From the editor’s desk
This is August 2018, the winter winds are blowing and rain has fallen softly over parts of Gauteng. Cape Town is wetter than it has been for three years, while in Nelson Mandela Bay, dams are dry. It seems mother earth is calling out and we are not listening in more ways than one.
This month is dominated by the actions of women in South Africa who demand to be heard, and the time for ignoring these calls is long past. Some men believe it's their inalienable right to dominate women using physical violence and, in highly conservative societies, this is excused by the phrase “culture”. The anger this is causing is accelerating in our modern, connected and rapidly urbanising society.
“It’s my culture to tell women they belong barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen,” some men would say.
“It’s my culture to force women to do all the chores around our house, they need a slap every now and again to keep them in line, after all, that’s what our traditions say, isn’t it?”
These views belong in the Stone Age.
It is not culture to abuse women, it's criminal.There is a systematic principle of abuse, hidden beneath the veneer of cultural correctness where neighbours say nothing when they hear the screams, preferring to stay out of other people’s “business”.
Our Constitution is very specific about this, and some people living in our country believe they do not have to conform to this Constitution. Our women made a choice in 1956 to stand up to the apartheid system, and thereby, to all abusers. Women co-wrote this Constitution and women are empowered by their freedom.
The sentiment expressed by our free women is just that. To be free to do what they want and say what they want, and be what they want.
Why should men tell women what to do with their bodies? What right do men and deliberately obtuse conservatives have to demand that someone else conforms to their blinkered world view? It appears that the lessons we have been taught by our women who marched over half a century ago are being ignored by those who have the most to lose.
These men are steeped in the logic of oppression, yet would say they were merely following the highly suspect “traditions” of some romantic illusion they call cultural pastimes. When called out, these defenders of tradition adopt a “we are experts because we know our people” position.
Nothing is more suspicious than a man who presumes to speak on behalf of an entire population. We can tiptoe around these anachronistic folks, or we can choose to confront them now, before they do more damage to our next generation. We are transparent in our need to empower women, and yet some of these traditionalists are less than transparent about their motives.
There is much money to be made hawking women as chattel instead of thinking of women as equal partners.Women in society are not a commodity, they are not a roll of copper cable or a couple of cows; they are 50 percent of our economy, 50 percent of our religion, 50 percent of our futures and full partners in our wonderful country.