Five Assumptions We Should Avoid Making

I was working out at my gym when two gym regulars decided to strike up a conversation with me.

Gym regular (Male) – You have lost a lot of weight

Gym regular (Female) -Yeah, I told her so too.

Me – Oh, yeah, thanks, the hard work is showing.

Gym regular (Male) – I am sure your husband will be happy

Me – I don’t have a husband. I am single

Gym Regulars – What, you mean you are single?

I am sure you will not be single for long!

Me– I am happily single.

And you know it does not have to be husband.

Maybe i have a wife, or a girlfriend. Maybe i have both.

Gym regulars (both) – Hmm, i guess that is true.

Me – Yeah, just don’t assume it has to be a husband.

Gym regular (Male)- Well, you are right; it could be a husband, a wife, husbands and wives with Mistresses or Misters and a butler too.

Me – Now you get the idea

Gym regular (Male) – Well, if i had all these i wouldn’t come to the gym!

Me- (Laughing)-I suppose one would be too tired performing marital and extramarital duties.

I found this random but interesting  exchange full of assumptions I wish I did not encounter daily.

Below are 5 assumptions and lessons from the above conversation-

1- The assumption that telling women they have lost weight is a compliment

I never know how to respond when people, especially people I hardly know, tell me I have lost weight. Saying “Thank you” does not sound right because, really, it is just an observation. If such observations were followed by comments like “I admire your determination and commitment to your workouts”, I would happily and graciously respond with “Thank you” because there is a compliment somewhere in there. However just observing that i have lost weight and expecting me to say thank you for stating the obvious does not cut it, it just feels awkward.

There are situations I have felt completely at ease when told I have lost weight by people I hardly interact with. For example, there was this time a guy whom I had seen around at the gym but never spoken to literally  stopped in his tracks when he saw me arrived for my workouts. He started smiling and said, “I went away for a few weeks and you lost half of your bodyweight”. His body language was non-threatening and it was obvious he was just surprised. I started laughing along with him cos his surprise was genuine and laughter contagious.

However, there was this other instance a guy blatantly interrupted my workout just to tell me I have lost weight. As I was busy counting my reps in my mind, I did not respond because I did not want to lose focus and frankly, I did not want to be disturbed. The guy however stood beside me glaring, clearly expecting a response and his stance was physically antagonistic. As I was not giving him the acknowledgement he felt he deserved, he repeated, “You have lost weight”, I briefly glanced at him, responded, “Yes, I know”, and continued with my workout. He was clearly not pleased with my response. What exactly was he expecting? He was probably expecting a gushing “Thanks for noticing that I have lost weight” response!

It is disturbing that many assume that telling a woman that they have lost weight is a compliment.  Why do many feel this incessant urge to comment on other people’s weight especially when their opinion was not solicited?

2- The assumption that every single woman wants to be in a relationship

Please stop making that nasty, sympathetic sound when a woman tells you she is single. Being single is not something that should elicit sympathy, especially not from strangers.

Single women should not need to reassure anyone that they are happily single just so the pitying looks would stop. 318461_10150505434059409_883031157_nDo not immediately jump in to assure a single woman that they will get a man soon.

Single people who wish to be in a relationship do not need a sympathetic look or hasty assurances from you. Being single is nothing to be ashamed of; it is not a shortcoming. Unless you are planning on asking the person concerned out, their relationship status should not be of any concern to you.

Never assume everyone wants to be in a relationship. I don’t like it when people, especially strangers, assume that as a single woman, I must necessarily be looking to get hooked up. There are single women who are seriously not interested in getting into relationships, just as there are those who are seriously looking to get into relationships. It is a personal thing and the generalisation that being a single woman translates to “desperately looking to get hooked”, is just not right.

I hate having to qualify my ‘singlehood’ with the words “I am happily single”. However, asserting that one is happily single seems to be the only thing that takes away the pitying looks people dart our way when told we are single.

It is OK not to be happily single. I can be single and be looking to get into a relationship, but just have not found the right person yet. However, this does not mean I need to be pitied.

It is also OK to be single, ready to mingle and not seriously searching. This should not evoke pity from anyone.

Relationship status is a personal issue. We should not assume we know the reason for the relationship status of others. As a single woman, I definitely do not need anyone assuming the reason for my relationship status.  I don’t need anyone reassuring me that it will get better. ‘Singlehood’ is not a disease that needs to be cured or an appalling status that must be rectified!

3- The assumption that everyone is heterosexual.

Assuming that everyone is heterosexual gets on my nerves. With all the enlightenment going on about lesbians, gays, bisexual and transgender issues, i find it rude when people just assume the sexual orientation of a stranger. Yes, we get it; heterosexuality is the default setting. However in this day and age, we should make an effort to acknowledge that there are other sexual orientation besides heterosexuality.

When someone says they are single, we should not assume they are looking for opposite sex partners. For all we know, they might be gay, bisexual, pansexual or just queer. If we must refer to their relationship status, it is safer and non-assuming to use the word “Partner”.

4- The assumption that women embark on weight loss programs to snag a man.

Why oh why do people still assume women embark on weight loss programs because they want to snag a man? This assumption is so insulting. There are many reasons people embark on a weight loss program, snagging a man does not always make the list and if it does, it might be at the bottom of the list. You know, it is not impossible for a woman to lose weight for herself, because she can and because it is a new look she wants to embrace.

For someone like me who loves being a curvy woman, i would not consider losing weight because of social expectations. I would not talk about my weight loss in a manner that express horror at my former weight. It is sad that in an effort to compliment someone who has lost weight, some do so in a manner that expresses total disdain for the former weight of the person they are ‘complimenting’. So what happens if the person gained back the weight? Do we look at them in horror? Do we expect them to hide from the public since we have told them what we think of their overweight self? This fascination with other people’s weight is body policing and it breeds insecurity.

I was beautiful at my former weight, I am beautiful at my present weight, and I will be beautiful at whatever weightScreen-Shot-2014-10-29-at-11.09.03-AM in the future. How could I be sure of this? Well, it is because no matter what anybody says, I will always see myself as beautiful. I see myself through my own lens and not from the point of view of others. Call it narcissism, but I always love what i see, regardless of shape or size. It is my body and it is my project to mould as i see fit. I might decide to share the pleasures of my body with a partner or two, but i won’t be moulding my body to fit the expectations of any partner or society.

It is appalling and very disrespectful when people not only assume but also blatantly state that what women do with their body is and should be for the benefit of men. It is outrageously assumed that as a woman, my appearance , gym workouts, makeup, dress choice, shoes, hairstyle and even my smile are all for the benefits of men. To justify occupying public space, a woman is expected to make an effort with her appearance to please men and smile while at it.  Please stop with the dreadful and terrible assumptions. These assumptions are patriarchal, sexist and very harmful to half of the world’s population. Women are not adornments to brighten a man’s world.

5- The assumption that all Bisexuals are Polyamorous.

Bisexuals and polyamory are not the same.  Bisexuality, like heterosexuality and homosexuality, is a sexual orientation. Polyamory, like monogamy and polygamy, is a life style choice. Do not confuse sexual orientation with a life style choice. It is especially frustrating and very telling that this confusion occurs when bisexuality is under discussion.  2015-06-27 15.23.35.jpg resized

As a bisexual, when I mention that I might have a boyfriend or a girlfriend, do not jump to the conclusion that I want both.

Please be aware that-

  • Some bisexuals are polyamorous, not all bisexuals are polyamorous.
  • Some heterosexuals are monogamous, not all heterosexuals are monogamous
  • Some gays are monogamous, not all gays are monogamous
  • Some people are polygamous, not all people are polygamous.
  • Some people, be they heterosexual, gay, bisexual, pansexual or queers are polyamorous, not all people, be they heterosexual, gay, bisexual, pansexual or queers are polyamorous.

It is tiring to have to explain to people that being a bisexual does not mean I am looking to hook up with a man, a woman, and my butler!

 

I Am Beautiful and I know It

It is so cringeworthy when people tell me i am beautiful and I accept it at face value with a nod to my own beauty but as a reward they want me to grovel at their feet or expect I say something self-devaluing like  “Oh no, you are just being nice, I am not all that.” Of course, i am all that and much more too, thanks for the observation!

I woke up this morning to this awesome video by Daysha Edewi titled “What If I Knew I Was Beautiful”. My fb friend had commented on the video on Facebook and tagged me and I went, “OMG, this video is so me!” [Read more…]

May Day: Organise not Agonise!

Every day, the divide between the Rich and the Poor widens, few overpaid workers, some well-paid workers and many underpaid workers. On this special day, please spare a minute to remember the millions of unemployed people; many made redundant by the many budget cuts. Many unemployed people are desperately seeking to enter the workforce, to keep a roof over their heads, put food on the table for their children and struggling to pay bills. Underpaid workers and the unemployed bear the brunt of nasty government policies.

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Help turn on the light at the end of the tunnel for many unemployed people left struggling to make ends meet due to economic downturn, corporate greed, redundancy and many avoidable budget cuts. Together We Can! [Read more…]

Natural Disasters are certainly not a time to thank God!

Lately, there has been no end to the bad news making the rounds so much that watching the news has become depressing. Nepal suffered an earthquake that killed thousands with many entombed in their own houses, hotels and museums. More than half a million people have been rendered homeless. The earthquake also triggered an avalanche that hit Mount Everest leaving many seriously injured and some dead.

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One cannot even begin to imagine the terror those people must have felt in their dying hour. It is heartwrenching to see the pains on the faces of the victims’ families as they confront the galling reality that their loved ones are buried underneath all that rubble and their bodies might never be recovered for proper burials.

The pains etched on the faces of survivors tell stories of horrors and gratitude. It seems, in the midst of the sorrows, pains, deaths, and survival; we still must celebrate life. Every life saved amidst these ruins is a cause for celebration. Every dead body pulled out is a cause for sorrow.

To die in such horrific and agonising manner is painful to imagine. In most cases, death really is not as much the problem as the manner and cause of it. [Read more…]

Santa Came To Turn Me On!

Some time ago, I broke my waist or thought I had, and excruciating lower back pain sent me running to my doctor.

I wondered why my waist could no longer support mySnapshot_20141212_117 big bums. After MRI scans and prescribed painkillers, it turned out; it was just some muscle strain probably from my gym workout. As it turns out, pulled muscles can be very painful. For a minute, I was convinced i had a mild stroke in my sleep, until my doctor put my mind to rest! Now, i know better than to lift heavy weights or do some strenuous cardio at the gym. I am definitely not taking any body-parts for granted again.

Many of you were concerned and some of my Naija friends recommended the local sprain and strain ointment, aboliki, which was actually very effective! I also promised that as soon as I was up and well again, I would make another dance-exercise video. Since I always make good on my promise, here it is!

Dancing to one of my favourite songs of all time was indeed fun and the sequinned Santa cap i got it at 99p shop came in handy as a dance prop!

I think my waist is at least 95% back to normal, therefore i consider my waist healed. What do you think?

I am glad to be back in good health, grateful to be able to shake my bums again and of course rock my curves!

Here is a toast to good health and Happy Holidays!

 

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These supposedly ‘wise’ sayings do get on my nerves. Some of these sayings are so common that I am beginning to think perhaps people just say those things from force of habit, without actually thinking them through.

In particular, I hate ‘wise’ sayings that attach a reason to why we need to help others. For example:

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Sensationalising the Plight of African LGBTs

I am often approached at LGBT events especially at protests rallies by filmmakers and journalists who want to write a piece or make a 04338_yemisi_ilesanmidocumentary on the ‘horrible’ situation of African Lesbians and gays (they hardly take cognizance of bisexuals and Trans).

There is no doubt that African LGBTs who reside in countries where their sexual orientation is criminalised face a daunting task. Living a closeted life or choosing to face the consequences of being out and proud in a society where one’s sexual orientation is criminalised is frightening and dehumanising. I have been there, I am still there, and I know how horrible the threats can be. So yes, I understand why the filmmakers and writers are fascinated with telling this horror story.

However, a recurring theme makes me cringe every time I am approached by filmmakers or journalists demanding that I tell the horror stories or at least provide them some graphic pictures of violence suffered by African LGBTs. There is this fascination with the horror stories and abused bodies of African LGBTs that I am beginning to wonder if it is a voyage into morbid porn and/or just another way to portray Africans as victims.

When I inform these filmmakers and journalists that I do not have pictures of abused African LGBTS to share with them, they are immediately crestfallen. It is my opinion that most of them haunt African LGBT activists protest grounds not because they are interested in the fight for African LGBT Rights but because they see the plight of African LGBTs as a way of furthering their career in Journalism or film industry.

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Body Parts And Little Things We Take For Granted

My waist is broken. Sadly, it is not a sex injury; it is probably a gym injury. Excruciating lower back pain sent me running to the doctors again.SDC14523 Last week it was flu, this week it is broken waist, i smell foul play. Now, I must ask my doctor why my waist can no longer support my big bums.

It is painful and somewhat embarrassing. I can barely seat or bend. Lying in bed is difficult and turning sideways is as scary as hell would be if it were real. I get some funny looks because I now walk in a Zombie-like manner. I cannot afford to swing my waist and hips as usual, one of these little things I used to take for granted!

I said “Sadly it it not a sex injury” because in a way, it would make me feel better if it were at least an injury sustained when trying out some 50 shades of Grey positions.  Actually, the ‘sex injury’ reference is cultural. In Nigeria where I grew up, waist injury is associated with ‘prolific sex’. When lovers or potential lovers flirt, it is common to hear exchanges like “I will break your waist o”. It is a reference to how prolific they are (or think they are) in bed. I grew up hearing this myth and even local musicians sang of it. Therefore, when i finally had a broken waist without the benefits of the sex, I feel cheated. At least the memories of pleasurable orgasm could have put a smile on my face when I scream “ouch” whenever the pain hits.

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Kate Harris interviews Yemisi Ilesanmi

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Physically attacked at an atheist event by a fellow ‘feminist’ atheist!

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I got a new purple laptop and found the meaning of life!

When my Sony VAIO laptop suddenly started freezing, I thought the world was about to end! Surely freezing laptops and inability to access the internet are signs of the apocalypse; the inevitable invasion of the zombies?Snapshot_20140726_15

I didn’t realise just how much I have come to depend on my laptop and internet for my daily existence until I couldn’t use my laptop or access the internet at will. When I informed my son that my laptop was faulty, he was so concerned that he would make international calls several times a day, to take me through steps to sort the problem. My mum also panicked, every time she called, she would ask how I was coping without my laptop.  It then dawned on me that even those close to me recognised that I am highly dependent on my laptop. It was as if they thought not having a functional laptop meant I was going to fall apart and spiral into depression cos I could not go online to perform all those ‘important’ online stuff, like well, Facebooking.

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