By: Onawanda Mpanza
For years, men have been groping women in public and we have been shaking it off and complaining about it in private. They would comment about our private parts and we would be angry in silence and never tell the man to shut up. They would hold our hands and pull us in public and we kept quiet. Well not all of us, a friend slapped a man that tried to grope her breasts in town. Question is why we have kept mum about it for so long. Is this why we are having this problem now of men abusing women like no one’s business.
Have they viewed our silence as a resounding yes, we love how you harass us in public and treat us like your property. I am so angry with myself for allowing things slide until it reached this level. Giving him a side eye for trying to hold me was just not enough. Or did I and other women keep quiet in fear. You know how you will sometimes respond to a guy that greets you out of fear and maybe the place that you are at isn’t the safest so you greet back. On days when you are feeling brave and you know the guy will say some snide remarks you don’t greet back and you know the tunnel of insults and threats that will follow. Is that the reason why we have kept quiet to the pulls, forced greetings?
To heighten the severity of the situation, women sexual objectification has become so real. Female presenters on most TV shows have to wear things that expose their skin but the guy is often fully clothed and not showing an ounce of thigh or abs? But the lady always has to show some part of her body. If all else fails she must at least show décolletage. Why are guys not showing their bodies if these shows are not using the women’s bodies to draw crowds?
It is a free country and no one can really say what is acceptable to wear because so many factors come into play in that aspect. My question is why must females be the ones to show the flesh? Why must it be our bodies being used to draw crowds? I usually see posters for parties saying ladies free before 10pm, why are they being used to draw men to a place? Guys will even ask when enquiring about a party from a friend zikhona izingane lapho (are there girls there)? Are they going to the party or to the girls? Everyone knows what often happens in most parties. After everyone is drunk, a guy wants to take a girl with, which completes his night right?
Music videos will have us wearing lingerie and gyrating in the name of we are free to do as we please. Yes we are but most people use our bodies for their videos to be watched more and draw crowds to it. Hear guys saying, you saw that honey on the video and it will often have a grin accompanying the question.
It starts with us, you, me and every other woman to know they deserve better treatment and maybe it will start clicking to men that we are not objects of their pleasure. When we bow down to these norms are we not indirectly saying fry us we are your eggs? Rape us and beat us we are at your disposal? The average music video will have a naked woman. Of late they are twerking and before feminists start screaming at me we are allowed to do as we want but we know that for men that is great viewing for their eyes. They sexualise us and want to tap that as they say. They are designed to desire the female body but we have made them lose respect for us and see us as objects of just their pleasure no matter how we feel about it.
In the olden days people were barely covered but then we had not created this culture that sexualises everything about the female body. There was once a grab a butt day some three years back or so, I don’t know if it is still around but it was a huge thing and often the guys would grab women’s butts. A particular incident comes to mind in our PR Varsity class this guy came up to us as we were sitting and said it is grab a butt day so can he grab a butt, some ladies got up and pushed their butts out and the guy grabbed them. They said come on be a sport Onawanda; I said never that is degrading, why he must grab my butt for his pleasure and that be considered me being a sport?
As we are faced with this crisis and hash tags #MenAreTrash we should ask ourselves have we not allowed the sexual objectification of our bodies by men by them using us as fun things, pleasure givers, objects to be tapped, grabbed one of the reasons the average man believes the world revolves around him? Oh and how we allow them to mistreat us and cheat on us and we cover up and say all men are like that and accept but we know well the effects of those things and what forms in a mind of a man.
It begins with us. We are better than that. We are not objects.