‘utterly beautiful’ British lawyer”! Rushing to explain:The Hollywood star's engagement to glamorous human rights lawyer Amal Alamuddin is warmly welcomed by friends and work colleagues”.

And it’s not the point that she is not pretty, because she is. But at this point of her career with such achievements, it shouldn’t be the first thing that is mentioned. But that’s what the entire article is about: how hot she is.
But it’s get more interesting (read: worse). Amal Alamuddin was offered a position in UN’s three-member commission of inquiry looking into possible violations of international criminal law. And yet again, she was offered this job because of her successes, not her hotness and fiancé. But apparently the most important information is that she was engaged to George Clooney.
Oh, come on! It’s George Clooney! It’s pretty big deal, right?

The Guardian was all over this and just didn’t seem to know the difference between crucial information and not-that-relevant-to-the-case information.
First there was “Amal Almuddin, George Clooney’s fiancée, toserve on UN Gaza inquiry”. If it wasn’t enough, the information had to be restated: “British Lebanese lawyer Amal Alamuddin, who is engaged to George Clooney, has been chosen...”. Then there is some mentioning about her achievements (I’m not even sure whether those are even correct or not).
However, her probable co-workers, who both were male, received a different kind of description:
“The UN’s top human rights body says she will serve alongside Doudou Diene of Senegal, a lawyer who has filled UN posts on racism and human rights in Ivory Coast, and Canada’s William Schabas, an international law professor at Middlesex University in London, who will chair the commission.”
Is this discrepancy caused by lack of famous partner? Because for me it seems that The Guardian make its best effort to minimalize Amal’s life’s work and bring it down to her being “hot and engaged to someone famous”.
At the end of a day, Amal’s engagement was a problem. There has been voices saying that the choice of Amal for the commission is an attempt to bring more attention to the cause by involving Hollywood and the future-to-be husband, George Clooney.
On the other hand, William Schabas is a known critic of Israel, which also brought controversy. But somehow news of him being in the commission brought another types of headlines: “Known Israel critic to lead UNHRC Gaza probe” or “Baird’s criticism of Canadian international lawyer and UN investigation of Gaza a sign of the times” or “Jonathan Kay: William Schabas’ casual anti-Israeli bias makes him a perfect fit for a UN ‘fact-finding’ inquiry”. All of them more descriptive, more about him and his views, but also acknowledging who he is and what are his credentials.
She finally turned down the offer, because she was busy with eight other cases (and you know, wedding preparations, cakes, flowers, that sort of thing – it’s more important than some career!)
Her refusal was welcomed with:
The New York Daily News:  “Amal Alamuddin, George Clooney’s fiancée, turns down spot on UN war crimes panel on Gaza” (New York Daily News).
The Daily Mail: “George Clooney's British barrister fiancée turns down UN offer to help probe 'war crimes' by Israel and Hamas in Gaza” 
The Australian: “George Clooney’s fiancée Amal Alamuddin turns down UN Gaza inquiry offer.”

InternationalBusiness Times: “George Clooney's Fiancée Amal Alamuddin Declines to be Part of UN Gaza Probe Panel”

If it’s not enough to convince you, Daily Life published very interested article on how sexism treated Amal throughout that time. 
I could go on forever on this issue and find plenty more examples of how media can bring down any woman’s achievement by highlighting her affiliation and belonging. But let’s stop here. I’ll just mention again, that this is how men have never been treated by media. It was never relevant whether he is a father of five, uncle of actress or husband to some eligible girl. Somehow, we haven’t seen headlines such as: “Amal Alamuddin engaged to deliciously hot actor” or “George Clooney, fiancé of human rights lawyer Amal Alamuddin, will star in…”. Because when a man achieves a success, he owns it. If woman achieves the success – there is always a question of who she is outside of that success.
So no, she is not somebody’s mother, sister or wife. She is somebody, somebody with aspiration, ambitions, talents, achievements. And it’s bloody time we start perceive women from the perspective of themselves, not others.

Written by Vespertilio

Friday, 21 November 2014

Conversation with Racists: Part 2

Around two weeks ago we posted a first part of Conversations with Racists. The list of bullshit that are expressed by some people are overwhelming and it couldn’t fit into one post, so we will keep pouring the most ridiculous statements and questions racist or Islamophobic (or both) in nature with few comments that maybe are not entirely based on our own experiences, but for us are a common knowledge.

I recently had an absurdly exhausting conversation about democracy and majority. Although the topic surrounded homosexuals and their rights, but I think this point is worth mentioning in terms of other minorities and their rights.

Basically, what I’ve learned is that democracy means that majority is right. And only rights of majority has to be protected. So when I argued that in democracy majority DECIDES, I’ve got a reply that yes, majority decides and they can freely decide to limit the rights of the others.

So apparently, being an equal citizen doesn’t mean that you have citizenship, work, pay taxes, participate in a social life – you have to belong to the majority (meaning here: Catholic white Polish), because otherwise you cannot count on your rights being protected.

Apparently it's the right to hate,
oppress and discriminate against
What happened to the fight for freedom? What happened to fight to be free from oppression? What happened to defending HUMAN rights? Is it really what patriotism and catholic values mean to Polish people? That either you are with us all the way or against us?

I cannot understand this religious hypocrisy that many people are expressing. On one hand, the extremism in Islamic countries is condemned and to be feared. You hear criticism of sharia laws, oppression against minorities and women, but at the same time there is a strong protection of our own white catholic extremism that starts to emerge in some countries, Poland among the others. The way I see it, either we express extremism and at the same time we have to accept extremist views of other religions; or we condemn extremism expressed by EVERY religion, be it Islam, Catholicism, Protestantism, Buddhism, etc. It just doesn’t seem logical to criticise Islam for some of its followers, than when the Catholics are starting to show exactly the same type of behaviour (restrictive, extreme, abusive, oppressive), the argument is: “But Muslims are doing exactly the same! And nobody is doing anything about it! So if they can behave like this, so can we”.

But this is not the only inconsistency and prejudice expressed.

1.      Muslims are violent and they want to destroy other religions.

That’s the statement I’ve heard way too many times. I usually start by trying to abandon the generalisations such as “Muslims are like this” and “Muslims are like that”. Various sources provide different numbers, but there is around 2 billion Muslims in the world. Seriously, if EVERY Muslim person was violent and wanted to destroy others, well, then we all be pretty much destroyed by now. The fact that violence is concentrated to few unfortunate countries with few extremists factions speaks against the notion that ALL Muslims are jihadists.

But, apparently, it’s not convincing enough, because, let’s be honest: Jihadists are everywhere.

Then I try to list all of the Muslim countries that come to my mind and compare the ones with that are currently at war, under ISIS, Taliban, or other extremist Muslims with those which are peaceful, where people of various religions live alongside and the people work towards more equal and inclusive future for all citizens. And the list of countries with Muslim majority that are not currently at war is quite big.

I myself had a pleasure to spend two wonderful months in Ziguinchor, Senegal, where 95% of population is declared Muslims and I didn’t feel unsafe, I didn’t feel persecuted or discriminated on basis of my religion. Nobody commented on my clothing (I tried to dress as appropriately as possible, but it’s was boiling hot, so sometimes I failed), I didn’t meet with ostracizing, over-sexualising me as a white person, nobody suggested to me that I am promiscuous, because I’m white (there was only a real surprise that I’m here without my fiancé and that I’m 26 and not yet married. But THAT’s cultural thing).

Reza Aslan is worth consulting on topics regarding Islam issues, and catholic issues, for that matter. Here is a brilliant response to some allegation towards countries with Muslim majority.

2.      If Muslims in general are against extremism then why they are not doing anything about it?

Usually, after I start to highlight the difference in Muslim world and that not all Muslims are jihadists and it’s not really a part of an Islam in general, I get to the following argument: if majority of Muslims are against extremists, why aren’t they doing anything?

This is the point where I realise that I get into the conversation with people who really know shit about the world and various issues, but I won’t withdraw from the conversation, so I carry on.

I will not even mention the Rome Statute 1998 and amendments in 2010 regarding crimes of aggression. I think that would be too much for some people to understand and I don’t think it would be considered an explanation for some countries to refrain from direct, violent actions. So I go on and give example of current situation with ISIS in Syria, Iraq, etc. Currently around 40 countries, both Western and Islamic came together to fight. Those include Turkey, Albania, UAE, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Jordan, Lebanon and Iraq itself (on purpose I listed only the countries with Islam as a main or almost main religion). So there is huge group of countries that are not happy with the oppression that ISIS is imposing on “their” territory and are willing to fight it.

You know what counter argument I’ve heard to belittle this action?

“Well, but those countries are fighting only to protect their own countries and so that ISIS doesn’t enter their backyard!”

Well, duuuh!

Of course they want to protect their territory, good government should always make the safety of its citizen a priority. But if their actions were ONLY protective, they would build a huge wall, strengthen borders, shoot anybody to come close to their bubble and wait for others to deal with this mess. Are they doing that? Maybe. But they also joined a coalition and made an effort to play nice with others and to contribute.

A very comprehensive explanation of the coalition against Islamic State has been provided by Abdulrahman al-Rashed

3.  Islam is the religion of hate

This point highly connects to the accusation of violence and will to destroy everybody, but at the same time it’s not.

I will not fiercely defend Islam, there is many teachings I know nothing about and throughout the time I also read about the negative face of Islam. There is no denying that there are people out there who use their status of the teacher to spread hate and negativity. There is many people who internalise the hate that they hear every day, that is pouring into their ears with the dose of bigoted self-righteousness and self-validation.

But it’s also true about Catholics.

I don’t know what you think, but if God was this hateful, discriminatory and destructive thingy, he/she would invent better ways to destroy us all. And the fact that we live side by side for centuries now, with different beliefs, means that we are meant to live in peace. I cannot find the appropriate research by now, but I remember reading an article about conflict and religion. There is no religion that is more conflict-prone that the other, but also multiculturalism and multiple religions doesn’t imply that particular country is more prone to conflict.

The conflict emerges when one group tries to dominate over the other. It doesn’t matter whether the group affiliates with an ethnic background, or historical heritage, or religion. But somehow it seems that religion is best excuse to restrict the rights of others.

Written by Vespertilio

Sunday, 16 November 2014

Sterilisation? Take my wife!

Have you ever thought of undergoing the sterilisation procedure? Of the everlasting freedom you would get from all concerning thoughts about whether you are pregnant or not, simultaneously without losing your sexual abilities? 

Everything sounds nice if it is your own choice. But 83 women who were recently sterilised in Chhattisgarh, India, within only six hours, cannot admit they made their decision without any pressure from the family, health workers, and the society as a whole. 

Encouraged to undergo the surgery by getting between $10 to $23, 13 of them died and dozens of them fell sick because the doctor used contaminated medicines and rusty surgical equipment. The Mass Sterilisation Camp in Chhattisgarh saw the highest death toll due to the procedure in its recent history, shedding the light on the most common birth control method used in India. 

As many as 65 percent of Indian women aged between 15 and 49 have chosen the sterilisation as the form of preventing themselves from getting pregnant, according to the United Nations figures. Did you know that female sterilisation is globally the most common method of contraception? 

In fact, contraceptive pill is most common only in developed countries, while developing countries prefer to rely on the irreversible procedure, which basically always means female sterilisation, a much more risky surgery than vasectomy. 

Let’s take a look at some figures:
  • 37 percent of all sterilised women on earth come from India
  • 47 percent of women in the Dominican Republic chose sterilisation as contraception
  • 39 percent of women in Puerto Rico also underwent the sterilisation
  • Around 4.6 million women were sterilised in India between 2011 and 2012
  • Only 1 percent of Indian men have had a vasectomy, compared to 36 percent of women having undergone sterilisation

Now the question arises, why so many women have undergone such a risky and difficult procedure across so many countries if the vasectomy is a much simpler surgery? A woman after sterilisation usually must stay in a hospital for a few days. A man after vasectomy can go home after this simple 15-minute-long procedure. 

In order to make a woman infertile, her abdomen must be open with an around 5 cm long cut to have her tubes tied. This usually involves a general anaesthetic. After the surgery, a woman can feel pain and all in all the surgery is much more invasive. A man needs a local anaesthetic to have his tubes that connect testicles to prostrate cut and tied. There is no pain as such involved in the procedure, apart from the one felt during the anaesthetic injection. 

A man could possibly make much more women pregnant within nine months than a woman deliver babies throughout her lifetime. If the government’s goal is to apply social birth control, why do they target women, and not men? 

Although vasectomy is a simple and non-invasive procedure, there is much more fear throbbing around it than around female sterilisation. First is the fear of pain. Ask any guy, everyone is doddering, shrinking and fretting on the thought of a surgery around their testicles. Unlike to what they show in the movies, to all those heroes who can stand any pain, have their arm or leg cut off without anaesthesia, in general men are indeed less insusceptible to pain than women. 

One, almost equally massive fear that predominates among men, is losing their virility after the vasectomy. It is a myth that a man will cease to be masculine together with the procedure. Actually, erections and sex drive stay unaffected. Plus, the freedom from worry of pregnancy can even enhance a couple’s sex life. 

Moreover, quite many rumours persist about the complications of such a surgery, while, in fact, vasectomy is one of the most studied of all medical procedures and everything indicates that it is safe. 

Shouldn’t such information be spread all around the world? Why is it that women have to sacrifice their lives only in order to safe a man from his mythological fear of losing his virility? Women in developing countries should be informed of other contraceptive options, which are often safer and much less invasive. It is always about the right to choose and once again that right being taken away from women. 

Other side of the lack of choice emerges in Poland, where apparently limiting people’s freedom of choice is a commonly used practice. There, it is illegal for a doctor to conduct a sterilisation as the law says a person who deprives another person from the ability to procreate, risks spending 10 years in prison. You cannot legally sterilise yourself in Poland, even when you have seven children, you are poor or unhealthy or another pregnancy could pose a risk to your life. 

While in most of developed countries sterilisation is officially recorded as one of the birth control methods or it is simply legal, if you happen to live in Poland or be poor in India, you can find it challenging to decide about your procreation rights and your own future. 

But who else will live your life for you rather than yourself?

Written by Nakshatri

Monday, 3 November 2014

Conversations with Racists: Part 1

I spent past few days with my boyfriend’s family and in parts it was lovely experience, but we had few conversations about racism, islamophobia, black people and Muslims that are so representative of our Polish mentality and that drives me crazy. And the conversations I had way to many times.
I really don’t know how to start this post, so let me first tell you something about myself: I’m white woman, I come from very privileged background, I had happy childhood, almost painless adolescence, relatively successful academic education and a happy relationship. Life has been pretty good to me.
I didn’t want to say all those things to rub them in your face and prove to you that your life sucks, and mine don’t. This start is to show you that if I wanted to look from the perspective of my general life experience, something that happened personally to me, well, then world is a pretty good place – no discrimination, no poverty, no oppression, equal and happy people everywhere. Luckily, regardless of my happy life, I never lived in a bubble.
But let’s get to the point.
Poland, my country of origin, is one of the main bastions of racism in Europe. Not only we don’t hide with our racists believes, but we are proud of discrimination we impose on other ethnicities. What other see as progress (hate crime laws, proper education, activism against racism, sexism, etc.), we see as sucking up to backward people who should have been put in their place and not be lenient on them.
I’m freakin’ serious.
Okay, I’m being somewhat unfair. What I noticed about my country is two things: there are people who are open and tolerant and there are those who are absolutely sexist and/or racist and/or homophobic. However, it seems that the freedom of speech is granted mainly to the second group of people. Recently, I hear everywhere discriminatory and offensive remarks and almost nobody stands up and speak against them as if the right to offend somebody was greater than defending others.
But let’s get back to the conversation itself. There were few points made that appear way to often in this kind of conversations that I would love to shed some light and bring attention to its negative effect on our perception regarding other ethnicities.
1.      African’s are fighting because of their culture and unless we come and put everything in order, Africa will never be in peace.
If you talk about war and fighting, Africa will always be brought up at some point. And this is where it gets really frustrating, because you cannot explain the current situation in some African countries, without the historical context. And that’s complicated, different to every country and had different impact. It depends who colonise the country, what were the main purpose of colonisation (slave trade, resources, land), whether the coloniser wanted to oppress people and make them second class citizens to control them better or tried to make it a part of their country and establish something resembling a government and a state.
The history is so complicated and what had been done in Africa and what is still being done to Africa, cannot be dismissed.
But the main problem, when talking about “African” problems, is that Africa in minds of many is a country. One, not that big, uniform country. And tribal relations are main reason for fighting, because they don’t know any better.
Do you want to cry from frustration? I almost did.
I really don’t know how to explain to people that many tribes hasn’t exist before the arrival of Europeans (like artificial division of Hutu and Tutsi in Rwanda and Burundi that had nothing to do with their real tribe affiliation and everything with perceived superiority and physiological traits). Not to mention the fact that many tribes really lived in peace, they intermarried, had very rich cultural heritage, well developed social structure with respect towards every member of community.
But most people just cannot understand that many things happening in some African countries that we see as backwards and undeveloped are the result of Europeans imposing their culture, laws and oppression that destroyed social structures, communal ties and way of dealing with crimes and disorder. And we cannot use the argument “but colonialism ended 50 years ago”, because it’s difficult to rebuild the society that has been exploited, oppressed, fuelled by conflict from outside forces for decades. We should start concentrating on positive outcomes that some African countries are working towards and not only sighing with annoyance when we hear about ANOTHER "African" conflict in an African country.
And regarding the second statement, that we, white people are the only one who can make things right in Africa is preposterous. We should try to help as best as we can by engaging in conversation, sharing experience, helping in implementation of the projects that are designed by people on the ground. But coming in, imposing our ways and claiming that we know better? Which country should do this? USA, where 22% of children lives in families with income below federal poverty line? Or maybe Poland, where Church has more influence on social issues than people themselves? Or maybe Ireland, especially after the recent UN report claiming that women in Ireland are denied human rights?
So basically no one is in position to make a claim that “we know the proper way to solve your problems”. Most of African countries are on the way to discover the recipe for success, some are making mistakes, some are struggling, but they have to do it themselves.
2.      There is way too many black people and Muslims in Europe. If Black people and Muslims don’t like the way it is in Europe, they should get back to whenever they came from.
That one is… ugh. Let’s start with ethnic minorities that are allowed to stay in some countries, because they come from previous colonies or they received the status of refugee and they are under protection of refugee laws. Then let’s move towards ethnic minorities who are travelling within European Union. Many EU countries experienced an influx of migrants from other EU countries. But they are mostly invisible, becauuuuse… they are white. And those who are not white, are perceived as alien and therefore undeserving to be in a particular country.
When we look at the statistics on ethnic groups in Europe (I know the source is Wikipedia, but I think it still show some interesting patterns), most of the countries are homogenous, with their own ethnicity being a majority. For example, in UK less than 15% of population are of different ethnic background than “British”. In France, 84% of population is French and in general 67% has no recent immigrant in their ancestry. So Europe is not under attack of Muslim and African immigrants that are taking over our wonderful lands. Majority of members of so called “ethnic minorities” who are living in European countries have a citizenship of that country. So next time you see a black person complaining about a discrimination in a particular country, ask yourself whether he is just complaining, or is it true. And whether he has more right to be in the particular country than you do.
3.      Black people are racist too.
The issue of citizenship and ethnic minorities often brings this issue: Black people are racist too. What often follows is the vast list of instances where black person did something discriminatory against white person.
There are many problems presented in this statement and most of them, unfortunately, speaks more about the racism of a white speaker than perceived racism of black person.
But let’s get some facts straight:
Fact 1: Some black people are assholes. That’s true, but it doesn’t have its roots in racism. It’s rooted in their individual personality.
But let’s analyse the one particular situation. The example provided was as follows: my boyfriend’s sister needed to extend her visa (it was before Poland was in EU). There was few black girls from some French territory (Martinique or somewhere else). And each time she came to extend her visa, there were some documents missing, so she was sent back. As a result, each time the sister came to this office, she had the whoooole bunch of documents.
So here is my question: did those girls treat her like that because she was white or because she was immigrant? Would she be treated the same way by white French person or not? And maybe, just maybe, she was sent back all these times not because girls were discriminating her, but maybe she just didn’t have appropriate documents?
So what I hear in this situation are two things: first, the girls where just bitches who were like that to ALL migrants, because they were French and French people have a tendency to being xenophobic. Second: “how dare this black monkeys send me back to bring more documents? I should be treated in a better way, because I’m white”. Personally, I don’t think this situation would be so traumatising to the sister, if the rejection came from WHITE French person. And it wouldn’t be a big deal if a white person treated like that Black immigrant.
Fact 2: Just because some black people are assholes, or privileged, or successful, or are not discriminated against, it doesn’t and shouldn’t undermine the whole issue of institutional and social racism.
As in abovementioned situation, the girls were in position of power over a white person and that made people uneasy. What is more, those black girls were in any position of power ergo black people are not discriminated against because in a modern world they are in position of power.
As a supporting argument I usually hear is that many countries treat people of colour (sorry for the expression) with kid gloves and generally walk on eggshells in fear of racism, while mainly Blacks and Muslims are doing whatever they want.
And, black people’s racism towards white people is absolutely unacceptable! If they want us to change, they should change first.
So let me get this straight: people who are constantly discriminated against by education institutions, police, more often live in poverty, with less access to various services, who constantly listen to racist (and ultimately limitlessly stupid) jokes and remarks should refrain from any aggressive, defensive or (God forbid!) offensive behaviours that might be perceived by privileged and oppressing group of people as discriminatory. And if they do show such behaviour, in order to be treated with respect like a human beings, they have to adjust their behaviour, so white people don’t get offended and can exercise freedom of choice whether to treat different ethnicities with respect or not.
Sometimes I have an impression that Black people are expected to sit quiet simply because their life is much better than it used to be. First, they are no longer enslaved, they are free, therefore they should just shut up and stop whining. Second, refugees who were welcomed in the particular country have it better here than they had over there, therefore they should just shut up and stop whining. Because if a Black person, even worse – immigrant Black person, find it’s voice and strength to speak up, then we will have menace on our hands and we might hear one or two things that we really don’t want to hear – that Europe is still racists, it’s bad and we have to be open to conversation and change of attitude, not the other way around.
4.      Yeah, but all the things you mentioned are the history. It happened and it doesn’t matter anymore. What do you have to say about what’s happening now?
At this moment I just gave up. I literally died inside.
Every situation in every country is rooted in its history. If there hasn’t been shortage of food, there would be no hunger. If there hasn’t been uprising, there wouldn’t be an instability.
And if the colonialism and slavery didn’t happen, most of “African” problems wouldn’t exist. It’s not to say that some countries or tribes or territories wouldn’t fight each other, but the structure of the conflict wouldn’t be different.
It hasn’t been an idea of local communities to divide the African countries the way that they are divided. Colonialism created artificial boundaries, dividing territories belonging to one group of people and assigning them to others. And as much as some countries are trying to find pride in their nationality, it’s difficult not to pay any attention to clan affinity.
Many African tribes had deep communal ties, had very complex system of handling social disputes and had a great respect for members of community and other human beings. They respected elders, women had their secret society that was beyond the reach of men (and men were punished for violating the boundaries), marriage has deeper meaning than simply receiving payment for giving away daughter, etc.
Europeans did not impose their rule of law, because they had a well-being of local population in minds. Anything that has been brought to African and imposed on people there was because Europeans saw Africans as backwards, worthless, whose value was counted only in the work they can do for a white person. Segregation, humiliation, genocide, slavery, exploitation of people and resources – all that deeply wounded African land and communities.
Not to mention the debt that many African countries are in, because of the warlords who “borrowed” too much money from world banks and they left civilians to pay off the debt on the cost of their dignity, integrity and well-being.
Some African countries were able to lift themselves up above the stereotypes and are working towards brighter future. Africa is booming and many African countries are fastest growing economically at the moment. It's developing rapidly, improving, establishing new trends and using modern technology.

But I cannot fight the impression that it would be much simpler for them if not for the interference from white people throughout the history. It’s us who introduced bribery, corruption and group domination. And it was us who ensured that some people remain poor for long time, because if they have little – they have still too much to lose.
All that history ripped away African population from their lands and displaced them around the world. Because of slavery, we have Black people in America. Because of colonialism, we have Black people in European countries. And because of white people interference, we have refugees who are in need for shelter from the atrocities that happened in their homeland.

So no, we cannot look at the present situation without paying attention to history. The current issues are results of the actions of the people in the past. So the conflicts we see now in media are not isolated outbursts of violence in some random places. Those are the outcomes of tensions that build up for a long time. And unless we realise the importance of historical context in every conflict, we won’t be able to find meaningful solutions.

Written by Vespertilio

Saturday, 1 November 2014

5 Things to Remember When the Man Wants You to Have Unprotected Sex with Him

Have you ever decided to have an unprotected sex because a guy told you that he doesn’t like condoms?

Well, probably you have. I have also experienced this a few years back too many times than I should ever had. And I wish that back then I would be able to think in a way I do today.

We are all frequently reminded what an unprotected sex leads to, but in an atmosphere thick of sexual tension we tend to forget all the rules and believe that we will be okay. I guess this is how the mother nature has shaped us. We’re often careless when excited, hence it’s easier to reproduce.

But I am not going to teach you here what are the risks of having an unprotected sex because you certainly know it all too well - starting with pregnancy, through sexually transmitted diseases, up to lots of stress. 

But what it ACTUALLY means when a man asks you to put that condom aside.

1.      He doesn’t care about your health.

It can be all pink and rosy when you’re with your loved one in bed and he tells you he doesn’t have any STD’s because he loves only you and earlier he always protected himself. Don’t believe it. If tonight he doesn’t want to use a condom, he surely did the same thing with the girls before you. Very often men are not aware that they are infected with HPV or HIV or any other diseases, especially those which are not harmless for men but dangerous for women (like HPV). So although they can tell you that they are “clean”, don’t trust them and give them that condom.

2. He doesn’t care about your frame of mind.

And that's the reaction only if the guy
hangs around long enough to help
you out with the consequences.
The moment when you are about to have sex is a timeless pleasure when you want everything to be romantic or wild and sexy. For a man the intercourse and all its consequences theoretically end with his orgasm, but you are going to feel the echo of the decision of not using a condom until you get your next period. All those days of waiting for that ideal red stain on your panties can be agonising if the period happens to be even a bit late. A man who asks you not to use a condom because he doesn’t LIKE it, apparently has no idea whatsoever what his short and doubtfully more intense pleasure will mean for you. His temporary satisfaction will only entail days of you feeling nauseatingly stressed and not being able to focus on anything else, rather than thoughts of when the hell will you get that period. Is his satisfaction really worth that agony?

3. He only cares about his own pleasure.

And not yours. During the intercourse, your thoughts of the fact that he is inside you now without any protection and that you have to fully depend on his ability to control himself to ejaculate outside your vagina can really damage the whole experience of love making. How should you relax if you know that a bit of forgetfulness can have a massive impact on your future? It’s all about forgetting yourself and relaxing when having sex, so why should you worry about anything just because he wants more satisfaction? 

Your pleasure is equally important as his. 

Tell him to wear a condom. Period.

4. He thinks a morning-after pill is an easy escape.

The rules on how to get an emergency contraception differ substantially from country to country. In most of the Western European countries it is more or less easy to access it. You can either get it for free at a GP or buy it without a prescription for a decent price. 

Unfortunately, it’s not so easy-breezy in some countries, for example: Poland. In order to get the pill, you have to visit a doctor and be lucky enough to get a prescription from him/her. It often happens that they want to “protect your morals” and their own conscience so they refuse to fulfil your request. Sometimes after not being able to receive it at a doctor’s covered by your insurance, you have to head to a private doctor. After procuring the prescription, you have to go to a pharmacy and pay around 15 to 30 euros for one stupid pill. 

And all that quest must be undertaken within 72 hours after this guy’s ejaculation in your vagina. 

Not to mention all of the side effects that the pill will have on you. Nausea, headaches, vomitting, ridiculously painful contraction, because your uterus is getting ready to get rid of anything that comes near it, mood swings and many other shabang that goes with taking an emergency pill (insertion by Vespertilio).

Is it really worth it?

5. He doesn’t care about YOU.

Honestly, if this guy still doesn’t want to use condoms although he knows how highly stressed you will be, he shouldn't be the guy to spend the night with. Be straightforward and tell him: no protection means no sex. Thank you very much, now leave.

Care about yourself same deal, or even more, than this guy cares about his temporary satisfaction. 

Good luck and enjoy your safe and worry-free sex! :-)

Written by Nakshatri