The short-end of the stick

By: Zilungile Zimela

Women’s Day does not appeal to me.

I suppose this feeling is becoming more pronounced as I get older and more aware of how much women are taken for granted; disrespected, underpaid, overworked, overlooked, raped, killed, beaten and all the ills that we have come to be subjected to, since the dawn of time.

I read somewhere recently that, and I quote, “If submission was meant to come naturally to a woman then there would be no need to remind women to submit to their male counterparts. Any indoctrination thrives on constant reminders”.

As gobsmacked as I was to read this truth, I was inclined to believe it. I was compelled to agree that the very make-up and DNA of society is such that a woman should be tamed, contained and placed under thumb pressure to serve as a constant reminder that she cannot excel far exceeding her male counterpart.

Really? At the turn of the century, we still need to introduce men and the greater of society to the power, prowess and strength of women? Really? Is this all we are meant to do, is this the panicle of a woman’s struggle in society – to fight to be seen as equal to men? Is that what they meant when they said, “Wathint’umfazi, wathint’imbokodo”?

The irony is not lost on me                    

In my own moments of boredom, I have blissfully basked in this thought ‘what is it about women as a whole, that makes us so desirable for a rampage, baseless and ill-conceived killing spree? What is about us that is so enticing to the male specie that causes them to bat not so much as an eyelid when making us punching bags and constant receivers of slurs and other cress talk?’ You add lesbian or trans-female to that list and you have got yourself the perfect excuses for straight males to use in the brawl of senseless killings.

I attribute the former and the latter questions to what I grew up witnessing in taxi ranks, where a woman in a miniskirt [otherwise known to men as provocative apparel] would be cat-called and be the subject of mockery for all to see. Yet, the biggest irony of all: men would, with their sometimes-flabby arms, hairy chests with ill-groomed hair, beer bellies and kiss madolos, parade topless on hot days and not get a second glance.  Clearly there is something alluring about a woman!

Sour grapes and shiny apples

As a queer woman living in South Africa – “the land of the free, the rainbow nation, the country whose clan name is UBUNTU,” I will admit that I have much to be grateful for. Let me count the ways; I am free to be who I am, I can take a partner of my choosing, I am free to love, free to move and occupy different spaces, free to walk where I want to, at any time of the day. This would be even more beautiful if it were true down to the letter, it would be more beautiful if I did not have to look over my shoulder every time I walk down a street.

It would be such a wonderful revolution to celebrate if I did not have to take down the number plate of an Uber and share my trip details with close friends or relatives when the driver is male. I mean I am a woman after all, society has normalised killing my kind. The realisation of the brutality leaves a very bitter taste in my mouth. Perhaps when the rate of femicide, rape, intimate partner killings and gender-based violence comes to end, then and only I would be found wielding my fist up high in the spirit of camaraderie.

How do we empower and support women?

I think it’s quite simple: STOP KILLING US!

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