Friday, November 20, 2009

NPA Continuing Education: Sexual Assault in South Africa

This is a continuing education piece from the Networking, Publicity, & Activism Program by Paige Tassie.

This link is to an anti-rape PSA by Charlize Theron was released in South Africa. In it the actress says she struggles with answering the question of what the men in South Africa are like because more women are raped in the country than any other country in the world and 1 in 3 women living there will be raped in their lifetime. She closes the ad saying that "it's not that easy to say what the men in South Africa are like, because there seem to be so few of them out there".

The second link is to a BBC article explaining the controversy around why the ad was taken off the air. Some men were offended by the ad, saying that it implied all South African men were rapists and/or unaffected bystanders with no opinion on the matter.

I can see their point. I can empathize with an upstanding and honorable father of 3 daughters watching this announcement and feeling hurt that he is being portrayed as a potential rapist by virtue of the combination of his gender and nationality. While raising awareness about sexual violence it is important not to alienate the strong allies waiting to be called upon in too often unexpected places. As feminists and defenders of survivors of sexual violence, I think we sometimes go too far and push away the men we so sorely need in the movement through unintentional insensitivity and the generalizations we fight so hard against when they pertain to women.

-Paige Tassie

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