The F-word: Face it, SA treats women like dirt

2011-05-21 08:58

On Wednesday, 19 731 ­women out of about 53 000 candidates appeared on ­ballot ­papers seeking to be elected as public representatives in the local government elections.

Not bad for a nation that hates women.

The countless stories of how women are ill-treated have to make us question whether we are sincere about gender ­justice or merely mouthing platitudes.

The entrenched misogyny and ­disrespect for women in South Africa is too pervasive to allow for pretence.

That’s why the likes of Julius Malema can talk about the looks and not the ­abilities of women in his organisation as proof of it being better than others.

Malema might have thought he was ­being funny (and maybe he was) by ­commenting on how Minister of ­Basic Education Angie Motshekga looks.

But it was disrespectful of a senior ­comrade.

Surely Motshekga did not rise through the ranks of the ANC and government on the basis of how she looks.

How men look never enters the equation when ­deciding whether they are fit for the position they are elected to, or appointed to.

A colleague, Junior Motsei, wrote ­recently that there were some in the ­boxing fraternity who were convinced that the acting chief executive of Boxing South Africa, Tumelo Kekana (the first woman to hold the ­position), had been appointed because of her looks.

It didn’t matter to the bigots that she had been with the organisation for a while and had performed a sterling job.

No, like Motshekga, Kekana’s looks must have something to do with her position.

The Times newspaper reported a couple of weeks ago on an increasing number of outlets where women could anonymously drop off their unwanted newborn babies. Very few, if any, women would ordinarily want to abandon the offspring they had carried and nurtured for nine months.

That they are forced to make this ­decision says something about the ­support they get from society and especially the men who partook in the creation of the child who now has to be ­disposed of as if it was a used condom.

Young women are raped and die ­horrific deaths for no other reason than that they fall in love with other women.

If these crimes were just about ­homophobia, and not against women in particular, we would be hearing of similar ­attacks on gay men.

That criminals do not attack gay men – at least not with the same gusto as they attack women – shows that they have a special place in their hateful hearts for women who do not comply with their idea of how a woman ought to behave.

It gets worse.

There is a “prophet” out there who goes around calling women’s private parts “biscuits” and somehow ­believes that the only way demons can be exorcised from the women is if they let him put his fingers in their vaginas while they shout his nickname.

This he does in full view of other ­congregants.

How sick is this?!

We turn a blind eye because we do not want to be accused of being anti-religion by telling “a man of God” that we do not like what he is doing to our daughters, sisters and mothers.

Why are we not as horrified as we are about open toilets?

Why must we wait for the three-week period towards the end of the year to remember to be outraged by people like this phoney “prophet”?

Despite our noises about having a Constitution that says the nicest things about gender, we allow charlatans like these to prosper at the expense of poor women.

We give criminals a sense of impunity.

The promise of the Constitution to “heal the divisions of the past and establish a society based on democratic values, social justice and fundamental human rights” is meaningless unless we recognise that women, especially black women, have borne the brunt of this illness which this lofty phrase seeks to cure.

It is all very well for women’s voices to reverberate in corridors of power and on public platforms.

But if we are not careful, they will easily be drowned out by the fearful screams of a besieged womenfolk.

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