The ‘shock’ and ‘condemnation’ with which the Jules High statutory rape case was greeted highlighted a fact that the moral fabric of the nation has seemingly reached the acme of its putrefaction. How else would you explain the insanity of young men gang banging a fifteen year old girl, who, it’s alleged, was drugged throughout the despicable event which has become sought after thanks to the pupils who saw it as their responsibility document the rape. Of graver concern was the teachers’ reaction to the whole sordid affair. It was reported that they laughed and said the girl deserved what she had gone through. That the boys involved were arrested and subsequently released is a matter of history. What remains now is that the case has, with a violent thrust, brought back rape to the center of national consciousness but to the victims this act of perennial savagery it’s a reality that’s been as ubiquitous as the air we breathe.
It would be economical of truth by one to say to that the continues reports of rape and other sexual violation particularly against females don’t prick our national conscience but we have to admit that beyond the well meaning sexual offences legislation and rhetoric, we haven’t aggressively made inroads to deal decisively perpetrators these bestial acts. One has to be the most insecure and self loathing person to want to rape. What satisfaction, if that’s the desired result, does one receive from sweating and revelling in the sensation of voraciously penetrating a toddler, a teenager, a thirty two year old or even an octogenarian? Unfortunately there are such people particularly males who’ve gone out of their way to tarnish the image of manhood and have subsequently sent shivers down the spins of sisters, daughters and nieces at the prospect of being home alone with male family members.
Because a plethora of sexual perpetrators of males it then meanings that considerable effort has to dedicated to the methods in which a male child is raised to carry themselves and their treatment of females. The patriarchal society within which we live has been known to be inconsistent in how it raises a male child and their female counterpart. A male child is more often than not encouraged to strive for financial accumulation ( not that there’s a fault in that) but a it’s not uncommon for the female child to be told to ‘save’ herself for a the ‘right’ man (read rich) to marry. Or that a female child would be showered with all manner of praise for remaining a virgin until eventual marriage but questions of the male child’s (hetero)sexuality would be posed if he chooses to, like the female counterpart, ‘save’ himself for the ‘right’ woman.
And because a lot of young men seek affirmation and dubious stamps of approval from their fatherly figures and contemporaries, they end up resorting to ill mannered and inhumane ways in their quest to prove that they’re also the ‘real men’ that their ‘society’ and Carling Black Label ads expect them to be. If the male child isn’t taught to differentiate fear from respect and isn’t dissuaded from the thinking that the latter is gained to brute masculine and misogynist expressions then our “Brothers For Life” and “16 Days of Activism” campaigns will be nothing more than procedural rhetoric. In her book, The Kanga And The Kangaroo Court: Reflections Of The Rape Trial Of Jacob Zuma, gender equity activist and True Love columnist, Mmatshilo Motsei says:”Dismantling patriarchal thinking and practice therefore goes beyond a female empowerment strategy that only focuses putting women in powerful positions…In a country where most families are headed by women, to what degree so single mothers force their sons to conform to patriarchal standards in their relationships with their girlfriends and wives?”
In an even more fast paced world of instant gratification that we live in the role of popular culture, given its considerable influence on young people, can’t not be scrutinized as to the kind of images and messages it’s producing. It’s in music and compliments videos that the lion’s share the popular culture has, through misogynist depictions, commodified females and reduced them to objects of sexual use. When the lyrics and images find a horny impressionable minded teenager who knows to which extent the interpreter of the message would to realize what’s being promulgated? Hip Hop, and in South Africa’s case Kwaito, is a creation of African Americans and Africans, (dis)respectively yet the self hatred carried in both influencial genres of music is quite pathetic and speaks volumes about an emigration in thought that has to take place. Jasmin A Young writes, in an essay titled Get In Where You Fit In: Hip Hop’s Muted Voice On Misogyny, as follows: “Women are most often mischaracterized as money hungry whores out for their next unsuspecting male prey. Take for example Kanye West’s billboard hit “Gold Digger” featuring Jamie Foxx.
There is an apparent lack of respect for women and little worth is found in females of African descent. The lyrics suggest misogyny has become synonymous with rap music; bitch, hoe, and trick are tantamount with black female, sistah, wife, and mother.” It’s a hatred of ‘one’s’ kind because white women are rarely depicts or described as filthily as their counterparts. It’s such conduct that further entrenches the stereotype that black women are promiscuous in nature. In the spring of 2006 a Kwaito hit with its vile and catchy lyrics, Sister Bettina, was released and had many a black youth in a delirious state and Motsei sums it up in this way:”In Sister Bettina Mgarimbe (real name Nkosinathi Mfeka) sings about horny bitches with open legs and men displaying the power of their balls by fucking women with impunity. In describing Mgarimbe’s work, Ghetto Ruff(records) website describes him as an artist who gives people what they want.” What happens when people don’t get what they want, do they forcibly take it?
In highlighting musical influence as a factor in either heightening or glorifying acts that sometimes lead to females being raped one doesn’t seek to ascribe to popular culture the violation of females because the vulgar that’s endemic in the music is at times a mirror of social realities. But does that mean popular culture can’t be apportioned its share of the blame in cases such as those of Jules High? Problems of rape as an act of oppression are complicated by a lot of factor because they include individuals, households, communities and greater nation. Have the parents, in the pursuit of financial spoils of democracy, allowed eMpTVty and the like to raise their children. Haven’t we, through our electoral conduct, given the governing party the means to legislate abortion without parental consent while parading ours as the most admired constitution on Earth? Perhaps it’s time we take stock of what sought to achieve in 1994 and balance it with what we want to achieve now and how we go about effectively realizing that. Acts of rape are the worst of indictments on a nation. We must demand that the criminal justice system serve us well in such instances but unfortunately by the time the a rape case is heard irreparable damage has already been done.