Women belong in all places where decisions are being made… It shouldn’t be that women are the exception.” —Ruth Bader Ginsburg
It was a warm and sunny spring day on the 15th of September when I attended the first S. H. E MATTERS event hosted by Comfort Luxurious Spa in Montana, Pretoria.
S. H. E Matters is a movement that brings together young black women from different walks of life to talk openly and freely about sex, health, and experiences.
When people hear the words “woman empowerment” or “feminism” their immediate thought is “oh, they’re probably going to sit around a table and talk about how trashy men are.” To a certain extent yes, we will definitely discuss the uncomfortable behaviours of men that we as woman experience on a daily basis, but for now, that’s not the topic at hand.
The event started off with a sex empowerment presentation by Uviwe from Pure Romance who showed us the different sex toys, lubricators, vibrators and enhancers one can use to spice up the fun in their relationship. I particularly LOVED the body shimmer because the glitter just bounced of my brown skin while the sun shinned down on me.
I specifically called it “sex empowerment” because it is STILL a taboo for women in black communities to talk openly about sex and the pleasure/ displeasure they experience while engaging in the act.
We moved from exploring our sexual health to going in-depth about our physical health which was presented to by Neo and Tebogo who founded a company called Bao – Saude which specialises in skin, beauty and health. The ladies spoke to us about the impact of fibrosis and the leading killer found in women which is breast and ovarian cancer, while teaching us how to examine our breasts to detect any symptoms of breast cancer.
From physical health we moved onto mental and emotional health which was coordinated by two NPK psychologists Dima and Mpumi. As we gathered around in a circle to make the experience more intimate, we were thrown with the question “what is self-worth to you?” As we started giving generic definitions of what self-worth is, we were made to realise that none of the explanations were about ourselves; we did not know how to articulate our OWN self-worth without referring to some urban dictionary definition of it. I was shocked. Here we are, beautiful black women and we couldn’t articulate what self-worth meant to US as individuals.
The conversation about mental and emotional health continued throughout the afternoon (while we were getting foot massages, yaassss) as some of the ladies started speaking about their personal experiences with physical and emotional abuse which became quit heavy for us. What I enjoyed about the session is that no one held back – we were open with our experiences and opinions on life, and that’s exactly what empowerment is about – learning from one another.
Attending this event put a stamp on my validity as a young woman. I belong in this world that tries so hard to restrict us from being the best we can be. Women are the backbones of this entire world and we really only have ourselves to lean on.
I took the time to ask the founder of S. H. E MATTERS Ms Mpho Serabele a few questions which you can read below:
Who is Mpho Serabele?
Answer: a young black woman who does not conform to societal norms. A self motivated individual who is not afraid of failure. I am a woman determined to achieve all that she has set out for herself.
Why did you start the S. H. E movement?
Answer : I started this event to create an environment where woman can feel free to discuss issues that they face on a daily basis without fear of judgement and scrutiny. Every woman has a scar that leads to a story of her own experiences, and by sharing those experiences we can heal.
What heights do you see S.H.E reaching in the next 2-3 years?
Answer: I see it building a forum that accommodates more than a 100 women where they can advise, support and encourage each other to reach new heights in every aspect of their lives.