Georgina Guedes

Accept that we can’t normalise statutory rape

2015-12-04 14:46

Georgina Guedes

We live in a society where teen pregnancies are a problem, sugar daddies are a problem, objectification of women is a problem and the glorification of wealth and power is a problem.

These issues are so woven into the fabric of our society that it can sometimes be hard to distinguish them from the norm. We are fed stories of women in skewed power relationships packaged as romance and even women from affluent backgrounds themselves are encouraged to find a “good provider” to “put a ring on it”.

We normalise some very troubling attitudes and even see situations that are downright abusive as positive or inspirational. It is vital that we are aware of and acknowledge these problems as extremely problematic, and that those of us in the world of media and marketing and activism continue to expose them for what they are.

I’m of course talking about the recent episode of Mzansi Magic’s “My Perfect Wedding” in which an underage woman “played her cards” just right to catch an older man who was known for repeatedly having sexual relationships with underage girls. And not just relationships – targeted casual sex, on a roster.

Naturally, a portion of the audience freaked the flip out, and after the social media furore around the episode, Absa acted quickly and decisively and canned their sponsorship of the show. I am not sure how aware they were ahead of time of the content of that particular episode, but at least they had the insight to know that things had gone horribly wrong in the wake of it.

I am not sure how the producers of the show ever let this episode get past the drawing board stage though. How did no one ask, “Hang on, isn’t sex with underage women, you know, rape? Never mind the general glorification of competition between woman for the man-prize and the weight given to the appeal of material wealth – both of which we should also be discouraging – but aren’t we actually publicising a crime here?”

But I guess that didn’t happen.

Of course, a lot of people are defending the “romance” of the dream wedding featured – saying that it’s something that a lot of people aspire towards and that the wedding was beautiful and that Fanie Bavelile truly seem to love each other. Which brings me back to my original point – that we all should be giving a genuine damn about the messages we transmit.

“Lots of people do it” isn’t good enough. Lots of people are violent rapists and murderers. Should we glorify and normalise their pursuit of power as well? Let’s launch a show about “The dream bling I scored during a house robbery”. No? Why not? It’s not different.

As a society, we need to move away from the glorification of money and power and men. We need to stop encouraging women to pursue their dreams in the form of an older catch. Love is not a game, success is not a reward for playing it. My Dream Wedding did nothing for the advancement of any positive ideals and did everything to entrench outdated, harmful and illegal ones.

- 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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