Do you really know the person you're dating? Kim Chakanetsa talks to two acclaimed female authors whose stories shine a harsh light on the duplicity of romantic relationships.
Kristen Roupenian is the author of Cat Person, which became the first short story to ever go viral when it was published in the New Yorker in 2017. It's the tale of a young woman's brief relationship with an older man, and it sparked an online debate about consent, unwanted sex and honesty when dating. Cat Person is included in Kristen's book of short stories, You Know You Want This.
Oyinkan Braithwaite is the writer of the novel My Sister, The Serial Killer. It's the story of two Nigerian sisters, one of whose boyfriends somehow keep ending up dead. Oyinkan says the murderous and stunning Ayoola has become an unlikely heroine for some readers, and that she is very interested in exploring the superficial nature of romantic liaisons, which lead to women's physical beauty often being their most powerful asset.
L: Kristen Roupenian (credit Elisa Roupenian Toha)
R: Oyinkan Braithwaite (credit Amaal Said)
World-class sportswomen combining motherhood with incredible athletic achievement. Kim Chakanetsa asks how they do it, what support they have behind the scenes, and what it means to them to be both a mother and a top athlete.
Jasmin Paris is a record-breaking British ultrarunner and the first woman to win the infamous Spine Race, a winter marathon along the UK's Pennine Way which is widely regarded as one of the world's toughest endurance races. At the time Jasmin was still breastfeeding her baby daughter, and she had to express milk along the way. And that's not the only demand on her time - she also works full-time as a vet at the University of Edinburgh.
Nicola Spirig is a 37-year-old professional Swiss triathlete, who gave birth to her third child in April this year, and was back competing just a few weeks later. Nicola won the gold medal in triathlon at the London 2012 Olympics, and came back after having her first child to win silver in Rio de Janeiro in 2016. Now she's aiming for Tokyo 2020. She says she couldn't do it without the support of her husband, who does the bulk of the childcare.
l: Nicola Spirig (Credit Swiss Triathlon)
r: Jasmin Paris (Credit Yann Besrest-Butler / Montane Spine Race)
Most people's idea of a band 'roadie' is a burly bloke in a black T-shirt, lugging kit around a stage, living hard and touring constantly. Kim Chakanetsa speaks to two women who have broken this mould, living on the road with music royalty, and making them look and sound amazing.
Known as the world’s first female roadie, Tana Douglas is something of a legend in her field. She started off working for the Australian rock band AC/DC when she was just 16. She went on to tour with huge international artists such as Elton John and Status Quo, specialising in lighting.
Sound engineer to the stars, Becky Pell, regularly plays huge arenas on sell-out tours for artists like Kylie Minogue and Westlife, and for three years has been in charge of the Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury, the world’s biggest festival. She says it's a myth that you need to be big and brawny to work on stage, it’s all about staying calm amid the chaos.
l: Tana Douglas (credit BBC)
r: Becky Pell (credit Becky Pell)
Women living with schizophrenia
Two women who hear voices and battle with delusions, tell Kim Chakanetsa about the stigma they have faced as women and how they have learnt to live with their condition.
Esme Weijun Wang is a Taiwanese-American writer and author of the bestselling memoir, The Collected Schizophrenias. She talks about the long road to being diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder, having suffered from poor mental health since she was a child. She finds what grounds her now, alongside therapy and medication, is journalling, dancing and spending time with loved ones.
Reshma Valliappan is a Malaysian artist and activist living in India. She was diagnosed with schizophrenia when she was 22, and, after several years of treatment, decided to manage her condition without medication. Her unconventional approach is chronicled in the award-winning documentary, A Drop of Sunshine. She has also written a book, Fallen, Standing: My Life as a Schizophrenist.
(L) Reshma Valliappan Credit: Sushma Luthr
(R) Esme Weijun Wang Credit: Kristin Cofer
Raising four or six babies at once - what's it like? Kim Chakanetsa brings together two women in very different situations who are experiencing motherhood in its most concentrated form.
In April 2012, Lauren Perkins gave birth to sextuplets in Texas, following fertility treatment. Her six children - Andrew, Benjamin, Caroline, Leah, Allison and Levi - are now seven years old. Lauren says the first year was a blur of feeding and laundry and now the family exist in a kind of controlled chaos. Her biggest challenge is balancing the needs of their daughter, Leah, who has severe disabilities, with those of the rest of the family.
Inga Mafenuka is a single mum to baby quadruplets, who were born in Cape Town, South Africa in July 2018. Inga was 22 when she became pregnant naturally, and she gave birth to the two boys, Bubele and Buchule and two girls, Bunono and Bungcwele. To support the family, Inga has taken on a part-time job in retail, and is also continuing her IT studies, which were broken off by the pregnancy, but they are struggling for space in their two-bedroom house in the township.
Sadly, following the broadcast of this programme, Inga Mafenuka’s baby son, Bubele, died on August 1st 2019.
Produced by Jo Impey for the BBC World Service
L: Lauren Perkins (credit: Lisa Holloway)
R: Inga Mafenuka (credit: Armand Hough African News Agency)