Breaking Current Affairs 1

As is exactly always the case in our up to date world, the news has been brimming this week with never-ending-story come sobbing athletes, tritely entertaining racial word-wars, and what-the-hell why not local elections. Speaking of Democracy, let’s see what some of our favourite information peddlers have been using to scoff up our bandwidth this week.

Oscar (Please-let-this-case-end) Pi-story-ius

Pretoria was rocked in February 2013 by the news that another South African semi-celeb had lost the battle with his own personal demons, and for some reason, a clear cut murder case turned into a gripping three year court-room drama, covered from so many angles that we now know what Oscar’s testicles look like. Perhaps it’s because local television is rubbish, or we are so desperate to make something out of our celebs that we will leave their legacy to linger like a fart, but it’s gone so far that the story isn’t even about him shooting a person anymore, its more about Steenkamp’s father living with the aftermath of the event or Oscar’s uncle looking like a complete creep; how Oscar was not a complete bastard because he’s nice to children and pets (although Eyewitness News ran the headline “is ‘loving’ towards children”, as if we are to infer some sort of double meaning behind that statement).

 You could even watch the court case live, a gripping real-life drama where you can watch a fairly embattled Oscar weep incoherently for hours on end while the vain in his head expands until eventually, everyone else must evacuate the court-room to make room for its elevated status, at which point his uncle can evacuate him to the safety of his mansion; aliens attack, Reeva comes back from the dead to have her revenge, but is exposed as an imposter, played by Steve Buscemi. You see where I’m going with this.

 In fact the only time I’ve ever been moderately interested in this man’s epic story was when I read the SABC News headline: ‘Nursing Sister felt threatened by Oscar Pistorius’. I should remind you that this is a nursing sister at a correctional facility we are talking about. I’m surprised the state was brave enough to have Oscar arrested in the first place.

 The Pistorius Saga is indeed epic, the Wikipedia page is even valiantly entitled “The Trials of Oscar Pistorius”, as though his story rivals those of the ancient Greeks; but keep at it guys, some day it just might. But for now, let’s talk about local elections.

Electile Disfunction

Local elections, it has been announced, will go on as scheduled despite the fact that around 42% of registered voters may be disqualified for not having filled out their residential addresses… in local elections… somehow. This is akin to a third of a women’s netball team not showing up for the game, or trying to bake a cake without any of the ingredients. Anyway, New24.com had this to say about the situation: “The Constitutional Court has given the IEC 18 months to fix the unlawful defects on the voters’ roll.” That’s it. This news, even more so than the Oscar Iliad should be crucial news. If the votes of 42% of everyone who bothered to register are disqualified, it could have profound implications for the system of government that we have taken to calling democracy. News24 who was one of the major culprits of glamourizing the Oscar story had literally a sentence to say on the matter… a sentence. At least the Mail and Guardian took the time to tell their readers something about what is going one, and so too (oddly enough) did the Citizen, although their article featured an image of a citizen casting her vote, while a helpful member of election staff stood looking over her shoulder, a smile on his face and a shiv in his left hand.local elections

Racism: South Africa’s second favourite pass-time next to paranoia

What review of current affairs would be complete without a good injection of racism? Yes racism is something that we still struggle with in this country, and from all sides it often resembles something of an Easter-egg hunt.

Deviating from the rabble fixated on the Oscar band-wagon, the Citizen recently featured an article entitled “Gun battle ‘over EFF posters’, where an enraged Afrikaans stereotype stormed senselessly into the streets waving what appeared to be something possibly resembling maybe a firearm at some embattled but valiant EFF stereotypes; as reported by the Citizen. The scene was so perfect, it’s as if… it was… invented. First you see the enraged Afrikaans store owner, or as the article puts it, “this white man”, or if you prefer “this racist” angrily gesturing at something, then waving a blurry thing around, and then there are scores of comments from Twitter as if they are the opinions and guidance of some sort of ‘high council.’ Really, the story then evolves into what it was meant to be, a report on violence between ANC and EFF supporters; not really the angry ‘white’ man with the gun. It’s interesting to note that previous revisions of this article also included the word ‘boer’, but alas, someone with a little sense has changed it already.

Now if you are reading this from your cushy middle-class white perspective and feel that the Citizen report is bias and unfair, then fear not. None of us, it seems, can escape the allure of a little unscathed racism from time to time.

Penny Sparrow who was accused and fined R150 000 for a racist post on Facebook (and also has a name better suited to a James Bond character or porn-star), has come out, with the help of News24 and cleared the air of what we now know with absolute certainty, was simply a silly misunderstanding. Completely, and utterly innocent, how could such a sweet old, indoctrinated-by-the-past lady, possibly ever be even slightly racist in any way at all, ever.

She claims that her use of the word ‘monkey’ in her post was “endearing”, and not meant to offend anyone. She blames it on a white thing. I’m not sure if I often use the term as an endearment myself, I wonder if that means I’m not white. Would that mean I’m allowed to say the M word? Perhaps I should contact News24 and ask them. She is in fact so confident that she was not meant to offend anyone that she has been, since shortly after her post was so well recieved by the public, “in hiding since January, to her safe-house in Johannesburg”. Who has a safe-house in Johannesburg? Racist people, that’s who!

Global Feminist Fundamentalism

Over the last few decades, Western ideals have made major strides in terms gender equality that we should all be proud of regardless of which side of the previous status quo we once found ourselves on.

The battle is far from over however. There are scores of old demons that we still need to face, and I assume we will do so in good time, as soon as we can collectively meet the eyes of our society’s darker side. Those actively propagating change have done so with good cause and to good results, but have we taken enough of a step back to get a decent picture of the unexpected side effects of these battles?

I’m not saying that feminist movements are destructive or operate out of malice, but I am admitting that there are very human problems with the way people fight. Striving for equality is a righteous goal indeed, the trouble with righteous goals, however, is that they seem to make people think that their methods of achieving success are inherently good, that the pathway never needs reviewing, and that none of the steps, good or bad to reaching the end of the path should be looked at with any degree of scrutiny, lest you are sucked into the malicious principles of your enemy and suffer a reversion to the old ways.

I would like to speak about the effect this has had on men in Western society, specifically young, middle class white men (being the ones who are expected to harbour the most guilt). As part of a demographic which often seeks progression, the average representative welcomes new ideals, but being the change you want to see is not always that easy. Men, I’ve come to realize have been socially programmed to accept that they are the bad guys through a latent sense of guilt which is consistently reinforced through societal norms, memes and interactions, which it has become a form of heresy to try and deal with as a man.

Are we deserving of this guilt, it’s not my place to say. But what are the side effects of this, and why are we the only rogues?

The sins of the father

There is a belt of iniquity flowing smoothly through our demographic which condemns the demons we could have been if we held on to the archetypes of our patriarchs, and to a great degree, the entire aftermath of the colonial era. I would have to be a fool to deny atrocities committed to women and minority groups that have stained Western history, and occur even now; and yes, as a man, there are a number of ideals that I have had to unlearn, and indeed still do.

These are the healthy puzzles which all people, men and women, need to constantly address for their own benefit and for that of the members of their communities. But being human, we seem to have a fiendish need for accountability that stems from a belief that progress cannot be made until justice is done.

So where do we start looking when none of the guilty parties can be found? Naturally, we look towards people who can inherit the guilt from those who have either passed on or are untouchable and faceless. I have inherited that guilt, my brother has too, and the self-loathing party can be joined by just about any respectful man who is new to the adult world, and is desperately trying to come to terms with HIS own identity in an ever changing community.

This has led myself, and countless others into the dark night of the soul where we have wondered for hours/days.weeks/months/years, trying to find the exact time and place where we became the villains of our little stories.

This is a difficult spiral to break out of. Once you degrade your worth as a human simply because you have behaved in a way which has loosely been dictated by societal norms (or have indeed not behaved in the way society used to), you begin to feel trapped in your role as the potential patriarch, the product of a sexist community, and a part of the problem that you cannot help but to enforce.

The way I see it, there are two possible responses to this:

Men can allow their sense of guilt to force them to put all women on a pedestal and sacrifice their own wellbeing to atone for their fathers’ mistakes, or

they can submit to the self-fulfilling prophecies and behave like the devils they are meant to be.

Who wins in either of these scenarios? No one!

Socio-economic burdens: The ideal family man

Human history is no stranger to passing guilt down family lines, and so we (as people, not men) have, to some extent, learned how to cope with this as a natural evolutionary byproduct.

For me this isn’t exactly where the problem lies. What concerns me is how this sense of guilt at the mere act of being a male hominid is so strongly juxtaposed with expectations designed keep us in the very roles we are criticized for.

The man of a household or just in a casual relationship is expected by his female companions to exhume a sense of strength, emotional stability and silence while still being notably sensitive, caring and open to discussing his problems on an emotional level.

Men are expected to foster a sense of responsibility and independence in their female housemates while still being (largely) the sole provider.

Men are expected to be mindful and down to earth while still having a healthy fixation on looking the part, fashion-wise, to the expectations of their spouses.

Men are expected to forsake shallowness and respect a woman for who she is, while still only finding reproductive value in their ability to shower their partners with gifts, money,security and good genes.

As Eddie Griffin once put it, “What happened to falling in love with a n***** with a bus pass, just because you loved a n*****.”

Impersonal relationships

These unrealistic expectations and the latent, damning guilt are bound to have an effect on human interactions, specifically between men and women. There seems to be, in the aftermath of the feminist movement in the 60’s, an idea of applying unwarranted amounts of respect for women by men, as though it is possible to make up for all the time men have spent being bastards; yet nothing is reciprocated and so an uneasy tension bubbles under the surface of every man.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not damning the notion of respect for women as a gender, but when it interferes with our paradigms for how and when we choose to give respect to people as individuals, there is a danger of disillusionment.

Anything above basic human respect should never be given out unduly, and this lingering sense of masculine guilt is a well of current undue respect.

Why is undue respect dangerous? Because it makes us forget that we are dealing with people. Has there ever been a divide greater, or more long standing than that between men and women? This divide comes from dogged philosophies that work on the ‘us and them’ principle resulting from undue respect for anyone who has been regarded as a higher status human being for whatever reason.

There is a prevailing idea that women should be wrapped in cotton wool and nurtured for their entire lives by their trusty providers so that the tradition of the functional family can endure. The danger here is not only to the cultural status of men who are born in this world to atone for their inherited transgressions, but it has a severe impact on the female side of the gender relations fence.

The caltrop for the progress of mutual independence

The troubles that these ideals may bring for men are fairly obvious, although certainly a subjective point and I’m sure a few of my readers may disagree. So let’s discuss the effects they have on the expectations placed on women by their gender roles.

One of the major goals of the feminist movement was to achieve a palpable sense of independence for women in a world of equal opportunity and equity. Noble goals indeed, and as a society we are edging closer to realizing this. But what has the notion of guilt-wrought respect done in this regard.

The first mentionable thing is that it indeed leads women further away from the point of independence which we as a society should be trying to reach. This is because, in being treated like objects to be coddled, the ‘respectful’ actions of men are in fact leading to a sense of dependence on them for certain things which, it is regarded for some reason, should only be properly provided by a man.

Unwarranted tip-toeing around any sensitive discussions for fear of seeming disrespectful brings about an unnatural sheltering of women from real world dangers as if they were children that need constant protection. Where is the empowerment in that? It also closes up the windows of free and open dialogue where these issues can be addressed and explored by men and women alike.

The second problem with such levels of respect is that they create an environment of unrealistically high expectations for both men and women which they have to struggle to live up to in order to stay in line with societal codes. There is no doubt that there is an expectation placed on women with regards to their aesthetic qualities and home-building skills, an unfair expectation but a present one none the less. Men too live the pressure of exhuming but not embodying strength, showing sensitivity without weakness, and working themselves to death to earn the necessary bio-survival tickets which make them eligible for reproduction.

The trouble is that each side of the fence wants to fight against societal expectations, without actually lowering them for the other. As a process, this cannot have an ideal outcome.

Regardless of which reproductive organs we have, people still need to learn that if you want to have high expectations of others, you really should have something to show for it. But somewhere down the line we were all taught that we are special enough to demand respect, without having a decent command of it. Men are not the enemy, and neither are women; the real enemy is the lazy social consensus which is reluctant to organize itself sufficiently to challenge the path we are travelling as a species.

Save my soul

Man save my soul I’m entitled to a

slice of this whole I was born into the

quiet winters

in the labor camps

the young interns

are the favored tramps

 

for the greater good

but whose greater good is it anyway?

 

Hot steaks but cold and sleeping on the floor we

build high walls to keep our bellies full, we’ve got

quiet neighbors

except on Saturdays

we read the papers

its horror movie night!

 

for the greater good

but whose greater good is it anyway?

 

Some choose to deal with their daily scars by

pretending their fates are written in the stars

while the rest lament to some extent the innocent

who are equally to blame

for the word having gotten so incomprehensibly sane

 

for the greater good

but whose good is greater anyway?

Tall upon the jetty

I stood tall upon the jetty to wave a ship gone bye

And it danced to the horizon ‘neath an inky empty sky

A ship with sheep a shackled to a mundane future bright

‘til all I saw were ripples edging forward from the night

I sat upon the icy rocks to spy those wispy sails

Clinging to a concrete floor for fear of grasping rails

The leper’s sea it laps the land in loving lonesome song

Echoing the ebb and flow where it assumes I’ve wronged

I lay down in the marina and try imagine sleep

Revelling in silence here somewhere in the deep

I watch the passing lifeguard boats drifting overhead

They’ll give the search up soon enough assuming I am dead

In the dark I peel my flesh the nutrients of fish

Expose my bones they feast in droves and grant me each a wish

Ambivalence has gut myself to help prepare the dish.

RIP -Walter Palmer

I have to admit I am starting to feel a little bit bad for our dentist friend Walter Palmer who has come under merciless global fire for his killing of an innocent and defenseless little kitty whom somebody once took to calling Cecil – which stuck.

My daily Facebook feed has been littered with hate-speech for the chap and avid big game (and endangered species) hunter. Look, alright we get it. He did a bad thing. He did a few bad things. But are you still going to think he’s a monster next time you’re crippled by acute tooth-ache?

I certainly don’t condone the killing of animals, whether that animal is a human or a fish, there had better be a very good reason for taking a life. Mr. Palmer, and many others have a different world-view from myself but is this reason enough for the masses to destroy a man’s life by trying to cripple his livelihood.

What about the billions of cows which die for our sins each year or all those barbarically unfertilized eggs I eat with four rations of finely sliced pig? And what about the majestic chicken who is deplumed and sent naked between two slices of bread for my enjoyment? Where is all of our consideration for the good folks who get fucked over each day in the coffee fields so that I can have my morning caffeine fix?

Humanity, society, community; can all fall prey to the same trap. We get caught up in our most evil of sides with such ease, because we think we are defending the righteous…

Sink a sailor soldier Sprite

Did your ships of progress congressing cargo

Not capitalize by capsizing

For someone down the line?

Who is your commanding officer?

Since you cannot be criticized

For dinking for another man’s wine.

No, accountability comes first,

It always comes first;

Because then the problem can wait.

Did those lips of progress learn that rhetoric

Or was it a birth given talent?

Like the power to govern a state.

Each careful word is cleverly heard

By unsuspecting consumers,

Who gnash their teeth

Like the poverty stricken and sickly starved,

Robbed by fried chicken wings and

Roasted beef.

Alleviate me, neighbour…

Alleviate me, neighbour, of my burdensome loot

Because its power sways, pig, king and kingdom;

And I will take yours so that we stop keeping scores,

and we’ll do what we can cos we know we are needed.

You could come bare to my shoe-shop, I’d craft you a boot

And not breathe a word ‘bout a fee-or-income;

and assume when I’m hungry you’ll open your doors

and you’ll ask me if I may already have eaten.

Then after we’d go to the bar down the road where we’d

Be dull and plump in the definition of freedom;

Ale after ale, we could drink until we’re pale

And smoke, poke, sniff and blotch; anything we wanted to.

Wake up, do what we must, and not think once about greed.

We’ll learn and make for humanity’s sake with reason;

For a reason so simple; it’s because we are frail.

But probably, we’ll survive, though only those with guns.