This weekend my cousin invited me to her place for drinks. I anticipated nothing more than a night of heavy drinking (punctuated by an increasing number of slurred proclamations starting with the words “in life…”), followed by a morning of deep regret.
However, before I could get to my second drink and un-buckle my “drinking jeans”, the loud engine of a work-van parking in the guest-house garage brought my attention to the finest product of South Africa I’d ever laid my eyes on. My jaw dropped (but not my drink…never my drink) as I watched a man so gorgeous that his muddy jeans and rolled up sleeves looked like they’d accompanied him straight out of a 1970’s romance novel titled “[the afrikaans version of] The year Hans, the tractor-mechanic re-awakened my desires” (or something), walk out of the van. His piercing eyes and confusingly arousing uni-brow shot sparks through my body and I immediately decided to seduce this man even if it meant my advances would have to be lubricated by the tears of my ancestors.
I don’t know when I fell asleep and missed out on a new wave of feminism that prides itself on judging a woman’s politics by her behaviour in the romantic sphere. But clearly it happened sometime this year, and the comments section on this article was born.
Directed to it by its author I found myself flung into a dimension in which a question like “Is it anti-feminist to sleep with another woman’s man?” was not only considered – but was debated, quite heatedly, by a group of very diverse and seemingly intelligent women.
“In November 2010, South Africans were shocked when a video showing two teenage boys allegedly raping a young girl made headlines. The clip, which had been taped at Jules High School in Johannesburg and distributed online, confirmed many parents’ worst nightmare; very young kids are having sex on school premises, and, moreover, they’re being reckless, unsafe, and ignorant.’
What? When I read the beginning of this article, titled “The Kids Aren’t Alright” in January 2013’s issue of True Love magazine I didn’t immediately understand why I got so ferociously angry at its author for having put it like this. I mean, the rest of the article itself is an informative report by Jaqueline Cochrane on the state of South Africa’s sex education, and relatively harmless except for this one paragraph. But it is precisely this one paragraph that at first made it impossible for me to put aside the venomous anger bubbling up inside of me and finish the article.
Lets read through the paragraph together: “In November 2010, South Africans were shocked when a *video showing two teenage boys allegedly raping a young girl* made headlines. The clip, which had been taped at Jules High School in Johannesburg and distributed online, confirmed many parents’ worst nightmare; very young kids are having sex on school premises, and, moreover, they’re being reckless, unsafe, and ignorant.’
You see the part in bold? Does it seem odd to you? Read it again, and then read the rest of the excerpt.
The writer of this column starts off by mentioning two very serious crimes. Firstly, the production and distribution of illegal pornographic material featuring a real under-aged victim, and secondly, the “alleged” raping of a young girl. And then proceeds to write about “kids having sex in school”. The rest of the article is hundreds of words about under-aged sex and next to zero words about rape.
The concept that women cause rape is laughable at its best and at its worst – a terrifying indicator of how little respect our societies have for the female person. The law passed recently in Swaziland is a sad mixture of both.
The Swazi Monarch has decided that banning women from dressing ‘provocatively’ is a sure-fire way to prevent rape.
Because everyone knows only women dressed in mini-skirts and low-rise jeans can get raped. It only takes a quick look at the very low rape-rate in Islamic countries where only conservative garb is tolerated on women to see this.
But it’s not weird. Because this has nothing to do with women’s clothing. Rape never does.
Rape is about control. And laws like the one passed in a country like Swaziland where traditional ceremonies in the King’s honour are more than tolerant of scantily-clad minors are still a firm fixture of the country’s cultural identity, are proof of this.
What we are looking at here is a very common situation that happens in the mind of many men groomed in the pits of their patriarchal societies. We are looking at a kind of thinking that these men hold onto—the kind of logic that makes them believe that a woman’s body is theirs to police.