By now, dear reader, I am sure you aware that I, to use a euphemism, tend to colour outside the lines. A lot of that has to do with who I am, but strangely enough, all the quirks and mishaps that life can come up with are drawn to my oddness. I am the living embodiment of the duality of that Chinese blessing/curse: may you live in interesting times. I do not live what is considered an ordinary life! To pay the bills I work in the clothing industry, working in a factory doing the embroidering of fashion and corporate garments. It is a terrible, terrible industry and one I am so looking forward to turning my back on…to put it mildly! To work in a deadline-orientated, production-line, factory environment is soul destroying, especially for someone of my artistic incline. But it has, as I said, paid the bills and paid for my art studies: so interesting times.
I have only recently moved into a new apartment (just prior to my misadventure in the US) But before this I lived in an old flat that I believe was haunted by my great-great aunt (a story for another time). I lived there for ten years, trying to save money so that I could afford to pay for my studies and save money for my planned eventual departure overseas. The flat had no television reception so needless to say I did not watch tv, not that I really did much before. I have as a result been weaned off it, and now, even though at my new place we have satellite tv, I have not connected, preferring instead to watch dvds as I have grown accustomed to. Its kind of cool because you have total control over what you watch and when, and you are not bombarded by crappy advertising and depressing newscasts.
The reason I bring this up is because what I do is get dvd boxsets of series that appeal to me: at the moment I am watching the 4th season of the Greys Anatomy spinoff, Private Practise. Now normally it is the less glamorous, watered-down version of Grey’s, a not-so attractive sibling. BUT hell, they have stepped it up this season with one of the leads'(Charlotte King) being the victim of a particularly brutal rape. The rapist is the guy who played Xander from Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Buffy’s comic sidekick, which for me made it that more unsettling. It is disturbing, engrossing, eye-opening viewing, and powerful, emotional storytelling. If you ever get the opportunity, watch it! Now as tends to happen in my life (things seem to be linked as though by divine will, there seems to be a terrible reason for everything, a clearly thought out design to teach me some lesson or to put me in the path of something) while watching the horror of the rape and the resultant repercussions, I was approached by MAR to do branding of caps for a planned march. MAR stands for Men Against Rape: this appeared on a pamphlet they are distrubuting
ONE WOMAN IS RAPED IN SOUTH AFRICA EVERY 26 SECONDS
RAISE YOUR VOICE AGAINST RAPE
MEN AGAINST RAPE is an action group that has decided to challenge all real men to stand up and lobby for the laws to be changed to make these offenders accountable and to name and shame them publically. Government to further take action to introduce strong law against Rape:-
- Capital Punishment
- Chemical Castration
MEN AGAINST RAPE is an action group calling for 1 MILLION signatures in support of a petition to hand to the Mayor of eThekwini. To pledge your support MEN AGAINST RAPE is holding a 1000 man march on the :-
Date : 23 May 2013
Time to start : 10 00hrs clock
Time to Finish : 12 00hrs clock
Suggested route : Start from park opposite DURBAN CHRISTIAN CENTRE corner of King Dinizulu and Julius Nyerere Street. March straight through Dr, Pixley Kaseme (West Street)to City Hall to Mayors office.
MAR- Men Against Rape believe we have to become protectors again. Not only to their wives, girlfriends, children, mothers, BUT to ALL women of society.
Men have to become GENTLEMAN again, and protect our defenceless women against this Brutal Rape and abuse.
We may not have all the answers, but we are committed to make a contribution, and change.
TAKE A STAND NOW AND MAKE A DIFFERENCE
Now please understand that I applaud any attempt by people to make a difference in this terrible society we live in, and this group’s intentions are obviously noble. But bear in mind the saying: the road to hell is paved with good intentions. The problem I have is in how they choose to say things. Words are extremely powerful so they must be used with caution and clear forethought. Perhaps it is because the focus of my art studies for the past 3 years have been on feminism and feminist artists, as well as the masculine, patriarchal gaze but I have become extremely sensitive as to how words and images are used to entrench ideologies and societal constructs. Take a careful look at the wording that appeared on the pamphlet above and take note of how the woman/child is made to seem like a poor, weak, defenceless creature. Words like defenceless are used with regards women while men are called protectors, negative and positive, weak and strong. As I said, their intentions are good but it is this type of utilisation of these stereotypes that further entrench the patriarchal gender constructs of a society which disadvantages one sex in order to privilege the other. Bear in mind this is not only a South African thing or an African thing or even a Western thing, but is also prevalent in Muslim and Tamil/Hindu societies, it’s a World thing. Think about that figure, the enormity of it: in South Africa, a woman is raped every 26 seconds!!!
So yes, lets protest and lobby and punish, but more importantly lets change mindsets, perceptions and prejudices, and educate, because that is where it all begins. That is where the monster is given birth to, the rapist, the paedophile, the racist, the misogynist, the bully: within our homes, our schools, our neighbourhoods, our societies.