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Dating in the Dark

August 11, 2010

Dear Black Women,

You are not wanted.

Sincerely,

All men.

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I recently read and commented on this post by a dear friend Why I married a Black Woman, go read it. It’s a beautiful expression of love from a man who is pointing out “why I married a black woman, and why it matters to me” because he doesn’t think it’s talked about enough. Thing is, it looks like black women are pulling a short straw regularly.

It’s been a long developing trend that successful black men tend to gravitate towards lighter complexions and most definitely fairer races (I’m not going to go into the big ole historical discourse thing in this post). It’s gotten a bit extreme in the UK of late with people touting statistics like 50% of black british men are dating outside their race. Now I can’t find the source of this statistic (and I have looked), but annecdotally, I can tell you a thing or two.

One thing I will never understand, is how a man can say he will “never” date within his race. There are black men in the UK who will blatantly say this like it’s the epitome of progress and the future of race relations.  It’s one thing to be open to date other races, that is a valid position and one I’m quite happy with. Its quite another to explicitly never date your own race, many will disagree, but to me, it feels like avoiding something you don’t like about yourself and the women in your family and basing that judgment on their skin colour.

Recently, I went to Manchester for a weekend with girlfriends. One night we ended up in a club called Bijou. In Bijou, we were the only black women, but there were an abundance of black men and an even greater number of super-preened Jordan-esque white women. One woman was so happy to see us, she actually called us “The Ebony Crew” telling us just how amazing we were….I’m guessing the rarity of the event got to her. Would have been a great compliment if she hadn’t proceeded to plonk herself on our table and offer us all a line of coke…I digress…

Then this guy told my very light skinned mixed race friend that she is darker than what he would normally go for and she was the lightest in the whole group! We spent the whole night observing guys giving us the “what are you doing here” side-eye. Now before anyone thinks this is about the ego of me and my friends, the issue here was not being ignored, the issue was the opposite. We were treated like intruders. In a packed club with hundreds of people in the middle of Manchester (a pretty racially mixed city), we ended up in the one R’n’B club where no other black woman ever bothered to go.

What’s the answer? Who in the bloody hell knows. I certainly haven’t got a clue.

Interestingly, I came across this article by the US online dating service called OKCupid. They publish a blog where they share data mined from the people who use their websites. Their stats are hilarous and scary all at the same time. I was looking through some old posts and found this one, How your race affects the messages you get. In it, they prove that racial bias is alive in online dating.

Their bottom line is that black women are bottom of the pile when it comes to responses from other races. That’s right, nobody seems to want a black woman. A few of their headlines:

Black women write back the most
White men get more responses (from everybody irrespective of race)
White women prefer white men to the exclusion of everyone else
Men don’t write black women back
White guys are shitty, but fairly even handed about it (everyone gets the same treatment)

Go read, tis quite interesting.

Act like a lady, think like a man….er…date your dad?!

July 16, 2010

So I decided to buy Steve Harvey’s attempt at telling us gals just why we are still single, lonley and picking wotless* men. Why not? Shucks, somebody somewhere has to be able to give me CLARITY on the inner workings of these 3-legged beings we seek out for our life partners.

I’ve read the first part of this book, entitled “The Mindset of a Man“. My conclusion is that far too much of this makes sense to me. I’ll elaborate, according to Steve, men say what they mean, they want to spend money on you and they want more than anything to be alpha male supreme. Now, whilst that makes sense, I KNOW that this book was written for women, therefore it HAS to play directly to women’s fears, not necessarily talk about what mean REALLY think!

I’m not worried about the simplicity of the argument, I get that men are in essence probably very simple. It’s more that according to Steve, all of you men want to be accomplished millionaires before you actually pay real attention to a woman and given that most of the populus won’t make it, one has to wonder about how ‘real’ this insight into a man’s mind is.

The only person I know who would advocate actually ask questions like “What are your long-term goals?” on a first date is my father. Makes me shiver just to think about it. If a man asked me that question even I’d have to be like dude…..I just met you!

Am I in denial? who knows, I have two more sections to get through “Why Men do what they do” and “The Playbook: How to win the game“. Maybe by the end of the book I’ll feel like an expert. Or maybe I’ll just feel like Steve Harvey’s men are not part of my future…go figure!

In the meantime, I’m in search of any man who has actually read this book and can comment on it. Please feel free to drop me a line!

As an aside, I’m sure Steve won’t be happy to learn someone else has a book on the same topic with the same title which has knicked the url! lol! The website actually makes me weep with how awful it is. Who knows, maybe this lady’s book came first! http://www.actlikealadythinklikeaman.com/

*wotless for my non-British readers is what we call a useless unrealiable person. I quite like the more descriptive waste-man myself. Ever one to be all about equality, both terms can also refer to a woman.

When the posts just aren’t flowing

July 11, 2010

Imagine my surprise when I realised I have not written a post in over 3 months….3 MONTHS!!! What on earth have I been doing? I genuinely hadn’t realised that much time had passed. Yuk.

And there I was wondering why I was walking around with so many pent up emotions! So to compensate, here is a run-down of what I have been doing/reading since my last blog post.

In May I wandered off to Lisbon for a 3 day geek conference and a long weekend. Do I love Lisbon? Hell yeah. I had some time to practise my portuguese skills and learnt a very very valuable lesson.

Ladies, if you ever go to Lisbon, DO NOT pack anything that has skinny heels. No matter how high or low, skinny heels are a no no. It seems 5 x 5cm paving stones with rather large gaps are the trend….nearly ruined a damn fine pair of shoes…deym.

Never one to skimp on my frequent flyer status, I also spent a long weekend in Berlin having co-organised another geek conference. Another city I realise I have much love for, totally different to other parts of Germany I’ve been to. Also quite amazed that I spotted a Ghanaian restaurant while there…go figure.

What was I reading in May? Well, all about the disastrous, utterly unbelievable 1millionshirts debacle. In a nutshell, marketing man does one good deed and sends t-shirts to a small charity in Uganda. Decides, he has been called for a greater cause and sets up a charity to ship 1 million of the wonderful, clearly much needed clothing item to Africa. Gets jumped on by every pro-aid/ anti-aid/ got me an opionion on aid/ commented on aid blog once or twice/member of the WTF blog council blogger and finds himself anti-person of the month.

Twas all heading towards resolution, till he found himself somehow seeming to advocate child trafficking. You can see how it started here from Project Diaspora (be sure to read the comments). Their downward slope towards child trafficking unfortunately has been removed from the www (imagine, you can delete wesbites!), but you can read the best response to it (IMHO) here from Michael Keizer.

June was a bit quieter on the travel front, in fact June was a great month for “How-to-be-buried-under-work-and-have-no-time-for-simple-things-like-eating”. Yep, June was officially one of the busiest months I’ve had in a long time. One of those where you wake up to go into the office at 5am and think to yourself, when did I go from earning a salary to being the primary shareholder? Oh, I haven’t?

A girl is allowed to have a crush darnit.

And so onto July, ah July. World cup hasn’t done me much good. Nigeria….well….lets not talk about it. Then I got Germany in the office sweepstake…again…lets move on. And to top it off, my World Cup Foosball team? Brazil. So anyhoo, based on my 3 years living there, I’m claiming my (begging it) Spanish roots and celebrating like its 1999. *We* were always gonna win it. That Puyol guy is one heck of a mascot eh!

I learned two things this World Cup, it is possible to have psychotic episodes involving vuvuzelas and the backsides of television commentators. Second, I disvovered that if I ever divorced Nelson Evora, it would be because of the small but perfectly formed Robinho. Nuff said.

Pimping fannies is not charity…FYI

April 7, 2010
tags: , ,

I just thought I would put that out there, seeing as there are some who feel that this is clearly not the case. When I first heard about Clitoraid (yes that is their name) via the blacklooks blog I was a bit taken a back, not really sure what my strongest emotion was at hearing the initial concept. Then I went and visited the website for Clitoraid and I had to sit for a while and really ponder what was going on there, so let me break it down my opinions on this matter.

Female genital mutilation (FGM) is a terrible thing. Yes, I agree.

Women in Africa suffer greatly with this predicament. Well, lest we forget its a pretty big continent and not every country/culture engages in it, I shall in a generalised sense say, ok, I sort of agree.

A doctor in France has developed a method of reconstructing the clitoris to restore feeling and sensation to a woman after FGM. Flipping brilliant, thank the lord for the science!(Dr Pierre Foldes)

Clitoraid wants to help women in Burkina Faso reconstruct their clitoris’ by asking kind donors to “adopt a clitoris”……..now where in the funk did that come from?!

Of all the possible approaches to take, all the various ways to raise awareness of the importance of sensation and pleasure in a woman, the importance of stopping the world from ignoring how FGM de-humanises a woman, this bunch of ignorami (yes in the plural) believe that it is ok to ask you to adopt a flipping clitoris?! Does anyone else see the woeful connotation of purchasing a foreign fanny online?!

Jest aside, the charity mongers will argue that it is a priviledged position to argue against a point of language when someone clearly has good intentions, but purlease. There is this little known thing called DIGNITY. For every assault an African woman can endure, those on her dignity go deeper than any other.

What would we think of a campaign asking us to adopt a European man’s testicles to raise money for testicular cancer research? Or shall we start sponsoring an American woman’s boob which sends us regular update letters and photos while fighting a battle with breast cancer? Sound ridiculous? Well so does Clitoraid. I don’t care if foolishness comes from a good intention, it has to get called out and made to account for its consequences.

And just what are the consequences? Ridiculing and devaluing important issues. FGM is not a flippant topic, care and cultural and emotional sensitivity have to come to the fore when addressing it. Some things don’t need a catchy hook to get people motivated about it.

In Clitoraid’s defence, they have some achievements against their name, they are in the process of building a hospital (the “Pleasure Hospital”), and have truly helped some women by supporting them financially through surgery. No one is saying their work is not valid or unnecessary, if we all got off our backsides and did something philanthropic (other than just sending money) about what we feel strongly about, then the world would generally be a better place.

But, there are means and ways. People don’t give up their right to integrity, dignity, pride and choice because they are candidates for anyone’s charity.

A bit more background on Clitoraid, they are a project from the Raelian cult who believe we came from aliens whom we have to welcome back at some point or some similar theory……erm…..nuff said from me, I shall let Sokari from blacklooks have the final word on that:

“Their leader was “contacted by another planet and asked to establish an embassy to welcome people back to earth”. To this end they are required to build a welcome temple for their returnees in 2035 from outer space. Now this cost money and souls must be found to work towards building the temple and a country to host the embassy. Please Please let this not be in Africa!”

(Facebook Group – Feminists Challenging Clitoriad)

Update 14/04/10: Read Wanjiru Kamau-Rutenberg’s blog for responses she has received from some supporters of Clitoraid. Also, Dr Petra Boynton’s excellent post which asks all the questions we should all ask about charities. A little due diligence goes a long way. The doctor who pioneered the reconstruction technique, Dr Pierre Foldes, has also spoken out about Clitoraid and it’s misuse of his work (article is in French).

Ada Lovelace, meet LoloBloggs

March 29, 2010

March 24th was Ada Lovelace Day (I’m late I know!). A day which many people have no clue about, but that’s fine seeing as it’s a new fangled thing that seems to exist primarily on the internet via the medium of blogging.

Anyhoo, Ada Lovelace Day is a day for celebrating the achievements of Women in Technology and Science. Ada Lovelace herself, the daughter of the famous poet Lord Byron is historically known for having written the first computer programme for a machine designed by Charles Babbage that never got built (a small oversight). Her work informed the developments in mathematics that ultimately led to the age of computing.

So why do we need a whole day to celebrate women in technology? Simply put, there are not enough of us in technology. I live and earn my living in a technology driven environment and I see us (women) in the minority. At work, we have a very rare 50/50 split, but that’s because I work in the world of empathy and research, i.e. we’re a little less techie than others. Go into the ‘codezone’ and the smell of boy is likely to chase you out.

The very silly, “it’s a boy’s world” attitude can’t continue to wash. Having women in technology improves the quality of what is produced. FACT! Yes, I said fact. I have no statistics to share (but who needs numbers?!), but one thing that has had a lot of study is the idea of the empathiser vs the systemiser (sometimes referred to as the female/male brain).

In technology, most development teams will be systemisers (both male and female); they think in shapes, structures and systems. Empathisers are just that, they empathise with other people, they can handle emotions, needs and the soft stuff. Women have higher empathiser scores than men, even when they are more natural sytemisers. No matter how low a woman’s empathy score is, it can often (although not always) be higher than the average man.

So the next time you think that Apple obviously don’t have enough women working for them to come out with a product called the iPad you would be right. They don’t have a single woman in their leadership. And it’s not just about the glamorous side of things, woman are just as good as men at dealing with the mechanics, but we obviously don’t think this of ourselves otherwise we would be running tingz!

Well I also want to take it one step further. Not only do I want to see more women in technology, I want to see more African Women, more Nigerian Women, more women just like me. When it comes to re-dressing the balances, we might as well go all out with creating role models that work for every group. If I see me reaching the heights of technology by doing something cool, innovative and fun that puts me on the world stage, then my kids will see themselves, and my grandkids won’t even think of it as anything special, it will just be.

So Happy Ada Lovelace Day. Over the next year, think about encouraging a little girl in your family by buying her a laptop, a science kit, a lego or mechano box even a chess set (best gift I received at the age of 10), if it’s a boy’s toy, then you can bet a girl would enjoy it too.

I’ll leave you with a bit of inspiration in the female tech stakes, firstly, Mercedez Bunz’s Ada Lovelace Day blog post for the Guardian shines the light on a few women making waves in technology.

I’ve also scoured my blogroll to find a few links, some are from last year, but still inspiring. Enjoy.

Ore’s Notes: Ada Lovelace Day: Celebrating Abi Jagun
The Activist: The Amazon Shero: Oreoluwa Somolu
Kate Rutter Adaptive Path Blog: In honour of Ada, I honour Hildegard
Ethan Zuckerman’s My Heart’s in Accra: Ada Lovelace Day
Jennifer Chayes at The Huffington Post: Ada Lovelace Day
But You’re A Girl: Valeria Aurora is my hero for Ada Byron Lovelace Day
Science Blogs: Ada Lovelace and the Impact of Positive Female Role Models

Brain Dump: Adulthood, Holidays, Boys and Courting Serendipity

March 28, 2010

Hello to my blogword family! I must apologise for what has been a very extended stay away from the world of blogging. I have no excuses. I woke up the other day and realised that next week is April. APRIL!!?!! Where in the funk has this year gone? How are we already through the first quarter of the year? Well, it’s easy, when you grow up, time moves pretty swiftly. A week becomes a month which becomes three before you’ve managed to get through the backlog of phonecalls you were supposed to make to wish people Happy New Year.

Well what does one do when times moves so quickly? Grow up, speed up and get with the programme that’s what. I might try fighting this age thing (I’ll be celebrating another in a very long line of 21st birthdays later this year), but the fact is that I am GROWN! I was at an aunt’s house earlier today and a visiting family of kids started calling me aunty and my aunt grandma…I was like huh?! When did I become that kind of aunty? And grandma? She’s the same age as my mum and they’re nowhere near granny age because I’m still 21……oh yeah…..

So, I’m also in need of a holiday. This year however, I have determined that I must become a fan of long term savings and investment. BORING. Yes, but I met a lady who I’m going tap for info on the long term bonds game, you gotta be in it to make a long term profit! Therefore, I will have one big holiday and a couple of long weekends based around the super cheap last minute deal. I will concede that the big holiday is going to be a rather large galavant involving extreme destinations and yet more weddings (if I told you all the details I’d have to kill you), but still, I am keeping myself in check here.

Beware of the Sugar Daddy

Whilst planning holidays I got to thinking, where is my sugar daddy/hunky millionaire already?! My darling family are all happily distracted with the fact that my baby brother has proposed to his girlfriend (go on son!), but they haven’t quite missed out those pitiful glances in the direction of me and my two sisters. My older sister and I sat down and decided to swap war stories the other day, 2 cheaters, 1 bigamist and a bi-polar candidate later, we emptied our brandy glasses and decided so be it, the past is the past but we look ahead. We are trying!  Its a miracle we’re not giving up given that track record, but still….we come from determined stock!

And finally, last Thursday I went to an event which was another in a series of activities I’m engaging in to court serendipity. It’s a club designed for networking. Usually in the form of a dinner in a nice restaurant (for which you pre-pay, none of this cash business when people leave early!), everyone who comes along has to introduce themselves and say what they have to offer the group and what they want to gain. It’s a simple yet delightful concept. I met some supremo cool people and I fed off that energy you get when you come across a group where people are living, breathing, walking, talking achievers. That’s the kind of gang I’m all for being a part of.

Resistance, Muses and Supporting creativity

February 6, 2010

There is a book a friend gave me for my birthday last year, it’s called The War of Art by Steven Pressfield (not to be confused with the Sun Tzu’s Art of War). It’s one of those books you either love or not, but you won’t hate it and you will identify with it. If you also happen to be lacking some inspiration and support for following your own path and not fitting in a box, hopefully it will give you a bit of ammunition to combat resistance both outside and within.

There are several books which discuss the idea of resistance. This mysterious force that we all suffer from at the time when we need it least. My weakest moments; whenever I was studying for any exam, the hardest thing I found to do was pick up a book. Whenever I need to put together a large comprehensive document or presentation (as I often do at work) it can take me hours upon hours to start. When I want to go for a run on a cold day, its a 50/50 chance I’ll actually do it. When I need to move from the sofa and go to the toilet even though I’m bursting….list goes on and on and on and on. All of these are types of resistance. The most dangerous example is the kind that pops up right when you are doing the very thing that is good for you emotionally, physically, financially or spiritually. You are guaranteed to face some kind of personal resistance right when the future is presenting itself at your door.

For me, this book wasn’t about self help and it’s not even about believing in some mantra or doctrine purported by someone else. It felt like me, talking to me about me, and telling myself the things I already know I know. It’s scary, but it gave me perspective. Its worth reading this book at least once.

Dear 2010, we need to talk….

February 3, 2010

It’s only February. We started out on a high, we had talked at the end of 2009, I told you about how much I wanted to achieve and we discussed all the things that I would not carry over from 2009. You gave me reassurances that no matter what, all I had to do was take charge and you would support me all the way.

Well, let me tell you something, somebody somewhere forgot we had an agreement! I’m putting you on notice, either you buck up and stop messing with me, or I will formally request for a fast forward to 2011 who I’m sure will take on the challenge.

And before you say it, throwing gadgets at me which only serve to remind me of my pre-menstrual tendencies will not do the trick. I’m not so vain as to need a shiny, fancy, geekgasmic toy like that.

I would be most grateful if you could vacate my stress zones and place yourself firmly within my progress and happiness zone post haste.

Yours,

Too Blessed to wanna stay stressed.

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No LoloBloggs has not lost her senses, but it has gotten to the point where I realise that for meditative purposes, it is important to open my mouth and reject all entities that may believe that I enjoy feeling like an ice-cube in a fur coat; numb, suffocated and melting at a very rapid rate. Naturally, I don’t feel like a ‘date’ has that much power over me, but this is only one outlet….trust me, privately, there are many more….

You may have guessed it’s been a tough first month for this year, however, proactivity is the name of the game. I’ve started to remove my stressors, some I need to root out and chuck permanently, others I need to place to one side until I can emotionally handle, but whichever the case, I must get back to being serene!

A friend of mine studying NLP told me that a very quick psycho-physical way to feel more positive is to look up. Stop looking at the ground wishing you were somewhere else doing something else and look up, straighten your back, raise your eyes and go for it. Simples. I suggest you try it, tomorrow can only be a better day.

Somebody please call security!

January 1, 2010

Facebook, that oh so wonderful pioneer of the social network era. Almost everybody has a Facebook account, I say almost because increasingly I meet more and more anti-Facebook people who would never set up an account on there. Maybe they should start a new group…a whole new website to put people who don’t want to be on Facebook in touch with other people who don’t want to be on Facebook…yeah…..ok, so I jest.

In December, Facebook offered up their brand new security options to the world, and thereby ensured that total chaos could reign while everyone tried to figure out what was going on and how in the hell they could shut themselves down again. I was one of these people, I’ve previously blogged on how closely I monitor my Facebook account and actively use privacy settings so the first thing I looked for the option to remove myself from search results and prevent my photo from being seen. And that’s when it dawned on me that I may have to leave facebook.

In the last month, I have received silly friends requests from random unknowns and I have been able to pry into the facebook lives of people who I don’t know on more occassions that I care to mention. It’s easily done, I’m no stalker, but follow a link where a friend has been tagged, or a video or similar and you could end up on the page of A.N.Other who doesn’t realise that their wall, personal information and photos are open to the world. This wasn’t previously the case, but many of the new settings have been put to a default ‘Everyone’ so unless you go in and change them, anyone who wants to, can peep into your little social corner of the world.

With so many people accessing Facebook exclusively on their mobile phones, many have not gotten round to looking at, yet alone updating and changing their privacy options. Seriously, if you’re one of these people do it now!

For the moment, I’m staying on there, professionally and socially my networks currently utilise Facebook to a large extent, but I’m working on changing that. Whilst I’m on there I have removed all my photo albums, I no longer have a wall (my friends have to send me a message) and I only have one external application accessing my data (and its a book application…quite good actually!). I’m still using my friends lists as filters to control how much people see, I’ve stopped being a serial commenter on other people’s walls and photos and no one except me can see photos I’m tagged in. Sound extreme? Well, this is reality.

Some people argue that if you have nothing to hide then you shouldn’t be paranoid, others say if you don’t want people to know anything, why exist on these platforms anyway (an argument I can never fight because it is oh so true!). But if you are on there, and you do use it, then it’s always sensible to err on the side of caution, control what you want to share and don’t let it be controlled for you. The same applies to Twitter, FriendFeed, BlogReaders, Foursquare, you name it. You should be in control, not the people who designed these applications, their intentions may not (and will almost certainly never be) in your best interest.

My list of 5 things you should do straight away:

  1. Prevent yourself from appearing in Google public search listings (unless you have a business reason e.g. music, acting etc. I would actually recommend you set up two accounts, one public and one private for your real friendships)
  2. Work through your friends lists and categorise, then give different categories different permissions (we all ‘forget’ when we added Aunty Tolu months back and didn’t realise she’s been informing your mother about your nights out and racy status messages….um-hmm)
  3. Remove your date of birth (do you really need the million Happy Birthday wishes???)
  4. Consider preventing people from seeing when you are tagged in a photo
  5. Don’t add new friend requests from so called friend’s of friends (stick to who you actually know).

All of these can be done by accessing your privacy settings at the top right of your Facebook page. There are 10 really good tips on this Unofficial Facebook site on how to deal with the new privacy settings.

Worth taking the 30 minutes it might take to sort this out.

Farewell Noughties, hello tens? teens?

January 1, 2010

I’m not sure that the ‘Noughties’ ever really caught on, but what are we going to call this decade? Till we get to the 20s again it’s all a bit confusing to me!

I hope everyone had a fantastic Christmas and New Year, I’m still having mine. Smartest thing I ever did was take the first week in January off work. Yep, so next week while many trudge to work in misery, I’ll still be chilling, just the way I like it.

Last night (NYE) I stayed home and reflected. At the start of the last decade, I was young, very naive and trying to get used to the whole university thing. I was living away from home, realising money doesn’t last forever if you shop alot and go out every night. Plus to top it all off, I was still a trainer wearing, hoodie rocking, cap dapping wannabe roughneck who was never rough and actually was hiding the geek within. How times change!

This end of the decade I can look back on growing up, a lot. There are things I have done in the last decade that I could never have forseen or imagined, but yet I can never regret and will always thank God for the lessons they taught me. There are as many things I’m not proud of as those that I am proud of, but each one of them is a treasured part of who I am.

And so I look forward, if I was to act out all the many prayers I received from family yesterday, I will not only be married within three months but also have triplet boys or something like that (of course this is only  if you believe in compound prayer…ya get me…). Whatever the future holds I’m looking up. This decade is not about looking for specific things based on the expectations and occurences of my past.

It’s about being open for all the good I have no way of forseeing or expecting. It’s the serendipitious good I’m looking out for. I have plans, I have aspirations, I even have the odd ‘resolution’ style mental commitment, but I’ve forced myself not to come up with a random list of things that there is no hope of me ever doing (hell no, I shall not marathon). Above all, I have to be spiritually and emotionally open… and I’m pretty sure I will get what I deserve.

So I leave you on this first day of January 2010 with a simple mantra that I’ve been happily living by for the last 3 months “Be the change you want to see“. Whether it’s work, family, your community, your nation, your religion or your muffin top….just be the change you want to see, talk is cheap, time to get walking.

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