Jen Thorpe

It’s not what you said, it’s how you said it

We’ve all heard that line from parents, grandparents and other elders, but what if it actually applies to everything we say? The way we talk about groups of people in some way constructs them in the world around us. It shapes our expectations of people, their abilities, their strengths, and weaknesses. Our understanding of good…

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Alice in Plunderland

Alice Walker spoke with poise and compassion when she delivered the 11th Steve Biko lecture at UCT last Thursday evening. Her speech, titled “Coming to see you since I was five” was more than just a reflection on her own relationship with our country, it was a call to order. This was a lecture worth…

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What do our crime stats mean?

The government has released its latest crime statistics. You can access the full page here. The scary truth is that approximately 2 121 887 serious crimes were committed in the 2009/2010 calendar year. More than 30% of these were contact crimes and more than 25% were property-related crimes. So what does that mean for the ordinary citizen?…

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Great Sexpectations

Tick tock, tick tock. That sound is the passing of time, and lots of it has passed since the 50s, or at least I had hoped so. The love of my life has been given a job in Johannesburg (a dusty, dirty and angry city) and we currently live in Cape Town (a fresh, clean…

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Lessons from ‘The Nanny’

I was lucky enough to be invited to the US Embassy in Cape Town last week to meet Fran Drescher of The Nanny fame, and to hear her speak. Yes, she does sound like she does in the show, and yes, she does laugh like she does in the show. But, what I didn’t know…

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Do we start off good or evil

I read with horror the reports of more gang rape in the DRC over the past weekend. Many women and young men were raped by soldiers (of a form), with guns and violence that will impact on them for life. Many of these soldiers are themselves young men, who have grown up in a world…

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Have you been to ‘n Gat party?

On Saturday night I made my way in a Rikki taxi to attend what I expected to be an Afrikaans sokkie-jol in the heart of a suburb of Cape Town. We pulled up outside the rugby hall to hear what sounded like evangelical music pouring out the window. I looked around at the people in…

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Money, money, money

I was reading an article about the rights that victims of crime have in terms of getting compensated after they have been to court. In this article, and the poll on the side of the post, there was the general sentiment that money simply wasn’t going to cut it. Maybe this speaks to a feeling…

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If you know, should you tell?

A lot of the law around children requires ordinary citizens who know about child abuse or molestation to report it. It is in fact illegal to know about this stuff and not report it — if you don’t report, you are complicit. This makes sense in some respects, and some respects it doesn’t. Obviously it…

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The noises next door

Every year 1 400 women are killed by their partners, and maybe we were listening. If your neighbour plays music really loud on a week night, do you go over and ask them to keep it down? If they start banging their drums at 9pm in a residential area, do you think you should ask them…

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