Sex­ism must fall to save SA

CityPress - - Voices - SEDIKO RAKOLOTE voices@city­press.co.za

The spec­tre of sex­ism con­tin­ues to haunt the world. It is a cat­a­lyst to other vari­ables of dis­crim­i­na­tion and op­pres­sion, such as class, race and re­li­gion.

Sex­ism should be ex­plored to un­der­stand how it re­lates to other forms of dis­crim­i­na­tion and how it con­trib­utes to marginal­i­sa­tion, pow­er­less­ness, land­less­ness and the ex­ploita­tion of women.

Sex­ist nar­ra­tives en­cour­age fe­male in­fe­ri­or­ity and male su­pe­ri­or­ity. On Jan­uary 8 1984, late ANC pres­i­dent OR Tambo said: “Our strug­gle will be less than pow­er­ful, and our na­tional and so­cial eman­ci­pa­tion can never be com­plete, if we con­tinue to treat the women of our coun­try as depen­dent minors and ob­jects of one form of ex­ploita­tion or another. Cer­tainly no longer should it be that a woman’s place is in the kitchen. In our be­lea­guered coun­try, the woman’s place is in the bat­tle­front of strug­gle.”

In all its man­i­fes­ta­tions, sex­ism is nei­ther mo­rally jus­ti­fi­able nor po­lit­i­cally sus­tain­able. It pro­motes an un­de­sir­able ide­ol­ogy that hu­mans can be put into dis­tinct groups, and it as­sumes that, due to their gen­der, they dif­fer in terms of so­cial be­hav­iour and in­her­ent ca­pac­i­ties. It sows the seed of divi­sion, and cre­ates ar­ti­fi­cial bound­aries and dishar­mony among peo­ple of dif­fer­ent gen­ders.

Un­der no cir­cum­stances should gen­der form the foun­da­tional prin­ci­ples for build­ing na­tion­hood. Sex­ism mil­i­tates against the prin­ci­ples of ubuntu. So­ci­eties should not cre­ate a vac­uum for sex­ists to emerge and take charge. Sex­ists desta­bilise so­cial co­he­sion and plunge any democ­racy into dis­ar­ray.

The Bill of Rights pro­tects in­di­vid­ual lib­er­ties such as the right to dig­nity and equal­ity, which means ev­ery­body is en­ti­tled to full and equal en­joy­ment of all rights and free­doms.

In­ter­ven­tions to push against sex­ism must be height­ened. Sex­ism must be crim­i­nalised and gen­der equal­ity must form part of the school cur­ric­ula from the be­gin­ning. A 50-50 pol­icy must be en­acted into law and there must be a hefty penalty for non­com­pli­ance.

Sex­ism cor­rodes our demo­cratic gains and deters our ef­forts to move the his­tor­i­cally dis­ad­van­taged from the pe­riph­ery to the core of so­ci­ety. South Africa must be a coun­try free from any form of dis­crim­i­na­tion and op­pres­sion. Rakolote is a board mem­ber of the In­ter­na­tional

As­so­ci­a­tion for Pub­lic Par­tic­i­pa­tion SA

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