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#WorthBleedingFor: The Politics of Periods

By Haafizah Bhamjee

Over the past three years, my team at Amnesty International Wits and I have been campaigning on our university campus for free pads. This meant talking about our periods a lot and in a very public way.

 

Donate to #WORTHBLEEDINGFOR

 

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For most of us, this is the first opportunity we have had to speak about menstruation in public. Many girls around the world grow up in homes and communities that restrict what they are allowed to say about their bodies. Speaking of the female body and its functions have always been a big taboo in most cultures. However, this often means that girls and women suffer in silence. Many are unable to speak about the issues that they face daily; one being a lack of access to sanitary products.

According to UNICEF, 1 in 10 school girls in Africa cannot afford sanitary pads. That’s over two million schoolgirls in South Africa alone. A survey we did at Wits University showed that every 1 in 6 students couldn’t afford sanitary products. Many women and girls are forced to use alternative and unhealthy methods of handling their menses. For example, many use old newspaper, rags of cloth and toilet paper in place of pads and tampons. Many more miss out on school, work and other opportunities such as sport. An estimate shows that schoolgirls in South Africa miss out on approximately 70-100 days of school a year, because of a lack of access. This disproportionately impacts girls and women from lower-income communities. It also means that women and girls have fewer opportunities available to them than their male counterparts.

Educating women and girls is the only proven method of reducing poverty in our communities. In a country saddled with political strife, race & sex discrimination and wealth inequality; the conversation around sanitary products is rarely brought to the table. This means our plea often falls on deaf ears. Sanitary products are still taxed as luxury items; something we call the period tax. Earlier this year President Cyril Ramaphosa proposed a 1% tax increase, without considering the implications for poorer communities.

In many ways, menstruation and women’s bodies have become a political conversation. One that we don’t plan on halting any time soon. Through our campaign we have raised funds and donations for students on campus, we have had a march and hand over of demands and we have petitioned 3500 signatures for our course. You can see more of what we are doing by visiting our Instagram (@WorthBleedingFor), Facebook (Amnesty International Wits) and Twitter (@AI_Wits) pages for more information.

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#WORTHBLEEDINGFOR

A woman will have an estimated 450 menstrual cycles during her lifetime; using upwards of 17,000 sanitary pads or tampons comprehensively.  To the women belonging to countries who incorrectly label feminine supplies such as sanitary napkins as luxuries, 450 is the number of missed opportunities to feel supported, humane, hygienic and dignified.  Wits University, Johannesburg (a South African province) is working to implement policies that impact this way of life in a positive way – one feminine hygiene donation at a time; coupled with initiatives aimed to educate women of childbearing age and their communities alike. Continue reading #WORTHBLEEDINGFOR

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#GenreRepYourCity 2018 Edition

It’s time again for #GenreRepYourCity! We’re putting a little spin on it for 2018.

Read the details below:

    1. Fill out the form (it’s just under the instructions).
    2. We will send you the sign (free of charge).
    3. Fill in & assemble your #GENREREPYOURCITY sign.
    4. “Get up, get out, and get something” (Outkast).
    5. No. 3 means get out into the world see some art. You decide what art is.
    6. Take a picture (selfie or otherwise) alone or with some dope ass art piece in your town.
    7. Post on IG, Twitter or FB tag us and add #genrerepyourcity in the post caption.
    8. Go H.A.M.
    9. H.A.M.: Hard as a muthafucka (He Who Shall Not Be Named)

Continue reading #GenreRepYourCity 2018 Edition

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Daddy’s Toolbox

The one you’ve chosen to spend your life with is an engineer kind of dude.  He likes to build things. But baby, when he met you, you were already a stallion.  An edifice.  And so, he deconstructed you bit by bit…to see what in fact you were made of.  It’s the only way he knew how to love.  The problem is, he tired out.  Too lazy or too preoccupied to put you back together again.  So, here I am doing the work I did years ago.  Building you up…again…as only I know how.  As only I can.

A woman cannot fight a man.  She will never win.  He will hide parts of her in far off lands.  He will place pieces of her soul into glass bottles and drift you off to sea.  And in a fit of rage you can find him breaking the tools required for reconstruction.

This time you need to pay close attention.  I will not be here forever.  Putting a Queen back together is a lost art.  Grab my toolbox – top shelf, right corner.

 

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Genre: Urban Arts @Bowery Poetry- Poet Victoria Walton

Poet and visual artist Victoria is from the DC-MD area. She is passionate about creating vulnerable work, focusing on themes of black femininity, independence, relationships, and religion. She is excited to embrace where her artistic journey will lead her.

Genre: Urban Arts will be at Bowery Poetry in NYC where we are having our No. 4 Print launch on June 24th, 3:30- 5pm. We will have spoken-word, live music, and other performance arts.

Purchase Tickets for Genre @Bowery Poetry

 

 

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Genre: Urban Arts @Bowery Poetry- Artist So Yeon Kim

Genre: Urban Arts will be at Bowery Poetry in NYC where we are having our No. 4 Print launch on June 24th, 3:30- 5pm. We will have visual art, spoken-word, live music, and other performance arts.

Purchase Tickets for Genre @Bowery Poetry

A word from featured artist So Yeon Kim:

The results are deconstructed to the extent that meaning is shifted and possible interpretation becomes multifaceted. By applying abstraction, I grasp language. Transformed into art, language becomes an ornament. I take in the tradition of remembrance into my practice. This personal follow-up and revival of a past tradition is important as an act of meditation. 

Click the button to visit her site:

So Yeon Kim

 

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Genre: Urban Arts @Bowery Poetry Featured Poet Katerina Canyon

Genre: Urban Arts will be at Bowery Poetry in NYC where we are having our No. 4 Print launch on June 24th, 3:30- 5pm. We will have visual arts, spoken-word, live music, and other performance arts.

Purchase Tickets for Genre @Bowery Poetry

We have loads of great talent for you including author and Poet Laureate Katerina Canyon!

Visit her site here:

PoeticKat.com

Katerina Canyon is the Poet Laureate Emeritus of Sunland-Tujunga, California. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, Huffington Post, Meniscus, and Waxing and Waning, and will be in The Esthetic Apostle. Her recent book, Changing the Lines is currently available online and in stores. She lives in Seattle, Washington.

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Genre: Urban Arts @Bowery Poetry Featuring Ricardo Hanley, Jr

Genre: Urban Arts will be at Bowery Poetry in NYC where we are having our No. 4 Print launch on June 24th, 3:30- 5pm. We will have visual art, spoken-word, live music, and other performance arts.

Purchase Tickets for Genre @Bowery Poetry

He has released a book of poetry and prose entitled, “Silence Conceiving Symphonies, My Imprints of Existence”. Read about his visions for this book and view “Trump Card” below.

The contents of Silence Conceiving Symphonies, My Imprints of Existence is my first book, which has sprung from my depths like a mother with child. This is a compilation of 29 years of experience humbly lived. I’m honored that this text is within your line of sight. May our thoughts reciprocate a propelling force of understanding that translates into actions of progression. May the contents of this book find the right person who needs to hear it, who needs to see it, feel it, connect and progress. This work is dedicated to all my family and friends who helped me along my path. Whether it was just a brief time knowing you or a long history we’ve shared, you have all added to my growth and I’m thankful to you. I hope you enjoy reading my first book as much as I enjoyed writing it. This is my gift to this world, receive me. ricardohanleyjr.wordpress.com

 

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Genre: Urban Arts @Bowery Poetry featuring Trixi Rosa

Genre: Urban Arts will be at Bowery Poetry in NYC where we are having our No. 4 Print launch on June 24th, 3:30- 5pm. We will have visual arts, spoken-word, live music, and other performance arts.

 

 

Purchase Tickets for Genre @Bowery Poetry

 

 

Trixi Rosa has surrendered to a tender unraveling and a restless joy that just can’t be held. Originally from Punakaiki, Aotearoa (NZ), her art carves an awkward inquiry into the intersections of identity and the endless pursuit of place. She shares stories of struggle and survival, resilience, and resistance. Stories of family, love, and sexuality. Trixi Rosa’s poetry bleeds personal experience, both lived and perceived.

We have loads of great talent for you. Here is featured spoken word artist Trixi Rosa.

In our No. 4 Print, Trixi Rosa has two poems featured “A Letter to My Little Sister in Prison” and “Maracas”. Continue reading Genre: Urban Arts @Bowery Poetry featuring Trixi Rosa

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Pendejaism: Confessions of a Pendeja

Pendeja or pendejo is a Spanish word commonly used in Puerto Rican culture that would describe an individual that does dumb shit.  As of late, I’ve been such a pendeja 🤦.  No, I’m not out here committing crimes, muffing babies, or running into walls. I’m going through a MAJOR transitional period in my life in which a lot of personal mistakes are happening due to growth and my previous reluctance to life’s uncomfortable lessons. I don’t know if turning 30 this year is a factor but I want to face myself and my demons.  Here is my thing about this growth, I refuse to change my essence I only want to enhance it towards a positive light. What makes me who I am is why I have an ignorant laugh and why I can take a joke and throw it right back at you but I must admit some parts of my essence needs a tune-up. Shall we discuss the levels of my pendejaism? Continue reading Pendejaism: Confessions of a Pendeja

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The Blood

She is born with a naturally occurring third eye, nestled within the softest place on earth.  If you do it right, it might just wink at you.  Waiting is a cycle.  Stillness is a cycle.  Regeneration and resurrection?  Both are cycles.  She wants no parts of your war – no parts of the blood you spill.  (She often twitches at the day men were allowed into labor rooms.)  The blood she spills is of living water; not of slain innocence and not of combat, campaign, or crusade.  Yes, pay close attention to whom God granted His living water.  It’s been said that it’s just too much.  Too crass, too saturated, too heavy.  Too brand new.  The blood.  Of cyclical possibilities with a scent of untouched earth waiting to be sown (or not).  Rain on the horizon.  Seeds taking root.  Her insides – the great outdoors.  It is her space and mine.  Immense pain and immense pleasure.  What of true life doesn’t birth both?  Charged with the permutation of unadulterated first breaths!  And we let them shame…tax…shun us for it.  A gift.  An offering.  A safe space that everyone has at least once been familiar with.  And we let them shame us for it?  A built in clock synced with the moon, ocean tides…with her who stands with me and for me.  And we let them shame us for it?  Born with everything we need.  To carry life.  And we let them shame us for it?  Phenomenal soil – watering itself from the inside out.  And we let them shame us for it?  Worth bleeding for.  And we let them shame us for…the blood.

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Love Box Documentary

 

 

 

 

A few months ago I was filmed for a documentary called the Love Box. It’s about a group of individuals and their experience with love and dating.  Full warning family!! I suggest you stay away from this film unless you want to know way more than you should about me.😂  Overall it was a great experience, I can’t wait for the final product. You may or may not see me as an animated character!

Toodles 😘

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Tales From the Inferno: Two-Face Job

At my job, I learned dragons are manipulators, coaxing the gentle lamb to approach before roasting it with scorching flames. My boss traveled the lines between a polite, happy boss to a scathing fork-tongued demon. She was friends with most, cackling and having a good time when they came by to discuss business. When they left, flames burst from her mouth, scorching all in sight, so it was best to hide and hope she had forgotten you existed. A two-face dragon, having the keen ability to hide her scowl at the snap of a finger. Many thought she was fair and nice but failed to see her make anyone cry on command.

The dragon hosted a barbecue at her house, a beautiful home in a nice neighborhood. I set my foot and felt the cool air, clear of smoke. She greeted me from the kitchen with a smile, no fangs or claws in sight. Dinner was almost ready, so we waited near the pool, cool and fresh. Everything went well until her roar bellowed from above, commanding her helper to set the food. She barked orders at her guests, us, telling us where to put the food, the drinks, which seats to take. The dragon we all came to expect finally showed itself. We sat to a great dinner―very nice. The gazpacho, lamb, and bread all palatable, just not her flames.

In a single swoop, she insulted two. One for sending a sub-par invitation to all her servants. According to a friend of hers, a vile serpent, called it a low-management retail job. Then the dragon cast its flames on another for having no supervising skills over the invitation. I gasped for air, choking on the smoke as I watched my colleagues scorched in flames.

Imagine to my surprise, when I discovered an article on the Dragon.

Check out my Twitter.

https://twitter.com/ReadingBread

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I’m such a Pussy with love, but why?

Oh love! Love makes you feel warm and fuzzy one minute and the next you want to run away from it, well at least in my case. I’m pretty great at running away when love happens. Maybe it’s my generation and the fucked up ideology that the grass is greener on the DM side. Maybe it’s the fact I have daddy issues and fear of abandonment. Maybe I feel as though leaving them first we I won’t be left feeling stupid when they dump me. Whatever the case is, I’m tired of running.

I want to love, but how? How does the heart let go of the comfort of solitude when for so long its been mistreated. Time? Meditation? Closure? Or do I just go for it and find love? I had no clue, so I stopped looking.  I gave up on my mission and exactly when I did that love found me. What type of love do you ask? The love for myself.  Look, hear me out. In order to love proper you have to be right within. There is no way in hell that you can accept love and give love if you are not right within yourself. It took me a while to self heal from my past, from my abusers, from the lack of love from my father, and most importantly to heal from my fear of abandonment.  Honestly, I’m still healing and still struggling and that’s ok because now I know my truth.  The path to enlightenment starts with facing yourself and your fear. I no longer want to fear love.  Am I ok with the pain attached to love? Maybe, but if I don’t ever try I will never know.

I created this piece because the possibility of love and wild sex has found me and challenged me as of late. I’m excited, scared, and vulnerable. Even with all those emotions, I’m finally ready to let go of my fear.

I dedicate this post and artwork to my self-love and what that energy has brought to my life.

 

-ZaiOhmy

 

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your name is synonymous with music now

my days don’t feel quite right
if you don’t send me a song.
what else should i hear
while emptying my heart
of ghosts? my bones need
something that will burrow
deeply, and remind them that
home can be outside of this body.
and this body needs to remember
that men have died for the songs
of some women, so a moment of
shattering for you is a mere drop
in the oceans i have swallowed
while waiting for revolutions
that become my lullabies

(photo by Oladimeji Odunsi via unsplash)

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God Is Fair, God is Stern, God is Love

Provided a truth among many lies, filled with doubt be running eyes. You played your card, yet you took mine, Stern is the parent’s hand on their child’s behind.

Labeled stone or embrace,

Labeled love or hate,

Mixed illusion of dark and light,

Which one will you take?

 

Forgiver or sinner, loser or winner, An osmosis of finisher and beginner,

which be thinner?

 

Blood, or People’s empty promises? Naysayers and do-haters, be envious and bite like gators, they wait around for your very fall. But God is testing, God has a wrath that’ll deplete it all.

Many will claim they’re there for you.

Claim they have your back, only to never fall through, never keep their word, be enemies who attempt to dissolve you.

 

They ain’t fair,

But God plays fair,

And she’s always there,

And she always cares.

 

She can be stern if you don’t value a lesson,

Not every opportunity is bad. Within each is a blessing.