First Thing, Daily Maverick's flagship newsletter

Join the 230 000 South Africans who read First Thing newsletter.

We'd like our readers to start paying for Daily Maverick

More specifically, we'd like those who can afford to pay to start paying. What it comes down to is whether or not you value Daily Maverick. Think of us in terms of your daily cappuccino from your favourite coffee shop. It costs around R35. That’s R1,050 per month on frothy milk. Don’t get us wrong, we’re almost exclusively fuelled by coffee. BUT maybe R200 of that R1,050 could go to the journalism that’s fighting for the country?

We don’t dictate how much we’d like our readers to contribute. After all, how much you value our work is subjective (and frankly, every amount helps). At R200, you get it back in Uber Eats and ride vouchers every month, but that’s just a suggestion. A little less than a week’s worth of cappuccinos.

We can't survive on hope and our own determination. Our country is going to be considerably worse off if we don’t have a strong, sustainable news media. If you’re rejigging your budgets, and it comes to choosing between frothy milk and Daily Maverick, we hope you might reconsider that cappuccino.

We need your help. And we’re not ashamed to ask for it.

Our mission is to Defend Truth. Join Maverick Insider.

Support Daily Maverick→
Payment options

May I buy you a drink, young lady?

DM168

REFLECTION

May I buy you a drink? Just say no!

(Photo: Rob Pinney / Getty Images)

Young women and teenage girls across the world are plagued by the unwanted attention of men – young men, old men, ugly men, fat men, rude men, charming men, sweet men, unthinking men, creepy men.

To accept a bought drink, or not? The transactional nature of alcohol in the abuse of underage and younger women has taken centre stage again.

This is a deeply personal opinion piece, written as a mother of two teenaged girls and in light of the suspension of Cape Town MEC for Public Safety Albert Fritz and four male officials in his office after “serious allegations” by several young women.

“The four are all accused of procuring and grooming the women for Fritz. They would, at times, allegedly get the women drunk, especially when travelling to small towns in far-flung regions of the Western Cape.”

Back in 1968, as American feminists rode the “second wave” and protested the Miss America beauty pageant, San Diego rock group Gary Puckett & The Union Gap released the deeply creepy international hit Young Girl.

The chorus went thus:

“Young girl
Get out of my mind
My love for you is way out of line
Better run, girl
You’re much too young, girl.”

For women growing up in the 1960s and 1970s, and being that “young girl” ordered to run (or what?), this was the acceptable status quo, bog-standard behaviour. Men paid attention and sometimes girls had to run.

This author has had a fair share of pervs exposing their genitals from behind the steering wheel of a Datsun SSS coupe while pretending to ask for directions. Then there was the fervent wanker who hid in the girls’ public toilets in a nearby park, jerking off in a corner.

Young women and teenage girls across the world are plagued by the unwanted attention of men – young men, old men, ugly men, fat men, rude men, charming men, sweet men, unthinking men, creepy men.

And for those men reading this, about to make this about yourself, no man, not you, man. No whataboutism.

Young women, in the normal course of growing up, might enjoy flirtatious public attention on occasion. But I am prepared to put my non-existent cock on the block that the majority of interactions with men in public places are, more often than not, unpleasant, unwanted and vaguely threatening.

As my own daughters approached the exciting and turbulent shores of young adulthood, I hauled out the most solid piece of advice my Portuguese mother passed on from her ancestral toolbox: “Never ever let a man buy you anything, not a drink, not food, nothing.”

My mother understood that a drink bought by an older man for a younger woman can and will most likely end up being read as transactional. She grew up poor. She knew.

At this point, you might be tempted to interrupt and ask: But what is wrong with buying a woman (or a man or someone delectable) a drink in a bar? I mean, really, you can’t attribute malintent to every offer of alcohol from a stranger in a bar? You are in a bar, duh.

Two adults buying each other (the operative word) drinks in order to lubricate conversation and collapse boundaries to explore new terrain is as natural as the hangover and possible regret of the morning after.

We are talking here about adult men, often not easy on the eye, men with money, vulgar men, who seek out and scrum around bars and clubs frequented by teenaged and young women.

Me, I am with Robertcw, as he is known over on the internet, editor of the website GirlsaskGuys.

“Men started buying women drinks not because they wanted to do something nice for the girl, but simply because their goal was to get alcohol in her system so she would loosen up and be more open to sexual acts.

“So, for you younger women out there, don’t necessarily feel accomplished – or grateful – when a guy either offers to buy you a drink or does buy you a drink, because even if you wanted a drink to have fun, he probably wanted to get you drunk more than you wanted to have a drink. AKA – don’t trust guys that buy you drinks.”

To which there was howling and gnashing of teeth by “Anonymous”, who posted that this “bullshit needs to be called out”.

“This reminds me of typical feminist revisionist history where feminists paint all men of the past as selfish abusers and all women as poor defenseless [sic] victims taken advantage of by men. But it’s a narrative that supports the feminist agenda so the story gets told often and a lot of naive fools believe it.”

Watch out for him in a bar near you.

Just this December, at the height of the holiday season (Omicron notwithstanding) in Long Street, Cape Town, the favourite strip of the young and restless, a young woman (18) was slapped through the face by an adult man who had been buying her drinks during the course of the evening.

Witnesses said an out-of-town bunch of kids – boys and girls – had gone out together in a group “for protection”.

The aim, as is the wont of those whose frontal lobes have not yet settled, was to spend as little money as possible on their own drinks. While one girl stood at the bar and accepted drinks from the adult man, the boys stood some way off having to sort themselves out.

When the time came for the adult man to approach and “claim” the young woman, and she expressed surprise at this, he slapped her full force across her face in the crowded bar. The evening ended in tears and a lesson learnt.

There are millions of poverty-stricken young women in South Africa forced to survive by using “sugar daddies” – rich, mostly married men who use them for sex and pay in kind with food, airtime, toiletries. Versions of these men prowl bars, clubs and restaurants.

Men who prey on women are not going to go away. But the good news is it is easier now than in 1968 to expose and hold them to account.

At least we now live in a society that surely must agree that the lyrics of Young Girl are deeply offensive, sexist and brimming with violence.

A friend, a former editor of a successful women’s magazine, describes the crucial financial independence of women and girls as “fuck-off money”.

And in a material world where everything can be bought and sold, alcohol is a favoured currency – in societies where it is culturally acceptable.

Alcohol and other intoxicants play a significant role in the grooming of young women and children by predatory and abusive men.

Know this.

Lauren Martin, founder of Words of Women, is a little less hardcore than myself and my editor friend when it comes to the “no drinks bought under any circumstances” motto.

She has written “what it boils down to is, don’t let a man buy you a drink if you know you aren’t interested. The sad truth is, drinks do lead to sex. Being wined and dined is ultimately the path to sex, and nothing is wrong with that.”

Martin says women allowing a man “who has absolutely no shot to drop [dollar] bills on you” are “just mean”.

Do women buy men drinks? Martin has not thought that far out of the box.

She is of the opinion that “letting any man buy you a single drink is okay, because it’s your formal invitation to converse. It’s how they meet you. But if you’ve finished that first drink and you’re still not into it, let him go.”

My mom would not agree. DM168

This story first appeared in our weekly Daily Maverick 168 newspaper which is available for R25 at Pick n Pay, Woolworths, Exclusive Books and airport bookstores. For your nearest stockist, please click here.

Gallery

Comments - share your knowledge and experience

Please note you must be a Maverick Insider to comment. Sign up here or sign in if you are already an Insider.

Everybody has an opinion but not everyone has the knowledge and the experience to contribute meaningfully to a discussion. That’s what we want from our members. Help us learn with your expertise and insights on articles that we publish. We encourage different, respectful viewpoints to further our understanding of the world. View our comments policy here.

All Comments 28

  • When I was young in the 80’s refusal if drink often elicited an aggressive response: What’s wrong with you? It’s just a drink! I would just look at them blankly- it’s very annoying. But I was so glad I had refused. But one trick is, a gushy smarmy thank you and order a water. See how they run! Very sad that in 2022 young women are still seen as prey by many men.

  • I think the best approach here is to strictly enforce girls only and guys only social establishments, or at least strictly segregate existing bars and clubs by sex.

    It’s patently clear that women never go out in order to meet men. Instead they are very obviously tricked into attending establishments where men might try to engage with them.

    Perhaps the real solution is to protect women absolutely by disallowing them in public without an adult male family chaperone. This approach has worked very effectively in Muslim countries for centuries – women really do not experience the harassment that women in the western world endure. An obvious corollary is to ban women from clubs and pubs, and I guess all public social events.

    It is a difficult conundrum but I think the happiness and safety of women should take absolute precedence over silly notions like freedom of choice. Women, as this article strongly argues, are neither capable of making the right choices in terms of social activities, nor are they capable of looking after themselves in public spaces.

    The only solution is to ensure that women are not allowed into public spaces without the male protection they seek. This protection/chaperone service could be provided by the state – perhaps some kind of metropolitan police service, or by adult males in the family – the Muslim model.

    • Wow!
      Let me try to understand, by quoting your words back to you:

      “It’s patently clear that women never go out in order to meet men.” Really?

      “Women, as this article strongly argues, are neither capable of making the right choices in terms of social activities, nor are they capable of looking after themselves in public spaces.” Are you joking?

      I will leave it to women to comment on this.

    • If you wrote your comments “tongue in cheek” you are a sick man. If these comments were intended to be taken seriously then you are a very sick man. Men like you should be banned from entering into public spaces without a policeman ready to slap cuffs on you! I am so glad that I don’t know you and hope I never have to come into contact with anybody like you. Where does freedom of choice come into your equation? It is well known that women in Muslim communities are treated like second class citizens, with very few free choices available to them! I fervently hope that you have not fathered any children, especially daughters!!

      • “If you wrote your comments “tongue in cheek” you are a sick man. If these comments were intended to be taken seriously then you are a very sick man. Men like you should be banned from entering into public spaces without a policeman ready to slap cuffs on you!”

        This is the conundrum tho, Collette.

        You even used the male gender “policeman” word rather than the gender-neutral “police”.

        Protection vs freedom is a very tough line to draw.

        Girls just want to have fun, but girls also want to be protected when they’re having fun. How, exactly?

        I do understand that going out to all-gender or all-sex establishments is irritating or oppressive to girls/women who just do not want to be approached by boys/men.

        So Collette, please propose your solution. In my mind it is simple. For females who want to spend a night out without male interference, an all-cis-hetero establishment would obviously flourish.

        No such establishment exists, so I suspect you and womanhood as a whole are very confused.

          • Obviously many male cis-hetero-only establishments exist, and only because we men do like to engage with each other without the interference of sexual intent.

            I honestly don’t understand why women don’t have or establish the same venues.

            Of course male-only establishments are attacked as sexist by people like the author of this piece.

            You can’t have it both ways tho, in many senses.

    • “It is a difficult conundrum but I think the happiness and safety of women should take absolute precedence over silly notions like freedom of choice.”
      Buddy, if this is what you really think then we should be locking men up, or men like you, at least. Stop victim blaming.

      • “Buddy, if this is what you really think then we should be locking men up”

        We do – penal incarceration is way male dominated.

        Most violent and sexual crime is committed by young males.

        The harder question is why?

    • The muslim world is extremely harsh in the treatment of women, anything from treating them as non-entities to be used and abused at will to female circumcision. It seems to me that the best way to bring up kids to educate them about the evils of the world and that they have the right to say no. Girl children are at huge risk but, in todays world, boys are also vulnerable to abuse.

    • Self proclaimed experts ,always seem very important and hold there opinions as of higher quality than anybody else.You qualify,it seems you join discussions to get attention,go to a mirror and talk to yourself, at least the reflection will agree with you

      • Indeed public conversation is all about holding the mirror up. I have tried to do that below.

        I will observe that you are adding no new ideas to the conversation.

        There is no discussion here. I irritated you. Good. I like irritating whities.

        Please play the ball, not the man. Or woman. Or non-sexual homo sapiens.

  • Great piece. I’m stilled horrified by the amount of blatant and unintelligent sexism in this world, as evidenced by one DM subscriber in the comments. Sean Penn’s another recent addition to the club (well, perhaps he’s been in the club a long time).

  • Sex is voluntary by 2 consenting adults(and younger,16 or 18 me thinks as the law specify)If you have to buy a girl a drink to score, you have insecurities, rather go to a brothel escort agency etc.When did it start that men thought of women as commodities.The aim should be consensus about having sex,anything else is not okay.Unless you go buy it at a brothel etc.Girls or woman should also try and be responsible and educate themselves about the dangers of being bought drinks by older men strangers etc.Bars, night clubs etc .is or could be a dangerous place for young girls, women ,rephynol or rockies has been replaced by G or “Water” ,short for GHB.This has replaced rephynol.Numerous times this has happened.Sometimes even the barman is in on it.Make sure of your surroundings and always try and have a few good friends around when you visit pubs night clubs etc.Life is complex so tread wisely, and make sure you plan to get home safely.

    • “commodities.The aim should be consensus about having sex,anything else is not okay.Unless you go buy it at a brothel etc.Girls or woman should also try and be responsible and educate themselves about the dangers of being bought drinks by older men strangers etc.Bars, night clubs etc .is or could be a dangerous place for young girls, women ,rephynol or rockies has been replaced by G or Water”

      Erm excuse me, the girls or women working at escort agencies or as street prostitutes are also just people with a tough background.

      Why should these women take on the evil that is in all men?

      • I did live for a while in gangster world. It’s all drugs and prostitutes sand street watchers and walkers and the strange way that this all intersects (ha!).

        Nigerians control the cocaine supply. We klonkies control the meth (aka tik) supply.

        In high class establishments in downtown cape town there are captured young women dancing for their chance of escape. Mostly from Angola, DRC.

        In whitie establishments like Mavericks on the other hand, the Russian influence is felt. Moldavian women. Blonde, young.

        Same game. Desperate people engaged in a desperate contract.

        Many people on the game are only somewhat in the game. One women I spent a lot of time with was somewhat a Nigie prossie, but also had complete freedom to do what she wanted.

        I remember one night when I was in the Nigie flat and she’d come back from a family trip to the eastern cape. She had no crack when she was back with her family. First thing she did was smoke a pipe.

        Now how do you work out these things?

        • Marrianne’s world view of “oh, it’s so oppressive when a boy asks to buy me a drink” kinda pales into insignificance.

          Apart from precious people, nobody gives a flying funk about people who have little experience of how most people live and think.

          Don’t be precious. Be empathetic. Most people are good and bad. Understand that. Learn to cope with situations when people are being really bad.

          Create societal structures that don’t allow the worst part of humanity to flourish.

          It’s personal but the solution is societal.

          And the interesting thing is that individual humans are always more concerned about their own relative happiness or comfort, than the woke concept of such.

          Gini is bollocks. Nobody really individually cares about it.

          Wealth is arbitrary. South Africa is a young and aggressive society. Bantu culture is wild in this sense.

          We are all youngsters, human-generation-wise in South Africa, except for we klonkies with a little bit of bushman blood. Yes, we call ourselves “bushman” and proudly so, despite the academic attempt to deem the term offensive. Another case of whitie wokies over-reaching.

          The Asian Hindu and Buddhist practices are more useful for dense population existence. Similar to bushman practice. I am I you are you. We are part of the earth and life itself.

          We will find our own way to dance.

  • Very strange article, Marianne. Agree with your points in principle. I am way past the age of visiting bars, clubs, etc., so cannot comment on modern trends. But without being disrespectful, as I am a very firm GBV anti-activist. But I can also remember many, many moons ago, when I also visited restaurant bars (clubs where I lived did not really exist), the approaches often came the other way round. Perhaps not offering to pay for a drink, but in another form, such as on the dance floor. Some of my better-looking student friends than me, were sometimes blatantly harassed by the more beautiful of the two sexes. But of course, in my time, blatant sexual advances were not really deem socially acceptable by either sex. But that being said, I understand and support everything you say. However, nothing made my day as sitting in a pup, restaurant, or whatever, and you suddenly get that eye contact from this highly attractive girl. And most times, that is where it stayed. Except in my memory, often lasting for a few days. And wished I had the simple guts to be brave enough to go and ask if I could indeed buy a drink, simply to “break the ice”! But Virginia’s comment below (or is it above), certainly is the right way, I think. But then, I am a male, and sometimes the attraction is (actually was) real.

    • I have a message for Malibongwe Tyilo … of satirically speaking …. Rolando MacJones has just outdone your style ! Though I must confess … it does not have the same rib-tickling hilarity your many delightful pieces have . Give the man another Mac ! Leave the Bells at home … or rather in the bar !

      • Agree. Really do not understand why this article was published in DM as possibly the most respected news vehicle in the country. But I should not be critical at all, as I am sure Marianne was testing the waters. And it worked! The issue at hand is most serious, and couldn’t have been more blatantly advertised than the current case playing off in CPT with some political party councillor indiscretions’. PS. Like you, I think Rolando MacJones’s comment was simply tongue-in-cheek. But based on the reaction, the effect on women is obvious. Still love them though, and wish the world that we live in could really treat both sexes on equal terms….(P.s without the ANC women’s league of course)

  • “Young women and teenage girls across the world are plagued by the unwanted attention of men – young men, old men, ugly men, fat men, rude men, charming men, sweet men, unthinking men, creepy men.”

    Indeed, because the future of humanity still requires sex between male and female protagonists of the homo sapiens sapiens species.

    Without sex there is no future generation.

    We men welcome the sexual freedom that science has provided. It allows we nerds to have a chance at sex when women mostly focus on alpha males.

    Apparently you, Marianne have been a journalist for 30 years.

    That’s irrelevant to the sexual equation. Have you had kids, raised kids? If not then this article is pure hogwash.

    Some of us have raised kids. Are raising kids. We know what sex is. We understand the animal instincts and the responsibility that comes from acting on animal instinct.

    In other words, we are adults. We take responsibility for our own actions. We are part of life, and we enjoy it.

    Don’t become a bitter lesbian as you get older, Marianne. It’s just childish and ugly.

  • “But I am prepared to put my non-existent cock on the block that the majority of interactions with men in public places are, more often than not, unpleasant, unwanted and vaguely threatening.”

    Really? You should think about this some more, Marian.

    Which men? All men? Your dad, your brothers?

    Let me switch this around.

    “Young men and teenage boys across the world are plagued by the unwanted attention of women – young women, old women, ugly women, fat women, rude women, charming women, sweet women, unthinking women, creepy women.”

    Such is the protection that women get, that no man would be allowed to publish the above and come away unscathed from the twittisphere burn.

    Girls and women can get away with it, like you have Marian, only because you’re female.

    ““Young girl
    Get out of my mind
    My love for you is way out of line
    Better run, girl
    You’re much too young, girl.”

    Indeed, underage females wittingly put make-up on and pretend to be older than they are. Why? They also feel the animal pull of sex. From a male perspective you can view the lyrics as a man behaving sensibly despite his animal instinct. Why not give that some respect?

  • The real question is how do we empower our daughters to engage as equals in the public adult world.

    Yes, I do have adult daughters, and yes I have raised them to be able to look after themselves as equals.

    You, Marianne, need to interrogate the message you are giving your daughters.

    Yes, men of all shapes and sizes will instinctively want to have sex with your daughters. So will some women.

    Teaching your daughters that men are intrinsically evil is probably not the most useful approach.

    Instead teach your daughters to stand up for themselves, feel confident in themselves, and their sexuality, and take responsibility for mistakes they make.

    This will empower them to be independent adults, as opposed to always needing protection.

  • This is likely an anecdote. I presume the driver of the triple S was asking for directions and flashed at you.

    “This author has had a fair share of pervs exposing their genitals from behind the steering wheel of a Datsun SSS coupe while pretending to ask for directions.”

    Your fair share is zero, admittedly, not one.

    If this all happened more than once as described then I suggest you avoid Datsun triple S’s for the rest of your life 😀

    And also avoid asking directions or answering requests for directions. Perhaps from Datsun triple S drivers. What, were you confused with a street walker? Could you not just reply with something pithy and withering. Like “I’ve seen penises like that but mostly on mice?”

    Just look after yourself in the situation.

  • “Men who prey on women are not going to go away. But the good news is it is easier now than in 1968 to expose and hold them to account.

    At least we now live in a society that surely must agree that the lyrics of Young Girl are deeply offensive, sexist and brimming with violence.”

    No, Marianne, you really are a bad mom.

    The concept of men who prey on women, or women who prey on men is a bit like yesteryear, don’t you think.

    This attitude of yours towards sex is not going to help you, nor your kids.

    Teach them to judge for themselves. Neither women nor men have monopoly on sociopathic behaviour.

    I have no idea why you are so disappointed in manhood as a whole. Perhaps you have some deeper history that you need to work out.

    However, if your daughters need to engage with men ever, as partners, lovers, mothers, then I suggest you drop the gender stereotyping.

    We are all humans. Some of us, male or female, behave inappropriately sometimes, and some people, male and female are sociopaths or even psychopaths.

    Most men are gentle and loving at heart but also have the strength of mind to protect you and other women when required. We are mostly brought up to be so.

    Really women get a special pass in behaviour from men because we know we can easily dominate physically.

    I really want you to think hard about how you are raising your daughters. I do have very happy and empowered adult daughters.

    Is there a father figure in your house?

Please peer review 3 community comments before your comment can be posted