Tag Archives: men

Book Review: Rape – Pumla Dineo Gqola

Book Description

Why has South Africa been labelled the ‘world’s rape capital’? What don’t we as South Africans understand about rape? In Rape: A South African Nightmare, Pumla Dineo Gqola unpacks the complex relationship South Africa has with rape by paying attention to the patterns and trends of rape, asking what we can learn from famous cases and why South Africa is losing the battle against rape. This highly readable book leaps off the dusty book shelves of academia by asking penetrating questions and examining the shock belief syndrome that characterises public responses to rape, the female fear factory, boy rape, the rape of Black lesbians and violent masculinities. The book interrogates the high profile rape trials of Jacob Zuma, Bob Hewitt, Makhaya Ntini and Baby Tshepang as well as the feminist responses to the Anene Booysen case.

I thoroughly enjoyed the book and would happily recommend it to anyone. It is obvious not a light or easy read and so even the review will have to be organised the different themes that I picked up on. Please get the book and share it with your friends and loved one and most importantly, men.

What is Rape?

  • Rape is not a moment but a language (p. 22)
  • Rape is violence and not sex (29)
  • the believability of a rape survivor depends on how closely her rape resembles her society’s idea of what a rape looks like, who rapes, who can be raped, when and how. (29)
    • The story told by a woman needs a body of evidence. It is not an interest in the pain of the rape, but a burden of proof placed on the survivor or victim of rape. (29)

The Black Woman as a sexual and rapeable object

  • At the same time that the rape of slave women was routine within slavery, slavocratic society created the stereotype of African hyper sexuality which sought to both justify and authorise the institutionalised rape of slaves. The stereotypes held that slave women could not be raped since like all Africans they were excessively sexual and impossible to satiate.(43)
  • At the same time that slave women were being routinely raped as a means to multiply their masters slaves, slave men, especially when they were African slaves were cast as dangerously sexual, with a ravenous sexual appetite better suited to slave women but with a particular danger to white women. (43)
  • While the rape of slave women was profitable, it also threatened ideas of racial hierarchy and produced anxieties about race-mixing …  of the unspeakable sexual intercourse between white women and slave men … about the loss of control over the bodies of white women, as much as it was about the idea of white women becoming impure. (45)
  • Until the abolishment of the death penalty, no white man has been hanged for rape, whereas the only Black men who were hung for rape had been convicted of raping white women; no white man or Black man had been convicted and sentenced to death for raping a Black woman. (52)

Black Men

  • The image of poor, young Black men as the figure of the rapist is not the reality SA women live under. (11)
  • We need to confront violent masculinities. We need to confront and reject violent men and the patriarchal men and women who enable them. (67)
    • “Your silence will not protect you.” Audre Lorde (67)
    • “All our silence is … complicity.” bell hooks (67)
  • If we accept that it is time to render all forms of gendered violence genuinely illegitimate in all spaces we occupy, then it follows that to do so we need to stop making excuses, that we take up the challenge to constantly debunk rape myths wherever we encounter them because all gender-based violence is brutality, a form of gender war against survivors’ bodies and psyches. (143)

Patriarchy

  • Rape has survived as long as it has because it works to keep patriarchy intact. It communicates clearly who matters and who is disposable. Those who matter are not afraid of being raped because they have not been taught to fear sexual assault. (21)
  • Patriarchy trains us all to be receptive to the conditions that produce- and reproduce- female fear, especially when it is not our own bodies on the assembly line. (80)
  • All men, no matter what race, class or religion have patriarchal power and can choose to brutalise and get away with it. (151)

Female Fear

  • Tired, hungry, distracted women are easier to control. (40)
  • The republic of SA has the contradictory situation where women are legislatively empowered, and yet we do not feel safe in our streets or homes. (65)
  • The manufacture of female fear uses the threat of rape and other bodily wounding but sometimes mythologises this violence as benefit. (79)
  • The threat of rape is an effective way to remind women that they are not safe and their bodies are not entirely theirs. It is an exercise in power that communicates that the man creating fear has power over the woman who is the target of his attention: it also teaches women who witness it their vulnerability either through reminding them of their own previous fears or showing them that it could happen to them next. (79)
  • The manufacture of female fear requires several aspects to work:
    • the safety of the aggressor,
    • the vulnerability of the target,
    • the successful communication by the aggressor that he has the power to wound, rape and/or kill the target with no consequences to himself. (80)
  • Women are socialised to look away from the female fear factory – to pretend it is not happening and to flee when ignoring it becomes impossible. (80)
  • Excuses make violence against women possible – they are part of the complicated network that says women are not human so our pain is generalised, unimportant, so we give violent men permission to keep all those they deem vulnerable such as women, men, and gender non-conforming people or children. (151)
  • South Africa has a greater problem with the existence of the […] rape survivor and victim that trouble by pointing to her/his/their own pain in South African public culture. The rapist is welcome to live and boast and be celebrated or lambasted for his hypermasculinity, even as he continues to flourish financially. (165)

This book helped me to understand the sexual objectification of African women and how we are often viewed as desirable and rapeable things by White and African men at large. Specifically for the White men, that attraction that often precedes that revulsion for deigning to be attracted to this lesser thing. Also, I could see how the morality laws are mainly to tame African men’s (sexual) appetites from being unleashed fully on (tired, hungry and distracted: read as helpless) White women. So on the one hand, it is perfectly fine to protect White women while on the other, prey on African women and continue to rape them and then blame them for it afterwards.

I also have a response to the cry “Not all men … ” if, and indeed it is the case, all men do not rape why do other men not call out these known rapists? Why don’t societies evaluate their ideas of a man and get their sons to grow up in a way that does not require them to diminish or brutalise women in order to feel fulfilled and accomplished. Being a man does not involve violence, rape or other attacks on women.

When I read the chapter of the female fear factory, I finally had to confront my own habits to counter this fear of being raped: smile at a group of men when they greet me even if I do not want to greet them; do not enter a loo if it is in a deserted part of the mall and there is a man outside; wear clothes that do not show my form if I will be going to certain crowded places; don’t walk in certain places after dark and the list goes on …

In closing this poem fully captures some of what this book tries to address: if he raped you, why didn’t you change/ who can be raped and how do they need to act afterwards? Also, this little paragraph about why the image of an independent black woman is a relic of racism.

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Sunday Reads

  1. These tips on how to give a good toast should be mandatory read. The number of wedding toasts I have heard and cringed.
  2. Free versus structured play. I am all for free play.
  3. Interesting study on why women share photos of their kids on social media.
  4. Apparently more people are using video to inform family and friends alike that they are having a baba! (NYT article).
  5. 10 ways to reduce your wedding budget.
  6. Yes kids get sick at daycare, but they also get sick less often later. This study proves and my mom always said. (NYT article)
  7. Such a sad story but so beautifully and heart-warmingly portrayed.
  8. So much cuteness in these pictures.
  9. On the messaging that we s(sub) consciously send to our daughters.
  10. Spicy carrot cumin and coconut soup.

Men have been denied so many safe spaces where they can be men and vulnerable
Guys like us, it turns out, are hungry for a place to talk with other men, particularly about how fatherhood is changing us, and changing writ large. Just as literature has long helped people see that our seemingly personal struggles are universal, being able to talk in this group offers a similar revelation. In an age of near-constant superficial virtual connection, there’s an enormous benefit in having a real life community to confide in more deeply and provide a genuine social network — especially for men and young fathers so often without it.

(Please also read the comments)

 

Sunday Reads (the how-to version)

  1. I love this beautiful Joburg home – the art and the styling. Yum!
  2. How do you stop dirty money flows?
  3. How do you invest your windfall?
  4. An experts summary of how to reduce sugar in your baking.
  5. For anyone that needs tips on conception.
  6. So many ethical issues regarding this Surrogate mother’s tale.
  7. As the gap in education access and attainment continues to broaden, this is the reality for some kids.
  8. How to crotchet a chunky knit blanket.
  9. For all of us that need to learn to say no graciously.
  10. How do you get health officials not to steal donor funds? You send an enforcer and you put in repercussions.
  11. On the unpaid work that women often do.
  12. Watch 100 Years of Black Men hairstyles in one minute.
  13. On Cancer and other health scans and the depths that people will sink to.
  14. A project that shows how fickle international borders really are.

 

If I had children, I would make them listen to this repeatedly

what a weekend!

Friday after my rather difficult French Class a classmate and I decided to venture to the FCC Gardens and see the finals of this nationwide Afro-Fusion shindig . I met my high school History teacher and well, time heals all bile coz we hugged and talked about what we have been up to in the last couple of years. The concert was running late and I just realized that the crowd was totally different from what I am used to at the largely Christian Concerts I attend – the crowd was drank,booing and jeering and it took everything in me not to roll my eyes. Other than the fact that it was different, I must say I did enjoy myself greatly and I was glad to have cleared my evening plans to attend.

Saturday was the Bridal shower. I was on my feet since 10 a.m. trying to organize people and things and it just wasn’t working out. I had hoped to get their early and help out with the cooking and setting up but by the time we all got there,it was already underway. We went to buy her lingerie at this shop and the attendant was being a right old douche giving us lip and attitude at each turn and as we were paying, I calmly told her that her behaviour and conduct was unacceptable to paying customers ati she was saying we had taken too long to make a decision and we were wasting her time!!!! The cheek of her! But I don’t think she will be doing that anytime soon- so the shower?

We were about thirty girls who know her from the various areas of her life. I wondered how many people would come for my “surprise” shower but anyhoo, that’s neither here nor there. The talk was being given by these four Pastor Wives and I was hoping that they would be REAL with us. I just hate how women never tell each other the truth about marriage and child birth. They make it out to be one big holiday even when they are hating every minute of it and then these were Pastors wives! It was quite honest and informative though at the end of it I had decided NEVER to go for another shower again and that I know I am definitely NOT ready for marriage like anytime soon. It felt like too much and then I just wondered, dudes don’t have a Shower where they are told what is expected of them and how they need to do this or not do the other and that’s what saddened me coz the undertone was we make all the adjustments and they just ride the wave. As a Christian I have no qualms with Ephesians. 5:22 where wives ought to submit what I do wonder though, is why do we also forget Christ’s exhortation to the men? to love his wife as Christ loved the Church and gave His life for her? convenient,eh? I got home quite exhausted and promptly fell into bed.

I went to Church yesterday and came home to watch Season Three of Grey’s Anatomy. Good times I tell you. I also watched the Eviction Show of BBA2 and I was so glad that Maureen left. The girl was slowly loosing it in the house and if her interview with KB is anything to go by, chick is gone beyond help. I did like Jose Chameleone’s performance though he totally brought down the house.