A new title?

5 May 2006

Ok, so apparently the title of this blog (the pontificating platform bit) is stupid. So what should it be?

In other news, I just discovered that when I archived my copy of “Voices of a Distant Star” to CD, I somehow saved the wrong version – a version with only French subtitles. Now I’m kinda sad because I wanted to give a copy to a friend (well, swap actually, for a copy of “Dollars and White Pipes”, which I keep seeing only half of (long story there)). Anyway, Voices is one of the few anime films I’ve seen that I really loved (ok, I haven’t seen a lot of anime, but some, like “Metropolis”, just seems a bit forced to me). Oh, another good one was “Spirited Away”. Quite chilling, that one.

In case anyone’s wondering about the high link content of this blog posting, I’m writing this with a newly discovered Firefox extension, Performancing (now, how post-modern is that name? hehe…). Performancing opens a blogging window in the bottom half of your browser window, allowing you to easily copy and paste content from browser to blog. You can even drag and drop images. Very intuitive – that is, once I figured out which button to click to launch it. (Its the PFF SB ICONone). So now my browser is a bit of a kitchen sink – I’ve got FoxyTunes to control my music player, ScrapBook to save web pages (helluva useful for research) and more and more and more. 😉

Anyway, enough for now. Been having a fascinated extended conversation with Rebecca (and obliquely, Ahmed) about power and community (or the lack thereof) and how for transformation to happen in our country / society it is vital that women’s struggles over their very private (but ubiquitous) oppression succeed. And how if JZ wins his rape case (which I suspect he will – we’ll see on Monday), he will set this task backwards as every man will imagine themselves a little-JZ, i.e. a version of this grandstanding arrogant prick, albeit it on a smaller scale. Oh, and I was listening to New Model Army (“All of This”) but now its Fairlight Children.

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Beat the women!

26 March 2004

Thabo’s comment that if his sister went out with the ACDP’s Kenneth Meshoe, he would beat his sister, is making mere ripples in the pond. Apparently the ANC is saying that it was an off the cuff remark, and he didn’t mention any leader by name. So bloody what? The point isn’t Kenneth Meshoe, its woman abuse!

And of course the way the media in South Africa handles these things. Earlier this year we had the disgusting spectacle of Debra Patta (read Noseweek for more dirt on her!) publically chastising Salome Isaacs on the 7 o’clock news for laying a ‘false’ rape charge against Siraj Desai. Now, who knows about the truth or falsehood of the charge, but very quickly Desai got turned into a martyr by the SA media (South African man held in dingy Indian prison! The shock, the horror – those dark foreigners are barbarians, etc, etc!), and Mark Isaacs’ story of being a ‘betrayed husband’ overshadowed anything Salome Isaacs had to say. In fact, I don’t recall ever hearing Salome Isaacs being quoted on this, she was straight back to South Africa and into domestic confinement.

In Guerra Sociale’s “The Reasons for a Hostility – About the Mass Media” (scroll down to see it) they mention that “Thoughts and actions hostile to this society must not appear. They must be silenced, falsified or rendered incomprehensible.” What the South African media silences is precisely the position of violence against women (sexual or not) as being not marginal, but constitutive. The patriarchal family is a kind of “male deal” (thanks to Terisa Turner for that phrase), where ruling class men bind subaltern men to their side by offering a guarantee of domination over women in exchange for loyalty. The manipulation of “tribal” tradition in South Africa led to a particular variation on this, where the identity of men as the “free” provider contrasting with the “domestic” women was enforced by the migrant labour system.

The peculiarity of South African society is that Black men were simultaneously men and boys – men, in their roles as “traditional” patriarchs (and identity which carried signifiers of noble, savage and incomprehensible), and boys, in their role as super-exploited labourers. Black masculinity thus got caught up in the struggle against Apartheid – one side of the struggle became the struggle to be men. O god, what a disaster! Now you can see how it was easy as 1, 2, 3 to transition into a non-racial form of patriarchal domination – just mix around the terms of the deal a bit, and there you go! A nasty brew indeed – and all the media tells us is that male success = power and domination (you know, all the image of those slick Nubians males). Let us not talk about women’s role in “keeping it all together” – women’s labour is automatic, it is natural – and to focus on the sexism and violence of our great leaders could all too easily lead to a focus on the everyday violence that compels the great flow of free labour that is called “women’s work”.

So, Thabo, joke about beating the sister. Its a nudge and a wink, and the little bosses go home to the hearth to delineate the space where they rule, naturally!

Its starting!

25 March 2004

Anyone who has been involved in SA politics knows that sexism is par for the course. As I recall, the ANC only formally put equality for women in its programme in 1989, and while we saw a flurry of discussion in the post-1990 period which led to gender issues getting a higher priority, post-1994 we have seen them fade into the background again – on the one hand, they get incorporated into the oh-so-civil society of human rights NGOs, and on the other hand they get sidelined in the ‘urgent struggle’ of the new social movements.

So, women, you have to wait, it seems! (You have to wait while you get sidelined, maligned, beaten and abused.)

Meanwhile, everyone who has been part of the ‘new social movements’ post-1994 (really, post-1999, but that’s another story) knows that women are the backbone of these movements. And these same women are used and thrown away when they become ‘troublesome’. Anyway, finally some people are starting to talk about it, like Dawn in her blog. And look out for Rebecca’s paper when it comes out (I’ll post a link then) – it is due to be published by the CCS. Oh, and hopefully I’ll say something sensible about women’s position in township life in my research report (which is taking far too long to write!). This is great, but a bit scary as well, since talking about the fucked up way that women are treated is seen as breaking ranks (and beating your girlfriend, who is also a comrade, isn’t breaking ranks?!).

Anyway, I like Dawn’s practical suggestions of what to do. Exactly! Its about this stuff, as Deleuze said “I mean, we say ‘human rights’, but in the end, that’s a party line for intellectuals, and for odious intellectuals, and for intellectuals without any ideas of their own. Right off the bat, I’ve noticed that these declarations of human rights are never done by way of the people that are primarily concerned…” Listen, learn, and then speak up, act out.

None of the people talking about this gender shit are “stars” of the movement… if you read Patrick Bond or Ashwin Desai, or listen to Trevor Ngwane, or any of the other “big names”, you don’t hear these problems being talked about. I guess that also makes us nervous to speak out, but then as the Zaps say: “We are quite ordinary people, that is to say rebels.”

As the title says… its starting. May it never end!