The problem with the brotherhood
Last week the #Trending team debated whether it’s possible to separate a design from the designer in a piece covering rapper Simiso Zwane, known as Okmalumkoolkat, and his artwork for a new track by hit rapper AKA. We were not the first or only publication to do so.
In January last year, Okmalumkoolkat served one month of a six-month sentence for indecently assaulting a woman in Tasmania. He has since continued to work with the support and under the protection of his brotherhood – several leading male rappers have recorded new material with him, while many of his peers have urged everyone to get over it and move on. #Trending pointed out that Malumkoolkat may have apologised to his fans, but never to the woman.
It’s the same old story, men’s creative output seems to be more important than the alleged violation of women’s bodies. R Kelly, Woody Allen, Casey Affleck, Chris Brown, Bill Cosby, Tumisho Masha, the list is endless.
By letting it go, we normalise the abuse of women among their legions of fans. Under intense social-media pressure this week, Malumkoolkat finally gave an apology to his accuser – even though, in a Twitter rant, he still portrayed himself as being a victim of society.
AKA did the same, creating a furore on social media by accusing this publication of victimising the rapper, having white privilege and holding an agenda against black artists.
Apart from trying to divert the real issue, AKA managed to make the entire conversation about himself – like Malumkoolkat did before him. (Artist Lady Skollie made a work pointing out he referred to himself 37 times in his apology to his fans, but never to the woman.) “It’s ME they seek to destroy & discredit,” tweeted AKA. But his real shocker was this tweet: “I can’t speak for the guy but I think he’s been punished. Furthermore he didn’t RAPE anyone. He made a big mistake. He still paying for it (sic).”
So rape is not on, but fondling a sleeping woman in her hotel room, then telling her not to make a noise when she wakes up, is forgiveable?
Why should his crime be swept under the carpet for fear of ruining his career? What about the damage to the woman’s life? Why should we not raise the conversation in a country in the midst of a sexual abuse epidemic? Prove you’re really sorry and are going to change and we’ll start writing about your work again.
Then, perhaps some day, we’ll have someone like AKA speak out as loudly for women who are survivors of sexual assault as he has for an admitted and convicted sexual predator.
By letting it go, we normalise the abuse of women among their legions of fans