Simon Williamson

Bad jokes vs Bulldust

2013-07-19 08:27

Simon Williamson

A few months ago I got up and perused the news before catching the elevator downstairs. For someone who reads as much news as I do, there is very little that shocks, but that morning I read about Anene Booysen, and some details thereof had been explicitly described.

During my trip down to the ground floor two chaps who were moving into my building got into the lift, one of whom was holding a roll of duct tape. He held it up and said to his buddy "we should go out tonight, we'd score easily" and the pair packed up laughing.
I had flashbacks to that experience this week when those two now well-known FHM writers, Max Barashenkov and Montle Moroosi, decided to make jokes about what they (and others) term "corrective rape". This compound noun has become the de-facto denotation for the hate crime of vicious, often vengeful, rape against lesbian women, with the common wisdom dictating that forcefully shoving a penis - or multiple penises - inside them will somehow recreate the expected manner in which a deity or society decided they should live their lives.

Added sadism is often dished out: Duduzile Zozo's body was recently found with a toilet brush shoved into her vagina; Noxolo Nogwaza's body was found with stab wounds from broken glass, and her face had been beaten with stones; Nqobile Khumalo's raped body was covered in bruises and her eyes "popped out of the sockets" as she was choked to death; Eudy Simelane was stabbed 25 times, some of which were in her face, along with being gang-raped.

SA 'too aggressive'

While the past week was spent correctly admonishing the two FHM staff for their rape jest (and woeful attempt at an apology), gender convener and chairperson of the ANC Women's League in Ekurhuleni, Lindiwe Khonjelwayo, managed to display vacuous incapability for her job title when she told the Mail & Guardian, while speaking about this sort of rape, that the gay community in South Africa was being too aggressive when it came to pursuing rights - in other words, making people abuse them. She said, "Aggression is met with aggression. What is needed within gender mainstreaming is a lot of patient understanding and working together."

By airing this "aggression is met with aggression" garbage, Khonjelwayo (who, I repeat, is representing the ANCWL) is attempting to legitimise the non-existent side of the argument that there is any justification whatsoever for the harassment, murder and rape of homosexuals (or any non-mainstream gender preference). Can you imagine if FW de Klerk got up in February 1990 and said "we're going to dismantle apartheid but first blacks must stop being so aggressive in fighting for their rights, oh and by the way we need a few years for white people to get used to them"?
Believe it or not, Khonjelwayo then made it EVEN WORSE (again, as per the Mail and Guardian): "Khonjelwayo was also adamant that violence against gays and lesbians needed to remain classified as part of mainstream crime to avoid an 'us versus them' situation. 'I am sceptical of the trend where we want to categorise lesbian crime as a special kind. That leads to a lot of special anger and aggression, which tends to perpetuate more violence,' she said."
While men are raping gay women because they are gay, it is quite obviously already an "us versus them" situation, and Khonjelwayo's - and by extension her organisation's - only idea is to pretend it is not.
She also thinks that a facility whereby these sorts of crimes could be measured and or analysed could lead to "anger and aggression" and "more violence" - and we wouldn't want data to anger the gentle souls of the hate-crime rapists in our country, would we? The fact that we are prevented by law from trying to use specific data to deal with a complicated nationwide problem is inhibiting the probability of finding a solution. We're not even permitted to know the scale on which it is occurring.

Khonjelwayo 'in denial'
South Africa has thus far shown inability in trying to sort out the very real problem of the violent and hateful rape of lesbians. And officials who are appointed to the ANCWL - to deal with these problems! - should also be hammered by the public when talking such harmful nonsense. Khonjelwayo is in complete denial about a specific problem, and thinks that gay people are responsible, or partly responsible, for the abuse they get through bigotry. Barashenkov and Moroosi were joking. Khonjelwayo was being quite serious.
That these ideas are being OFFICIALLY vomited out (Khonjelwayo was talking on the record to the country's premier investigative newspaper) by someone in any sort of leadership role in the ANCWL has the potential to make these situations even worse than they are.
And just so you know exactly the way they are: two weeks ago a gay woman's corpse was found with a toilet brush forcefully shoved up her genitals.
(Note: I made multiple attempts to contact officials in the ANCWL and the Department of Women, Children and People with Disabilities from late Wednesday and into Thursday to discuss Khonjelwayo's comments and received no response.)

- Simon Williamson is a freelance writer. Follow @simonwillo on Twitter.

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Read more on:    fhm  |  ancwl  |  anene booysen

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