Gcobani Qambela

The quiet violence of sexist language

“There will be more diplomatic language to countenance rape, torture, assassination. There is and will be more seductive, mutant language designed to throttle women, to pack their throats like paté-producing geese with their own unsayable, transgressive words …” were some of the observations made by Toni Morrison in her 1993 Nobel lecture. It was hard…

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Resistant whiteness: On Pistorius, Memela and the dead bodies of women

Sandile Memela recently issued an apology to “countrymen” in the form of Dr Piet Mulder, The Freedom Front Plus, The FW de Klerk Foundation “and everyone who was offended” by his article “Oscar would be a hero if Reeva were a black man”. In the article, Memela questions if Reeva Steenkamp were a black man,…

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No love at Rhodes University?

There’s a widely used quote by Martin Niemöller that I love: “First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out – because I was not a Socialist. Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out – because I was not a Trade Unionist. Then they came for…

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How not to pick up women in SA

Written with Rethabile Mashale* City Press ran a story on December 22 by Charl du Plessis titled “The art of picking up women in SA”. The article on Pick Up Artist SA’s boot camp on picking up women is about “the secret psychological techniques that will help [men and lesbian women] get lucky with South…

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Beyoncé: A feminist in her own terms

Beyoncé is undoubtedly one of my generations’ most iconic and influential global figures and sheroes. Titans such as Oprah Winfrey, Barack and Michelle Obama, and our very own Nelson Mandela have hailed and expressed awe at her extraordinary talent, groundedness and the humble personality she oozes. At just 32 years she has a net worth…

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Shallow rhetoric, Mandela and personal responsibility

I still vaguely remember the first time I found out who Nelson Mandela was. My parents had an ANC sticker in their bedroom wardrobe that carried Mandela’s face. I did not know anything about him at the time, but it wasn’t until my mother caught me trying to remove the sticker that I would first…

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The role of men during #16Days

*Trigger warning I was shocked to see a tweet by controversial South African blogger Sentletse Diakanyo on the first day of 16 Days of Activism against gender-based violence in South Africa. In the tweet Diakanyo says that: “We must not ignore the slaughter of unborn babies during this 16 Days of Activism.” He went on…

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‘Side-guys’ and ‘side-chicks’ in the time of Aids

I just read a very troubling article by Mail & Guardian columnist Khaya Dlanga titled “Why do side-chicks happen?” In this article Dlanga claims to investigate in the South African context the reasons why (American-focused) research suggests that multiple lovers have come to “become even more popular in the modern age”. He cites a study…

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The politics of the white male penis

I recently watched Lawrence Barraclough’s two interesting documentaries on white men and penis size. The first one “My Penis and I” chronicles Barraclough and his personal struggle with a tiny three inch (erect) penis and follows his journey as he considers having penis enlargement surgery. The second documentary, “My Penis and Everyone Else’s”, follows up…

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Why Trevor Noah’s Semenya tweet matters

By Gcobani Qambela The former secretary-general of the United Nations, Kofi Annan, says: “All the cruel and brutal things, even genocide, starts with the humiliation of one individual.” I was reminded of this quote this past Friday when I logged into my Twitter feed to find the mixed reactions to South African comedian Trevor Noah’s…

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