Religion, LGBT rights and military regimes: Interview in Solidarity Newspaper

Kate Harris interviews Yemisi Ilesanmi

Published in Workers Liberty’s Solidarity Newspaper

How did you get to where you are today as an LGBT activist and out bisexual woman?

It has been an interesting, tasking, journey towards self-awareness. It is also a journey that has involved studying society and finding my place in it. It is a continuous journey and one where I have to constantly remind myself that I have a right to be who I am in a world that is desperate to make me into what they would rather I be.

I started being politically and socially aware of my human rights at an early age. I was born in Nigeria in the mid-70s and grew up in a society that was marred with constant military coup d’états. There was no stable democracy. It was confusing because people took to the streets to celebrate successful coup d’états. I wondered why it was a good thing for the military to forcefully overthrow elected officials. But the people’s response was that the elected officials were corrupt. However, after having a taste of what military dictatorship means, people stopped celebrating coups. This started the difficult journey towards demanding and organising for a civilian regime where they would have a say in electing their own political leaders.  [Read more...]

It’s my Birthday, It’s my Birthday and I’m gonna shake my bodyyyy!!

The journey started 13.8 billion years ago with the Big Bang and continued 4.5 billion years ago with the Solar system and the Earth.  39 years ago, I swam for my life, beating millions of other sperms to the race to the egg. 39 years after, the race continues. However, I am happy to even have the one in a billion chance to experience the wonder that is life.

I am also loving all the good wishes coming my way from family members, friends and fans.

Even Google took time to send me birthday greetings in the form of a lovely personalised doodle. Yeah, I know they probably do this for everyone [Read more...]

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

I always thought if I were ever to be attacked by someone I only knew from social media especially Facebook, it would be by a homophobe, biphobe, 385838_210204545725456_192116174200960_481213_799145023_ntransphobe or a religious fanatic who didn’t like my LGBT rights advocacy or anti-religion posts. Never in my dreams would I have thought I would experience a physical attack and verbal abuse at an atheist event from a female Facebook friend who identifies as a feminist and an atheist!

Until now, my casual encounters with people who only knew me from Facebook have been positive. From the ones I ran into in London tubes to the ones who excitedly introduced themselves as my fb friends at social events or gave me heartfelt hugs at London pride, it has been positive experience until now. Get ready to hear the full gist, don’t forget to get your popcorn! [Read more...]

Of Rape graders and Hero worship.

Richard Dawkins ill-informed attempt to grade rape triggered discussions and heated debates on the issue of rape. Sure enough, rape apologists and victim blamers used the opportunity to proudly show off their self-inflicted ignorance and bigotry on the issue of Rape. It was also another avenue for hero worship. I did get some very worrisome responses on my Facebook wall to my blogpost [email protected]: No one said you endorsed rape, what you did was grade rape and that is appalling. It also exposes the fact that many are actually happy to blame victims but won’t admit that they are rape apologists.

I plan on making some of these discussions into a blogpost but first I need to get this very misguided, unconscionable comment made by a proudly ignorant person out of the way.

Trigger alert- Contains Trivialisation of Rape. [Read more...]

[email protected]: No one said you endorsed rape, what you did was grade rape and that is appalling!

Watching the downward spiral of Richard Dawkins from a respected scientist and atheist to a cringeworthy tweeter commentator is indeed Richard-Dawkinssaddening.

The latest embarrassing and thoughtless tweets of the Professor has generated yet another media storm and a lot of criticism and not forgetting the usual dose of worship from the “Richard Dawkins can do no wrong” worshippers. What I find amusing and of course saddening is how he refuses to acknowledge the constructive criticisms levelled at his tweets but chose instead to spew bigotry and disdain from his high pedestal at his critiques. To boot, he tries to make himself out as a victim of witch hunts!

The Professor and his apologists are going to ridiculous length to ‘clarify’ the intentions behind his tweets. Richard Dawkins wanted us to know he was not endorsing rape, but who the heck said he was endorsing rape? It is like the man wants to direct our attention away from the major blunder he committed by using an obvious defence, only that no one attacked him with that tool, so using that particular defence is basically pointless. We are no children that can be tempted away from the main issues just because he flashed a candy at us.

Below are the Richard Dawkins’ tweets in question, one can see how the tweets spiralled out of the control of Richard Dawkins.  RD even went on a tantrum when he couldn’t believe that people were even more stupid than he thought. Sighs. [Read more...]

Beauty in Diversity

You claim I am flawed

You say I do not belong

My colour different

My body too big

I am attracted to same-sex

I love all genders!

Pause, look, think

Is beauty only uniform?

In different packages it comes

In more ways than one I am capable

My beauty is not just in my abilities

My strength is not just in my looks

My body is beauty in another shape

My skin colour a testimony to creativity

The glow of Love is genderless

When we shut the eye of hate

Ignore the voice of ignorance

We will clearly see the

Nooks and crannies of beauty

And forever appreciate

Beauty in all its diversity.

By © Yemisi Ilesanmi 

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Fat shaming is ugly and body shaming of any kind is disgusting.

I was sad when a friend posted the excerpts below as her Facebook status update.

 “So ever since I took the final make-or-break decision in 2013 with my conscience to take responsibility for my physical and mental well-being, I have undertaken to attack fat-boosting realities that engage with me. This includes people who are happy to be fat…as I was years back, when I was fooling around with fads and gadgets, without facing the more imperative thing: My FOOD. Being FAT is synonymous with indolence, depression, poverty, avarice, corruption, lethargy to Good, selfishness…in one word – Corruption.”

This is so wrong and sad on so many levels.

The fact that the writer has decided to take responsibility for her weight issues is good, but that is a personal decision, not a public decree. As she mentioned, it took her many years to get to that stage and only accepted this as her truth in 2013. So why project YOUR truth and body issues on others? [Read more...]

Avoiding Ableist or Sexist Language Won’t Make Us Less Fun!

I found this amazing campaign on a website and decided to share on my facebook wall.  As stated on the website , “The following are images from the “You Don’t Say?” Campaign out of Duke University. The premise of the campaign is to encourage people to think before speaking as the words one delivers can have negative implications that were never intended in the first place, especially to those around us.

These phrases are often said with harmless intent. But how do we really make those around us feel? Perhaps it’s time for us to actually think before we speak?”

 The images show different persons holding different signs  -

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When I posted this wonderful piece as my FB status update, I added-

 And I don’t say “Don’t be a retard” because it is Ableist . [Read more...]

Don’t Call Me A MAN, It Is Not A Compliment. Happy International Women’s Day!

“Man is defined as a human being and a woman as a female – whenever she behaves as a human being318461_10150505434059409_883031157_n she is said to imitate the male.” Simone de Beauvoir.  As we celebrate International Women’s Day, the words of Simone de Beauvoir ring loud in my ears.

As someone who became fiercely politically active as a young woman in a very patriarchal society, I was often ‘showered’ with the words “You are a man!” It was considered the highest praise you could give a woman for her bravery and courage while referring to a man as a woman is considered a below the belt insult. If only I had a penny for every time I heard these words from my fellow comrades, colleagues and mentors who actually should know better.

Please understand that calling a woman “a man’ because of her achievements or courage is NOT A COMPLIMENT. Those words are nothing but an insult to the woman, her achievements and gender identity. You do not honour me by calling me “A Woman like a Man“, in fact with such words you deny my gender identity and degrade my biological sex. I am a Woman and Proudly so.

We are all HUMANS irrespective of what the various creation myths say. Women demands recognition and respect as human beings. Brave and courageous women achievers do not need to be called A MAN as a compliment. Being called “A MAN” does not elevate us to the level of human beings; we are already human beings irrespective of our sex or gender identity.58427_436067596481409_1920683597_n

Kindly recognise and respect my gender identity, this I believe is not too much to ask!

As we celebrate more than a decade of International Women’s Day, feminisation of poverty continues; Reproductive, Productive and Domestic roles still hold down the working woman from reaching her full potentials. The triple oppression of Racism, Classism and Sexism persistently  affect our unity. Let us continue to fight all the Isms and Schisms that jeopardise our strength.

The degree of emancipation of women is the natural measure of general emancipation. Every society’s greatness can be measured by the way it treats its most vulnerable members. Every human being is born equal in rights and dignity.

You do not have to be a woman to support woman’s rights.

You don’t have to be gay, bisexual or Trans to support LGBT rights.

You don’t have to be a sex worker to support sex workers’ right to organise, unionise and work in a safe environment.

You don’t have to be an animal to support animal rights.

And in case the aliens ever invaded, let’s hope you don’t have to be a human being to support human rights. We all could be in the minority sometime!1982_438044192955887_307874593_n

Stand up against oppression of women, stand up for equal rights, empower a woman today, emancipate yourself from mental slavery and DEMAND your inalienable human rights! No human being is born subordinate to another. No woman is born to satisfy a man, you are born to create and define your own ‘destiny’, even in the face of all odds. Your happiness is supreme.

Fellow sisters, assert your right and recognition as human Beings!

Happy International Women’s day to you all!

“Batty Man, Lesbians and dem Atheists cause bad weather”: Encountering Sexism, Homophobia and Religious delusion in one move!

It certainly was not one of those days when I looked forward to dealing with a sexist, homophobic bigot, not that I ever look forward to encountering any of that, but when ‘my dear one’ asked me to help supervise the van removal drivers that were to move her things to a new place, I wasn’t expecting to confront all that in a single move.

She reminded me to thoroughly check the inside of the van to make sure none of her things was (intentionally or not) left behind in the van. She then added “They are Jamos, so make sure you check”. ‘Jamos’ is Nigerian short term for Jamaicans. Needless to say, I was irritated at this.  I mean, what has their nationality got to do with how trustworthy they are? I know she would still have insisted I check the van if the van removal drivers were Nigerians, Americans or Britons. But I doubt if she would have added their Nationality for emphasis. Well, If they were fellow Nigerians, she probably would have added that, but if they were Britons, I doubt she would. Yes, I did call her out on this as I am not a fan of discrimination of any kind. [Read more...]

THEY SAY IT IS CULTURE, I SAY IT IS TORTURE!

They say it is culturetag3

I say it is torture

Born a woman, a reason to be oppressed

It is culture, a woman must be suppressed

I must never be too forward

They will only drag me backward

As a woman I must learn to be submissive

For a man has the power to be dismissive

To be accepted

I must be subjected!

 

Different meals I must prepare

That’s what makes me special

They say teas I must make [Read more...]

50 Shades Of Abuse: Ese Walter, Pastor Fatoyinbo, Coza and God

The scandal rocking Commonwealth of Zion Assembly (COZA) has brought to light another shade of abuse that goes on everyday; the constant abuse of authority by influential men who prey on impressionable women.

It is sad that once again, a victim of abuse is being blamed for the crime of the abuser. Sexual abuse is not only about violent rape, it could ensue through getting consent via emotional blackmail, psychological manipulations and the abuse of authority. [Read more...]

Pope won’t judge gays who share something in common with him: The Lord and Expensive Fabrics!

557878_702713299754730_334537535_nWell, the man in the stylish cape, silly hat and all that expensive fabrics says he won’t judge gays. How so cute!

Pope Francis magnanimously announced that:

If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?

This news has been heartily welcomed in the LGBT community. Many now flash the statement like a sort of ‘divine’ approval of their sexual orientation and armor in their LGBT Equal Rights campaign.  Even I might just flash the quote at the next catholic who  rants about how gays, bisexuals and Trans are all going to hell, but isn’t that really the position of their Pope? [Read more...]

Senator Pedophile Sani Yerima, Bishop David Oyedepo and guilty Nigerians, She is a: #ChildNotBride, #ChildNotWitch, #ChildNotHouseGirl!

Nigerians have suddenly woken up to the ills of child abuse because of an obscure part of the constitution. While we are all getting self righteous and indignant about children’s rights, let us also look at ways we are guilty of perpetrating child abuse. After all Child abuse comes in different colours, shapes  and sizes.

Religion and child abuse: 

Rape is never funny and pedophilia is nothing to joke about. It sure baffles me how people who condemn rape, who would normally freak out at the thought of a 54 year old man raping a 9 year old girl, could still praise and worship a pedophile prophet who did exactly that!

It seems being a catholic priest or an Islam prophet is a shield from being scorned at as a rapist and pedophile. And now, you can add being a Nigerian Senator or diligent follower of the Islamic faith to the list.  Why the double standard?  Even when dead, pedophiles graves should be spit on not worshiped in holy pilgrimages! [Read more...]

On S29(4)b and the #ChildNotBride saga: Let’s get the facts right

It was one of those days when everything hits you at once. I was physically, intellectually, emotionally and politically tired.  I decided chldnotbrideto check my mails to take my mind off ‘issues’ but instead of some funny cat meme, the headline ‘Nigerian Senate Okays Child Marriage’ jumped at me. I screamed “Whaaatttt?” I clicked on the link to read the report and just out of nowhere I started laughing. Yeah, that was actually my first reaction, it was my first laugh of the day, actually my first laughter in days, I laughed so hard and it was very fulfilling. Now, you might wonder what was so funny about child marriage.  Honestly, nothing. Child marriage is simply child abuse and there is nothing funny about child abuse.  It was the report that gave me a lot to laugh at. Remember I said this was a day everything seemed out of my control and I was almost at a breaking point. I guess stress has a funny bone sometimes.

The news was about the dramatic proceedings in the Senate on Tuesday 16th July, 2013. The report stated:

The voting in the Senate, which lasted for about five hours, also witnessed the adoption of Section 9 of the draft bill of the amendment, which empowers the National Assembly to make an entirely new constitution for the country.

The senators also adopted Section 3A of the draft, which rejected the president’s assent to the amended constitution before taking effect.

Make new constitution for the country? Take away the power of the president to assent the constitution? I smell trouble here, the kinda trouble I would enjoy watching.  Power is hardly ever easily relinquished. Politicians will kick up a storm whenever their rivals propose to hack their powers. I eagerly await the drama that will definitely ensue.

The report further stated that the senators rejected autonomy for Local Governments, refused the proposal to make the office of the Attorney General of the Federation independent of the Minister of Justice and managed to end the day by  somehow ‘Okaying’ child marriage.

Hmm, my reaction was this laughter that went on uncontrollably for minutes. I was already picturing the president heaping abuses on the senators for daring to even suggest taking away his presidential power of assent. Also,picture the screaming Local government chairmen (well they are almost all men anyway and i am tired of complaining about the persistent use of ‘Chairman’ when it should have been changed to gender neutral ‘Chairperson’, even the few women ‘chairmen’ reject the ‘Chairperson’ tag, so much for girl power!) [Read more...]