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)
- 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)
- 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)
- 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.
Posted in Heart matters
Tagged Being Black, books, Books reading, Feminism, feminists, Gqola, men, Pumla Dineo Gqola, rape, South Africa, women
- Women, language, rites of passage and the khanga.
- Cobalt mining and the lost lives in The DR Congo.
- Rhino poaching in South Africa.
- Attitudes to marriage in certain communities.
- Nairobi’s art and culture scene.
- Pssst! Africans also migrate within the continent.
- SERENA. WILLIAMS. SWOON!!!
A reporter asked Williams whether she should be considered one of the greatest female athletes of all time. Her perfect response: “I prefer the words ‘one of the greatest athletes of all time.’”
Posted in good, home, life, marriage, working
Tagged DR Congo, Kenya, marriage, migration, Nairobi, poaching, rhinos, Serena Williams, South Africa, women
Love her glasses
Love the pop of colour.
I love the lighting fixtures
Her make up is flawless!
Just the imagery of this ..
Posted in Heart matters, home, madness, working
Tagged alcohol, apps, Cape Town, eggplant, labour markets, productivity, recipes, relationships, salmon, sandwiches, women
- This article captures how a good policy intended for women can conversely benefit men.
- Tips to help one eat in moderation.
- Again this article on how African women’s bodies are fetishised and no one really cares for us. They never loved us!
- This place has been popping up quite often, should try and stop by before the cool kids monopolise it.
- For anyone looking to study for a PhD. Some valuable advice.
Posted in home, school, working
Tagged Cape Town, Feminism, healthy-living, Mulberry and Prince, PhD, study, women, women and work, work
- On the importance of community in marriage.
- Beautiful images of women.
- Famous logos – before and after.
- Me right now …
- This skirt seems fairly simple enough to stitch.
- On getting rid of all the pause/fillers we use in conversation.
- Love is a verb! Yep, like this!
- Not a fan of kale but this looks like a yummy salad and I love the dressing.
- All male panels in Development and 2016. Really?
- Desegragation and education of minorities. (NYT article)
I read this a couple of weeks back and it made me feel something. Not sure what, but as a Black Women, I felt something and so I shared it.
Posted in home
Tagged apps, Being Black, blogging, economics, enviroment, food, home, Kenyan music, recipes, Sunday Reads, travel, women
I often talk about female friendships that are in many parts so fulfilling but sometimes so emotionally frustrating. Just today at lunch I was thinking about how fleeting female friendships can also be. In particular I was thinking of all the people that I am not longer friends with.
Of the friend that is a twin who felt the need to lie about her age. PS: her twin said his age honestly. Also, we were in our early twenties when age was not yet a thing.
Of the childhood friend that went through such a demeaning and embarrassing break-up and because we all knew of it, our friendship could never be the same again. We eventually made up and can talk but things are just not the same. Too much history there.
Of an old time friendship that is hanging on by the skin of its’ teeth because … who knows.
While they have such depth and can be emotionally fulfilling, female friendships can at times also change just as suddenly. Sometimes because we honestly outgrow each other or sometimes for no reason beyond the fact that its time to let go and move.
Today’s post is written in response to the WordPress Daily Prompt —-> Fleeting
Some lovely reads this week as you can see below.
- Goodbye Downton Abbey
- A Vietnamese coffee cake
- Cooking with cauliflower. Ten recipes.
- … specifically this cauliflower risotto. YUM!!
- Go big or go home in relation to Nigerian Weddings. Thank God we did not have that pressure way back when …
- Restoring the world’s oldest library.
- This broke my heart this week. Teenagers who kill in order to become famous or get a following. JUST SAD!!
- I am really keen for Fuller House. Nostalgia, much?
- Again, why women friendships are the bomb diggity!
Historically, friendships between women provided them with attention, affection and an outlet for intellectual or political exchange in eras when marriage, still chiefly a fiscal and social necessity, wasn’t an institution from which many could be sure of gleaning sexual or companionate pleasure.
For many women, friends are our primary partners through life; they are the ones who move us into new homes, out of bad relationships, through births and illnesses. Even for women who do marry, this is true at the beginning of our adult lives, and at the end — after divorce or the death of a spouse.
Enjoy and have a lovely Sunday.
Posted in design, good, life
Tagged cake, cauliflower, design, Downton Abbey, egomaniacs, Fuller House, good, library, life, Nigeria, recipes, Risotto, teenagers, TV, weddings, women, women friendships
I can easily name a handful and a half of women that I would do this with/to!!
Missing my gals (and cheers to discovering a new comic).
Posted in design, Heart matters
Tagged about me, design, female friendship, friends, friendship, Heart matters, life, love, relationships, women
Because you never know the burden that she/they are walking around. It is not your place, it is not welcome at all… Also, the judgment that follows couples that opt out of being parents and all of that. Not your place …
What a week to be a Black woman!!
I wanna be at this jam. I separately love each of these women then together and to imagine that Ava (only one name required) directed this clip for Apple Music!! I wanna be at this jam so bad!
Edited to add: Better video here
Posted in home
Tagged Apple Music, Ava DuVernay, Black Women, female friendship, friendship, home, Kerry Washington, Mary J Blige, MJB, music, relationships, Taraji P Henson, winnning, women
Hope you had a lovely week, I certainly did. Below, enjoy!
- I really don’t know what I feel about this story.
- As a Christian and a so-called “infidel”, I am not sure how to think of such evil!! May God judge them ever so severely!!!
- Again on the ethics of having a live-in lady take care of your kids while hers have to make do. BUT, beautiful writing.
- On being overly PC at school and dumbing down academic rigours at American Universities.
- Not an easy practice, but necessary. Doing your best work and checking that it is, despite knowing/ feeling that this is the best you could ever get.
Best work followed by best work followed by more best work is far more useful and generous than merely doing your best work once and insisting we understand you.
Posted in Heart matters, home, life
Tagged children, education, evil, Heart matters, home, ISIS, life, motherhood, motivation, PC, Political correctness, Sunday Reads, women, working
Enjoy some lovely reads this Sunday!
- Five recipes to enjoy your Zuccini/ babymarrow
- On being a foreigner – the less obvious kind
- The more obvious kind of a foreigner
- MUST MAKE RECIPE: Pumpkin Chickpea Coconut curry
- I enjoyed this podcast on ivory smuggling. Until the focus shifts to where and who the users are, we shall keep talking about it to no effect.
- This made me feel some type of way. This does happen to friendships and the best time is when they can get past that and be reunited.
- Sad read about the after-effects of the land grab in Zimbabwe.
- Yaaaaasss!! on the benefits of having older working women at work.
- On the fetishisation of the black woman’s body coupled with her overall undesirability relative to a white woman.
Posted in home
Tagged cooking, foreigners, friendship, governance, home, ivory, recipes, relationships, women, working, Zimbabwe
Sent from me on a particularly long drive so enjoy!
- Very sad story about the depths that refugees take to get to better opportunities in the West. Particularly following the news of the two South African stowaways.
- Some beautiful musical sounds! h/t Miss Milli B
- Marriage is so many things but this is a choice that my mind cannot fully wrap itself around. I can’t even …
- Simple explanation(s) why there are fewer women in Tech and possible solutions.
- In case you ever wondered about cooking and what they eat in Space!
- Bye bye SOTRU! I actually feel like I am saying goodbye to a good friend.
- I was just speaking to a colleague about how to make good food cheap for the poorer folk to be able to eat wholesomely.
- A better question to ask in life: What did I learn rather than did I win?
- No more sorry for me!
- I literally licked my lips as I read this recipe for Morccaan Spiced Pumpkin and Chickpea stew 🙂
- YUM!!! And this Coconut Quinoa bowl.
- I have enjoyed reading about this project – to read across the world in one year – over the years and the preparation for the Audiobook is no different.
- I love this DIY Activity and would love to try it one day
Posted in home
Tagged cooking, DIY, food, home, life, marriage, migration, music, Podcasts, reading, recipes, Refugees, religion, SOTRU, STEM, women
A friend and reader reminded me of this article on a writer and her husband who both decided against having children and it reminded me of a conversation I had with a workmate. (Back story: We work together for the same company not the same projects and stuff like that and we have only ever had conversations around the coffee machine and stuff like that.)
So she found out I am married (how little she knows me, anyhu!) and then asked when I got married and whether I have kids so I say, nah. I am only a newly wed. So she asks again, no kids at all. I was like no. So I am smiling but she has this look of utter disgust on her face and tells me how women that don’t have kids are impatient and so selfish she is looking at me like she can’t even believe she is having to interact with one. And suddenly, all her earlier thoughts of me were usurped by this knew knowledge.
My Aha! moment is the fact that either being married or being married in Africa has meant that so many women (strangers and known, alike) are so invested in my womb.
Always the question, when did you get married gets followed by, when is the baby coming with a pointed look at my stomach. Very intrusive. I cope by giving lengthy timelines, to saying never, to talking about how we shall adopt dogs and the like. But I do get taken aback at the fact that this is a very sensitive topic because couples can fail to conceive for numerous reasons but such flippant questions could be hurtful and emotional for some other folk. More than that, is the fact that the concern is only with me and they don’t grill men half as much.
In the words of Janelle Monae “get off my womb”urrggh!
Posted in Heart matters, home, marriage
Tagged Africa, choice, culture, fertility, Heart matters, home, Janelle Monae, marriage, motherhood, women
- What would a similar experiment reveal for various African states?
- The benefits of being an ally to a working mom
- If you love beautiful pics and who doesn’t?
- If you ever wondered about the Porn industry in Japan. It’s a dog’s job but the article reveals so much of their society so do read.
- I actually thought that Pinterest was too cool for me. Good explanation of the changes.
- All I can do is wish these two a quick and speedy recovery, SMH!
- Cauliflower Barley Risotto
- Moroccan Carrot & Quinoa salad
- 20 beautiful pasta recipes
- For next time someone asks me about kids
- Babies in a Birkin Bag?? Yep! Seems its a thing!
- If you like weddings, or specifically, Nigerian Weddings that are a category in themself
Posted in home, life, working
Tagged Ebola, home, life, motherhood, Nigeria, Pasta, photography, Pinterest, Porn, Quinoa, Risotto, search terms, weddings, women, working
Enjoy your afternoon of Sunday reads!
- What’s in a name?
- I hear you, but I still struggle with this
- There is always that one question that seems to be doing the rounds in interviews. Here is the latest one
- Yes these are stupid outbursts but what happens to their lives afterwards?
- I can only pray for these people. May God judge them ever so severely!
- Because I love Obama
- Cooking with wine? Here are a few tips
- Oh my heart, such a cool dude. Please have a listen
- I might very well love to drink tea, as much as I love reading about it!
Posted in Heart matters, life, madness, working
Tagged cooking, economics, Heart matters, jobs, life, madness, names, Obama, tea, women, working