I am absolutely exhausted by the argument that says we cannot complain about inefficient and corrupt African leaders because, “even Western leaders do it.” The follow-up to this point is usually the indignant “How come when white people do it, its OK?”
And by ‘it’ here the speaker is referring to plunging a population into a well of suffering simply because one can.
A few days ago I happened upon an article on The Root in which the gripes social media users have with the royal family were brought to light. The article was short and simple: a report on a report really.
In fact, ‘Swaziland’s royal family has found itself ensnared in the firm grip of social media users who are determined to expose the lavish lifestyle of “Africa’s last absolute monarch,” while most of the country’s people barely subsist on $1 a day per person, Agence France-Presse reports.’
Was basically the gist of it.
But the responses to it are what angered me. Of the hundreds of comments that this post attracted, many of them repeated the same idea: if the [insert white royal family] can do it, why can’t we?
I was so overcome with rage, I found myself doing the one thing I promised myself I never would: I left an angry Facebook comment. But that was not the end of it. The rage at the commenters, many of them African American echoing a sentiment often uttered by Africans too when our own leaders are to be held accountable for one act or another, did not go away.
“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.