author: Lauren Elizabeth, long read, Personal Essay

In Defense of Single Women

If, like me, you’re a millennial between your mid-twenties and mid-thirties, it might feel like everyone is pairing off. And while your rational, independent, feminist core knows that the timeline to couple up and settle down is simply a societal construction rooted in outdated patriarchal standards, maybe a part of you feels like you are doing something wrong.

Today’s social media overshare certainly perpetuates these worries. Amongst my urban millennial cohort in America, engagements are being announced in what seems like a domino effect. The American half of my Facebook feed wants to plant a time bomb in the back of my head for an idea I don’t actually agree with. (Or maybe it’s simply turning 28, where I can say I’m officially ‘approaching thirty’). Continue reading

Advertisements
Standard
Author: Eileen E., author: sarah q, boshemia magazine, film, long read, pop culture, satire

Computer Love: Sexbots in Cinema

Part I

Notes on the Contemporary Gentleman

Classic conundrum for the gentleman readers: have you ever gotten the chance to get down and dirty with a lady, only to be sorely disappointed that she’s not a robot? Relatable, I know. Robots are just like women, but better! Robots never get periods or migraines; they never ask you to do the dishes, you never have to buy them dinner. Plus, you can play out all your fantasies with a robot. Perfect if your fantasy is straight up rape, you’re not supposed to do that to a woman, and they get all funny when you do.

I mean, if only there were a way that you could get sex without trying. You wouldn’t have to worry about minor setbacks like your personality and appearance. You won’t have to worry about making a good impression, tidying the place, setting the mood, foreplay, lube, romance, intimacy, connection; none of that bullshit; all you gotta do is plug it in and plug it in, am I right?

Continue reading

Standard
Author: Sarah L, historical, literature, long read, voices of resistance

The First Feminist Magazines: A History

Zine culture has been flourishing of late, quickly becoming a hotbed of modern radical thought, exploration of identity, and grassroots activism. Through the creation and distribution of independent zines, we really are quite literally seizing the means. This phenomenon is by no means new, however. The turn of the 20th century (the fin de siècle) saw the birth of some of the earliest women-driven periodicals and magazines, in response to fervent public debate around women, work and education – in 1888, essayist Mona Caird called “the subjection of women” one of the central “factors of our system” (sound familiar?).[1] They also emerged in part as a response to smear campaigns against emerging early feminist identities such as Bluestockings and the New Woman. This ‘New’ brand of womanhood had thoroughly unreasonable aspirations such as equality (gasp!), education (no!) and independence (quelle horreur!), and were largely viewed sneeringly by their contemporaries. The public image of the fin de siècle Bluestocking was the equivalent of the modern-day stereotype of the blue-haired-butch-hairy-lesbian feminist. She was cartooned and caricatured as ugly, over-sexed, unmarriageable, riding a bike – a symbol of mannishness, and independence.

Continue reading

Standard
art, Author: Eileen E., bodies, boshemia magazine, Boshemia Staff, feminist art, interview, long read, photography, Q & A

Brazilian Women Tell Their Stories of Illegal Abortions in Camila Cavalcante’s “Nós Por Todas”

Camila Cavalcante is a UK-based Brazilian activist and photographer who has dedicated her career to documenting the lives of women who have been impacted by restrictive abortion laws. Camila’s recent project, Nós Por Todas, (Portuguese for Us For All), explores the idea of the female body as a confrontational space and challenges the stereotypical narrative of women who receive abortions. By photographing the bodies of women who have had illegal abortions and sharing their experiences, Nós Por Todas works to bring urgency to the debate around women’s reproductive rights in Brazil.

Continue reading

Standard
Boshemia Staff, long read, pop culture, review, TV

Boshemia Best of 2018

It’s been a year of powerhouse womxn, fabulous page to screen adaptations, overwhelmingly binge-worthy television, and Fuck-You-Pay-Me music. The babes at Boshemia rounded up their favorite bits of pop culture of 2018. Continue reading

Standard
author: ropa, long read

The Land of Milk and Honey

by Ropafadzo Mugadza. Photograph by Tim Johnson.

My aunt and uncle found my brother standing outside the coach station. Naked. His body rattling like wind chimes in a storm. A year later my sister and I were stood in the same Johannesburg coach station. He left it with nothing but his life. We were determined to not make the same mistakes. The idea was to keep yourself looking mobile. If you looked as if you didn’t know what was going on, if you wore flashy clothes and used your phone or if you sat in one place for too long, you would be targeted. My brother broke all three of these rules. He was an easy target. He was sitting on a bench with his headphones on when he noticed. He thought he was being paranoid. He turned off his music. It wasn’t paranoia, people whispered words he couldn’t understand and glanced at him as they walked past. He was missing something. That’s when he heard it.

‘Hokoyo’

‘Hokoyo’

‘Hokoyo muphana’

At the sound of those Shona words, he knew he was in trouble. They told him to watch out, but it was too late. Three South African men surrounded him. In front of the crowd, they made their demands. They wanted everything. No one, in the hoard of people surrounding, flinched or gave a second look. It was normal. If it wasn’t him, it would be someone else. That was the language of the coach station.

The coach station was a restless place. It was always infested with activity. It was a hotbed of cultures, all gathered, intermingling and festering until they produced a whole new culture. Yet as my sister and I stood waiting for my aunt and uncle, despite all the caution and the knots that had wrung themselves in my stomach, I could not help but be enthralled by how vibrant a place it was.  Women in traditional dress carried massive bags on their heads, slaloming amongst street performers, street vendors and reuniting families. The spirit of resilience was potent in every culture in Southern Africa. The coach station was a place where all the hardships of the turbulent times manifested. Broken economies, poverty, even genocide, all of this meant that you wouldn’t find a place more biting with the pungent scent of resilience.

A month before I had been stood at the coach station my classmate Tino hadn’t shown up to school. Her mother had died. She owned a business in South Africa and she sent money from there to Zimbabwe to support her family. Locals invaded her home and beat her to death. They had found out she was Zimbabwean and they would not let us be fruitful from the soil of their land. It was all anyone spoke about that day.

South Africa is a multicultural country. The economy is well developed and, as a result, it attracts many migrators from other African countries. It is also Africa’s most industrialised country, making it desirable and resulting in thousands of visitors each year. Nearly one million Zimbabweans live in South Africa, making them the biggest foreign community in the country.

It was 2003 when I went to visit my aunt and uncle. I didn’t remember the last time I’d seen them. But we always spoke on the phone. We were close. She was part of the early flood of migrators that had left Zimbabwe just before the hyperinflation hit. She was now living in a big family home. It had paid off. She was profiting.

Every lunchtime at primary school I bought a candy apple. It cost me the same amount every time. But this changed; I began noticing that the notes were rapidly morphing into vast spectrums of colour with more and more zeros on the paper. The currency went from thousands to millions, then billions. The price of my candy apple was higher every day. The changes were so rapid that I’d barely caught sight of them. The economy plummeted. Banks closed.  Wages would be worth nothing within a week. The government resorted to constant water and power cuts. People had no choice but to leave.

By the early 2000s Zimbabweans were swarming South Africa. South Africans began to notice. They were hostile. To them, we were not human. At least not in the same way they were human. We were a lower form. Primitive and unevolved. Masquerading as people, like dogs on their hind legs. There was something in the air between us. I’d heard stories. I’d seen the news. At the mention of one word, heads turned, and hearts pounded. Zimbabweans trembled before it.

Xenophobia.

There is a common trend in Africa, xenophobic violence goes hand in hand with dwindling economic opportunities among locals. However, xenophobia is not simply a response to foreigners invading their land. It is a displacement of anger that the less fortunate people of South Africa feel from existing in a country that is prosperous, but under a system that hinders them. Bluntly put, black South Africans attack black Africans because white South Africans are protected by the government. Black South Africans have been faced with the fact that whites control the means of production in South Africa and they are powerless to change that. Little is done by the South African Government to stop xenophobia, it is an easy way for them to not have to answer for their lack of investment in the education and employment of black South Africans. Instead of acknowledging the socio-economic causes of the conflict, people in powerful positions attempt to shift the blame and even condone criminality and xenophobia.

At my aunt’s house, every day, I stood in the living room and stared through the window at the grey apartment complexes across the road. I would do it for hours. Just waiting. The buildings would stare back. Stoic and unmoving in their silence. Everything appeared calm. Everything was in order. I was tense. I imagined a boisterous crowd erupting from behind the concrete walls. Tearing through the veil of normality and ringing chaos into the air. They marched towards the house, breaking through my aunt’s gates. And then I, standing paralysed by the window, met the eyes of a person for the last time. It never happened. I was only ever met with silence. The colossal concrete structure stood still as always.

Police showed up to my aunt’s house the day after we arrived. They wanted to know if we’d seen anything. She let them in, they sat on the sofa sipping tea. I sat opposite them quietly. They told us there had been an attack on a Zimbabwean family at the complex across the road.

“Another one?”  

This was the fourth incident that had occurred at this complex in three months. They killed a mother and her two children. They left the father alive. The cruellest thing they had done. My sister and I weren’t allowed out alone. I found this strange. In Zimbabwe, we lived without parents and were free to go wherever, whenever. The structure of a conventional family was unfamiliar and uncomfortable. We were told to be careful, to draw as little attention to ourselves as possible. South Africa was a great place once you knew how to stay safe my aunt said. I wasn’t convinced.

On the surface, South Africa was a prosperous country. Driving around in my aunt’s car I was mesmerised by all the colourful advertisements. It wasn’t like this in Zimbabwe. People weren’t always trying to sell you things.  As you drove around in Zimbabwe there was only land, uninhabited and uninterrupted. Land that was authentic. My aunt took us to the safari where my uncle worked. It was beautiful. Magnificent scenery was all that caught your eye. The green lands were tamed and controlled. Inside the hotel, it was the ‘roots’ of Africa, imagined by a European interior designer. The customers were white. Not a black person was in sight unless they were staff. It was the idyllic version of Africa. With zebra skin rugs spread across the carpets of the hotels. Cheap carved statues of archaic African figures were littered around. My aunt said they were manufactured. She insisted that they should have bought authentic ones from skilled vendors.

A South African lady who was a cleaner at the safari was good friends with my uncle. She had aged into folded layers of skin and it was a mystery how she could keep an active job with her rattling and frail looking body. She had to work to support her family.

“I see many tourists coming to see animals. My own grandsons are born here and they’ve never seen a Zebra in their lives. Their mother couldn’t even afford to take them to a zoo. Isn’t that funny?” She shook her head as we watched an Australian couple enter the lobby with their two kids.

We had a free meat buffet that day. I ate like it was my last meal. Waiters would come to our table with different types of meat: kudu sausages, ostrich legs even honey roasted crocodile. It was my first buffet. The first time I had experienced food in abundance. In Zimbabwe, the crumbling economy meant there were low food supplies. Every day my body naturally woke me up at 5 am. If I was lucky I would wake up at 4am. We would go to the shops and join the queue of people, people hoping to buy a loaf of bread. Sometimes the bread didn’t come. We waited all day. Waited with patient anticipation on hungry stomachs for nothing. And yet every day I still woke up at 5am. Sometimes the bread would come, and it would run out before it was your turn. Queuing had almost become a way of life in Zimbabwe. If you were stood in any place for a long enough time a line of people would develop behind you. We made jokes about it. But that never stopped anyone from joining any queue they saw without context. We had no choice. It was a shock to come from a place where I waited for hours to get one loaf of bread to then find myself in a place where I was being offered food from every angle. I ate until I threw up. I ate with desperation. As if at any moment it would all be taken away.

“You’re eating like there won’t be any food at home.”

I stopped eating. My Aunt was right. There would be food at home.

As we drove back home I noticed between the woods in the highway there were little clusters of civilisation. They had houses made of cloth. There were entire families. Living as best they could in their fragile homes. They seemed settled, but not lively. Their slumped, almost lifeless demeanours stood out to me. They were deathly thin, their bones sticking out from their skin. I thought about the masses of food left on my buffet plate. All I could do was stare helplessly at the people who could never afford hope. They were hidden. Clumped amongst the dark places that no one looked at. The South Africa no one wanted to see. These people had never tasted the fruits of their country but it wasn’t because of people like my aunt. Hundreds of years of oppressive strongholds had South Africa’s children bound to poverty. This has always been the case.  

As dazzling and prosperous as it seemed, there were still millions suffering. Black South Africans had every right to be angry. They had suffered a brutal colonisation and to this day they were still living within the design of systematic oppression. White South Africans were nourished and thriving, some kept slaves ‒ their maids and gardeners. The idea of foreigners coming to their country and profiting was something South Africans could easily hate. Zimbabweans became a scapegoat for them, it was much easier. It wasn’t easy to face the racism and oppression embedded in the social, political and economic foundations of their country. Those were not problems they could look at or touch. People like my aunt were.

Sometimes when we were sat in the living room of my aunt’s house we would hear screams. Our wide eyes would meet as silence thickened in the room. No words were spoken as the screams echoed. In a country where people had been subjected to violence and oppression, it wasn’t surprising that they were repeating the cycle. They couldn’t let foreigners be fruitful in the soil that was still barren to a lot them. A build-up of unexpressed rage within the country was being unleashed onto Zimbabweans. We’d heard that some children had been captured after being sent out to the shops. The locals put the children in tires and burned them. There were videos going around. I hadn’t seen them but I had listened as my aunt watched. That was enough. Hearing the unforgiving chanting of the South Africans and the wails of pain from the children was enough to understand why my aunt clutched tightly to her toddler every night. In the afternoons I still stood and looked out at the grey buildings.  Waiting.

 

Standard
author: alex, Creative, fiction, long read

The Way Out

Short story by Boshemia columnist Alex Nolan.

Clearing was a town in a wide-cut circle of space, among an ocean of trees that spanned miles. Clearing was town where people were born and where they died without ever seeing beyond its borders. No one knew what, if anything, was outside the forest’s borders. It was far too dangerous to explore.

***

None saw Bakari, hovering at the edge of the crowd. Flakes of white had begun to fall from the sky, drifting to rest on the black garments of those gathered. Many had assembled. Hasan had been more popular than he would ever have admitted. As the last of the earth filled the grave, the mother placed her lit candle atop it, blew it out and spoke her prayer. All were silent. Thicker flurries drifted down from the sky. The priest spoke her final words and the congregation left. Bakari waited. The snow fell thicker, and still he waited. When he was sure, he walked to the grave. With a shaking hand, he lit the candle with a golden tinderbox. Shielding it, he closed his eyes. As he cried, his heart trembled. The prayer sounded thin between his cracked lips.

***

Bakari watched the birds on the ledge across the street, as they flew away over the treeline. He looked up, Mede had fallen asleep at his desk. Standing, he shovelled more coal into the furnace. He wrote a note: “Feeling ill. Have gone home to rest.” Retrieving his coat from the oak stand by the door, he left.

Snow crunched under his boots, and he breathed out in curls of white. As the chill was truly setting in, the streets had cleared of most of the inhabitants. Smoke rose from chimneys, thick and dark against the grey clouds. He pulled the cloak tighter as gooseflesh ran along his arms. The street was straight and narrow, it ran parallel to the town’s main avenue. The wooden buildings were tall, and made the pathway shadowed. He crossed the footbridge where the river ran through and paused, looking down its length he could just make out his home. All the lights were out. Bakari bit his lip and looked down at the water. Melting ice had made it full, and it rushed towards the treeline in the west. Turning, he walked onwards.

It took no more than half an hour to reach the felled trees at the edge of Clearing. Young, replanted trees grew just beyond that; though they were stunted, spindly things. Snow cover was deeper here, he could feel the freezing water starting to seep into his shoes. As he passed under the canopy, the crunching ice was replaced with a soft bed of needles; the corner of his mouth twitched upwards at the scent. Small comforts. Rarely tread, the pathways between town and border were difficult to follow. Bakari lit the lamp strung to his waist, illuminating the gloom and casting wild shadows among the branches. Shrubbery here had already been picked clean of winter berries. He looked around, but the woods were quiet. Still, his pulse quickened a fraction.

Just where the woods grew dense, he came upon the wall. Made of red stone, it came up to his navel. He reached out and the air above it rippled, shimmering blue and green; sycamore leaves reflected in the summer pond. He smiled. From the leather pouch on his belt, Bakari pulled out the old charm. A worn thing – a star carved in pine. It smelled like the dying embers of a fire. Holding it aloft, he whispered the ancient words. Crimson fractures, like cracks in shattered glass appeared on the invisible barrier.  Gripping the charm, his palms were sweating. Climbing over the wall was like walking in a gale. Yet, in an instant it was over. The red disappeared, and Bakari stood on the other side. Hands gripping his knees, he took deep breaths.

Little light reached this part of the forest, and the day had begun to dim. Bakari’s lamp illuminated only a small circle around him. With little but intuition as a guide, he walked onwards. The trees were older, the trunks were thicker and their branches weaved together in a mesh that blocked out the sky. Fungal life was all that seemed to grow on the forest floor here; mushrooms with funnel caps that were the colour of beeswax. It was still and silent, save for the sound of Bakari’s footsteps, and smelled of moist earth and tree litter. The thin trail he was following wound around trees but did not veer wildly in any direction.

As he walked, his pool of light began constricting. He topped it up some with a vial of oil from his pouch, and the flame grew. The amount of light did not. Still, he persisted. The illumination of the lamp dimmed until it reached mere inches from his feet. Relying on his hands, Bakari felt his way on, pressing against the rough bark as he crept forward. In the shadows, there were flutters and the stamp of hooves. Though his chest trembled, he continued forwards. The lamp sputtered out, and he kept going. Hooves to left, wingbeats to the right. They got closer with each step he took. With one more step he walked straight into something solid. A tree. He turned to walk in another direction. Out of the gloom, titanic eyes shone black. Bakari collapsed.

When he roused, it was as though he sat in void. Could he not feel the carpet of needles below him, he might well have thought he was. The lurch of his heart upon seeing the creature almost rendered him catatonic once more. It seemed to produce its own unearthly light. Eight feet tall, it had the body of a doe and it stood on talons for hindlegs. Feathered wings were folded at its back and the mammalian head tapered down into the beak of an owl.

Why has the deal been broken? It spoke into his mind, but it used his voice.

Bakari shook his head.

It was decided between your people and mine, long ago. You shall not leave the town. Why have you?

His throat was dry.

Why did you leave the town? Why has the deal been broken?

He shook his head, held up a hand. The creature leaned closer, the tip of its beak a foot in front his face.

It was decided. That was to be your place. Why have you broken the deal?

“Because it is not my place. There’s nothing there for me. My lover is dead, and I cannot mourn. I cannot seek the solace of a friend, I cannot openly cry. There was no one else, there was only us. Even if I had not loved Hasan, he was the only other one. There must be a place where there are others like us. There must be somewhere that I am not wrong for existing.” His strangled speech became a shout, “I have broken the deal because the man I love was buried, and I was not invited to the funeral.”

We will help you find the way out.

And once again, he faded from consciousness.

When he awoke, the moon was high overhead, it was full and bright. Bakari stood, he faced a line of trees. His heart hammered, but when he turned around it soared. Bathed in silver night, was a wide open expanse of grass. He ran, whooping with joy. He would be first person to be born in the town of Clearing who did not also die there. He did not look back.

Standard