Zodwa Wabantu dealt a blow to women's struggles

Zodwa Wabantu
Zodwa Wabantu

Women have fought very hard to be recognised as equals and be respected, and not be seen as objects whose sole purpose in life is to pleasure men.

And we were slowly making progress, until dancer/entertainer Zodwa Wabantu said it was fine that she was groped by randy, strange men because they were her "fans" who had attended her show.

Ordinarily, I would not have a problem with what Zodwa decides to do with her body but she used her platform to send a wrong message to a broken society where women get raped and die daily at the hands of men.

When police minister Bheki Cele released crime statistics in September last year in parliament, he said rape was the highest on the list of sexual offences.

Police recorded a whopping 40,035 cases of rape nationally. Cele said on an average 110 incidents of rape were reported daily.

According to police spokesperson Maj-Gen Sally de Beer, who spoke to Africa Check in 2017, between April and December 2016 police recorded 1,713 cases of femicide.

That works out to a woman being killed every four hours in SA.

When I read the story on Zodwa's response after a video of her with men touching her butt had gone viral, I could not believe what she had just said. But one thing that was clear to me was that she did not understand the damage she had just caused with her statement.

What she basically said sends a misleading message to a society where women are already under siege - that when women wear skimpy outfits it is because they want the attention of the opposite sex and it is OK to touch them without their permission.

She took us back to more than a century, when girls and women were told to wear longer dresses so that they will not be raped, as wearing a shorter garment was seen as an invitation to sex.

This is more reckless coming from Zodwa because she has a huge following of young women and men.

She has been hailed by some people as a "feminist" who did not believe women should be dictated to by society on how they should dress.

Now, what must the same young men who follow her take from her saying it was OK for men to touch her because "they are my fans"?

That it is OK to touch a woman without her permission as long as you contribute to her career? She was quoted saying the complaints about the video came from people who did not support her.

The are going to do the same to the next performer who is wearing a short skirt because "it is OK" as they are fans and had paid to be there.

I have never regarded Zodwa as a feminist but I see a young woman who has made a name for herself by going scantily clad in public to pleasure men who then come in numbers to support her shows.

And, after reading about her story I understand that was how she learnt to survive tough conditions as a teenager. I do not blame her, but call on the people who are making money out of her being in the public space to educate her.

It is unfortunate what Zodwa said because it is not OK to touch women without their consent because they are wearing short skirts. Women are allowed to wear whatever they like and that should never be seen as an invitation to be touched.

Women are not objects to satisfy men's fantasies, you can never own women - they are human beings who should be accorded the same respect as men.

Just because you are contributing to the woman's life financially does give you the right to her body.