27th Mar2017

A World Without Labels

by admin

When you go to the grocery store, everything seems to have its place. The apples belong in the fruit and vegetable aisle; the flour in the baking aisle; and the window cleaning products in the housekeeping aisle. You will even find multiple brands of the same product neatly placed next to each other in order to allow for a fair comparison of brands. Furthermore, some customers even go to the effort of comparing the packaging of two identical products to determine which one is the better option. I trust that I am not alone in recalling an occasion where I walked into a store to buy a measly little packet of sugar, only to discover, in the previous week, the store underwent a serious makeover. This resulted in me trekking up and down every aisle in search of that packet of sugar. Of course it would be on the very bottom shelf of the seventh aisle, just as you turn the corner where all of the Easter eggs have been displayed. How silly of me for not thinking of that in the first place! The point of arranging a store in such a painfully rigid manner is to make the customer’s shopping experience a pleasant one—now that’s what I call good service!

Grocery store 1

Problems arise, however, when we try to replicate this kind of organisation and structure in the real world. I do not blame people for trying to label others and categorise them accordingly as this makes life a lot more comprehensible. The world is a very big place that is home to many different people. It can be very confusing at times, however, the real world is not a macrocosm of the grocery store. The real world is a mess; a beautifully chaotic mess!

 

Following the recent Israeli Apartheid Week that took place on WITS campus at the beginning of March 2017, the question of religion has been highlighted. According to The Daily Vox the aim of Israeli Apartheid week is to bring attention to the apartheid-like crimes committed by the state of Israel against Palestinians. Every year this annual campaign creates some tension between students who sympathise with Zionist and Palestinian groups. As a Christian, I found myself subconsciously picking up the pace as I walked past the collection of people handing out fliers and voicing their opinions to anyone who would listen. Although I feel that this campaign makes a valid point, I also feel like one should promote the rights of humankind as a whole, rather than just one particular group of people.

 

I believe that religion is a very personal decision, possibly even the most personal decision a person ever makes. Initially the whole idea of religion was to create a sense of community. People would turn to a higher power in times of need and desperation. The point is to not feel alone in the world. Why then do we continue to discriminate against people of a different race, gender or religion? Everyone is different. Even if we had to compare two identical bottles of Tomato Sauce we are bound to find some differences between the two.

Labels

Often we place too much emphasis on labels such as race, sexual orientation, and religion. Throughout history religion has been a game of power but at the end of the day, we are all human and our religion is our personal choice. We need to stop reducing people to labels. When I look around I just see many different human beings going about their daily duties. What do you see?

Skeltons

20th Mar2017

Gender and Sexuality Issues Under the Political Lens

by admin

Gender inequality and discrimination based on sexuality have always been issues that have brought with them pertinent discussions and debates. A lot of “important people” debate and deliver speeches about issues on social media platforms; however, the truth is we have never really seen any of these problems being practically addressed. We live in a country where equality and fairness are always encouraged; the representation of all people is something that is highly emphasised. However, this does not reflect the reality for most people. Please note that this article is based on my own personal views and opinions and I do stand to be corrected.

For years we have been about feminism this and feminism that. And I say “we” because I, myself have been a part of those who have considered themselves a feminist without really taking into account the conditions under which feminism exists in this country. After attending the Feminism Indibano organised by SASCO Wits (credit ought to be given to the speakers) I have come to believe that feminism is not only about our social stance; it is also about how our political institutions have a bigger role in reinforcing what the social institutions preach. The social hierarchy pyramid places us black women at the very bottom, with black men right above us. This means that black women have three privileged groups “oppressing” them. For years, non-feminist have not understood the fuss around being “equal” has been about; and have went on complaining about how black women want to be “equal” to men. The truth is that WE DON’T AND HAVE NEVER WANTED TO BE THE SAME AS, AND EQUAL TO, these other groups. Why be equal to a black man who is oppressed on the basis of his race? Why be equal to a white woman, when her gender disadvantages her? And why be equal to a white man who has the ultimate power over our lives and could oppress us at any given time? However, this is a story for another day.

The main issue at hand is, how are our political institutions addressing sexuality inequality and discrimination? As much as we have a women’s league in South Africa, what has its role been in ensuring that women are well represented in state government? Of all the premiers in the current cabinet only one is female. This brings forth the question about what the state is saying about its faith in women leadership and its stance on the patriarchs who constantly take feminist movements two steps back. The political field as a whole is held by men and is also driven by them. And as long as such issues are not reinforced in the one “field” that practically runs everything issues of such importance will never be adequately addressed.

Coming to the representation of sexuality in our country, well, this has been a dismal fail. This is despite there being a youth league that is supposed to be representing the young people as well as ensuring the problems the youth are encountering are addressed by the national government. We are facing a difficult time of being discriminated against on the grounds of our sexuality. We are facing high rates of unemployment. And as students, we are faced with the challenge of high university fees whilst we are making the call for free decolonised education. How is our youth league attempting to address such? We ought to have a division in the youth league which will be mainly run by people who know the struggles which come with being Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transsexual (part of the LGBT community). We may all be young people; however, we do not all face the same daily challenges. It is for this reason that I believe that political institutions should be inclusive and regularly address issues related to those of genders/sexuality regardless of economic status. And as much as we would like to mostly focus on women, we cannot ignore the fact that there are “men” who identify as women and “women” who identify as men. Thus, we have to consider the discrimination that comes with that identification. Politics practically run this world, and if issues of such importance cannot be addressed using politics, then clearly equality will never exist.

Please do excuse the lack of academic language in this article, but I do hope it provokes thoughts and questions about what role the political arena is, and should, be playing in creating a gender/sexuality inclusive environment in the country.

Gender

18th May2015

Silence is Killing Our Women!

by admin

Bevashni Naicker takes a stand against the abuse of women and what should be done to combat this shocking issue.

The shocking news of the recent kidnapping and killing of young primary school teacher, Jayde Panayiotou, whose husband was allegedly involved in organising the crime has caused a wave of emotions amongst South Africans. However, this isn’t the first case of the murdering of one’s intimate partner, as this time last year the Oscar Pistorius case made major local and international headlines when he was found guilty of culpable homicide with the ‘accidental’ shooting of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp. There are many more cases like this that have surfaced in the past few years and it seems to be causing a buzz in conversations amongst social media, family dinner discussions and small talk amongst individuals.

How do you find the courage to kill the person you love? What would drive a person to so much anger to want to kill their loved one? These are just a few of the questions that I have been trying to figure out that have got me thinking about how we, as citizens, have forgotten about the fight against women abuse. These women are dead and, yes, they don’t have a voice to tell their story; but we should be acknowledging this growing trend of random acts of violence against women. As a pro-feminist, I do see the rise in a female empire and the many amazing women who are making a difference in the world; but as a faceless person amongst a crowd of people who are living an ordinary life, I also find it difficult to stand up and talk about women abuse to a point where it will a make a concrete difference.

It’s easy to say: “Let’s fight against women abuse,” but how do we put words into action. A simple campaign on social media or an organised walk is not going to make a difference, despite the fact that it may raise awareness about such issues. We need to start empowering women and teaching them how to look for signs of a bad and abusive relationship. Women need to start taking a stand as individuals and help themselves; relationships aren’t all about rainbows and sunshine and women need to stop being naïve. If a man has status, money or good looks it is not a reason to excuse bad treatment from them and, as a woman, you need to assert your power in a relationship and take a stand for your right to be treated like a queen. Your self-esteem should not lead you to believe that you are worthless and that you deserve to be treated in a bad way; yes, people make mistakes, but there’s a fine line between innocence and the abuse of power.

However, not all the blame should be put on women; men need to start learning respect and integrity too. The South African law system needs to start changing their ways and how they deal with abuse cases, so that men get threatened by the consequences of abusing women. More pressure needs to be put on men so that they learn to change their attitudes towards women.

We are all human and we all deserve to be treated equally no matter our race, gender or age. So let’s take care of our women because everyone needs a woman’s love to experience the feeling of ultimate happiness.

women abuse

04th Aug2011

For fairness’ sake!

by admin

The high school I went to had a student exchange programme with other high schools all over the world. It was great. It gave us a chance to learn about the cultures of other people we’d otherwise never get a first hand experience with, and it reminded us that there was life outside of the confines of our a-quarter-of-Soweto-sized village. When the girls from Brazil came, they stayed with one of the most affluent families in town. Come to think of it, so did the boys from Taiwan, Japan, Switzerland, and Canada. Even the girl from Australia, who was disliked by most people in our rugby-obsessed town during the Tri-Nations series, was received by people who owned a commercial farm, and were influential in town politics.

When a young Shona boy from Zimbabwe came to our school, however, he wasn’t so lucky. He couldn’t find placement in our town, and was driven off to Nqutu, a place that puts the ‘ill’ in village with a single main road and a collection of inadequately equipped schools which all seemed to find their settings at the foot of mountains rumoured to be the hang-out spot for local practitioners of witchcraft. My naïve mind credited his misfortune to an administrative fault, but now, considering the racial and social politics of our town, I’m no longer so sure.

Before you start putting on your tight panties, you should know that this isn’t me going on a rant about racism. This is me ranting about the general lack of fairness in the world and our country especially.

I recently watched The Duchess, a movie depicting the life of Georgiana, a woman who was the Duchess of Devonshire, England in the 1700s. It was a decent movie, but it left me most shades of angry at the double standards perpetuated by society. Georgiana was married off to a fossil in its fifties when she was but a debutant. The fossil was, at best, harsh and rude to her, and had plenty affairs during their marriage, all of which culminated with him sleeping with her best and only friend. She was told this would continue until she bore him a son. Six years of hell and three daughters later, she conceived a son the night he raped her. But the affair continued and the woman even moved in and was allowed to eat breakfast with the royal couple every day. The fossil would not give Georgiana a divorce, and when he discovered that she was in love with another man, he had her sent away to ‘the country’ and forced her to give away the baby she had conceived with her lover. Thereafter, she was made to return to the castle and live with her husband and his mistress.

This form of female oppression and marital double-standard was acceptable in the context of a heavily patriarchal Victorian society where women were seen as only slightly human, and not even given the right to vote. However this social ill continues in Our Beloved South Africa even today. Men are allowed to have polygamous marriages, so long as it is ‘in their culture’. My only question is: does genetic predisposition count? My great grandmother, grandmother, mother, and six aunts have all either been married or engaged more than once to different men. There’s a great chance that I, my mother’s only daughter, will follow suit. Now instead of breaking hearts and adding to the ever-increasing divorce rate, can I be permitted to marry as many men as I want? I mean it is clearly ‘within my family’s culture’. How do we define ‘culture’ anyway, and why can’t I be given the same rights as every other Nguni male in this respect?

It just seems like life is a page taken out of Orwell’s Animal Farm where we are all equal, but some are more equal than others. How can you tell me we live in a non-discriminatory country when there are still towns, like mine of origin, where the high school Christian youth group is divided into a ‘Afrikanse Kristelike Jeug Group’ (which receives better funding) and the Youth Group, as if the Jesus they preach loves you, but would love you more if you belonged to one and not the other. How can we say we live in a fair country when it’s easier for non-whites to get accepted to study medicine at a certain university (UCT) than it is for their counter-parts? How can there be fairness in a country where corruption is alive, kicking, and showing you the middle finger, manifesting in our own government officials? Where is the equality we pride ourselves on when women cannot be chiefs of their area? Not to mention our corrupt legal system where your innocence is directly proportional to the kind of lawyer you can afford. It seems like we are given freedom and fairness in moderation; fairness and freedom are extended to some of us, in given portions, to a certain extent.

And the worst is that we can’t blame government for this one. Granted these social discrepancies are pioneered by the elitists, but they are continuously perpetuated by all of us common people in our daily lives as we show more favour to a certain kind of person than another for a certain reason. That’s why I’d like to take this opportunity to ask you all: live out the ideals of our constitution. Even if it’s just for one day, make a change; be impartial. Forget what you’ve heard or what you were taught about certain people over others. Open your mind and increase your perceptual field.

All I’m saying is that the ideals written in our constitution are absolute. It’s either all or nothing. We should not allow for impartiality to have boundaries. We should either fight for fairness and equality in all respects, for everyone, or we should just admit that our constitution is nothing more than an anthology of failed hopes and pipe dreams.

Sne Zungu

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