“Hee man, I’m angry…So because I’m a woman, my purse should be filled with an oukappies, pepper sprays, a Bible, butcher knives and guns JUST to feel ‘safe’?
I came across this Facebook post by an ex-classmate of mine Bongiwe Maome and sadly, I could relate.
I use public transport four days a week to travel to and from work. I have classes during the day so I can only work night shift. Therefore it is already dark by the time I leave residence and so when I leave my room, I hide my phone as far down my underwear as possible, making sure to stick to the following routine:
- Walk to the main road. Remember to constantly look over your shoulder to make sure that no one is following you or making any suspicious movement.
- Let the first couple of taxis pass, especially if they are empty (with just the driver and the ‘gaatjie’), or if there are no other women inside.
- The stereotypical voices in me speak: “be more vigilant of Colored passengers.
- When you enter the taxi, ask what time it is and spark a conversation of how you were recently robbed of your phone so that they at least assume that you have nothing worth taking
- Remember to put on a straight face and alter my walk with the hope of coming across as “unrapable” if there is such a thing.
- For the duration of your taxi ride, remember to call upon your clan names trying to keep your ancestors close should you have to face death and meet them a bit sooner than expected.
I know the price of pepper spray and try to keep a bottle in my purse at all times – as if it will do something against a knife or a gun. An oukappie is something that my predators carry around to intimidate me. I have never used a knife outside of the kitchen, I have a fear of guns, and the Bible… well that’s a story for another day. Yet I need to carry these tools around, hoping against hope that I should not actually have to use them.
The fact is, South Africans are not as shocked as they should be by the ridiculously high number of rape cases reported daily. It is ridiculous that I should be grateful that I am not among the 51 985 cases of sexual offenses REPORTED in 2016 alone; that I cannot even trust policemen so that I walk around with whatever higher power there is. So what is the problem here?
Perhaps I am too attractive. “Isono sendoda kubona” (A man’s sin comes through seeing) they say and my provocative bum-shorts and “catwalk” do not exactly help – if anything they probably do the opposite. I should not blame them because we are not created the same way and they find it harder to control themselves – strange species. I mean I am constantly surrounded by attractive men but would it not be embarrassing if I suddenly pulled my skirt up and demanded some random man to fuck me? See just like these creatures (yes they have become a sort of case study to me) I have eyes, hormones and I get horny, but I have not had sex since November and I’m perfectly fine.
Apparently, sperm moves to the brain and drives a man crazy when they experience sexual deprivation. I think anyone who is old enough to get a freaking erection should know better but hey, here we are. You are not “man enough” if “awutyi abantwana boi” (if you do not “chow”girls) but don’t you worry, even a drunk senseless one will do and yes “after twelve it’s lunch”. With my experiences as a black woman in this Khawuntri, I could go on and on but I have a set word count. So here is the problem: I was born with a vagina.
Where are penises sold? Men sure seem to have nicer life problems than mine. Imagine growing up “unable” to cook and clean because “those are women’s worries, son”. Going to the mountain when you reach the right age and learning how to be a man over 30-60 days. To be able to walk to the school library during exam time without having to fill up my bag with “unnecessary” weapons for my own safety. The privilege of standing on the street corner, the res corridors, the Somalian shop entrance, randomly slurring out things like: “ekse mabhebeza, cava la ass, uybonile laway mfethu, ulahlile lamntana” (derogatory terms and definitions used by Xhosa males in general to refer to females) just to because we’re boys appeasing our boredom. Being born with a penis does not sound so bad if you look at it this way right?!
Men are not generally taught how to cook and clean in preparation for possible marriage as envisioned by their parents. They are not conditioned to fear the opposite sex but instead, are taught that they are superior to them. If penises were for sale, I would have one in this month’s budget because I have come to detest ever being born with a hole between my legs. What was God thinking anyway? If God does exist, he will have to forgive me for ‘envying my brother’. He will have to ask for my forgiveness because I am pissed as fuck right now.
I am angry because boys and girls are raised in different ways. I am angry because little boys are raised by men who do not teach them to respect women. I am angry because the BOYS in my circles believe that they are men because their foreskins have been chopped off (rolls eyes). I am angry because these children trapped in adult bodies do not know how to reprimand one another and certainly have no cooking clue what manhood actually is. I am even angrier at myself for praying to a MAN, and for referring to my ancestors as “ooRhibela” (the males in my clan) instead of “ooMaRhibela” (the females in my clan), because I am emulating my elders. I am angry because it has become normal to fear my fathers and their sons instead of feeling a sense of protection in their presence.
So, ndicela ifavor (I need a favor): I do not want my three-year-old daughter to spend her life begging for forgiveness because she does not have a penis. Can men “keep it real” with their friends? Tell your boys the difference between a bitch and a woman; that they have no right to slut-shame ANYONE. That there is a difference between loving and respecting your better half and “ukutsalwa ngempumlo” (being controlled). Call out your blesser-type friends because it is not lunch after 12 it’s actually a minute past the hour.
Can we raise children instead of boys and girls? Tell them that they do not have the same sex organs but will abide by the same rules as they are children none the less. “Imazi inye kulendlu” (there is only one woman in this house) is a popular phrase in Xhosa households but let’s add another; “Inkunzi inye kulendlu” (there is only one man in this house). There is one woman and one man in any household and no child, as old as they may be, should ever be considered to have earned the right to be/act like an “imazi” or “inkunzi” until they actually have a household to be/act like one. Maybe then I will feel safer. Perhaps then little boys will grow up to become actual men who are able define themselves outside of their male and patriarchal privilege.