Malema: 'Enough is enough'
Judge nails youth league leader over sexist outburstsMar 15, 2010 10:51 PM | By Phylicia Oppelt
Phylicia Oppelt: Today, I write this column with the faintest glimmer of hope that things are not all that bad.
Hatred of and violence against women is unacceptable
I write it not because there has been a massive shift in South Africa and our leaders toward the realisation of our Constitution.
I write it not because the service delivery protests are over and that all children are safe.
I write it because a woman judge stood up and said "enough is enough".
She didn't say it in those words, but her judgment in the equality court said it for her.
Yesterday, Magistrate Colleen Collis fined ANC Youth League president and South Africa's chief rabble-rouser Julius Malema R50000 and ordered that he issue an apology for comments made last January when he spoke of President Jacob Zuma's rape accuser.
Malema said: "When a woman didn't enjoy it, she leaves early in the morning. Those who had a nice time will wait until the sun comes out, request breakfast and ask for taxi money."
That hope was strengthened with the knowledge that the person who took Malema to court is African and male.
Moreover, it is someone who found himself called upon to do what the elders of the ANC (for all of their historical "revolutionary" zeal and bravery) have not the courage to do - to publicly contradict and go against Malema.
Mbuyiselo Botha's court action speaks of activism, of action. It speaks of someone not cowed by the invective spewed by Malema.
Instead, Botha's action says, we will hold you accountable; we will make you accept responsibility for holding others in contempt.
But we need more than one court action and we need more than one man's convictions that hatred of and violence against women is unacceptable.
In 1983, late feminist Andrea Dworkin asked for a [twenty-]four-hour truce during which there was no rape.
She spoke to a room of mainly politically active men when she asked this, saying that there was nothing difficult or complex about the reason why men rape.
They raped, Dworkin said, because of the kind of power that men have over women.
"That power is real, concrete, exercised from one body to another body, exercised by someone who feels he has a right to exercise it, exercised in public and exercised in private. It is the sum and substance of women's oppression."
She also said women were no longer going to do men's work, helping them believe in their own humanity. "We cannot do it anymore. We have tried."
Malema's outbursts against women prove her point. When he calls ID leader Patricia de Lille "not a real woman" or the DA's Helen Zille a "little girl", he understands full well the power relations in our country; that as a man, however intellectually bereft, he can get away with it.
His behaviour makes a mockery of the leader for whom he sings, dances and insults.
In this context, of having a chief supporter who is a woman-hater, how can I take my president seriously when he speaks out against rape?
How much credence must I lend to his statement that the men who raped the female paramedic last week in Roodepoort's Durban Deep - after she and her colleagues went to treat a two-year-old burn victim - are animals?
How must I deal with President Jacob Zuma's statement: "The government is distressed. These people are animals. All you need is a bit of fur and these people are animals"?
How can I be sure my president is listening to the distress that I and my fellow countrywomen suffer when we think of our personal safety and the reality that we might end up victims of rape?
My hope in Botha's courage will be replaced with fear and trepidation tonight when I approach my driveway, peering across the steering wheel into the dark recesses between houses to ensure no one is waiting who wants to do harm.
I have learnt to keep the car's engine running until the automated gate has shut and I'm sure no one has followed me in.
Who else will stand up for us in our moments of fear?
Botha's courage might have influenced a court to pronounce Malema culpable of hate speech against women - but Malema's pronouncements are able to convert young men into haters of women.
And it is in that realisation that my hope dies a rapid death.
[Julian's note: Here is that speech.]