Juju’s Apology to Women – some dynamics

(I am posting this in this way because I am still to work out how else to combine and post discussions and comments made in my Blog, Facebook and Twitter – for general consumption)

On 22 June 2011, newly re-elected ANCYL President, Julius Malema issued an apology to all women for the comments he made in Jan 2009 about women when referring to the woman who had accused President Zuma of rape. (http://bit.ly/iZliCJ  and  http://bit.ly/lqZOYI).

I tweeted this:

“As much as i would disagree with much of what Juju says, i commend him for his apology to women http://bit.ly/mxQmCo”

I received this comment as a reply:

“Don’t agree and certainly don’t commend him on his apology – when has it become acceptable to do now and damn the consequences because we can apologize later?  With respect to Ernest Hemingway (and I wish I could find the book I read this in) – a recovery is never good enough because it should not have happened in the first place.”

And my reply was:

“Correct, it should not have happened in the first place and its completely unacceptable to do now, no matter the consequences and then apologize later. His initial statements in Jan 2009 were arrogant, insensitive and stoked all the wrong fires, causing a lot of damage and hurt for over two years since then and that will remain for some time even beyond his surprising apology.

I look at it like this:

One of South Africa’s numerous ‘big’ challenges is gender – promoting equality, respect, dignity, safety, mainstreaming, advancement, etc (and ending all the associated negatives including all forms of violence, abuse and discrimination, etc). This is not only because our bill of rights and constitutional provisions compel it, but because of the ongoing reality of generations of abuse, violence and discrimination in the name of culture, religion, economic interest, etc.

I would imagine that many (mainly men, i think) agreed with him and felt/feel no apology is necessary. Similarly, many others (mainly women, i think) were/are incensed, hurt and afraid. One can only imagine what damage it did publicly, beyond the personal emotional level, i.t.o the gender-based challenges I mentioned.

But given this context, I see his apology as meaningful in at least two ways:  its even more surprising than his initial statement – particularly among the millions who agreed with him, and it’s a bigger moment of humility for him than, than the initial statement was a moment of alpha male chauvinism for him.

Either way, I hope that his apology adds momentum to all those initiatives aimed at educating on and preventing gender-based violence and discrimination, and reverses the damage caused initially.

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