Archive for the ‘Feminism’ Category
Dear fellow feminist,
Thank you so much for contacting me! I always appreciate it when a woman reaches out to me, and especially when they’re of the feminist persuasion.
It’s difficult to know where to start, so perhaps we can start with a Wikipedia article on feminism. It’ll give you a whole bunch of names to google. These names contributed towards the feminism that’s both loved, and reviled. The feminism that finally taught South African legislators, back in 1993, that rape can occur in the marital bed.
The feminism that women fought for by striking, starving themselves, and by enduring torture.
I’ll try to explain how I see feminism throughout this post, and what things I wish were in the malestream (not a typo, btw!).
For me, the one very most important bit to remember is that feminism isn’t a popularity contest. It’s also not about men. Nor is it a movement that aims to solve the world’s problems. We’re not your superfeminists, nor are we into equality for equality’s sake. And it’s a pity we sometimes forget it’s a movement for women, by women, to, as bell hooks says, end women’s oppression (pdf). We need a feminist public service announcement every now and again.
The other very tremendously important bit to know is that feminism has many flavours. There’s ecofeminism, anarcha-feminism, socialist feminism, libertarian feminism, funfeminism. Some of them have an analysis of how women came to be The Second Sex; some do not.
I consider myself a radical feminism because I stand in solidarity with the radicals who say our oppression comes from men as a class who oppress women as a class. My feminism looks at how the patriarchy influences our lives, in the subtle, and not so subtle, ways.
And my feminism will overanalyse everything, or it will be bullshit! If the following were a Facebook comment, I’d quote it and, underneath it, write “THIS!!!!^^^”
– Megan Murphy
I tried writing a something about the sexual offences act a while back. And I see the very same problem throughout the rest of our Western(ised) society: the cult of the individual. It’s every-fucking-where. Even in feminism. Especially in feminism.
People’s reluctance to criticise the personal, is problematic. And it’s sad that we’ve forgotten the very existence of the most famous feminist slogan — ”the personal is political”. People say being a SAHM isn’t problematic for the sisterhood. Funny, that. Is it OK that women do something, every day, for at least 20 years, with no pay? With no unemployment benefits? With no healthcare benefits? And with no retirement fund?
The other problem in liberalism is the insistence on autonomy and choice. ”My body, my choice” is one such flavour. Yes, I get it that abortion is a hard-won right, but we need to erase the need to have abortion. We need to make it superfluous. We also need to stop pr0n and prostitution, aka pay-per-rape.
“The language of choice has come to dominate discussion of women’s rights so much that it is in danger of losing its purpose. I find the language of choice around abortion patronising. I don’t want laws that protect my right to have absolute freedom to do whatever I choose with my body. I want autonomy.”
– Bonnie Johnson
And we need to realise that all our actions have repurcussions, even abortion, especially abortion. And perhaps, just perhaps, our 2nd-wave foresisters were correct about abortion –some said it’s a women-hating practise.
“I don’t think that either contraception or abortion is the ‘solution’ to women’s reproductive rights even though I fully support women’s right to access free, safe and legal contraception and abortion.”
– Gorgon Poisons
I want to touch on something else very briefly: Mary Daly urges us that we need to be ”naming the agent”.
“Naming the agent is required for an adequate analysis of atrocities.”
– Mary Daly in Quintessence
The term patriarchy is in danger of becoming an obscure term. All it really means is ”the rule of the father”. And yet we’re reluctant to use it. We’re so reluctant to use it, that we invented a new word to take its place, thanks to, I think, postmodernist writers. The new word is ”kyriarchy”, which obscures the agent, ie men.
”Domestic violence” is another term we need to GTFO of our feminism; we need to talk about ”MALE violence against women”. bell hooks does a fine job of talking about the ”white supremacist capitalist patriarchy”. I, myself, have used it a couple of times and it makes me feel kriewelrig (1) when I use it! I’m guessing it’s because it takes a while to acclimatise to ”naming the agent”.
This is where I’ll stop for now. The next post will be about penis-in-vagina sex, among others. It’ll talk about femininity, and why it harms women. And I’ll try to touch a bit on how systems of oppression work.
There is sexism in language, it does enhance the position of males, and males have had control over the production of cultural forms. (Spender 1985: 144)
Sexist writing takes one of a few forms: you could assume that all your readers are men or you could use gender essentialist views of women and men.
Why does this matter? Surely, women have made many advances in the last 100 years? And surely, no-one means to subjugate women by something as simple as language?
My answers: it matters because women are human beings. Women and men should receive the same social, political and economical treatment. Yes, women have made many advances over the last century or so. But that does not mean that the process is finished: we still need to eliminate much man-centric language and thought processes. The former will only happen once the latter – modifying our thought processes – becomes the norm. And changing our thought processes is dependent on changing our language; the one cannot happen without the other.
And yes, most people do use [sexist] language innocently but that is a poor excuse for using sexist language.
I recently started reading Die Burger again and was offended at the subtle jabs at women in this Afrikaans daily: journalists write of companies, the SA government and processes as ‘he’, ‘his’, and ‘him’.
I had a look at my copy of the Afrikaanse Spelreëls but I couln’t find any rule that promotes the use of the male pronoun when writing of inanimate objects. And even if there exists a rule such as that, surely Afrikaans – and, by extension, Afrikaans editors – should change the ‘convention’ to something more fitting the 20th century? Surely we should lobby the Afrikaans media to change their writing style to include, and not exclude, women.
One of the excuses apologists offer for using sexist language is that it’s a reflection of today’s society. And that’s where they leave it; they’d rather not try to change the language – that’d be too drastic and would give to much power to the ‘PC brigade’.
I wrote Henry Jeffreys, Die Burger’s editor, a few emails – first email on 17 August – and only received a response from Hendrik Coetzee, Die Burger’s ombudsperson, on 2 September. He offered one reason why they support the male hegemony: it has been thusly decreed by the compilers of Afrikaanse Woordelys en Spelreëls and Sakboek van Regte Afrikaans.
Here’s the problem I have with that argument: it’s lazy and does nothing to change the status quo; instead, it approves of, and justifies women’s oppression. Another excuse Hendrik offered was that other languages — English, French, Dutch — use sexist ‘conventions’; therefore, it’s OK that Afrikaans follows their example.
I wrote an email to Die Suid-Afrikaanse Akademie vir Wetenskap en Kuns and received – instantly! – an email from Professor van der Elst: he’s referring this issue to Professor Kotze, the head of their language commission. Professor Kotze doesn’t agree: he reckons that this has nothing to do with sexism; it’s part of the language conventions.
Professor Kotze from Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University answered one of my many questions about the gendering of pronouns. I wasn’t satisfied with his answer and tried to prod a bit more. And then he wrote an incredibly patronising email to me – and to me alone; he had not CC the other respondents in on this last mail – with the hopes that I’ll have a wonderful life: “Sterkte met u lewe vorentoe.” It is OK for him to disparage me; however, it is not OK for me to be offended at his actions.
I’ll try to contact a few Afrikaans and Women’s Studies professors to see what they think.
I don’t know whether they’ll agree with me that this is sexist; many women are indoctrinated by society — they don’t see sexism. And they are some of the key people we need to speak out and voice their disapproval — if they do disapprove after they had given the issue deep thought. Your organisation or company needs an anal grammarian to obsess over everything you send out – to internal as well as external clients. But this person needs to be progressive, or at least aware of all the -isms out there.
So many of us wordophiles — my word — obsess over whether to use may or might; few of us obsess over non-ableist language. A few of us claim to watch our sexism but how many have a definitive stance on which term is more appropriate — gypsie or Roma? How many are there who still use ‘men’ and ‘guys’ as generics?
I’m not sure what to do next. The gatekeepers have spoken and I feel powerless. I feel powerless because of my inability to have a conversation with them without getting told off for my tone. I feel powerless because of the lazy arguments they use to justify the language rules. And I feel powerless because far too often I have to hear how I should rather fuss over more ‘worthy’ things. What those things are I don’t know.
Um, yeah, I’m not lying.
It’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month yet again and everything’s awash with pink. Eew. Listen, I heart pink but too much of a pink thing is not as awesome as it may appear at first.
I’ve been seeing these pictures all over the place for months. And I’ve been fuming. But I never did anything about it. Until today. Today I’ve reached my tipping point — I saw the ad in two different women’s magazines: Fairlady and Marie Claire. So I wrote to Innoxa. They have a contact form on their website; however, you can also write to them at firstname.lastname@example.org as well as P.O. Box 71535, Bryanston, 2021 or, if you’re in the area, go say ‘Hi’ — 3 Muswell Road South Bryanston. This is what I sent to them:
I’m offended by your ‘You’ll want to show it off campaign’. You’re reducing women’s breasts to something that they should expose — literally! — to others. And the ‘others’ are probably cis men, though I could be wrong. I don’t know who came up with this campaign but it’s a slap in the face of any woman who has had, or who is struggling with breast cancer right now. I saw the ad in Marie Claire as well as in Fairlady and you advertised your wares with the obligatory pink ribbon for Breast cancer awareness month. Even when you don’t tie the product in with breast cancer awareness, it is still just another ad that relies on breasts.
Please reconsider using this campaign.
I should’ve added something like this:
They try to justify their campaign in the press release. I don’t buy it. So what if a female creative team created this ad? That doesn’t make it less offensive. Their justification for using breasts falls flat on its face, too:
Just as you show a beautiful face when selling face cream – we felt it necessary to show off the part of the body that our product targets.
So would it be OK to show genitalia in ads that promote the specific products associated with them? Why is it OK to show breasts in advertising? Are we not already inundated with too much nudity? Especially in ‘art’. Walk into any exhibition and you’ll probably see a naked woman. Because women’s bodies are beautiful. Funny, that. I find men’s bodies as beautiful but you rarely see a naked man in advertising.
Sex doesn’t sell; women’s naked bodies do.
I only realised I had curly hair when I was 10 years old. Really. I remember being envious of my cousin’s curls. I remember being envied because I had a gladde draad hare. I even remember asking one of the older girls at my primary school how I can get curls like hers.
So imagine my shock after I had had my hair cut. Suddenly my hair had volume. Suddenly my hair minces when it’s humid. Suddenly my hair is like theirs.
Yes, I know I’m not alone in this. I know there are many other WOC who wish they could have straight hair.
But I’ve had some strange happenings with my curly hair. I once walked into a Kloof Street hairsalon to find out whether I could be one of their hair models. This was years ago. Probably in 2002. One of their stylists had recommended I try something new — a different colour or a new style, or something — for free.
So I nearly cried when the lady — dunno whether she was a stylist or whether she was the hair salon owner – told me “Sorry, we don’t use people who have ethnic hair.” She hadn’t even touched my hair; she just assumed my hair is too coarse. And that none of the stylists will know what to do with my ‘ethnic’ hair.
So, yes, I was confused for a long time. I used to date a guy who wanted to believe I’m not coloured. I saw it as a compliment, by the way, back then. So he kept dissing my hair. And he kept telling me I should blow dry it so that I can look ‘white’.
Walk into any hair salon in a coloured neighbourhood and very rarely does someone walk out with curls. The women who do are mostly older; the young women prefer straight hair. You’ll find many women walk out with pin straight hair that had been relaxed or GDH’d to death. Oh yes. Ask one of the hairdressers for advice on curly hair and you’ll probably be greeted with silence. Or a frown. And a “you gotta suffer for beauty, luvvie.” Most of them just don’t know. Curly hair is not in fashion.
So what followed was 5 or so years of blow drying my hair straight. It isn’t painful nor does it take long — 15 to 20 minutes max — but eeep, why did I do it to myself?
These days I spend perhaps 5 minutes on my hair in the morning. I am no longer afraid of going to the beach. I like rainy days. And I’m saving money because I’m not buying all those haircare products that the media wants me to buy: I wash my hair with conditioner once every three days. And that’s that.
These days I see [more than] a few of my fellow WOC in Cape Town are embracing the natural look. I nearly always want to walk or run up to one of them and congratulate her on making such a good decision. And then I check myself. So I don’t. But I spoke to a WOC in Woolworths V&A — hi, Janine — recently about her hair. She was lucky: her parents had brought her up with an appreciation for her own hair.
But the women whom I see rocking natural curls appear to be mostly from higher socio-economic classes. Or perhaps I’m just not getting out enough to see WOC from lower income groups with natural tresses.
We do not fit into the mould of womanly beauty that the media have created for us. We aren’t white, most of us aren’t skinny, and we wear our hair in its natural state. And that doesn’t always mean ‘curly’ — some have afros.
My closest friends have all struggled with their hair. Their mothers, grandmothers, friends and even colleagues have all tried to box them: “You need to relax your hair”; “Pretty girls have straight hair”; “G-d won’t allow women with unrelaxed hair into heaven”. Do you also notice how they never castigate men for wearing their hair natural?
I asked my mom why she had always gotten someone to blowdry my hair. She told me it’s because I have ‘goeie hare‘, ie, good hair. And once or twice she complained that my hair no longer looks pretty. I think she used the word ‘takhare‘, which is a massive insult to an insecure young girl, but not as stinging to a confident woman.
And then there’s something that really breaks my heart: the women who rave about my hair but complain that their hair can never be like that. They think their hair has no natural curl. They have been brainwashed into believing their hair is straight. Wake up, please. Your hair is damaged from blow drying, relaxing and those damn GHDs you use.
So yeah, it’s easy for me to preach the gospel of Natural Hair — I can have the best of both worlds: I can blowdry it and it’ll be sleek and shiny and tomorrow I can let it dry naturally and it’ll be bouncy. And yeah, it can be kinky, too. But just imagine not spending the entire Saturday at the salon. Just imagine dragging yourself out of bed and not having to spend two hours on your hair before going to work. Just imagine not being upset that your office staff party is at the beach. And just imagine how much freer you’ll be, how much money you’ll save, and how many more shoes you can buy with the money you used to spend on your hair.
So no, you don’t need to go natural tomorrow. But try it out sometime.
Here are a few resources and natural hair communities:
Men aren’t the only ones involved in the patriarchy; women, too, are involved. Women need to be involved in patriarchy, otherwise the power structure will collapse.
The system needs women to demean other women for being ‘slutty’, ‘easy’, or a ‘bitch’. The system needs women to believe they are ‘less than’ men on so many levels. The system needs women to demand they be given sole custodianship of their children after a divorce. The system needs women to demand they be given half their spouse’s assets after a divorce. The system needs women to demand goods in exchange for sex. The system needs women to pretend it doesn’t exist. The system needs women to objectify themselves to ‘boost the team’s morale’, or for ‘good times’.The system needs women to claim that sexist, racist, ableist, or classist jokes do not offend them. The system needs women to be very, very afraid of those humourless feminists with their massive vaginas and unshaven pussies. The system needs women to be afraid of being called a ‘lesbo’ or ‘dyke’. The system needs women to be obsessed with make-up, hair care, shiny objects, and above all, shoes. The system needs women to believe they’re incomplete without children. The system needs women to believe that all they need – all they really want! – is a nice juicy cock.
The system needs women to revere femininity. The system needs women to appreciate, and seek out, masculinity in a man. The system needs women to be highly sexualised playthings of men, whether they be young or old, rich or poor. The system needs women to believe that rape is their fucking fault for being so fucking sexy, bitch! The system needs women to believe that sexual harassment is a compliment. The system needs women to believe they’re so much better than those disgusting menz or that they’re dirty, dirty, dirty. The system needs women to accept glittery jewellery after an argument with their spouse. The system needs women to believe they deserve an abusive spouse. The system needs women to blame themselves for failing. The system needs women to think of themselves as individuals only sometimes; nearly always as part of a homogenous group. The system needs women to believe. The system needs women to believe in its god, God or gods of choice. The system needs women to believe that they are the Second Sex. The system needs women to believe that they are mysterious creatures. The system needs women to believe that they are fragile and in need of looking after. The system needs non-black women to believe that black men are brutes and white men are their saviours. The system needs women to believe that they can’t travel alone. The system needs women to believe that housework is part of a woman’s job description. The system needs women to indulge men. The system needs women to excuse men’s bad behaviour with boys will be boys and oy, the menz are a st00pid bunch, eh?
The system needs women to be happy wearing bikinis, high heels, and make-up. The system needs women to be content with unstimulating careers. The system needs women to enjoy being passive, coy and ‘nice’. The system needs women to dislike sex and to be asexual. The system needs women to be a whore in bed, a lady in the street and a chef in the kitchen . The system needs women to aspire to one day be a MILF or a cougar. The system needs women to downplay their intelligence. The system needs women to submit to their husband, their father land and to their God. The system needs women to breed strong babies who can die while performing nationalism and democracy in Iraq. The system needs women to sacrifice their goals, feelings, ambitions, time, love, bodies, and self-esteem in order that the system can survive. The system needs women to rely on men for money, love, shelter, food, children, approval, jobs, dignity, intimacy, entertainment, education, health, and to fight their battles for them. The system needs women as a scapegoat. The system needs women to berate men for not performing chivalry. The system needs women to be good little consumers. The system needs women to stay at home, barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen. The system needs women to diet. The system needs women to read fluffy magazines that teach them nothing about nothing. The system needs women to shut the fuck up, ho!
The system needs women to apologise for having ideas, for having feelings, for having period cramps, for being a woman, for not being a man, for being short, for being fat, for being too intelligent, for beating a guy at chess, for wanting link juice for her blog, for wanting a relationship, for only wanting SEX, for complaining at all, for killing their children, for holding their own in a debate, for living in their own flat, for not wearing high heels, for wearing ‘hooker heels’, for reading illicit romances, for reading feminist tracts, for eating too much,for eating too little, for being sad, for being bi-polar, for being sluts, for being nuns, for outperforming men in the workplace, for being the cause of the downfall of the menz in general, for not being on the internet, for not fucking potential rapists/serial killers and therefore sending tipping over the edge, ie, they go on a shooting/raping fest, for being all over the internet, for scouting for misogyny, for not caring enough, for being a humourless-man-hating-Birkenstock-wearing-Gloria Steinem-reading-kinky haired-fat-black lesbian, for being poor, for being wealthy, for living in the Southern Hemisphere, for drinking wine on Sundays, for being unfeminine, for having an unattractive body, for believing in the wrong god/God, for not believing in any god/God, for having abortions, for having 8 babies all at once, for having curly hair, for having kroes hair, for having flat feet, for having thick ankles, for having cellulite, for having stretch marks, for having the audacity to demand change, for having the gall to refuse a white man a seat, for being a bad mother, for not being there when she was supposed to be there because her child had the nerve to fall ill yet again!, for spending too much on that ill-begotten credit card that she only took out because the nice man said she deserves to spoil herself every now and again, for dreaming about a comfortable life once in a while, for daring to think she deserves an education, for being cheeky enough to tell the teacher their calculations are wrong,”here’s my calculation”, for being herself, for not being good enough.
The system needs women to believe they don’t belong on the internet. The system needs women, women like you and me, to not do anything about other women’s oppression. The system needs women to believe they shouldn’t worry their pretty little heads about politics, economics, power disparities, gender equality, big companies creating havoc, corruption, or the darn lawnmower that’s being difficult. The system needs women to support their man in more feminine fashion, ie, fundraising when he’s running for office; prancing around in high heels to boost his flagging libido; bake cookies for the children so that he can watch television in peace after a long day’s struggle at the office; and to not ever refuse him sex. The system needs women to hate their curly hair. The system needs women to hate their straight hair. The system needs women to hate their kinky hair. The system needs women to want bigger breasts. The system needs women to want smaller breasts. The system needs women to want designer vaginas. The system needs women to believe that feminism in this day and age is pathetic.
After nearly a year of reading progressive blogs, I am finally starting to speak of myself as a woman. Not a lady: that implies that I need to act in a certain way. Or it implies that I am someone’s possession. And no, I am not a female. Use female when you’re either talking about lower animals or when you’re involved in a scientific environment.
I am a woman. And I am trying to call other women that, too. But after years of being involved in the patriarchy, it’s difficult. It might be that I hadn’t been doing this for that long. It might also be that the word ‘woman’ sounds far more serious than ‘girl’ or ‘lady’. Or it might just be that every new habit takes a bit of time to ingrain itself into our conscious.
I do still tend to correct people – those who call a woman a girl – to say ‘lady’ instead. ‘Lady’ has a more ‘pleasant’ sound; it is not as ‘fierce’ and ‘threatening’ as ‘woman’.
But why am I doing this? Surely there are more important things to worry about? You know the drill: FMG, blatant sexism, children starving in Somalia…
It matters because using the word ‘girl’ to refer to an adult patronises and trivializes her. The usage of ‘girl’ infantalises women, ie, we never think of them as competent adults who could run for office or demand change in the work place. Such a woman will forever think of herself as less than the men around her. And the men, too, will see her as a play thing, an amusement; they have no reason to take her seriously. Which means they might not vote for her should she decide to run for office. They’ll call her other names, too. And they might even create a group on Facebook called ‘Hillary Clinton: Stop running for president and make me a sandwich.’ Or they’ll just call her a ‘racist little girl‘.
Why is it that so many women in my generation – 25- to 35-year-olds – have a problem with the word ‘woman’? Does it sound like something you’d call your mother or grandmother? And do you also call men ‘boys’ instead of ‘men’? Jezebel asks a great question in their article: When does a girl become a woman? Could it be that women, on average, are getting married at a later age than they had before? Do we equate believe that ‘woman’ should be paired with ‘married’?
And what about the menz? Why do they insist on calling us ‘girls’, as though we’re all still 14-year-old with crushes on that cute guy from Science class? Perhaps for the same reason that I mentioned above — ‘girl’ doesn’t sound threatening. By calling someone a girl, you’re reducing her worth and putting her several levels below your own.
We need a female version for ‘guys’. Guys is an awesome word that can apply to all penised creatures. ‘Gals’ just sounds horrible, but that’s just me. There are many women who don’t mind calling themselves and others ‘gals’. Ooo, and let’s not forget about Grrrl.
I’m in good company with Second Wave feminists, it seems — they, too, eschewed calling other women ‘girl’. Third Wave feminists, however, seem to be reclaiming the word. And others, too: ‘bitch’ and ‘cunt’. But I am not a Third Wave feminist; I am just a feminist. And identifying as a Third Waver does not mean that one should accept all the ‘tenets’.
Feel free to call me a girl; just make sure that you use the corresponding label for men – boys.
I will, of course, continue to call women just that – women. The more often I do it, the easier it will become. And hopefully I will have a few converts along the way.
On 5 April I posted
Shalil responded that yes, anger does help to get things done. Let’s name a few angry people: Martin Luther King (both of ‘em), Malcolm X, Rosa Parks, Germaine Greer, Nelson Mandela., Mary Shelley Wollstonecraft, Harriet Beecher Stowe.
I doubt that all [WOC] activists are social butterflies. These women are often three things that the patriarchy detests: young, female, and black. They aren’t afraid to speak up about the issues that affect their communities and this is something that most members of the patriarchy just isn’t used to.
We’re used to women being docile, servile and quiet. And WOC especially so. So when they aren’t as castrated as we would prefer them to be, we get scared. We’re scared that these WOC will overthrow everything we had worked for. We’re scared to confront the possibility that we might be racist, sexist and homophobic.
And we aren’t, are we? We are good people. We look after our spouses’ parents . We pay our taxes and we attend church services. So no, we are neither racist nor sexist.
We’re also afraid that WOC will attack us. We imagine their anger is directed at us and our shortcomings, not at the patriarchy and its shortcomings. We’re afraid of offending; many things offend POC and we’re afraid others will think we’re ignorant.
And yet we do not realise that WOC are not angry at individuals; WOC are angry at the system that allows the privileged few to control the majority. So speak your mind and when we call bullshit, know that we are not saying “Fuck you”; we are saying “Fuck the system”.
Andre’s twitter status gave me a jolt early yesterday morning:
Gob-smacked at the lack of feminist reaction to the Women, Children and Disabled ministry. Where’re all the strong, vocal women that I know?
I replied that I have no idea what he’s referring to and asked for clarification, which he gave later during the day. So it seems that there are two new ministries: Economic development and Women, Youth, Children and People with Disability.Noluthando Mayende-Sibiya will head the latter department.
There is no outrage as yet. Few journalists have penned an opinion piece about this new ministry; I could only find one or two news articles. One major caveat, though: I only read online news. Andre wrote an entry about it on his Tumblr blog: OK, I’ll ask. And that’s all I can find on Google; the rest of the writing on the new ministry are press release fodder.
I concur with Andre: women do not need saving. We are not fragile creatures. And I’d wager that many people with disabilities feel the same — they also do not need saving. It feels as though the ANC is morphing into the NP with their God, Volk, Vaderland. Scary, no?
I’m concerned about the minister’s nursing qualifications and trade unionist background. Are such qualifications enough to be a Minister in our new parliament? I would’ve expected her to have a degree in Sociology, Gender Studies or some other related field.
It seems this ministry will only work towards equality for women, children and people with disabilities.
I do not like the ministry’s name nor do I like what it exemplifies. I’d prefer an inclusive name. Something that promotes equality for everyone, whether they are white men or black transgender people.
Yes, there does exist horrific sexism in South Africa. Yes, our youth need guidance. Yes, we could make life easier for people with disabilities. But many, many, many other groups are marginalised. And many, many, many individuals from differing groups need support. So how will such a patriarchal ministry help those people?
Some may now tell me that Denmark, Australia and New Zealand all have ministries that are similar to our newly created ministry. But that’s an appeal to popularity fallacy. Just because a few developed countries — and developing countries such as Kenya, Lesotho, Palestine and Afghanistan — have such ministries does not mean that we should follow their lead.
Is there anyone who thinks this ministry can be a benefit? I’d be grateful to hear learned opinions.
Update: Today’s The Times has an article and Colleen Lowe Morna’s audio clip response to the new ministry.
To be part of the gang may mean you have to endure — or participate in — sexist, vulgar language. You’ll find this everywhere: at the office, at the mall, online and even at home. The users aren’t always heterosexual males; women also use such language. People use this language to attack those people or ideas that they disagree with, and to attack those who scare them. I do not agree with such usage; in most cases it is used as a STFU tactic.
Why are women called bitches? Think about it. Successful women seem scary [to many]. Add self-confidence, good looks and self-reliance to that and you have the typical recipient of the Bitch label.
The problem is not that this language demeans women; the problem is that the user doesn’t realise this language use is offensive. Our culture has deemed it OK to call someone a douche bag but few know such things do exist and few know that there are women who use these devices. It’s become OK to use female and even male genitalia terms to describe unsavoury characters. How many times have you told someone to be a man and not be such a girl? What’s wrong with being a girl? And let’s not get into gender essentialism right now, please.
Do not tell me that you used the word faggot to mean a cigarette. What is wrong with insanity that people think it’s OK to call whoever does not agree with them crazy, insane or deluded?
An even bigger problem exists when we bring attention to the vulgar words. I’d hate my colleagues, friends, family members and acquaintances to think I’m a kill-joy. It’s difficult to know what to do when people make racist jokes or remarks. Yes, I’ll concede that these jokes may be funny. Sometimes. But they can’t ever be moral. And laughing at such jokes betray a great deal about us. Who decides who should make fun of whom? Is it not true that those with power [ are allowed to ]poke fun at those with little or no power? And as soon as those with no power protest against this treatment, they are branded as having no sense of humour.
Give me intelligent jokes any day. Let’s stop the offensive jokes.