TRUE or FALSE?
I recently told a group of men standing around their outdoor fire this alarming statistic I found from reading a Report by the Medical Research Council of South Africa (MRC). They told me not to generalize, paint men with the same brush etc. So I told them that I was not the one saying it, I was just sharing information that the researchers at the MRC had discovered after conducting interviews with a cross-section of South African men and , when asked the question have you ever forced yourself on a woman ( sex without consent) one in three respondents said yes. One of the men standing around the fire said “don’t tell us about flawed, western statistics’. So I decided to tell them a story, based on my own personal experience, to illustrate why I shared the information in the first place, and why the figure though shocking may not be so far-fetched after all. Here’s the story…
I’m going to tell you about an incident that happened to me, with one of you. A friend we all like, educated, sophisticated, an artist, well-spoken articulate man, who is well-travelled, well read, modern, liberal and even revolutionary, he is one of us. You know him. In fact he is your friend.
We all went out one night partying and as it often happens in Jozi we ended up bringing the party to my house, in Melville, which I shared with my partner at the time, a woman. My partner and I had been out together and she met some of her friends, including this guy along the way and brought them back home . Being tired (too drunk) I passed out on my couch in my living room while the party was still going on – people still talking and drinking.
At some point in the night I felt cold, and woke up to discover that my pants (trousers) were being been pulled down, including my under wear (panties). Then I woke up with a start to find our friend busy trying, very gently, to pull them all the way down, I asked him what he was doing, and he said its fine – I must just relax. I jumped off the couch and pulled my pants up and went to my room which I locked and tried very hard not to think about what just happened this despite his pleas for me to let him just….
In the morning – he was still there – I told my partner about what had happened to me, her friend had done it. And he on seeing my face told me that I was a “BITCH”. I was really hurt by that and didn’t understand where I became the bitch in this story that he knows so well; would I have been less of a bitch if I allowed him to have sex with me? If I didn’t wake up? Why was I a bitch? I caught him trying to have sex with me while I was sleeping. Nothing had happened before that could have led to me ‘consenting” to that situation. I was home, on my couch, in my Living room. I know I never said yes to anything…How could I? I was sleeping! And when I woke up and found him attempting I refused, stood up pulled up my pants and ran to my room. Who is the BITCH?
So now whenever I see him and I am sitting next to a woman or a man, and they ask me why he never greets me, I tell them my story “ he tried to have sex with me while I was sleeping one night, and in the morning called me bitch” So I am the bad person and it’s okay. “No we (were) are not in a relationship”
That’s just your experience sister, they said, you were just unfortunate. No I replied I was very fortunate… because I woke up before he could do it – I am forever grateful – to not to have to count rape as an experience I have had in my life. I am blessed. I do not see it as an unfortunate incident on my part at all. I trusted this man, who was my partner’s friend, I had no reason to believe or even think that he or any of the men who were there that night would attempt to do that to me. I felt safe. But I could never fully trust men after that, even men I thought I knew, I knew I could never fully know and therefore fully trust.
The incident was unfortunate for him, I concluded. Then someone began to talk about labour Union Cosatu President Zwelinzima Vavi’s current sexual infidelity scandal. Vavi admitted to having sex with a woman, a junior staff member she consented; now she is black mailing him, she is just being used by political forces to discredit Vavi, the comments went on from other lips. Someone said something about how could women expect to be trusted if they lay charges and then withdraw them? She was lying, she consented to it. Maybe it is TRUE.
But it has been my experience and I’m sure there are many women who have experienced this too ; It is REFUSING to have sex , not CONSENTiNG to it that has put me, and many other women in the Dog box. Professionally and Personally. I won’t make a list of the many incidents.
Which makes one in three — a believable statistic.
True or false?
- Vavi to face rape accuser (iol.co.za)
- What Violent or Non-Coercive Sex Might Have To Do Or Not With Political Conspiracy in South Africa (newafricanmen.wordpress.com)
- Banging home the politics of adultery (iol.co.za)
- Naming rape accusers? Beatty, just don’t. (journoactivist.com)
- Cosatu’s dilemma and Vavi’s road to redemption (dailymaverick.co.za)
- ‘Of Good Report’, Sugar Daddies and Vavi (dailymaverick.co.za)
- Why I didn’t report #4 (journoactivist.com)
- Rebecca Davis, Of Good report. sugar daddies and Vavi (raymondsuttner.com)
- Vavi and the perilous cocktail of politics, sex and conspiracy (dailymaverick.co.za)
- Vavi fights on (iol.co.za)