Friday, April 07, 2006

Cultural alibis, dubious beliefs

Because my culture says it’s ok seems to be the new catch phrase for behaviors all along the questionable behaviors continuum.

For instance, one of the lessons that has emerged from the ongoing rape trial of our ex-Deputy President, Jacob Zuma, is that If you don’t have sex with a woman (and they are wearing a skirt, so clearly wanting it), you are morally wrong and criminally accountable. Heck, you may even be charged with rape. His culture has taught him that leaving a woman in that state (of sexual arousal) was “the worst thing a man could do.” Funny that, I thought rape might have claimed that title. But then, I’m just a woman. And an outsider to the norms dictated by Zuma’s culture.

It seems that culture gives you an alibi for just about anything you feel like doing. In a recent survey of school boys in our KwaZulu-Natal province, beating girls and forcing them to have sex was all justifiable in cultural terms. While one boy said that beating a girl was acceptable practice to keep her in line, another said that hitting a girl meant that you loved her, because if you didn’t (love her), you wouldn’t bother (to hit her). Following this line of argument into marriage, most of the participants believed that forced sex within a marriage was not a problem: “When we are married, I can force you to have sex with me because I know that I pay my money to buy you…” Nor did the youngsters think it was a problem for a man to have sex whenever and with whomever he wanted, even if it was not with his wife.

And what about the risk of AIDS? Well, one can hardly blame young boys for being unconcerned about the possibility of contracting the virus if our former Deputy President, a man who continues to command a strong following and who, ironically, is the former head of the National AIDS Council, has openly admitted to engaging in unprotected sex with an HIV-positive woman. If boys – and girls – want to have unsafe sex, all they need to do is shower afterwards. During his trial, Zuma has testified that he showered after having consensual sex with the alleged rape victim to minimize his risk of contracting HIV from her. A revelation that is sure to set a good example for those who ardently follow and admire their leader: if you have unprotected sex with someone who is HIV-positive, you will be ok so long as you take an anti-HIV shower afterwards, wash all that yucky virus off of you.


JJ said...

JZ is such an embarrassment to the country. It makes me wonder how did we go wrong in the first place - putting such a man in high profile positions. He could have been our next president - scary!

Debra Leigh Marais said...

He may well still be our next president! Anything seems possible in this country. Mildly terrifying.