The prob­lem with the broth­er­hood

CityPress - - Voices - Rhodé Mar­shall voices@city­

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

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