Still a long way to go to a nonsexist society

AT LEAST 15 years after the establishment of the democratic dispensation I for one believed that our nation was "on the move", so to speak.

AT LEAST 15 years after the establishment of the democratic dispensation I for one believed that our nation was "on the move", so to speak.

A lot had been said and written about the "firsts" in our country - first female pilot, first South African to conquer Mount Kilimanjaro, first black accountant and so on.

And for a township-raised woman like me reading about these back in high school and even years later was an absolute pleasure. Being a first-something still carries a lot of prestige.

Now the boundaries seem to be a bit blurred. Not that many "firsts" are doing the rounds, unless they are of something spectacular.

Men these days do what was referred to as women's work and vice versa. There are women who are dedicated hardcore tsotsis.

These are women who will fleece you of your hard-earned cash. You would not believe you were robbed by a woman, wearing a skirt nogal.

They are respected and are on a par with their male counterparts. That is how societies seem to evolve in most instances.

A taxi ride to work the other day made me think again about these perceptions. It took a bunch of police officers to do that in a morning traffic to Rosebank.

To them some of the taxi passengers were more capable than the others.

The officers were on a supposed routine roadblock on Oxford road. As expected everyone had to get off the taxi so that the men and women in blue could do their work.

All seven men and the driver were searched and scrutinised but not the four women.

The female police officers chose to search the boot of the cars behind us for any illegal cargo.

We were greeted with a smile by one of the male officers and remained seated while the male passengers were being frisked. Fortunately, nothing illegal was found on any of them and we continued with our journey.

I thought how easy it would have been for any of the women had one carried fake DVDs, illegal drugs or even guns that morning.

Or how easy it would have been for a male passenger to hand whatever might be deemed illegal to his partner. After all, the cops would not have searched her.

Because you are a woman you are not deemed a criminal. Only men qualify. The fight for a nonsexist society still has a long way to go.

Societal stereotyping still stands tall, even when it comes to fighting the scourge that is crime. It did feel good, though, to be spared the uncomfortable process of being searched in the middle of a busy suburban road.

But it did not help in any way for the officers who confidently went out that morning with the aim of stopping criminals in their tracks.

A few hours later a news piece popped up on my monitor: a gang of four was arrested in Pretoria for housebreaking and theft. And, wait for it, one of them was a woman.

They were caught red-handed by private security personnel who handed them over to the police.

Had the woman managed to get away with the stolen loot, say in a stolen car, chances are that she would not have been stopped and searched by police patrolling the area. She would have gotten away with the crime.

After all, she was a woman and probably wore a skirt. That is not a convincing picture of a criminal, now is it?