On the 9th of August 1956 twenty thousand women walked to the union buildings in protest of the dompass law* that the apartheid government had decided to extend to women. 61 years later, female rapper Sho Madjozi called this the month of stupid questions, and nothing characterises the mundanity of having a “month dedicated to our mothers and sisters” quite like this statement.
I’ve tried to stay away from the angry black woman stereotype in this piece but I’m not sure I can. I think in fact I should be angry, infuriated even because the truth of patriarchy is that it weighs you down in a way that forces you to be angry.
When the month of stupid questions started my twitter feed was abuzz with men asking “what can we do to protect you”. This was very laughable, because for a man to protect you from the violence that is intrinsic within him he must stop existing. What is he protecting me from if not himself and his friends? Even the idea that I must be protected is somewhat laughable. Don’t protect me, just stop contributing to the spaces you’re in being unsafe for us.
The month of August dedicated to women in South Africa started off in 2017 by going viral much like the video of deputy minister of higher education Mduduzi Manana beating a woman at a night club. This was by the way not the first time he had been reported for battery and abuse. However, luckily there was proof which worked so far as him resigning for his job was useful. Jury is still out on whether he will move into the jail cell he deserves or continue to his job.
The ignominious women’s league of the ruling party stood behind producing a statement that said nothing more than minister Manana was not the worst (we know this as they supported and continue to support a rapist president), and thus should not face consequences until those worse than him, who they have supported, are brought to justice.
Then the minister of police, Fikile Mbulula, said that the youth culture should begin to condemn women who live the ‘party life’. This dull-witted comment he decided to make while addressing a police conference on gender based violence. I just have this to ask, if I was beaten and raped by a man in my house, would your inept police force be any quicker with regards to how they handled my case?
And if so, why is it that the country continues to have one of the highest femicide rates in the worl? In all honesty, we are not being killed at taboo or similar nightclubs, but by our partners and in our intimate relationships. Why is it only women must be condemned for living the party life? If we sit at home, how will your comrades squander the countries tax money on bottles of alcohol and VIP tables.
The highlight of this women’s month for me must have been when our president (accused of rape) with 9 lives once again evaded any real responsibility for his actions. Jacob Zuma continues to be president while another women’s month ushers in the sobering fact that Khwesi, the woman who accused him of rape, still does not have justice and is now dead.
Statistics South Africa released their most recent numbers that show that to be a woman and to be Black will most probably equate in living under the poverty line. This is not at all shocking as 23 years after democracy, Black people still remain economically disenfranchised. Hot take is that if you’re Black and a woman you’ll most likely sit at the bottom of the burning pot of South African inequality
There are so many other things I can write about, a rape crisis, a patriarchy crisis, the minister of communications tweeting that only ‘weak’ women stay in abusive relationships.
Nonetheless this month, this month meant to commemorate women has soured me out. So for next year, more useful conversations to be had do not include men’s hot takes on how to protect us, to be honest women’s month isn’t has never been for women but for men to feel as if they are restoring their humanity while at the same time never questioning how their sexism has made them so inhuman.
The important thing to do in this farce of a celebration we commemorate every August is for men to ask themselves how they can stop raping, killing and oppressing women, how they can start caring for all women, even those who are not their sisters and mothers, so that maybe we can exist and feel safe.
Photo: Essence Magazine
*From 1800 to 1994, slaves at the Cape were forced to carry passes. This made it easier for their owners and the local authorities to control their movements.
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