The whores and cocks war

By Annetjie van Wynegaard

At the beginning of 2008, the Afrikaans Society held a party with the infamous theme: “Boere en Hoere”. This title was subsequently splashed all over campus during Rape Awareness week, just as girls across campus made the statement that their short skirts are not invitations to sexual discursions. Concerned students were quick to take the posters advertising the event to Dean of Students, Vivian de Klerk, who said, “The Afrikaans Society slogan was potentially offensive and sexist, and the implicit negative message about women that is conveyed was unacceptable.”

Former president of the Afrikaans Society, Matthew Edwards, said that the theme of the party was intended to be interpreted as an opportunity to cross-dress, but “perhaps this wasn’t made clear enough”. He said that the main problem the university had with the name was its negative connotations against women.

Anzet du Plessis, current president of the Afrikaans Society, said that they completely understand why the name of the event was offensive. She went on to add that it is a tradition that will die with the new committee, because it certainly perpetuates certain stereotypes.

Issues were recently raised because the “Boere en Hoere” party was condemned, whilst the recent “Do cocks want condoms” event, held on August 12, was allowed to keep its name. Current SRC president, Xolani Nyali, said that the “Do cocks want condoms” talk was about gathering men in the same space and allowing them to talk openly and freely about their perceptions of sex and sexuality. Sekoetlane Jacob Phamodi, one of the facilitators, of the “Do cocks want condoms” event, said that the language was meant to be controversial but not offensive, and he is by no means apologetic about the name of the event. “The language was a little nude,” said Phamodi, “and quite ambiguous,” but it was not offensive as it did not denigrate anyone’s gender or identity. 

Phamodi said that the problem with naming an event “Boere en Hoere” was that it perpetuated the idea that it is acceptable for woman to be labeled as “whores”. He understands the notion of breaking through the stereotype by letting men come as whores and women as farmers, but even then you have a preconception of what a whore is. 

Another initiative which drew negative attention was a recent advertisement campaign launched by popular student pizzeria, Pirates Pizza. Nyali said that the SRC has written to Pirates, warning them about their so-called offensive slogans which included lines such as “cheaper than a Bangkok hooker”. Co-owner of Pirates, Geoff Waugh, said that there is “no point in trying to sugarcoat the world” and that Rhodes students must have a “stark view on reality” if they are to be future leaders. With regard to his advertising methods, Waugh said that in order to be noticed, you have to do something drastically different.

The official Rhodes guidelines document states that “any illustration which is potentially offensive to any particular group must be avoided. Adverts may not portray alcohol or female bodies as necessary to social or sexual success. The language used in the poster must be similarly neutral and acceptable to all readers.”

From pizza to the age-old question of safe sex, the problematic nature of discourse arises. What, really, should be viewed as funny, and what is just plain offensive? 

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: