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Review of The Soft Life by Lebohang Masango

We invited our Glamour Book Club Members to submit their reviews of The Soft Life by poet, anthropologist and author, Lebohang Masango. We particularly loved Kamo Motse’s thought-provoking review.

The launch of our Glamour Book Club during Women’s Month was a a huge success which we attribute to the calibre of women who attended. Collectively, we elevated the conversation around women empowerment, literature and what it means to be a woman in 2023. The author of The Soft Life, Lebohang Masango was featured on the line-up as a speaker, and her passion for women empowerment could be felt across the space. Her book set the tone for this empowering initiative that aims to promote the culture of reading and equip women with the vocabulary to name their experiences as the world to continues to shift and change.

The reception to her offering is also testament to her impact as she continues to spark meaningful conversations around the idea of the soft life. Glamour Book Club Member, Kamo Moste captures this aptly in her review of the book.

About a month ago I attended a book club event hosted by Glamour magazine. The prescribed book was The Soft Life by Lebohang Masango. Now, when you hear that title, I know what you’re thinking. Is this going to be a fictional story about girls in relationships with older men just for money? Well, that’s not at all what this is about.

Firstly, Masango, apart from being an author – is an anthropologist, poet and a feminist thinker. Secondly, this is not a fictional book but rather an academic piece looking into the lives of five women: Lihle, Jolie, Camille, Nomonde and Bongi and the choices they make in love and dating and how this contributes to their idea of the soft life. Masango introduces the book explaining what the book is about and why she chose to write on this topic.

When it comes to women who live the soft life and who decide to date men who can give them certain things, it’s always assumed that these women stay in these relationships even when they are unhappy. But, interestingly that is not the case in this book. One of the women recalls breaking up with a man because he could not meet ‘the bare minimum expectation of consistent communication’ and the other because she and the man were not on the same page. The book also made me think about how the idea of love was modelled to you growing up as well as how your first romantic relationship was, shapes a lot of your views on how you think relationships dynamics should be like.

Jolie, for example, grew up in a household where the man pays for everything and women are home-makers. As a consequence, that is how she thinks relationships should be like – it is very typical of the gender stereotypes that have been made the norm. Lihle, who is the other woman – her first relationship was with an entrepreneur. Therefore she prefers men who do not have a 9-5 and therefore have more autonomy over their work day. This book definitely made me think about the way that people approach relationships and perhaps it is a good idea to ask questions such as what do I want out of this relationship? What type of person do I want to be with? And what expectations do I have of this person? I enjoyed this book and there’s a passage from I enjoyed, and would like to leave you with. It reads: “It’s almost expected for black women to be content with less than what others have and the soft life is about rejecting the trope of a womanhood that is burdened, overworked and overwhelmed.“

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