Spare a thought for our President Jacob Zuma. Instead of one birthday present, he has to shell out for four. He has to celebrate four anniversaries a year. Valentines Day is expensive enough for the common man; imagine having to spoil four women every time February 14 rolls around. And the second he tries to give them a present, like refurbishing their home in Nkandla to the tune of R400-million, everyone gets uptight about it.
Then, just when he thought he could chill out for a while in Jamaica, having some “me time” and maybe a minor spiritual awakening (just a small one, mind you, not one big enough to cause him to change his name to President Jacob Lion and put out a reggae album), along comes another reminder of how polygamy isn’t as much fun as you’d think it is—Women’s Day.
But it’s not only Zuma who should be worrying about Women’s Day, it’s women too. Having a day devoted to you is never a good sign. It places you right up there with breast cancer, Aids and Africa. If all were going smoothly, the powers that be would not deem it necessary to give you a day as a consolation prize. The fact that there is no Middle- to Upper-Class European White Man’s Day should tell you something.
“Why is there no man’s day” is a question that has been asked countless times. The erudite, witty answer would be to say “because every other day is man’s day”, after which it is generally considered appropriate to laugh uproariously, crush an empty beer can against your head and yell for your tjerrie to bring you another one. But there is some truth in that douche-ism. Women’s Day is a chance for men to say, “Look, sorry for the fact that we’re the ones in control and for all of the abuse and all that, but here, have a day. Go have some ‘me time’, go to a health spa, have some flowers, as long as you’re back in time make dinner.”
After all, here in South Africa we love women! We love them so much that in certain cultures, men are allowed to marry as many of them as they want. We love them so much that we have earned ourselves a reputation for having sex with them even when they don’t want to. And in certain religions, such as Islam and my own, Judaism, we love our women so much that we make them cover themselves, because they drive us so wild that if they dress immodestly we may not be able to control ourselves around them.
Some people think that women have fought the battle for equality and won. They have been given all sorts of rights. They’re allowed to vote and hold down a job and even drink alcohol at a bar, so what are they complaining about? These people sound exactly the same as the ones who say “Stop bringing up apartheid. Black people can vote in democratic elections now.” But voting isn’t much of a consolation for black people who are still living in a shack, just as it isn’t much of a consolation for women who are still treated like garbage. If it were the case that no South African women are treated like garbage, we’d have precious little need for Women’s Day.
Complete gender equality is a nice notion, but right now it seems about as achievable as wanting a peaceful resolution in Syria, an America without psychos shooting random people, Mugabe taking a retirement package or our students receiving textbooks. But if we can even get to the point that South African women are doing so well that they don’t need a token day, it would be a good start. DM
"The soul is known by its acts" ~ Thomas Aquinas