South Africa is a conservative, sexist, victim-blaming society that either shudders at the sight of exposed skin, objectifies female anatomy or vilifies women for showing more than their ankles.
Now let that woman sway her hips or move them in a remotely "suggestive" manner, and a cyber massacre is unleashed with men ready and armed with unsolicited "she doesn't respect herself" or "this is why they get raped" interjections.
This happens on a spectrum ranging from a micro level of everyday benevolent sexism to a grand scale like Saturday's Democratic Alliance (DA) manifesto launch reactions to a particular performance.
Like any other political manifesto launch event, the DA had a jam-packed lineup of local entertainers including Kurt Darren, Riky Rick, TDK Macasette and Moonchild Sanelly, who was the final act.
Speaking to the DA's spokesperson Solly Malatsi, he explained that the aim of the event was to "showcase the diversity of the DA's membership and supporters," and as such, this was portrayed in their choice of entertainment that reflected "the popular culture appreciated in South Africa."
Of course, Moonchild Sanelly being one such artist, who sparked outrage for wearing "too little" on Saturday, but the man gyrating on stage was conveniently not a talking point.
For anyone who doesn't know, Moonchild is a SAMA-nominated music artist and vocalist, who unabashedly calls herself an "advocate for female orgasm" and has also taken it upon herself to spearhead the protection of women in the sex industry.
With a distinct blue wig and unconventional style, this music sensation often performs in leotard variations and has never previously offended anyone for doing so. Well, at least not her fans who understand that's part of her blueprint as a performer much like Beyoncé, Rihanna, Jennifer Lopez and any other artists who have performed in leotards and cut-off shorts before.
It gets hot on stage and the day of the DA manifesto launch was a toasty one too.
Unfortunately, none of these sentiments mattered to a few internet users who felt that this was a form of objectification, negating the fact that women have the autonomy to choose what they wear.
Maybe because they’re not twerking and grinding? Let’s remember this was a political event— LackadaisicalZuma (@HyphenatedZuma) February 24, 2019
This is Ungodly and I will not vote for an Ungodly party!— Linda Gouws (@NeelsL) February 25, 2019
The whole performance was in thoroughly bad taste. Don't know what's happened to the DA's moral standards.— Chronically Lackadaisical Ingrid (@PossumCT) February 24, 2019
But the DA's MP Pumzile Van Damme swooped in to the star's defense, stating that "women's bodies are not there for you to police."
This is @moonsanelly. Look her up, I doubt you’ve ever heard of her & I don’t her personally but I’m willing to bet top dollar patriarchs on the internet telling her what to wear bothers her none. Women can wear whatever they please. Women’s bodies are not there for you to police https://t.co/ygWfNr8m0l— Phumzile Van Damme (@zilevandamme) February 24, 2019
Solly echoed the same sentiments when he spoke to us, declaring that "Moonchild Sanelly, like any South African, can choose to wear whatever she wants, whenever she chooses at any time she pleases." (sic)
"It is shameful that in this day and age women are still policed for what they wear - how you choose to dress is part of freedom of expression and that should not be policed. She is a great artist and any attempt to throw shade at how she dresses would be artistic censorship," Solly continued in an impassioned tone.
He also added that the crowd loved Moonchild Sanelly's performance and their manifesto has been received well overall.
Over and above this, Solly shared that the DA is concerned with matters pertaining to women such as gender-based violence and rape. This is why part of their manifesto includes plans to implement a sex offenders list that will ensure that offenders and abusers are easier prosecuted once reported.
We still have a long way to go when it comes to both the perception and protection of women's - black women especially - bodies in our country and not viewing exposed skin as a sexual invitation would be a pretty incredible place to start.
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