On Monday evening, local Hip Hop hit-maker, DJ Dimplez, released the cover art for his latest single on social media, What a Night featuring Tellaman and Kwesta.
You can muse from the song title what the message vocalised will be - a great night out with mates. And with Ngud star, Kwesta, one imagines that this is a single destined to be a summer soundtrack for carefree December nights, right?
I haven't heard the single yet but the original artwork for it had me wondering whether the three musos were implying something else about what a great night out entails.
All the cover art seemed to reinforce was the false notion that the onus is on women to be more vigilant (in the paraphrased words of another local rapper) every time we go out.
Do the boys all group Whatsapp each other, "Oh, what a night, fam!" the morning after they've picked up inebriated girls from the club? Is it only ever a great night if you ply women with alcohol in order to lower their inhibitions? Is the sole purpose of going out only to get laid?
For those who didn't see the cover art and are wondering what on earth I'm on about; basically what the cover art depicted was an image of a drunk woman being carried home by a very sober man (so sober that he's carrying her with only one arm) in an alley.
This essentially further normalised rape culture in night club settings in our country.
YouTuber Sibu Mpanza quickly called it out on Twitter with the following caption:
To which several male Twitter users responded, failing to see what was in fact creepy about the image. Scary.
And that right there is the problem - the fact that what is portrayed in the image is something that happens so often (even though it shouldn't) that an entire team okayed it, knowing that there'll be an audience which won't even question it.
In a country where rape stats are so alarming and victim blaming spewed out so carelessly we simply just couldn't sit back and let this image circulate at the expense of triggered survivors.
And when a woman reports a rape, this is what she usually gets asked:
"Why did you drink so much?"
"What were you wearing?"
"Why did you accept a drink from a man you don't know?"
"Why did you leave your drink unattended?"
Soon they'll be asking...
"Why did you exist as a woman in a club?"
Soon after the backlash, Dimplez apologised to the public and had the artwork (if we can even call it that) removed from all the song's listings.
Channel24 included the apology in a report yesterday, where the Amantombazane DJ tweeted how he never intended to promote "senseless rape culture."
DJ Dimplez' apology has since been well received and the immediate removal of the offending cover art seems to indicate a modicum of sincerity. Thank you for taking responsibility, DJ Dimplez.
However, a large percentage of his male fans were still not willing to empathise with the initial outrage over the poster.
If you read the thread below the apology, you'll stumble upon young men who still maintain that there was "nothing wrong" with the poster, a man "should help a drunk lady home", "rape never crossed my mind when I saw that poster" or "but these women drink more than men nowadays."
All very vile. All so ignorant.
Such responses beg the questions; do South African men genuinely not understand what rape culture is? Or are they just not willing to understand it for fear of finding that they check a few boxes?
So maybe we need to unpack what rape culture is for the millionth time for those at the back who didn't hear.
Rape culture explained
1. permission for something to happen or agreement to do something.
1. (chiefly with reference to people) sexual activity, including specifically sexual intercourse.
The first thing you see when you google the word 'rape' is the following...
Rape is a word for sexual assault. This is one of the worst crimes there is. Rape can also mean to plunder or strip something of resources. There are few words more powerful than rape, which is a horrifying crime. To rape someone is to force them to have sex with you.
Take note: "This is one of the worst crimes there is."
Now consider this a simple maths equation, where you can never solve for (se)x without consent as an accompanying variable in your equation. If you try solve (se)x without consent, the answer you yield is rape and that's never going to be correct in any context.
You also need to remember that in maths, variables may change, so consent as a variable means that it can be withdrawn at any point during or before the act.
So if someone had agreed that they would go home with you while they were sipping on their first drink, you simply cannot assume that after five drinks and two jager bombs that they are able to consent to any sexual activity after that.
No, John, you are not a 'good samaritan' for slumping her over your shoulder and taking her to your car to "pass out."
If someone cannot say no then they cannot say yes, either. And this rule applies across all genders.
Moreover, rape culture also happens outside of social settings too, as it is a daily occurrence.
Victim-blaming is part of it, it's saying rape accusations can damage a man's career as a means of discouraging women who want to report rape, it's telling your sister she can't leave the house in those shorts, it's daily street harassment, it's telling at least three people before going on date as a safety measure, and it's creating hashtags for convicted sexual offenders to be freed.
Everyday Feminism has several more examples in a 2014 column where they analysed this unfortunate global phenomenon, which they aptly described as something which "permeates our society at individual, one-on-one levels, as well as in institutionalised, structured ways."
See, this is not just a buzz word created by feminists to find yet another thing wrong with men. Rape culture is a lived experience and rape stats in our country should be enough to hush the naysayers who refuse to see it, but alas.
Thank you to the men who understand and are fighting with us in our corner but gents can you also now please educate your mates. Maybe they'll listen when it comes from you.