Monthly Archives: February 2010

on the perplexing business of prostitution (1)

Like pornography, prostitution invites opposition and support from uncanny bedfellows. Radical feminists and the religious right want to see its complete elimination. ‘Pro-sex’ liberal feminists, pimps and the pornography industry argue it needs some tweaking. This bizarre scenario partly accounts for the muted feminist responses in South Africa to prostitution. Very few things divide feminists globally more consistently than pornography and prostitution. In a context of solidifying misogyny, out of self preservation of a fragile feminist movement, it seems foolish to amplify those aspects on which feminists and other gender-progressives differ when there is so much else for us to do. Another reason for this muted response is the ambivalence many of us feel when confronted with prostitution. We feel as though we should have a very clear stance on something that is part of so many marginalised women in our society and the world.

It was with this deep sense of ambivalence that I attended a feminist workshop in Johannesburg earlier this week. As I write this, I have changed my mind several more times. One of the workshop’s speakers, Catharine MacKinnon, a radical feminist and law professor, has written and worked for the elimination of both pornography and prostitution for almost three decades. One the one hand, I share McKinnon’s and other radical feminists’ stance on pornography as violence. On the other, I have often used prostitution and ‘sex work’ interchangeably. I preferred the latter because it highlighted the work aspect often hidden when we speak about ‘prostitution’ as ‘sexual intercourse of a certain kind’.
For as long as prostitution is criminalised, those who work as prostitutes are open to various forms of exploitation and violence from state agencies, the police and clients. As workers, prostitutes should be entitled to healthcare cover and attention without stigma, protection under our labour legislation, to unionisation and affiliation to larger union federations for greater political might, if they so wish.

Decriminalisation would also mean that when clients and other members of society rape prostitutes, these women would have recourse to protection under the law like other citizens. Rendering work visible has opened formal domestic work, for example, to better legal protection.
Today, I am less comfortable in my previous stance which seems grossly inadequate for thinking about prostitution. At Monday’s workshop, MacKinnon reminded us that a significant number of adult prostitutes started out as prostituted children, and that sexual abuse is often a major precondition to entry on all continents. Unless you believe child labour and sexual abuse are justified, this puts the first spanner in the ‘sex work’ argument. Second, very few people get out of poverty through prostitution, and in South Africa the percentage of post traumatic stress disorder among prostituted people is 75%, higher than the 65% global average. Even more frighteningly, 80% of prostitutes interviewed in South African studies indicated that they’d like to leave prostitution but feel unable to. MacKinnon then turned and asked: “When exactly does she choose to enter into prostitution, then?”

I was not the only one who waivered in the face of this question. Given what we know about limited choice for unfree people, the dehumanisation of poverty, what does it mean that all over the world the majority of prostitutes are the most marginalised women? What happens when we think about prostitution as an institution that reinforces other inequities of race, sex and age alongside class? To say something is labour is not enough. Slavery is work too; it is also exploitation. The similarities are clear when we consider prostitution as ‘the purchase of a person for sex’ rather than ‘the purchase of sexual services’.

We are often invited to think about prostitution in relation to the looming FIFA World Cup. The coincidence of this moment with the longer legal review of prostitution legislation in South Africa offers us a rare chance to ensure that our country has the kind of legislation that contributes to full recognition of prostituted women. This may mean questioning our longstanding understandings of what is at stake and acting differently.

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So what if Julius Malema’s flash about his cash?

Maybe I am just not as smart as I used to be, but there is something that does not quite sit right with me about the whole media saga on Julius Malema and how he makes his money. The newspapers have been awash with speculation that the president of the ANC Youth League, who is overly fond of refering to himself in the first person plural (we), may or may not be benefitting from unethical practices by one or more of his businesses. The argument, roughly, is that he is a director/owner of various businesses which have benefitted from tenders from government. This is then used to make the additional point that these untoward business deals support his apparently lavish lifestyle.

Let us first get the disclaimers, or as Sibongile Ndashe would say ‘the passwords’, out of the way. I am no fan of the ANCYL president by any stretch of the imagination, but I do not think he is stupid. Far from it, I think he is incredibly canny, witty and deliberately funny. You don’t get to be as powerful and incredibly popular as Julius is by accident. And make no mistake about it, he is incredibly – and somewhat frighteningly – popular with a whole range of people. I find the ongoing jokes about his real or fabricated matric results distasteful.  At the same time, I think that Malema can be a bit of a loose canon – which is not always a bad thing in life, mind you. I was enraged by his very thinly veiled threats as he announced that he’d kill for Zuma. I was outraged and offended when he made the hateful misognynist comments about Khwezi. And I would not vote for him because I do not knowingly vote for misogynists. In other words, most of the time he annoys me endlessly. That is a very nice way of saying I find him unbearable most of the time.

But.

Yes, but.

I do not understand the specific tenor of the media obsession href=”http://www.mg.co.za/article/2010-02-21-malemas-lifestyle-sponsored-by-govt-tenders”>with how he makes his money. Firstly, I am not entirely sure that this is news, apart from the general way in which the culture of conspicuous consumption, flash living, and  corruption are newsworthy – sort of.  At best, if all that is claimed about Malema’s finances is true, what does it tell us about our society or political elite that we did not already know? The media has never shied away from illustrating the connections between political power and business connections in the awarding of tenders and other irregularities. Corruption does always need to be exposed – but what does ongoing exposure of what we (think we) already know achieve?

It confirms our suspicions over and over again, makes us angrier and then maybe prods us to act differently in response to the shoddy work of those we elect to power.

1. If Malema is guilty of doing something illegal – whatever corruption or other guise it takes – he needs to be brought to book. He needs to be investigated, arrested and convicted (in an ideal world, all three together).  But I am fascinated by how most media reports are less interested in establishing and/or claiming that there is criminality than in focusing on his body and questioning his gumption in being flash about his cash. In South Africa, are you kidding me? In the world in 2010?

2. If Malema is lying about having resigned from the various Directorships, then I would really like to know what he is hiding. It does not make sense for what he is hiding to be what we already know. That would not be very effective hiding, now, would it? And remember, I don’t think he is stupid. On the one hand, there may be something much more sinister here than ‘just’ corruption in usual guise. On the other hand, he did not technically need to lie to cover up the generalised corruption the papers claim they have found. Given that he is not a public state official – but an elected party official. Technically, he can own as many businesses as he likes and do as much business with government, receive as much cash funded by our tax rands as he likes and not owe us an explanation, unless there is something untoward and illegal happening. Unless ‘we’ elected him to the ANCYL presidency, which I did not. The fact that he seems to have lied about these resignations worries me a lot more than the possibility that he is getting tenders and money through political connections. Newspaper reports and arguments by Redi Direko who interviewed Malema on her show on 702 this morning point out that Malema is still listed as Director of several businesses he claims no connection with. She also pointed to some other illegality since he arrived for the interview with her in the same license-plate free white Range Rover he arrived at Wits in last week. As Direko pointed to the irresponsibility and illegality of driving/riding in the car, Malema remarked that he had not noticed and would talk to the driver about rectifying this. Does he really expect anyone to believe this? Then, there is the bizzare gameplaying or scapegoating that he engaged in rather than answering another journalist’s questions.

This all makes me wonder much more about what is really going on here. I wish the media were doing a better job of actually providing some news on this front, rather than telling us how he flashes his cash at the same time that even respectable media outlets celebrate others who flash their cash. Part of this hypocrisy on bling culture and celebrity culture is that old fashioned business is founded on the same unethical and unscrupulous acquisition of money through barely legal ways.

As for Malema, I wait with bated breath for the REAL story to break, and will continue to scan the repetitive ‘news’ for something new.

Zuma polygamy drama – anti-feminist myths addressed

Much has been said in the media and private conversations on the latest revelations of the South African president’s paternity of a child ‘out of wedlock’.

Myth 1: It is a private matter.
Jacob Zuma is not a private citizen, but the President of the country and his sex and love life have implications for the rest of us. He pledged loyalty to certain principles, and it is the duty and right of the citizens to question his office when he is seen to transgress or jeopardise these same principles.

Beyond the Constitution, principles and other legal issues, however, there is no rule that citizens and institutions of a democracy can only question (or generally speak on) some things and not others. Free speech is one of the bases (and basics) of democracy.

When citizens think the president speaks with forked tongue on gender equality, on HIV/AIDS (risk/prevalence), on consistency, etc., this is not a private matter. When citizens’ taxes pay for an increasingly expensive Presidential family, they have every right to speak their minds on the matter.

Myth 2: Zuma can either have multiple partners and be subjected to criticism OR choose one partner and escape public scrutiny.
This is binary logic – which never gets us anywhere. The point of the matter is not whether in a feminist republic we’d force Zuma to choose one wife or banish him. (We’d probably banish Zuma for many more reasons, least of which his preference for multiple partners. There’d be equitable multiple partner relationships in the Feminist Republic.) The heart of the matter is that Jacob Zuma is a public, elected official and an ADULT, which means that he can do pretty much what he likes – apart from commit a crime, be caught and be convicted in a court of law (all together) – but he has to take responsibility for his choices, deal with the consequences of his actions and be grown up about it. Non-feminists could be forgiven for expressing the sentiment behind the saying ‘just be a man about it’ although not for its formulation.

This feminist wishes the President would stop acting like a helpless child who has no decisions, no choice and no mind of his own. We don’t have to agree on what the best choices are, or on why they are made, but addressing the issues instead of creating never ending smokescreens (culture, privacy, unavailability) would merit more respect.

Myth 3: Zuma’s critics romanticise monogamy, his defenders romanticise polygamy.
Debates on single versus multiple partners are such old hat for most feminists that many of us are at a loss for words when forced to explain why anti-feminist rhetoric insists on equating feminist critique of Zuma with a feminist celebration of monogamy. Are you kidding me?

Feminists have been arguing that monogamous heterosexual families were very often at the heart of patriarchal exploitation of women’s sexual, emotional, economic, pyschological, reproductive and intellectual labour for centuries.

Feminists have also said (again over and over again – across history and continents) such homes/families/households are the battleground when white supremacist heteropatriarchies exert violence – hence the devaluation and legalised separation of African/Amerindian/Native American/Asian families in slavery, colonialism, apartheid, etc.

Feminists have insisted that most women experience rape and other forms of violence from their intimate male partners in officially/formally monogynous contexts (and this has been a basic feminist premise for at least 50 years). Feminists said institutionalised monogynous heterosex is about controlling women, containing women’s sexual desire, and policing women’s reproduction.

African feminists especially have said that most monogynous heterosexual relationships benefit the man (to put it mildly) at the expense of the woman in it, and that multiple partner relationships can be about much more than oppression.

Some feminists say the institution of marriage is inherently patriarchal, so the ‘out of wedlock’ thing is not an issue in and as of itself. It’s the larger context of disregard for the dangers that come with infinite sexual relationships in a time of age AIDS that is the problem.

Again, much creative, experimental, public essay, academic, op-ed writing and other knowledge exists on the interesting ways in which multiple-partner relationships can be affirming and interesting spaces for women. Yes, many feminists also disagree with some of the above, but it’s patriarchally inconvenient to deal with any of the above.

Myth 4: The issue is polygamy’s legality and validity, both of which are under attack.
All the people who are saying ‘it is my culture’ to practice monogamy mean it is their culture for a man to have many women as partners – polygyny. They are also saying that their culture is static and we should all respect it without question, even if and when it speaks for us too. But, as feminists we insist that if it is ours too, then we can question, change, lay claim to it, question how it is being misrepresented. Every single proponent of the ‘culture’ plus ‘ploygamy’ argument that I have read in the SA news, seen or personally debated on radio, television or new media platforms has refused the same courtesy to women with multiple partners, whether these partners be men, women, intersex and/or trans-people, or a combination. So, they’re saying ‘it is my culture to practice polygamy’ but what they mean is ‘it is my culture to enter into polygyny’. And there is nothing specifically African about polygamy – people all over the world choose it.

Myth 5: It’s ‘unfair’ to focus on Zuma and leave the women who are his partners alone in public criticism.
When one of these women is an elected public official, she will be subjected to as much scrutiny from those of us who think that public responsibility matters. But so far, the women that Jacob Zuma has relationships are not elected officials – save for Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, who married and divorced Zuma. These other women are private citizens of interest and are therefore not obliged to act

Myth 6: Feminists ignore that women choose to enter into polygynous relationships.
See comments under “Myth 3”. There is nothing automatically feminist about either monogamous or polygamous relationships. Women will choose relationships with differing degrees of choice given that we live in a patriarchal and therefore unequal world. Not all women are feminist. No oppressive system has ever succeeded without the complicity and active support of members of those classes/groups it seeks to oppress. This is part of why the personal is political.

Myth 7: An apology deserves automatic acknowledgment and forgiveness, which is really the only way to deal with offered apologies in life.
Would that not just be fantastic? Then we call all go home to that great lala land that Ray McCauley lives in where all of us are Christians, and those of us who are Christians subscribe to the same gold gilded version he does. And there’d be no powerful oppressive institutions like white supremacy, patriarchy, Islamaphobia, imperialism, etc., because everything would be about individual pain and acknowledgement. This way, the only institutions we’d recognise would be the ones led by conservative men who tell us to shut up unless we listen to them justifying the validity of those other power matrices that supposedly don’t exist.

And no, I am not ‘the feminist spokesperson’. I don’t think we need one – we are all our own spokespersons. Women – whether they are feminists or not – are often not taken seriously in this country. Often what we say, and even our differences are generalised as though we are a mass with one mouth. This is patriarchy’s work – finish and klaar. The fact of the matter is that a variety of criticisms have been directed at President Zuma – but none of the variety is addressed in those who jump to his defense.

Global feminist conference launches ‘Call for participation’

MEDIA ADVISORY

Global feminist conference launches ‘Call for participation’

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
18 January 2010, Ottawa

A ‘Call for Participation’ was launched today for Women’s Worlds 2011, a global feminist conference being held in Ottawa-Gatineau in July of 2011.

Acknowledging that important insights come from academia, community, and everywhere in between, organizers have deliberately dubbed this a ‘Call for Participation’. Proposals from individuals, groups, coalitions, networks, and teams will be accepted until September 15, 2010. Potential presenters are being invited to submit proposals under the main congress theme, “Inclusions, exclusions, and seclusions: Living in a globalized world”.

Since its first congress in 1981, Women’s Worlds has grown from a modest academic gathering to a distinguished international and interdisciplinary event. The 30th anniversary of Women’s Worlds in 2011 will potentially be the largest gathering of its kind in Canadian history.

Bringing together academics, advocates, researchers, policy-makers, workers, activists, and artists of all ages from around the world, the 2011 congress will be an occasion for equality advocates from around the globe to discuss globalization as it relates to women. Organizers also consider it an opportunity to strengthen connections while collaborating on approaches to advancing women’s rights, women’s empowerment, and gender equality.

Proposals are invited in French, Spanish, or English via the online form at the Women’s Worlds 2011 website.

– 30 –

For more information:
Pam Kapoor
Communications, Women’s Worlds 2011
(001) 613.853.8089
media@womensworlds.ca

*************

AVIS AUX MÉDIAS

Lancement de l’Appel à participation d’un congrès féministe international

POUR DIFFUSION IMMÉDIATE
Le 18 janvier 2010, Ottawa

Mondes des Femmes 2011, un congrès féministe d’envergure internationale qui se tiendra à Ottawa-Gatineau en juillet 2011, lance aujourd’hui son Appel à participation.

Les organisatrices de Mondes des Femmes ont délibérément choisi de généraliser leur ” Appel à participation ” parce que, de l’université aux groupes communautaires, tous les milieux ont des perspectives importantes à proposer. Individues, groupes, coalitions, réseaux et équipes de travail peuvent soumettre leurs propositions d’ici au 15 septembre 2010. Les présentatrices sont invitées à s’inspirer du grand thème du congrès, ” Inclusions, exclusions et réclusions: Vivre dans un monde globalisé “.

De modeste rencontre universitaire lors de son premier congrès en 1981, Mondes des Femmes est devenu un prestigieux événement interdisciplinaire. Son 30e anniversaire en 2011 pourrait s’avérer le plus grand rassemblement du genre de l’histoire du Canada.

Rassemblant universitaires, militantes, chercheures, décisionnaires politiques, travailleuses, activistes et artistes de tous âges et de partout sur la planète, MF 2011 fournira aux militantes pour l’égalité du monde entier l’occasion d’explorer les enjeux femmes et mondialisation. Les organisatrices y voient également un lieu de renforcement des liens et de collaboration sur des approches visant l’avancement des droits des femmes, leur autonomisation et l’égalité entre les sexes.

Les présentatrices sont invitées à soumettre leurs propositions en français, en espagnol ou en anglais au moyen du formulaire Web qui se trouve sur le site de Mondes des Femmes 2011.

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Pour plus d’information:
Pam Kapoor
Communications, Mondes des Femmes 2011
(001) 613.853.8089
media@womensworlds.ca

*************

AVISO A LOS MEDIOS DE COMUNICACIÓN

Conferencia feminista global publica ‘Convocatoria abierta’

PARA PUBLICACIÓN INMEDIATA
18 de enero de 2010, Ottawa

Hoy se publicó la ‘Convocatoria abierta’ para participar en Mundos de Mujeres 2011, una conferencia feminista global que se llevará a cabo en Ottawa, Gatineau en julio de 2011.

Al reconocer que las contribuciones de la academia, de las comunidades y de cualquier forma de acción intermedia son igualmente importantes, l@s organizador@s han decidido dirigir esta “Convocatoria abierta”, a ponentes individuales, grupos, coaliciones, redes y equipos para que envíen sus propuestas de participación antes del 15 de septiembre de 2010. Se espera que l@s interesad@s en participar propongan presentaciones en torno al tema del congreso: “Inclusiones, exclusiones, y reclusiones: vivir en un mundo globalizado”.

Mundos de Mujeres, cuyo primer encuentro tuvo lugar en 1981, ha pasado de ser un pequeño encuentro académico, a ser un prestigioso acontecimiento interdisciplinario e internacional. En 2011, el 30o aniversario de Mundos de Mujeres será, con toda seguridad, el encuentro más importante en su tipo en la historia de Canadá.

Como punto de encuentro de académic@s, activistas, investigador@s, legislador@s, trabajador@s y artistas de todas las edades y de alrededor del mundo, el congreso de 2011 será la ocasión ideal para que defensor@s de la equidad de todo el mundo discutan las maneras en que la globalización afecta a las mujeres. L@s organizador@s también lo consideran una oportunidad para fortalecer contactos y colaborar en la construcción de enfoques que contribuyan a la equidad de género, al empoderamiento y al
progreso de los derechos de las mujeres.

Se invita a l@s ponentes potenciales a enviar sus propuestas de participación en español, francés, o en inglés, a través del formulario disponible en línea en el sitio web de Mundos de Mujeres.

– 30 –

Para obtener más información:
Pam Kapoor
Comunicación, Mundos de Mujeres 2011
(001) 613.853.8089
media@womensworlds.ca


Natalie McMullen
Research Assistant
Women’s Worlds 2011

http://www.womensworlds.ca

African feminist smarts (1)

Thinking of what animates me, I turn away from the madness and misogyny, sometimes and listen to what the wise have chosen to say at different times.

Sokari Ekine, activist, super-blogger, essayist:
“As in other regions of extreme poverty and militarisation it is largely women and children who are the most vulnerable due to gender disparities and sexism. They face sexual and domestic violence, assault and they are often the last to gain access to food, water and medical care as the fight for survival reaches critical conditions. Children more so now than ever, are vulnerable to sexual exploitation and who is authorising the many “orphaned” children who are been fast tracked through the adoption process to Canada, France and the US within days. How are we sure they are orphaned and do not have relatives searching for them at this very moment? I don’t believe one single child should leave the island at this moment – the cost of flying them to Canada and France can be used to provide them with the proper care they need in Haiti- it’s like kidnapping. This is why it is so important for foreign aid agencies to work with local groups – to search them out and not assume they dont exist – just takes a little effort.”

Nomboniso Gasa, analyst, essayist, photographer:
“When we ask for greater inclusion, we are told – there are protocols and ways of doing these things. Yes, we know. But why can’t we change not only the shape and size of the table to fit more people and stakeholders in Zimbabwe? Why can’t we in fact dare imagine a different script? The one that will lead firstly to an acknowledgement of how polarised our society is and how, here, today in South Africa, there continue to be xenophobic attacks, that we do not want to even acknowledge? Why can’t we put different indicators on the table and say well, yes, SADC leaders in the next six months, let us see normalisation of life in Zimbabwe and the neighbouring countries. By normalisation of life we mean different things of course. But I am sure we all agree on human dignity. Can we also agree that prevalent usage of rape as weapon of war is not acceptable? Can we agree that women’s bodies are not battlefields? Is it possible to have a time-table for the release of those who have been abducted even as speak of normalisation of trade relations?”

Ashleigh Harris, literature professor, poet, essayist:
“In the last century, patriarchy has adapted to feminist inquiry, but it has, ultimately, survived. What is required is that feminism adapt as feminism, without apologizing for its political impetus, so as to oppose these new and insidious forms of patriarchy.”

Jessica Horn, trainer, poet, essayist:
“Reflecting on the notion of radical democracy, what would a feminist constitution look like? And I would add, how would it enable young women’s participation and voice? How do we use our collective power base to push the feminist agenda forward? For while we do spend a considerable amount of time identifying and assessing our vulnerabilities, we also have a strong power base- the power of our numbers as half the world’s population, our collective intellectual power as feminists, our power as voters, as consumers (all of us are consumers) – and use this as the basis for catalysing change and holding our abusers to account.”

Kagiso Lesego Molope, novelist, essayist:
“I believe that in South Africa as in any other place in the world, an honest discussion about sexual assault, women’s oppression and women’s safety needs to begin with how we raise men. I’d like to move beyond the developed world’s approach of teaching women to empower themselves because – as I once announced to a room full of appalled liberal first world feminists – telling women to end rape is like telling black people to end racism. It seems counter-productive to me. When your child comes home from school after being bullied it’s best to address the bully’s behaviour instead of wondering what your child can do to stop it. There are basic behaviour patterns that need to be completely altered. Much of what we need to do, I think, lies in what boys learn – both from women and men – as they grow up.”

Gail Smith, essayist, photographer, journalist:
“Eve has become a South African icon alongside her employer
Madam. And like Bobo and Hall, I believe that this is a is a process that is politically charged and yet goes largely unchallenged. Instead, the cartoon is sold and syndicated internationallyI.t sells everythingf rom cell phones to advertising space on the SABC, and will apparently be turned into a soap opera soon. One of the most obvious examples of the commodification of poor black womanhood, slips seamlessly into the
silence on black women and their subjectivity in dominantc ulture. I am a black woman and I know how quickly white people who treat me like a stereotype lead me into a sense of humour failure.”

Sylvia Tamale, lawyer, law professor:
“Domesticity as an ideology is historically and culturally constructed and is closely linked to patriarchy, gender/power relations and the artificial private/public distinction. The way patriarchy defines women is such that their full and wholesome existence depends on getting married, producing children and caring for her family. In Africa, it does not matter whether a woman is a successful politician, possesses three Ph.Ds and runs the most successful business in town; if she has never married and/or is childless, she is perceived to be lacking in a fundamental way. Girl children are raised and socialised into this ideology and few ever question or challenge its basic tenets. Single, childless women carry a permanent stigma like a lodestone about their necks. They are viewed by society as halfbaked, even half-human. Thus, the domestic roles of mother, wife and homemaker become the key constructions of women’s identity in Africa.”

Privacy, Zuma Presidency and Polygamy

I will admit right of the bat that I wish that when the president of the republic makes front page news almost weekly, it would be for more politically refreshing reasons. I have wished this about all presidents of a democratic South Africa, and while interesting news can also be infuriating news, I’d rather read about something Zuma did that involves more than his love and sex life. I am not so delusional that I expect a feminist president when none was really in the running (although I did vote nationally for the one person I do interpret as Pan-Africanist, feminist, humane, unbought, Patricia de Lille).

I do expect the President to demonstrate some modicum of respect for the ideals that the highest office (in the country I pay taxes in) stands for. I expect not to have my intelligence insulted every week by the president and his praise singers in the ANC Youth League. I expect to wake up to months of newspaper reading without powerful men in the SACP-ANC-COSATU alliance badgering us with opportunistic talk of ‘culture’ to do their dirty, dirty gender work. When the ANC was re-elected into power, all of us did not suddenly hand over the mantle of being African cultural spokespersons to these men. If most Africans of any ethnicity are women, why do these men deign to consider themselves sole custodians of a culture they plunder for personal gain? This is truly filthy business, even for politicians of the sort we are mostly saddled with.

I am exhausted by Zuma and his antics. I am embarassed by him even though I did not vote for him again (I voted for him when I put my X next to the ANC in my previous national ballot papers, but that was before the rape trial), held no high hopes for this presidency given all that had gone before, and even though I am no nationalist (I will choose ‘loyalty’/’allegiance’ to the continent’s people everytime over loyalty to the nation state). I am most exhabusted by news of Zuma’s sex life – I wish I could say leave the details out of the news because I’ve heard more than I would want to. It is stunning that he really seems to think that power comes with no responsibility. Let him get married to as many women as he likes – as long as they consent. Let him even have multiple sexual partners in and out of wedlock.

However, he is the President of the country and what he does in his private life can have relevance for all of us, for HIV/AIDS policy, for gender relations, for the rise of misogyny in varied guise. The personal is political, and privacy is a function of privilege, and Zuma has both some institutional and significant class priviedge as the man at the helm.

What the president does is a matter of national importance. The talk of his privacy is nonsense – he is not a private citizen. And if he wants to carry on like he is, so that we are all constantly invitated to think about his sex life, then he must deal with the consequences of seeming to embrace living recklessly while in the Presidency. He cannot have it both ways – speak about the dangers of HIV/AIDS, about gender equity (even if some of us know better than to trust him) and then choose a life that suggests the opposite.

We do have a right to require consistency in the President, whether we voted for him or not. We also do have a right to ask him to step down, again, whether we voted for him or not.