Don’t judge a woman by her skirts

2013-06-16 10:00

Did DA parliamentary leader Lindiwe Mazibuko ask for it when she wore a miniskirt and leggings while addressing a National Assembly debate on the presidency’sbudget vote this week?

The ANC seems to think so.

ANC MP Buti Manamela, sweeping aside the debate on the budget vote in Parliament this week, threatened to call the “fashion police” on the miniskirted Mazibuko.

It rounded off a debate which, on both sides, dipped to new lows.

On the one hand, there was Mazibuko ignorantly ascribing the rand’s fall earlier this month to a press conference addressed by President Jacob Zuma.

If she listened to the serious economists, she’d have known this was a gross oversimplification.

On the other hand, there was ANC MP John Jeffrey throwing puns around about Mazibuko’s weight (he rose above by apologising afterwards, even though the ANC wasn’t convinced that he needed to do so – the party correctly pointed out that DA leader Helen Zille had commented about its members’ weight before, without apology).

And then there was Manamela.

Some commentators afterwards likened him to the notorious taxi drivers who humiliated and assaulted women for wearing clothes they thought inappropriate.

The ANC Women’s League even organised a miniskirted march to protest against the taxi drivers.

But this week, the league was quiet, or rather, some of its comrades were almost falling off their benches as they laughed about Manamela’s comments.

Perhaps Manamela’s below-the-belt attack on Mazibuko was prompted by his running out of clever arguments.

Or maybe he has caught an early and dirty elections campaign fever, in line with the excrement that’s been flying in Western Cape in the past few weeks.

Can you imagine a man making remarks about another man’s dress sense in Parliament?

If Manamela felt strongly that Mazibuko’s dress was inappropriate, couldn’t he at least have tried to deal with it maturely by taking it up with Speaker Max Sisulu – who had earlier appealed for decorum among MPs befitting the institution?

Did Manamela have to publicly attempt to humiliate Mazibuko when he should have been talking about the presidency’s money plans?

A few years ago during his rape trial, a more famous and much older leader of Manamela’s party said if a woman wore a kanga, it implied she was asking for sex.

Manamela is a rising leader from a new generation.

He and his parliamentary colleagues are supposed to set a better example tothe people of South Africa, whom they represent, than to judge a woman by her skirts.

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