Media's coverage of equality in politics

Month: April, 2013

sexism in same-sex relationships??

You will, generally, overhear quite interesting conversations and viewpoints on the Jammie to Upper Campus. This week, with the strikes and all, the Jammies were jam-packed and the topics of conversation even more astonishing than usual.  One conversation I happened to overhear was about a gay relationship. These two friends were discussing ways in which to determine who is the ‘man’ and who is the ‘woman’ in the relationship.

I always thought that it was quite obvious that there is no woman in a gay relationship and no man in a lesbian one. Is that not the point of homosexuality? Or do they assume gender roles?   It seems quite arrogant to assume that homosexual couples mirror heterosexuals. That implies that heterosexuality, man and woman, is the only way in which you can be in a relationship. This of course is only my personal opinion.

After discussing this with friends and doing very little research I discovered that taking on gender roles in a homosexual relationship is very complex. Males are gendered into domineering and strong while women are gendered into being passive and physically attractive. People in same-sex relationships allegedly assume these types of roles to a certain extent.  For instance, it is said that in lesbian relationships you get the ‘femme’ and the ‘butch.’ The femme obviously being girly and portraying the feminine entity in the relationship and the butch the masculine role of dominance.  This creates a division between the femme and the butch lesbians and similarly between the femme and the bear in gay relationships.

Now, I understand that in certain relationships this will be the case. My problem is that it is generally assumed that all homosexual are like that. It is not to say that the femme exhibits solely feminine and non-masculine behaviour and vice versa. To assume that would be quite ignorant. It seems that gender roles are placed in same-sex relationship because we don’t know another way to analyse relationships. These divisions as a result of gender roles create systemic inequality for partners that are considered feminine in the same way that heterosexual relationships systematically employ principles that support the domesticity of women.

So sexism in same-sex relationships? It seems like an odd concept to grasp, yet it is very real. There is a  possibility that the diminishing of gender roles might change the foundation of relationships. This might be the reason why this topic is met with reluctance and apathy. However, you should ask yourself whether changing the foundation of relationships is really a bad thing.


Thumbs up for SA supporting gay rights

Same-sex marriages are currently legal in Argentina, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Iceland, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, South Africa, Sweden and most recently  New Zealand. France and Uruguay are said to be up next. If these three countries enact the law the number of countries allowing same-sex marriages will rise to 13. As many countries are re-examining their laws it has become evident that the issue of civil rights and equality of rights are taking a prominent role in politics.

In 2006 South Africa became the fifth country in the world to pass the law on same-sex marriage in the world. The existing legal definition of marriage was in conflict with the Constitution since it states that “the state may not unfairly discriminate directly or indirectly against anyone on one or more grounds, including race, gender, sex, pregnancy, marital status, ethnic or social origin, colour, sexual orientation, age, disability, religion, conscience, belief, culture, language and birth” [Section 9(3) ]. The Constitution prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and this means that same sex relationships are entitled to equal protection.

The general law definition of marriages was not changed as it would upset various religious and conservative groups. Instead, a separate Civil Union Act was adopted which extended the right to marry to all unmarried couples (heterosexual as well as homosexual) over the age of 18. By allowing same-sex couples to marry they will be given access to basic rights such as hospital visitation during an illness, taxation and inheritance rights, access to family health coverage, and protection in the event of the relationship ending. Furthermore the right to formalize a relationship recognized by law should be extended to all people irrespective of their sexual orientation.

I just want to express how proud I am of South Africa for making the necessary changes in order to ensure equal treatment for all. Here is a song I think everyone should listen to too





Shall we focus on what is really important

In my previous post I attempted to define feminism and talked of its relevance. Now let’s talk about feminists. More specifically, is feminism open to all? Can men be feminists? Feminists, in accordance with my previous post, are defined as people advocating equal social, political and economic rights for men as well as women. According to this definition yes, men can be feminists.

However, it is argued that men can be pro-feminism and   anti-sexism, but not quite feminists, since they are not part of the targeted group and cannot truly be called feminists because of their privileged position in the patriarchal system and their lack of experiencing oppression based on gender.

I believe that men who are campaigns for women’s rights and who is able to give up their position in the patriarchal system can be called feminist. After all, feminism is all about equality of the sexes. There should be less time devoted to the technicalities of the definition and more about the actual issue at hand. 

Is feminism still relevant

A contemporary look at feminism:  You can drive, so now what?

The problem with understanding feminism often lies in misunderstanding the definition. There are various branches of feminism, for instance cultural feminism, liberal feminism and radical feminism. Radical feminism is generally the stereotyped feminism and the reason for the stigma attached to the term.  As times have changed, however, so has the nature of feminism.

During an interview with Nicki Spies, author of Seks – wat is die eintlike storie , she defines feminism as a   ”philosophical stance and way of living which views both men and women as equal and supports equality for all.” This definition is accepted for the purpose of this article. Therefore, I am not referring to the stereotyped idea of feminism which includes bra-burning rituals and the refusal to shave, but rather to people, women AND men,  advocating equal economic, social and political rights for both men and women.

Radical feminism is often criticised as people tend to forget that at that time in history it was necessary to bring about change. Since the feminist movement in the late 19th century a lot has changed.  Women in most countries have attained the right to drive, work and vote amongst numerous other rights. So the question arises; why is feminism still relevant in modern times? Well, in the Middle East and North Africa women are systematically denied their human rights and experience the effects of extreme inequalities.

However, let’s take a look at the situation in South Africa, a country which constitutionally guarantees equal rights for all its citizens yet is seen as the rape capital of the world. The truth is that gender inequality is still a common occurrence in everyday life. Society is still largely male dominated and lacks representation for females. This can be seen as an explanation for the widespread rape and domestic violence against women. Why then does gender inequality exist in a country that claims that all people are equal?

Through socialization a number of gender roles and norms have been institutionalized. This is problematic because this establishes underlying power inequalities. Masculinity is defined as sexual dominance while femininity is seen as sexual submissiveness. These gender conventions support the patriarchal system which benefits men. Contemporary feminism has often been criticized for wanting to promote strictly women’s rights and has been accused of being demeaning towards men. Feminism is not opposed to men, but rather to the patriarchal system.  According to Nicki Spies patriarchy is based on ‘privilege, hierarchy and oppression’. Patriarchy also ridicules feminists’ effort to gain equality.’ It diminishes it as the ‘desperate action of bitter and/or homosexual women’. The patriarchal system is thus the reason for the negative stigma attached to feminism. It creates a divide between those who believe in the system and those trying to fight it. Men who do not support patriarchy are often seen as lesser men and it reduces their status.

Despite this negative connotation associated with feminism it has played major roles in the past. The first wave of feminism was in the 19th Century and focused primarily on gaining political rights. The second wave not only fought political inequalities, but also social and cultural inequalities. The third wave of feminism was concerned with being more inclusive and not just focusing on upper-class white women. These three waves of feminism is the reason why women are deemed as legally equal to men.

In modern times, feminism is seen as out-dated and too aggressive towards men. People are reluctant to attach themselves to this term. Cases like the rape and murder of Anene Booysen however places gender inequality on the foreground again. South Africa has called on its men to change their attitudes towards women. An increasing number of people, especially in the youth of South Africa, have become involved in the campaigns against sexual abuse without even realizing the link to feminism. Women are demanding that they should be able to make decisions about their bodies, lives and their sexual and reproductive health.

Through the attainment of seemingly social, economic and political equality it is thought that feminism is irrelevant in modern times. It is, in actual fact, still very important as gender conventions that emphasis the subordinately of women still continue to exist. In South Africa inequality and double standards are prevalent. Feminism plays a major role in exposing issues that would otherwise be ignored. Feminism will be relevant until society reaches a point where women are not treated as inferior and sexual objects, but as equal human beings.






Contact list of people involved in this article

Name: Nicki Spies                                            Name: Nicola Hartell

Email: pns@telkomsa.net                                 Email: nicolabuurly@gmail.com

Number: 082 341 0308                                     Number:082 441 3819


Getting involved

It is great to see that so many people are getting involved in this movement. People have shown support of the Amina story by Posting topless protests photos of themselves on social networking sites. 


Photo Sources ( http://www.facebook.com/Femen.UA?fref=ts)

Rape In South Africa, News Analysis.

Rape has been high on South Africa’s news agenda throughout 2013. This is largely due to the violent and brutal rape of Anene Booysen that has been making numerous headlines. This essay looks at three different news stories covering the issue of rape. To a certain extent news story one creates an idealistic interpretation of change in South Africa. It portrays the people as well as the government effectively standing up against rape. News story two provides a more pessimistic perspective on the fight against rape in South Africa. News Story three  questions whether the rape of Booysen will finally bring about change in South Africa. The interpretation of this article suggests that more pressure should be placed on the government, especially on women politicians. This essay will explore the differences and similarities between these three stories as well as the storytelling strategies.

News story one’s headline gives a brief description of what the story entails. The headline renders attention by using sensational words like ‘horrified’. The headline is in active voice which supports the suggestion of the article; South Africa is dynamically combating the rape epidemic. Various people are quoted in this article. Protesters strongly opposed to the granting of bail to the accused are quoted, shaping the idea that South Africans have had enough and rape will no longer be taken lightly. President Jacob Zuma is also quoted articulating feelings of outrage and requesting the worst possible sentence for the rapists and killers. Lule Xingwana, the Minster of Women, agrees with Zuma. This suggests that the South African politicians are also actively involved in the struggle against rape.

People whom are not quoted also need to be taken into account. This article does not mention anything about surviving victims of rape and how their cases were treated. This may be because this article aims for a positive interpretation in light of change in South Africa. Another rape incident where police arrest the culprit is mentioned. This supports the positive perspective that the article provides.

The severity of rape is also addressed by how often rape occurs and how many cases are convicted. However, the interpretation of the story still suggests that effective measures are being taken to end gender-based violence. This positivity may be due to the fact that it is an international news source and it is removed from the immediate environment, and thus does not fully comprehend it.

Article two’s stance differs from article one. Simply from looking at the headline the audience can already form their opinion about rape in South Africa. This story compares the movement against rape in both South Africa and India after two brutal rape occurrences in each country. It is framed in a way to question South Africa’s response to rape. It places the emphasis on South Africa’s apathy and its reluctance to address rape. This causes the reader to place the blame of the ineffectiveness on the South African government and police.

Where the first news story suggests that sweeping changes are being made, a more negative interpretation is formed while reading this story and South Africa is made out to be passive. There is also an alteration in the type of people that are quoted and mentioned. Andisiwe Kawa, a rape victim, is mentioned in this article. Instead of stating politicians’ plans and proposals on controlling rape, it exposes how surviving rape victims are truly dealt with. This creates the impression that, despite the wide-spread media attention, fundamentally addressing rape is not high on the South African political agenda.

This article includes statistics to support its perspective of rape in South Africa. It is an effective tool to convincing the audience of the regularity and brutality of rape in South Africa. It permits the reader to view rape in a broader context  (Newham & Tiegreen, 2008).

Where story one is ideological about change in South Africa and story two slightly cynical, story three poses the question whether or not the case of Anene Booysen will finally create mass action against rape in South Africa. This question headline provokes curiosity in the reader. Similar to story two, it compares India’s campaign against rape to South Africa’s. Although this story is not as pessimistic about reforms, the overall perspective is still negative. Other occurrences of rape are present in this article. This has a similar effect to adding statistics as it provides a broader context of the issue at hand so that the readers can understand its severity.

This story is framed to place more responsibility on the government of South Africa. This is done by emphasizing the effectiveness of the outcry in India in contrast to the inadequate response in South Africa. It also places more effort on the South African government by insisting that the government should financially assist anti-rape organisations. Additional pressure is added to women in the government as women politicians are accused of ‘not doing enough’. The function and effect of ANC’s Women League is also discussed. This creates an underlying assumption that rape is primarily women’s problem and that it is their responsibility to combat it.

These three stories all acknowledge the severity of rape. Story one differs from story two and three as it is creates a more idealistic interpretation about the changes implemented in South Africa. Story two and three both compare the reaction of India and South Africa when brutal rape cases occurred in both countries.  Story two places emphasis on South Africa’s apathy to combat rape. The reader will interpret the ineffectiveness of anti-rape campaigns as a result of government inaction. Story three places the responsibility to bring about change on the government and especially women politicians. This suggests that rape is still largely only women’s problem.  Statistics and other incidents of rape are included in these stories as a tool to support each story’s angle.














Mapenzauswa, S. 2012. India gang rape shames SA. IOL News. February 6. Available: http://www.iol.co.za/news/south-africa/india-gang-rape-shames-sa-1.1465496#.UVrFZJPikwo [2013, February 6].

 Miller, D. 2012. Gang Rape that horrified South Africa: Girl, 17, is ‘mutilated to death’  and dumped on a building site. Mail Online. February 12. Available: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2277543/The-gang-rape-horrified-South-Africa-Girl-17-mutilated-death-dumped-building-site.html [2012, February 12].

Newman, E. & Tiegreen, S. 2008. The Effect of News “Frames”. Dart Center for journalism & Trauma. January 2008. Available: http://dartcenter.org/content/effect-news-frames#.UVq1L5Pikwo [2008, January 1].

  Swart, H. 2013. Will Anene Booysen’s brutal rape and murder shake the nation into action? Mail and Guardian. February 15. Available: http://mg.co.za/article/2013-02-15-00-will-anene-booysens-brutal-rape-and-murder-shake-the-nation-into-action [2013, February 15].