Of nipples and awkward boners

I have a bit of a reputation at work. I always eat gorgeous food. I always eat alone. And I almost always eat at my desk. Also, I chew really loud. My workmates complain a lot, and some have accused me of being a (food) tease. Case in point, this is what I had for breakfast. I dolloped it onto a massive slice of home-made black forest cake.

Whipped cream in a box.
I wanted to use a photo of the actual dessert but my camera phone is only 2MB.

The other day, I was having mashed potatoes and stuffed chicken (which I didn’t cook). I microwaved it, put it on my desk, then went back to the kitchen for a cup of lemon tea. Yes, that’s black tea with a slice of lemon inside it. While I was away, two of my favourite workmates stood at my desk, ogling my plate, debating on whether or not they should snatch a piece of my chicken. It’s not like I would know who had done it.

In the end, they decided not to. And because they are my friends, they later confronted me about it, suggesting I should try eating somewhere else to spare them all the gastronomical torture. Because they’re my friends, I laughed it off, and the very next day, I had my divine breakfast at my desk.

Sexual crime is a lot like this. Someone violates someone else because they think no one will ever know. I’m not just talking about rape. I’m talking about groping a woman in a crowded place, cat-calling some stranger who can’t recognise your face, molesting a child – male or female, shooting or sharing nudes without permission, doing something sexual that you know is wrong simply because nobody can stop you.

Here’s another way that sexual crime is similar to my so-called food teasing. My workmates blame me for their appetite. I have delicious food and I display it yet deny them from enjoying it. It’s not their fault for wanting food that doesn’t belong to them. It’s my fault for having it. The solution is not for them to stop smelling or looking at my food. The solution is for me – and my tempting food – to stay away from their senses.

Yes, I Googled it. Doesn't mean I didn't eat it.

And here is the third – and best way that not doing sexual crime is like my lunch. The guys wanted my food. They blamed me for advertising my food. They had the opportunity to steal my food. But they didn’t. They stood, they looked, they sniffed, they questioned, they viciously debated … and then they walked away.

Just let that sink in for a minute.

I had an interesting conversation with a male friend. We both have tweenage children, and were worried about their exposure to adult sexuality. He tried to remember what he was like at that age. He has a distinct memory of looking at adult women in swimsuits and feeling an odd stirring. He didn’t know what it was or what to do with it, he just felt super excited and hard.

He says he was too young to fully – or even partially comprehend sexuality. He didn’t know how to masturbate or what a wet dream was. He just knew something exciting was happening and he didn’t have a way to express it, sate it, or make sense of it.

Years later, as an adult, he does still get stirrings. Of course now he knows what they’re about and can respond appropriately. But he explained something I’d never quite understood – that male sexual responses – and by this I mean erections – are a reflex. They can hide it, they can attempt to maintain it, they can even try to reduce it. But they can’t actually control it.


Lesson two: Boners can be triggered by just about anything. A thought, a word, an image, a fabric, anything. And it isn’t always sexual. A man can suddenly stand up and as his trousers rub against his crotch, his penis takes notice. Or he could be excited about work, success, a brilliant goal, a fast car, and suddenly his manhood is saluting. Oddly enough, erections can even be triggered by panic or intense fear.  Hence the awkward boner … and morning wood. Sorry ladies, it has nothing to do with your curvy nude self lying next to him when he wakes up. While we’re at it, baby boys can get boners. It often happens when you change their diapers, and there’s nothing oedipal about it. Sometimes, those diaper boners pee in your face. Literally.

Also, guys, to throw a little cold water on your arousal, nipples are exactly the same. Our areolar attention is rarely about sex. It can be about a cold breeze, a baby crying, a shift in the fabric of your bra or blouse, a chilling scene in a slasher movie, an excellent joke, anything really. And sometimes they poke your eyes out for no reason at all. *shrug*

Now then, if a man cannot control his boner, are all our sexual harassment and anti-rape arguments moot? No. Because while a man can’t control the rigidness of his penis, he can definitely decide what to do about it. My workmates left my chicken out of respect for me. A man can choose not to cat-call, or grab, or grope, or rape, or share, or troll, or slut-shame, or give unsolicited attention … even if his nether regions are screaming otherwise.

We are often told that the female body is dangerous, and many feminists think that statement is body shaming. I disagree. I think the female body is dangerous, because it invokes desire in men, and desire – in the wrong loins – can lead to people getting hurt. Not just the woman that is desired, but also her loved ones, her defenders, anyone that gets in his way.

I also know without a doubt that it is WRONG to blame a woman for having a dangerous body. She didn’t choose to have a vagina and breasts. It’s how she was made. From ribs. Or mutation. Or evolution. You can’t punish anyone for their anatomy.


I learned another thing from my male friend. Compartmentalisation is real. Whenever we see a man mistreat a woman – either by his deeds or with his words – we tell him to imagine that the woman was his daughter, or his mother. We think this will put him in place and make him rethink his actions. And often, it does. But then we wonder why he can’t see all women as his sisters, daughters, mothers, and therefore, respect and protect them all.

Well, here’s the thing. Freudianism aside, if men saw all women as their mothers, well, they wouldn’t have any daughters. Or sons. Or grandkids. It turns out that male compartmentalisation is essential to the growth of the human population, because only very twisted people want to reproduce sexually with their daughters and their mothers. And people like that are lost.

You know what else is dangerous? Lions. Lions are dangerous. They can kill, they can maim, and they can’t help it. It’s just the way they are. So do we teach lions to stop hunting gazelles? Do we ask them to walk around with blaring sirens that yell, ‘Lion coming!’? Do we train them to mute their roars into zebra-friendly whispers? No. We take necessary precautions.



And yes, I know I could have said lioness,

but even though she does all the hunting,

no one is afraid of a lioness.

Except maybe this dude.

Angry lioness

Every day, we tell human lions – i.e. women – that because they are dangerous to men, they need to knock out their own teeth and learn to whimper instead of roar. Which is ridiculous really. If anything, it’s the men that need to temper themselves to avoid being hurt by the lion. Nobody wants to be eaten (and chewed, and swallowed) by a lion. Pun intended.

I’m not saying men need to hide in caves and avoid women like the … lion. I’m saying that while they may have no control of their awkward reflex boners, they are perfectly capable of restraining their desire to whip it out and stick it in the nearest female, either verbally or otherwise.

A woman can’t help having breasts or a vagina. It’s kind of – you know – what makes her a woman. Even if she has a mastectomy or hysterectomy, she still has phantom boobs and a phantom womb, so, you know, still a woman. Still a lion. So asking her to ‘hide’ her womanhood doesn’t make men any less susceptible to those ‘charms’. After all, they’re still there, and it’s silly to blame a person simply for being who they are.

On the other hand, you can blame a person for what they do. You can blame a woman for what she wears, sure. It’s easy. But you can’t say your actions were directed by what she’s wearing. Minis have nothing to do with being cat-called. Or groped. Or raped. Proof? A man can wear a mini and still not be raped, because a mini doesn’t give him boobs or a vagina.

A woman in a mini is not raped because she’s wearing a mini. A woman in a mini is raped because she has boobs and a vagina, and because her rapist knows nobody can stop him. Which is exactly why half naked models and actresses are never, ever, ever raped on red carpets or catwalks. So it’s about time we shifted the discussion away from policing women. Because all the burkas and buibuis and maxi skirts and shapeless trousers are not going to stop her from having breasts and a vagina.

Female parts excite male parts. I get it. Male (and female) parts get erect without permission. I get that too. But the deliberate action of taking that erect penis and using it to attack a woman with your words and/or your actions is not an automatic event. Stop it. Control yourself. Get your other head back in the game. After, all, you’re a thinking man, not a horny dog.

♫ Hivo ndo kunaendanga ♫ Majirani, Kenrazy & V-sita ♫

I have bees in my bonnet

Which means absolutely nothing unless you went to one of those schools where you used seven different textbooks for English grammar, then pursued a BA in Literature. I did both. Because happiness is getting paid for reading storybooks.


Today, I wanted to write two pieces that I have no business writing. One was about gay men. The other was against single mothers. I shouldn’t write about gay men because – well – I’m a straight woman. And I shouldn’t write against single mums because I am one. And yet this bee in my bonnet is having me write about both.

First. Gay men. I make a lot of assumptions about them. Like, I always thought one of them has to be the guy and the other one has to be the girl. Until I read an interview by a very girly gay guy complaining about his love-life. By virtue of being gay, he is attracted to … well … men. Manly men. Men that don’t look like girls. He said most men – by virtue of being gay – are attracted to men who don’t look like girls. And therefore, naturally, men who look like girls have a harder time finding partners. I might say the same about girly lesbians and guy-ey lesbians.

I’d never thought of it like that. But now that I do … the only men that ‘look’ gay are the ‘femmes’, the ones with girly tendencies. Same goes for guy-ey lesbians. So there are – obviously – a whole bunch of left-batting guys and girls who don’t ‘look’ homosexual. And who perhaps are attracted to the ones that do. It’s only logical really.

I was reading an article yesterday about two different types of gay men. Some of them view their sexuality as strictly a bedroom matter. They are gay guys that ‘act straight’ in the same way that metros are straight men that ‘act gay.’ Then there are the kind of gay guys that are flamboyant and out there.

Exhibit A
Exhibit A
Exhibit B
Exhibit B









It’s actually a pretty good article. A pretty long article. In one section, the writer quotes an interviewee from Gay New York, describing the difference between the two ‘types’ of gays: “For some people it was your whole life, your soul. For others it was what you did on the weekend.” In this sense, they’re a bit like minorities, or even feminists. For some, everything from your choice of words to your choice of sandwich is about expressing your gayness, blackness, or feminism. For others, it’s an important component of who you are, but it’s still just one component, and you’d like to be seen as something more than the gay guy, or black girl, or independent woman.

Another quote from the article puts it quite nicely, questioning why a person’s job, legal rights, or family life should be dictated by who they sleep with. To put in context, I like pretty boys, and I have a thing for white guys. And mixed guys. And any guys with pretty eyes and gorgeous hair.

So what if one day somebody woke up and invented a special grouping for black girls that like white guys? What if they decided to call it – oh, I don’t know – whompers. As a whomper, I might prefer to hang out in certain places because a lot of white guys spend time there. And so it would be called a Whompers’ Club, or a Whompers’ Zone. I might decide to wear long weaves, start dieting, and join a gym, because we hear most white guys like long hair and slim frames.

Would it be okay for the government to decide I should not get NHIF or visit certain places or even have my potentially biracial  children in their schools because I’m sleeping with a white man? After all, I am so much more than my bed-mate. I am a person, a mother, a writer. Can’t I be defined by any and all of that, instead of my primary identifier being the person that’s in my bed? Yet we do it to LGBTs every day.

You could argue a million things. You could say homosexuality is a sin or unnatural or whatever other argument you want to quote. It’s in the Bible after all. Except that the Bible also says black people should be enslaved, because Ham, Noah’s son. And that a rapist can marry his victim if he pays dowry. And that genocide is acceptable as long as your victims are Canaanites. And a whole bunch of other disturbing things, so I’m not big on that particular doctrine.

Fix it Jesus I cant

I think homosexuals are born that way, and I don’t think God would create you a certain way then declare you a sin. That’s not God. That’s human. And that’s evil. Some of us are attracted to tall men, or short men, or white men. Others are attracted to curvy women, or petite women, or long haired women. Some of us like all of the above, and some of us like none of the above. And while we can choose who to date, marry, or sleep with, we can’t choose who we are attracted to.

I say as long as everyone is adult, available, and willing, what happens in bedrooms is nobody else’s business. As for extensions of bedroom choices that go outside the bed, choices like where to hang out, what to wear, or how to decorate your house, that’s entirely up to you as well. The brave ones keep it public and expose themselves to judgement for living their lives, and I have nothing but love for them. That said, unless it involves your personal dick  or vagina, just leave it be.

Now for the more contentious issue of single mums. I don’t mean widows/widowers or parents whose partner works in another county/country, because they essentially raise their babies on their own as well. I mean parents without an officially assigned formal partner-cum-co-parent that isn’t related by close friendship or blood. And yes, I did want to be a lawyer.

I read a piece at Biko Zulu’s written by a single mum. When I started the article, I was skeptical, because there isn’t much stigma anymore, or so I thought. At my daughter’s school, a lot of the kids are from single-parent homes, and I’m grateful for that because she doesn’t feel ‘different’ or ‘odd’.

Plus, I have a strong support system. My brothers are good male role models, so I rarely feel alone in my parenting. Well, sometimes I do, but not often. And perhaps more importantly, I’m an anti-social introvert who never goes anywhere but work and school events, so I’m probably not hanging out with the kind of people that would stigmatise my status. I have a small circle of friends and family who generally have bigger problems with me than whether or not I have a wedding ring.


Of course, every once in a while, the question comes up. Mostly at bigger family events which draw a wider net of relatives, and they all want to know why I haven’t caught a man yet. I usually respond by grinning cheekily and saying, ‘I already gave you guys a baby, I’m not in any hurry to give you a husband.’ I thought about ‘explaining’ why I’m a single mum, but that sounded way too much like justifying myself. My reasons for being a single mum are valid in my mind. Every mother’s reasons are. And I’m mostly happy with the way my life has turned out.

One thing makes me sad though. My daughter is blessed to have father figures even though her biological dad is not a part of our lives. It’s entirely my choice that he’s not in our lives, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. But I still feel sad that we’ve created a world where we don’t feel the need for a dad.

I’m sad that so many kids grow up with single parents, and while they get many benefits from it, they still miss out a lot by not having double folks. There’s a lot to be said for having a mum and a dad in your everyday life, and it just seems that we’ve become almost flippant about not having that.

There was a time when being pregnant and unmarried could get you arrested, killed, shunned, or at the very least, married off as a third wife. We’ve come a long way since then, and that’s awesome. Still … the choice to have and raise a child on your own is too easy a decision to make, and that bothers me. I suppose it’s just one of those things in life. Things that are sad, yes, but they are what they are.

Still, sometimes I wonder … where are the dads? Are they interested? Do they know they have kids somewhere? In my case – in many cases – it’s the choice of the mother to keep the man out of her life. In other cases, the father knows he has a child, but doesn’t really want to be involved. But can those two simple poles possibly cover every man that ever spread his seed, or is there more grey to these questions?

While we’re on the subject, are there any statistics on the number of single dads? Because I suspect there are a lot more of them than we acknowledge. We used to say it was harder for a woman to abandon her kids, but with the rise of feminism, female independence, and divorce – even in this part if the world, I suspect there are more single dads than we think.

I was talking to a friend the other day, on the question of being a feminist that still wants to be loved, valued, and protected by a man. I told her that yes, I can pay my bills, and I do. But when I’m in a relationship, I still want my man to pay for our dates and buy me chocolate. She smiled and said something her husband had told her. Most men want to pay for dinner. It makes them feel important. But most men have a lot of demands on their money, so if you insist on being independent and paying for the movie, he won’t stop you.

That made me think. These men, these fathers of single-mother-kids. Is that what happened? Did they simply cave in when the mother of their child insisted on doing it on her own … or maybe doing it with another man? Did they have so many other things to deal with that they were willing to let go of their child? Will there be a time – many years from now – when they are settled and secure, when they’ve done some ‘growing up’, when they feel ready to be fathers and will come for their children?

♫ We are never getting back together ♫ Taylor Swift ♫




♫ I’m a tweet wittle bird in a gilded cage ♫

♫ Tweety’s my name and I don’t know my age ♫

♫ I don’t have to wowwy and dat is dat ♫

♫ I’m tafe in here from dat old putty tat ♫

I’m an introvert, and I live my life largely inside my head. Every once in a while, it amuses me how much human beings – extroverts included – generally do. Live in their heads I mean. Our most poignant emotions take place entirely in our minds. Love. Hate. Jealousy. Embarrassment. Victory. These are all things that can be expressed in action. Like gouging someone’s eyes out, or buying expensive jewellery. But the feeling itself, the force that prompts activity, is all in your head.

That’s how my office has suddenly become a cage. It’s been a slow work day, which means I’ve mostly been online, catching up on blogs, music videos TED talks, and light reading. I had planned to leave at five sharp, but I was in the middle of a long … interesting … long article and figured I’d finish it before I left. Bad idea. Because at 5.18, a light drizzle started.

I wasn’t done with my article until around 5.30, by which time the drizzle was too thick to see through. Remember the day people were stuck on Lang’ata Road till  morning? Well, on that day, I got home at 3.30 a.m. I barely had time to shower, snack, and wake my baby before I was headed back to work again. So … rain too thick to see through is not a good thing.

The instant I had that realisation, I felt trapped. All other factors were constant. There’s still a fridge, a microwave, good company, and internet. Plus, now that I’m not on the clock, I can lose myself for hours in the blissful world of Cracked. Or Candy Crush. Or pointless office gossip. But because I can’t go home until the rain stops, I feel like prisoner at my desk. And it doesn’t help that my boss and his 4×4 have just strolled out of the office. Le sigh.

It’s very easy to slip into this caged, rabid state, even though I’m fully aware it’s totally self-inflicted and it’s all in my mind. If only it was this easy to open invisible doors and walk out of this cell, and all the other imaginary confinements of my life. For now, I can only watch the rain, wait for it to stop, and hope to get home before 3.00 a.m.

♫ Quiet ballad of Ed ♫ Ed Sheeran ♫