Newsletter Date Volume 1, Issue 1 May
Ill be a
Inside the Outsider Breaking common taboos... From Editor’s Desk
"If life is to survive on this planet, it needs to decontaminate itself with a reduction of the male population.”
Mary Daly once stated that "If life is to survive on this planet, it needs to decontaminate itself with a reduction of the male population.” She is one of the great philosophers, professors and radical feminists; yet, some interpret this statement as crude, rude and biased. This statement led her to be elevated to man hating staus at Boston College for refusing to teach men. She was quickly stripped of her tenure. Some will say she stood up to what she fundamentally believed in. On the lighter side students, staff and people
at large still see the Gender Equity Unit as the recent Mary Daly of our time, The GEU is portrayed as a feminist fundamentalists Unit and some would steer away from it. This will be our first edition to deconstruct what GEU is and what it is not, One thing for sure is that we do not discriminate against any gender whatsoever. It is unfortunate that that it is not the case in the broader environment that we live in. Our doors are open to everybody and anyone. The GEU should not be
portrayed as a police station to those who had met with misfortune or had been discriminated against. It should be seen as a place of harmony where we share and bond for the greater good. I do hope you will enjoy our first issue, the beginning of undressing the stereotypes’ of the Unit and hopefully we will be fortunate to see you at our unit, Enjoy Kevin James
Inside The Outsider
Get it Together…
I once noticed a cleaner was mopping a floor at the Student centre, whilst still wet a student walked through and once confronted she told the cleaner “that’s your job so go on with it”.
Could you ever imagine a University without cleaning-, security- and administrative staff or an institution where chaos and disorder preavails? Each human being has a role to play in life and society. Some call it a symbiotic relationship, hence raising the question; is there such a relationship between students of UWC and their staff and more importantly what is the relationship between them and the security and cleaning staff? It is often said that students tend to take them for granted. Dr. Joyce Brothers once stated “Being taken for granted can be a compliment. It means that you've become a comfortable, trusted element in another person's life.” In this case is it accepted that we take the University Staff for granted? There was a brief period last year where there was a Cleaners strike, one could observe a general unhealthy environment around campus, toilets were unimaginery obscene, just the stench of the toilets could put you on a diet for a month, dustbins were overflowing with rubbish that looked like they have been there for weeks and contents started to decay. This was on campus alone, now imagine the state of the residences, Let’s be clear on one thing without the cleaners being on campus, UWC would have been in a total city of decay however they are still seen as lower class citizens of UWC, One can only imagine what they go
through with students and staff around. I once noticed a cleaner was mopping a floor at the student centre, while the floor was still wet a student walked through and when confronted she told the cleaner “that’s your job so go on with it”. To be more precise these are our Mothers, Fathers, Brothers and Sisters they have same rights as any of us and they are also citizens of UWC, Then why are we treating them like second class citizens within the walls of UWC? Is it because we are under assumptions that they are uneducated, receive lower pay and is of la ower class than most other UWC citizens? If the Rector can stop his vehicle and pick up pieces of rubbish along the road and deposit them in dustbins what makes you and I so special? Education does not only take place in lecture halls but is a social process, we all have morals and ethics and if by this time you don’t possess any of those mentioned then clearly you are not worthy to be here. On the other hand there exists a complex relationship between the security staff and the students, they seem not to have a symbiotic relationship.Students often complain that the security is incompetent, late to respond to emergency and not properly trained for their jobs.One thing to take into consideration is that there is always two sides to a coin, students rarely
comply with rules and regulations and some believe that rules are meant to be broken or bent. Unfortunately for them the security staff y become unresponsive. The gap widened even further after the death of a fellow residence student. Most students blame the response unit and their level of competency in handling abuse within the campus. However are they solely to be blamed? Some students do get to report such cases but then also revoke them, others don’t bother to report, Do we then still need to blame the Response Unit? Then again we as students expect nothing but perfection from Campus Response while they expect nothing but cooperation from students to do their work, if it’s easier said then done then why is there such a gap? One thing I know if all the citizens of UWC do our part in this society, we can actually make this into an oasis, Imagine if students cooperate with campus security unit and they too do their part, imagine that we give cleaners the respect they deserve to keep our oasis clean and conducive enough for us as students, Imagine if all this was possible. On the other hand imagine if the cleaners and response unit did not exist in our little cocoon society of UWC… I will let you ponder on that, we better start treating everyone with the respect and dignity that we expect from others… By Kevin James
Inside The Outsider
Food for Thought The Food Programme is a project run by volunteers at the Gender Equity Unit, the aim is to reduce or eradicate hunger on campus and is focusing on students living on Res. The Food Programme collects non perishable foods and urges staff and students to donate at least one can per month. Now imagine the population of plus minus eighteen thousand students and staff and each should contribute at least one non perishable food item. It is unfortunate that only a few people know about the Food Programme on campus, Food is a basic necessity to life, we need it in everything we do and
without it and we can definitely not be successfl. With the campus lifestyle we cannot concentrate on an empty stomach, I challenge anyone to contribute. These are small things that are taken for granted but have a huge impact on someone’s life. If we do our part in eradicating hunger and in the process contributing on building future leaders of this Nation. The Volunteers used to showcase documentaries, film festivals and organise debates as means of collecting the non perishable foods as means of collecting the non perishable food. Recently
the Volunteers organised the Professor Kadar Asmal Lecture focusing o n Hunger and Poverty in relations to the students on campus. Unfortunately the lecture was postponed due to health reasons (we hope him a speedy recovery) We do encourage people to do their bit and contribute at least one can of non perishable food, it can be dropped off at the Gender Equity Unity at anytime of the day. We truly do appreciate your donations and assistance.
Distribution of NonPerishable foods.
By Candice Bam
Thinking Forward... Albert Schweitzer once said that example is not the main thing in influencing others...it is the only. And that is the fundamental principle that Mentoring programme is premised on. The idea is that UWC students will become role models to their younger counterparts. The youth that the programme will be assisting are students from deprived communities who do not
believe that they will make it to matric, let alone University. That’s where the varsity students come in by sharing their experiences and by showing the youth that they too had gone through tough situations and have successfully made it into a tertiary institution. The aim is not to go in and try to save them from themselves but to go in and help change their mind sets. Letting them know that that there are
more possibilities out there for them. The essence then of the programme is to enhance self-esteem and selfrespect and respect for others. By Tremaine Bam
Mentors at the mentoring programme.
“Example is not the main thing in influencing others...it is the only.”
Inside The Outsider
Attention ‘POES’ users! Want me to mock your ‘teeny weeny’?
People, I hope you do realise that toilets are there to take shits, piss and freshen up – not a place to get knocked up in, right…?
How would you like me to strip away all your confidence by calling you on your genitals description in public? Want me to mock your ‘teeny weeny’? There are several negative connotations associated with the ‘P…’ word in general. The word is chiefly used throughout Coloured communities on the Cape Flats. The ‘P…’ word is derived from the word vagina (which we all know is a women’s private part, but yet we publicise it). Degrade and misinterpret its function and meaning. The majority of women feel offended by the word as it is seen as a form of degradation. I can exemplify the prejudices against women regarding their genitals by referring to historical figures such as Sigmund Freud. He proposed his theory of the Elektra Complex in which he stated that girls (at an early stage) are envious of the male penis. Clearly this example shows that women, in general, have been judged throughout the years on the basis of their vaginas. This article is not only aimed at men who use and misinterpret the word, but at women too . I have observed women all around using and abusing the word. If you as women want others to respect you, then respect yourselves.
I am not only referring to the verbal misuse of the vagina, but literally too. Certain men just do not appreciate women for being women, but for the fact that they have vaginas (obviously I’m referring to straight guys here). These men use women just for the sex. But let’s not judge one sole party here because certain women are so naïve that they allow themselves to be used by these men. Thus we shouldn’t end up blaming the guys alone (unless of course, it was rape). Both are guilty as charged. So don’t end up sobbing and pointing fingers around. We all as students came to varsity for an education right? But do women realise the risk of unwanted and unplanned pregnancies? And nine months later, pop! No more varsity, just cleaning up poop all day taking care of the little one. While the guys end up continuing with their studies. Are you going to allow this to ruin your life? Have you thought about the consequences and the innocent child’s life? If you as women and men are strong enough you’ll be able to resist to these urges. And to the men, don’t you have a conscience? It also seems that certain women just do not respect themselves. Another thing that irritates the living hell out of me (including many others I assume) is that people
use toilets as knock-up parlours. People, I hope you do realise that toilets are there to take shits, piss and freshen up – not a place to get knocked up in, right…? A great way to change your mindset on the ‘P…’ word and to get more respect for the opposite gender would be by attending the play ‘Reclaiming the P…word’ which is a programme of the Gender Equity Unit (GEU) located on campus. It is an Edu-drama which has been performed at the National Arts Festival, which was held in Grahamstown in 2007. The play has also impressed audiences at the Cape Arts and International Women’s Conference in 2008. This year the play was performed at the Baxter Theatre between the 1927 March. Watch out for the upcoming edition for a full review on the play. At the end of the day it seems that impulsive ‘decision-making’ is not the best way to go. I did not write this article to preach to anyone, but simply to make you realise that you cannot blame just one party when two were involved. Take responsibility for your own actions and think before doing things you’ll later regret. By Ashraf Booley
Inside The Outsider
Gay it Forward!! According to statistics a total of 30 South African lesbian women were recorded murdered solely because of their sexual orientation. “Not much” some would say, in a country with one of the highest number of murders and rapes in the world. The number might not be that large, but it is terrifying to even for a second think that in a country as “evolved” and “accepting of diversity” as South Africa, that there are still people who condone or even encourage such brutal attacks on a person simply because of their sexual orientation. According toi recent news reports, hate crimes against lesbian women are on the increase, especially in rural areas. Certain men somehow believe that they will be able to “turn lesbian women straight” by raping or attacking them. They refer to this as “corrective rape”. It’s very disturbing for me to even fathom that there are still such ignorant, close-minded people in the world. In light of these recent reports and after speaking to a few students on campus it has become abundantly clear that very few students at UWC actually know about the existence of the Gender Equity Unit, and even fewer students know anything about the “Loud Enuf” society.
Loud Enuf is an oncampus organisation whose primary focus is on the support of the lesbian, gay, bisexual (LGBT) and transgender community at UWC. Regardless of how you might try to ignore or downplay it, homophobia does exist on campus, but it is more than often simply not spoken about due to all the taboos attached to it. University students usually regard themselves as evolved and accepting, if there is any truth to this then why is the LGBT community on campus still falling victim great insensitivity, discrimination and prejudice from fellow students? Queer, fag, moffie, fruitcake, these are all terms that have too easily become part of people’s vocabulary. If these terms are intented to deliberately offend whomever it is said to, then why are they so comfortably being uttered toward the LGBT community on campus by fellow students. If they are derogatory should it not be viewed in the same light as any racial comments? I believe that we are not half as evolved and accepting as we like to think. Pink floats filled with shirtlesss sailors and dazzling drag performers. Oh yes, it can only be the fabulous Cape Town Gay Parade. This annual pride parade made its way to the Mother City on Febuary 28th and as usual ceased to disappoint. The
gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community of Cape Town, as well as general supporters, spectators and varios organisations linked with this event all ‘came out’ (pun intended) in support of this event. Cape Town pride carnival began in 2001 and is governed by a board of directors, executive and non executive members, a Pride Festival Commitee as well as volunteers. The gay pride carnival might seem like all fun and games to some, but it is focussed on creating awareness around the serious issue of discrimination and prejudice based on an individuals sexual orientation. I am not suggesting that you become a card carrying member of the LGBT community, I am however saying that we should work on eradicating our own biases and becoming more sympathetic toward the cause. A perfect way to do this would be by joining the ‘Loud Enuf ‘ society. By Anthea Matthews
According to statistics a total of 30 South African lesbian women were recorded to be murdered solely because of their sexual orientation
Certain men somehow believe that they will be able to “turn lesbian women straight” by raping or attacking them.
Inside The Outsider
Ponder this... They say never judge nor compare someone until you have walked a mile in their shoes… that’s my life philosophy. One thing I can attest to is that I don’t seem to live by that moral code and it happens so spontaneously as if it is innate in us. Another thing is that we all are territorial and complacent in our comfort zones hence we tend to miss out a lot on certain issues that needs to be spoken off. 11th to 15th of May 2009 will mark the Anti-Homophobic and Prejudice Reduction week on campus, hence this will be my departure point for this column, something that most of us are uncomfortable to talk about or engage in. The event and the project were originally started at the Gender Equity Unit by none other than Mary Hames, Director of GEU. The word “homo” itself triggers some bells to people who are in avoidance of the whole sex, sexuality or sexual orientation theme. This is where I say we must get out of our comfort zones and become comfortable with unfamiliar and the unknown and that’s how we learn and absorb information like a sponge hence gaining wisdom and knowledge. Okay, I am not saying that everyone should get out there and be gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender but I say respect each other and treat every person with dignity. Now before I dissect this issue further we all need to be on a same page. I believe we are all equal, if you were fortunate enough to read The Animal Farm by George Orwell, you would have some idea what I am trying to bring forward. In general we are all entitled for equal rights, equal opportunity, freedom of speech and all the rights that
make us equal citizens on this earth. I believe we all agree on that now. First and fore most I detest the word Homophobic. Phobia by definition means fear, yet we all know that gay and lesbians are target of prejudice, hatred and remorse now do we fear the gays and lesbians or do we have a general hatred in them? Hence I prefer to use Homo-Prejudice, doesn’t it rhyme with you? Now let’s get back to the topic, some may think I am biased but before my head is served on a silver platter, the Tanzanians normally say there are always two sides to a coin. Focus should be given to gays and lesbians and on the other side there are what I call “gay and lesbian bashers” and finally people who are in content are always in the middle of the struggle. Personally I have friends and family members who are gays and lesbians, the irony is that we love the same things and even share the same Jacob Zuma jokes. Basically we have several things in common except our sexual preferences, then why are they treated differently into our society? Now the religious fanatics will say it is immoral and usually they will go further by giving you verses from the Bible, one of the verse is Matthew 5:22 which they believe contains a reference to a gay bashing but what I find ironic is that Jesus also warns fire and hell to those who engage into any verbal gay bashing as part of the sermon given from Mount Sinai. Others will say it’s immoral, my question is who decides what is moral and immoral in the society? Culture, family, neighbours? It is way deeper than what we think but I am a man with little and
hunger for knowledge. All we want in this world is love and acceptance. It’s sad that we can create that harmonic sphere on paper but not in reality. There is nothing wrong to flaunt your sexual orientation or being proud of it, all I am saying is, be careful as not everyone will accept and be civil about your decisions. Our society remains deeply homoprejudice and this hatred often leads to abuse and even the killing of those who are regarded as the ‘other’. One can learn a lot from the deaths of several key members of our society who came out of the closet, they were raped, tortured and even murdered and this is why we need to come together and raise awareness to people, that we are no more different from a heterosexual beings, we are your brothers, sisters and parents. We live like you, study like you, we breathe the same air. You can have your own opinion on any issue that is your civil right but when you go and torture, murder or rape someone that is when you draw a line, nothing can justify that and that is why we all need to stand up and face the discrimination and prejudice in our society. By Kevin James
Inside The Outsider
Students with disabilities at UWC: Redesigning the Palmiet Trail in Hottentots Holland Nature Reserve On the 3 September 2008 a day visit was planned to the Hottentots Holland Nature Reserve to finalise the assessment process. Trail assessment reports were discussed at the meeting held on the 16 September 2008 at the Gender Equity Unit and some preparatory work was done on the presentation for the Western Cape Disability Network. One of the aims of the HumaNature programme is to challenge the idea that disability is biologically determined or that it “belongs” to an individual. It argues that disability is caused in the way in which society fails to include people of difference. The programme adopts the social model approach which focuses on the limitations and the barriers within society and social structures rather the limitations and barriers in the person. The programme is therefore aimed to advocate for social transformation and civil rights, supporting the liberation struggles of persons with disabilities, removing the disabling barriers and creating a more inclusive society The first meeting between Gender Equity Unit and Cape Nature took place on the 3 April 2008 at Hottentots Holland. The reserve manager and project manager of the Hollands Hottentots Nature reserve gave a brief overview and a current status of the trail. Staff and volunteers from the GEU gave a brief overview of the volunteer programme with the special focus of the involvement of the students with disabilities within the programme. A field trip was organized for the Gender
Equity Unit team and the interns from University of Connecticut. On the 27 May 2008 the nature reserve manager and project manager of Cape Nature attended a meeting at the Gender Equity Unit and the after extensive brainstorming session a project plan was compiled, which included the a trail assessment, re-designing and re-launch of the trail itself. During the June Holidays, 18-20 June 2008 a team, which consisted of GEU and DASA volunteers, stayed at the Hottentots Holland Nature reserve to conduct the trail assessment. On the 17 June 2008 the group participated in a Field Safety and survival training programme conducted by UMBONO Training cc, an accredited training company. It was interesting to note that UMBONO supports ‘Sight for Africa: a Vision for All’, an organisation that provides eye care to the underprivileged in Southern Africa. Followed by Cape Nature field guide assessment was conducted on the 19 and 20 June 2008. Based on the feedback received from all participants a report was compiled.
This was followed by the Western Cape Disability Network; one of the key stakeholders. Because of our stakeholder analysis they granted us an opportunity to present the programme at their Annual General Meeting held at Camphill in Hermanus. Overwhelmingly, the feedback obtained from those present was that such an initiative was long overdue. Followed by the multi – stakeholder discussions the relaunch of the trail was proposed to take place on the 3 December 2008 on International Day for Persons with Disabilities. By GEU Staff
Issue talk... Gender Equity Unit University of the Western Cape PHONE: 021 959 2812 FAX: 021 959 1314 E-MAIL:
Watch out for our upcoming blog section on Facebook.com
EDITORIAL TEAM KEVIN JAMES ASHRAF BOOLEY ANTHEA MATTHEWS CANDICE-LEE BAM TREMAINE BAM
This is our first issue and we are looking forward to many more in the future. There has been a lot to write about, but since we are limited to six pages due to finances we did not let that limit us, we are opting for a new strategy. We will soon be on a social network known as Facebook in a blog section where we will dish out our creative writings, poetry, and discussion forums. This will enhance more creativity and feedback from people at large, especially to those who will not be able to get access to a hardcopy of our first issue.
We already have blogs such as Reclaiming the P... word and the Food programme, and soon we will be launching our poetry blog: ‘Inside the Outsider’. We hope to see you all there. By Team
About G.E.U… The Unit was established in 1993 and its work comprises of internal programmes on campus and external outreach programmes. It is the only organisational unit of its kind at a higher educational institution in the country.
The unit monitors and reviews policies and practices with regards to transformation of gender equity. It serves as a catalyst for gender rights on campus and also promotes critical debate and advocates for these rights. It also provides advocacy, counselling and support to victims and survivors of sexual harassment, assault, rape, racial and gender discrimination.