By Walter Bhengu
Every Sunday evening at 7pm as many people wrap up their weekend in anticipation for the week ahead, a show, which has taken the airwaves by storm, plays on Mzansi Magic. Our Perfect Wedding draws a large viewership judging by how it trends every Sunday on social media with the hash tag #OPW popping up on timelines well into Tuesday morning. It’s a show that follows the journey of couples in their last week before the big day. It highlights the trials and tribulations, highs and lows of planning and executing this very big day.
We are shown how the South African wedding model merges the Western wedding and the traditional wedding ceremonies. There are lots of hilarious moments, lots of reflective moments, and lots of romantic moments. All in all it reads like a “feel good” novel with millions of viewers glued to their screens for a blow-by-blow account.
But there is one train of thought that has emerged as the show has grown — men are watching the show more and more. As a result comments on social media like “men shouldn’t watch Our Perfect Wedding” have begun to surface. Men who openly share their views on the show or watch it religiously have been implicitly and explicitly called gay or sissies. I enjoy Our Perfect Wedding very much, and I am one of those people who doesn’t miss an episode. I love its realness, the drama, the love story and the insight into the process of planning a wedding. Sadly I now find myself being castigated and vilified by certain sections society that think men have no business watching shows “meant for women”.
I remember I went through a similar process four years ago when I got hooked on The Tyra Banks Show and The Oprah Winfrey Show (yes I was a late bloomer). At that time I was told I am not a real man and I’m perpetuating the pussification of masculinity. The sad part about these comments was that they came from males and females, friends and acquaintances. They came to me as “concerned citizens” trying to correct my “deviant” behaviour.
Why should we be bound by societal and gender constructs that do nothing but perpetuate stereotypes that add no value at all? Why should I be defined in a rigid manner and be told not to dare veer off lest the “societal demi-gods” view me as upsetting the state of nature? Why can’t I enjoy shows like The Real Housewives of Atlanta (another one of my favourites) in the same way I have female friends who enjoy watching the Soweto derby (at least they don’t get called names, I hope). I might not be a sociologist but doesn’t that entrench the patriarchal norms that are tearing up society? Doesn’t that feed the stereotypes that have perpetuated in society?
I am of the view that no one should dictate to other people what they should and should not enjoy doing. People should stop pushing rigid definitions on other people based on gender just because “society says so”. People should also stop calling people gay just because they like romantic comedies for instance, for me that reeks of homophobic vitriol that our modern-day South African seeks to rid itself of.
Allow us to watch Our Perfect Wedding in peace (even though after writing this I will never find peace).
Walter Bhengu is a non-practising attorney and aspirant academic who enjoys watching good shows on television.