“Bedroom” Politics Kill The Women Cadres – Mhlobowethu Hoyi

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Magnificent Mndebele & Teboho Fumbeza

On the 11th of August 2017, the ANCYL of Soweto Campus (SWC) at UJ celebrated the Women’s Month and their contribution to the ongoing liberation and participation to empower women but ‘sex-politics’ did not go unchallenged.

“The women want to have sex with you so that [they] capture you, that’s where it all goes wrong. Why must we use sex in exchange for power,” asked Sabelo Mpangani, the UJ APK-SASCO Chairman.

“Bedroom politics are the ones that have ruined the organisation, for me to merge now I must go and sleep with someone . . . if a female cadre wants to merge why must she come with the ideas to give me centre?” said Mpangani.

For the ANCYL of SWC to celebrate Women’s Day and Month on the campus is phenomenal as it had never happened before.

The distinguished speakers were predominantly male yet the theme of the event in content and context was feminism, probing some uncomfortable and controversial ideologies of gender equality such as that ‘men cadres should also wear doeks.’

“We should go away with the fact that a doek only represents the liberation of women if they are claiming to be gender activists, then you will wear the doek,” said Thembeni Manana, the branch’s Chairwoman of ANCYL in Alexandra in Ward 116.

Some male counterparts of SASCO and the ANCYL tend to find it hard to digest the idea that they should wear doeks as a means of showing support for women empowerment and gender balance.

The gender imbalance among the distinguished speakers. In other words, men were the predominant gender who had been speaking about the role of the women in politics and feminism. Photo by Teboho Fumbeza.

“[For] us as male cadres [to] wear doeks, it will not look proper and even the society will question us. Although we support non-sexisms but it cannot be. There are things that you are able to digest in life but this one is indigestible and I am not supporting this view of men wearing a doek,” contested Mpangani.

Kgobane Malika, the first youngest person to be the Chairman of ANCYL in SWC, seemed to be much more open to new ideas, but when asked if he was prepared to wear a doek he said: “A doek!”

“Well, to wear a doek [as a man] is not a crisis or a challenge. If the comrades want me to posture feminism by wearing a doek I don’t see it as a challenge because feminism is one of the ideas that society proposes. I don’t feel outside the society when these issues are raised I must be part of the discussion,” said Malika.

The Open Journal requested Malika to wear a doek as ‘it is not a crisis or challenge’ but upon such request, it became obvious that this is regarded as a taboo in a society. “You know [this issue of] a doek, the culture of doing things in a [society] does not allow it,” Malika articulated.

“I don’t think we should oppress girls or marginalise them to do certain chores like society deems it, rather we should be equal, therefore if that means males also wearing a doek then so be it,” said Thato Momakwe, a student at UJ SWC who had attended the event.

Manana says men can never be feminists but can sympathise and understand the vitality of equality and the well-being of women such as the significance of sanitary towels but will never truly understand the ordeal of going through period pains.

The state of female students was probed further to a deeper scale, “How often do you cook for your boyfriend at residences? How often do you clean for him yet he wouldn’t do that in return? This is unpaid labour yet productive,” said Zuko Godlimpi, ANC cadre who specialises in the role of women in the South African economy.

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The context of gender equality seems to be complex, “A revolution is an activity of young people . . . we need not to abuse the concept of women by only referring to boobs and vagina. We as women have failed to put context on gender equity of 50/50,” Manana said. “We have failed to incorporate the LGBT community.”

A couple of students said to The Open Journal, “The event was a success, I would like to see more of such events being done to mobilise women on campus, however I suggest a political school for women to empower their political side,” Talent Ngcobo, a 2nd-year student at UJ.

“The event was great, on the point of gender equality and the representation of the LGBT community, I think like comrade Manana said UJ students need to be more accepting of them to show a united front,” said Nonhlanhla Ngwenya a 1styear Accounting student at UJ. TOJ

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