It was being called gay that allegedly made Mduduzi Manana – a whole deputy minister – lose it in the middle of Cubana.
Now, I don’t know a lot about the Honourable Manana. Maybe he’s the kind of guy who would lose it in the middle of Cubana if you told him his head was too shiny, and he’d had enough Johnnie Walker.
There is clearly something very, very wrong with a man who would assault a woman in the way the photos and video suggest that he did.
But equally, it’s possible that Manana reacted with such whopping rage because he was called the worst thing you can apparently call a South African man: gay.
As a red-blooded South African man, when you are accused of being homosexual you simply have no option but to immediately hit the nearest human being as hard as you can.
That is the only way to rid yourself of the taint of the gay. Otherwise you might as well pick out the nearest feather boa and start planning your costume for MCQP.
Being called gay is the worst insult because – ewww! Gay! Two dudes, going at it! Two chicks, going – oh wait, that’s sexy and therefore quite awesome. It can get confusing.
Manana, like the rest of the government, has been talking up a big game in his official capacity about the evils of woman abuse and general prejudice. But clearly that matters little when the chips are down and the insults are “gay”.
How many South African men read the report on the Cubana incident, registered that Manana had been accused of being gay, and privately thought: I get it?
We don’t know the exact context in which Manana was called gay. Maybe the woman in question told him she assumed he was gay because he was so unusually handsome, well-groomed and intelligent. Maybe.
Or maybe she called him gay because she was seeking to insult him – and she knew the secret of the worst thing you can call a South African man.
In one sense, it obviously doesn’t matter what name Manana was called. Even if she’d called him Yeezy, it doesn’t excuse him lashing out like a maniac. Nothing does.
But in another sense, it does matter what name Manana was called – because of what it tells us about the ongoing power of “gay” as a slur, a taunt, a weapon.
That aspect of the story is one that I haven’t seen people paying very much attention to. And while we’re at it, here’s another. Have you listened to the audio recording of the victim’s brother giving Manana hell over the phone?
Yes, it’s wonderful that the woman has a brother who is willing to stand up for her. But, um, that recording is more than a little disturbing.
Am I the only one who got distinctly creeped out when the brother threatened to go and violate Manana’s women in exchange for Manana violating his?
What is this, Game of Thrones? Actually, I wish it were Game of Thrones, because in that case the victim would end up a trained assassin on a path of deadly vengeance.
Instead, all I heard was one guy threatening to inflict further violence on other women as a result of another guy’s bad behavior.
Unpopular though this perspective may be, I’m not sure anyone comes out of this incident looking great. Sure, the real villain of the moment is Manana – but taken as a whole, the case is a perfect microcosm of the general clusterfuck that is gender relations in South Africa.
Toxic masculinity, aggression, and homophobia – it’s all there, like a Quality Street box of yuck.
Oh, and one further word to my friends in the media. Can we please, please stop pointing out how extra bad Manana’s actions were because they took place in Women’s Month?
Every time you do that, you’re implying it’s somehow better for women to get a klap in the 11 other months of the year.
Bruises on women’s bodies are generally reserved for hot-wax because of hair removal and beauty up-keep. Also a problem. But a battle for another day.
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