Georgina Guedes

'Lesbian' isn't an insult

2012-01-26 13:32

I’m always gobsmacked to find myself on the receiving end of blatant anti-feminism. Like racism, which I also know is out there, I expect this kind of sentiment to be shamefully quashed, rather than trotted out with the confidence that suggests that the trotter assumes it’s the norm.

It’s never a good idea for a columnist or social media user to take reader sentiment too seriously, simply because the world is made up of people with so many disparate opinions that for anyone who thinks one thing, someone else thinks the exact opposite and is offended by the polarity.

Or at least that’s what I’ve learnt courtesy of my time as a News24 columnist. I’ve gone from reading and replying to all the comments to avoiding them altogether, to doing dipstick samples of the responses out there, to being relieved that people were now required to put an actual Facebook profile to their comments to being astonished that despite this, people are still willing to hold their heads up high with making blatant racist or sexist remarks.

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote a column about how I felt about the Jugcam trend on Twitter. I was very careful to state my position clearly, because I didn’t feel that the posting of the breasts of attractive girls at the cricket to Twitter was outright abusive or tantamount to rape, but I did think that this kind of behaviour would be practiced by certain kinds of men, and that these were the kinds of men that I would rather not associate with.

I knew I was going to be tackled for being humourless and asked to defend my position on what exactly the difference was between the TV cameras and the cellphone snaps, but I was unprepared for the levels of righteous anger that people responded with.

What struck me most of all was how often I was called a lesbian. This is a wholly ineffectual insult to me because in the first place, I am confident that I am not one, but in the second, I don’t really care if people think so.

It’s certainly not the worst thing I could think to say to someone else, but it was spat at me (figuratively speaking) as if the spitters intended me to take it all back, mortified that my opinions would see me thus cast.

Really, lesbians are bad things? And you’re so proud to call yourself a homophobe that you’re willing to attempt to insult me by calling me one when I’m only saying I prefer to consort with respectful men? I hope you can see how your insults might have fallen short.

It’s never a good idea to engage directly with this kind of sentiment, but I was genuinely surprised by it, in particular because it came from a number of different sources. There’s always one nut job out there, but the feedback on Twitter and News24 showed me that a lot of people think like this.

I’m not sure what these kinds of men actually want from women. Clearly they want someone who shares the joke. After all, what’s a bit of tit ogling between partners? I get that. But I’m not that girl. However, I do feel that it’s important to respect that women have a right to demand not to be objectified by men and to seek equality in all things that matter.

And I don’t think that any women who speaks out for these things should be insulted - whether or not the insult falls short of its mark - or really, gender equality is in a lot more trouble than I thought in South Africa.

- Georgina Guedes is a freelance writer. You can follow @georginaguedes on Twitter.

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Disclaimer: News24 encourages freedom of speech and the expression of diverse views. The views of columnists published on News24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of News24.


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