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Posts tagged ‘Racism’

Why you should stop gendering your insults – another reminder

The first time I walked into a gay club, I was asked, “Is jy ‘n moffie?” (Are you a moffie? – the local equivalent of “faggot”)

It was a question that took me aback. I thought, “Duh, yes I am” but also shocked at the brazen nature of this enquiry. This, however, was a safe space, and it felt permissible. I said yes, and did not take it too seriously. Others might not be as fortunate to not be offended.

This is why you should be careful when you gender your insults.

Bitch, cunt, whore and pussy are also all examples of doing this. A conversation with a friend made me realise how often gay men are often emasculated in porn. The anus will be referred to as a “pussy” and the men will be called “bitch”. It’s probably meant to be sexy, but once you realise the amount of power that comes with sex and sexuality, because let’s face it, it plays a huge part in all our lives, then this is quite disconcerting. many might say that this is fine, because women and particularly women of colour have been facing this kind of subjugation for years, but going the other way is not always the answer.

Sidebar: Two recent pop culture examples of this that also got me thinking were the controversies around the music videos of Lily Allen Hard Out Here in which she featured women of colour dancing provocatively. Some say it was empowering, funny and not a big deal. Others say she used the women in an exploitative way.  Check it out here.

The other one was Jennifer Lopez’s I Luh Ya Papi which features a recent continuing tradition of sexualizing men for the female gaze. Question is, is this doing anything to make things better for women who still face sexualisation from men? I don’t think so. But check it out here

In that space of a gay club, both physically and ideologically closed off to the outside, it was acceptable, as it might also be when you are with friends and others who understand your intentions.

I’ve previously asked how this would have been perceived if the issue were conflated with race. And that is, of course, a topic that could be expanded at length too.

Women in particular are not as fortunate. The negative connotations that come with certain words prevent them from ever being completely popular and used in common parlance. So why do we do this? I’m sure many of you are crying out “Reclamation” and that this is your way of taking back the power that was taken from you when these words were forged against you.

I’m ambivalent about this. On the one hand, the history of these words is often not understood enough before they are reclaimed.

What got me harping on about this topic is the way in which the world is turning – it’s not going fast enough in the right direction. Homophobia, misogyny, racism, ageism are all real factors and they do not seem to be dissipating.

This is my way of staying on the topic and not letting it slip through the cracks for the enlightened few who will read this.

Before you gender your insults, be careful about implications. It may empower you, but it also feeds the power of others who aim to disenfranchise you.

Masculinity needs some femininity. Femininity should be allowed masculinity if it feels it needs it. However, these should not at the risk of alienating the other. An example I’ve encountered often is the idea of men as men and women as women, with nothing in between, yet when I challenge people about these preconceptions and how they may be violating their own standards (women wearing pants, guys wearing tight T-shirts, because it’s simply fashion) I encounter resistance.

I’m a feminist, yet I also find myself falling into the trap of calling my friends “bitches” (unprovoked but mostly reciprocally). This was my way of staying aware that while it may be acceptable within the confines of a friendship, there is power with that word. I am essentially making my friend an animal, lesser to me and others (even if you do not think that animal are lesser animals to humans). Keep that in mind the next time you gender your insults.

<p>Author <a href=”https://plus.google.com/102128103971030481396” target=”blank” rel=”author”>Jerome Cornelius</a></p>

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Racism? What Racism?

Seriously. What are you all talking about? South Africa has a problem with racism? NO! Say it isn’t so?!!!

Ok, I may have been a little generous with the facetiousness with that one. However, I was a little taken aback by the recent storm in a teacup that happened last week. For those who missed it, local model Jessica Leandra tweeted something about being harassed by a man in Spar and dropped the k-word. Later she backed this up (seriously) by asserting that these are the people who rape women and she wished she had hit him. The tweets were removed, but it was too late.

To me, now that it has been three days since the tweet-cident, I’m wondering… What’s the big deal?  Was it the racist rant that was the problem; or was it the fact that she tweeted it and exposed the appeasing side in the rest of us who now have to condemn and prove that we are nothing like her? I actually can’t decide for myself because the general reaction was that she was an idiot as well as a bigot and that this should not be tolerated. Rightly so. She was dropped by FHM magazine and a diet product for which he was the spokesperson. And then we all patted ourselves on the back.

But this genius still has over 5,000 followers.

I tried looking at this from another angle and am now left wondering if this fool does not represent more than a sizable minority than we care to admit. “Of course we are not racists. How can we be? We appreciate freedom and think that the new South Africa is a much better place… for us.” Do we say things like these to make ourselves feel better, or do we actually believe it?

I thought about myself and where I fit in this. I’ve never really thought of myself as a bigot. But then do the jokes my friends and I make count as racist? Does it count as not racist because said friends are black? To me, it all comes down to intention. My friends and I have an understanding, so jokes about black people loving meat and not being able to swim and coloured people being expert mechanics are among the things we laugh about. But then can we get mad when others do it? Cue the joke about humour no longer being black and white… Anyone? No? Moving along.

I am personally so bored with this debate and the fact that it keeps rearing its big multi-coloured head. But then I get angry when people ignore blatant racism. Also recently on Twitter, I replied to some young lady who said that people need to get over themselves because Apartheid is over, “so get over it and move on” was the gist of her solution. I chimed in and said that she’s delusional because we are clearly still living with the legacy.

Will it ever get better? Only if this remains an open debate, not an occasional Twit-fest where people rant what is lurking beneath the pretty façade. If we keep talking about it and get ALL people to a place of better opportunities, then maybe things will improve. Until then, it’s probably bound to be fodder for a fight.

<p>Author <a href=”https://plus.google.com/102128103971030481396” target=”blank” rel=”author”>Jerome Cornelius</a></p>

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