Cover your crass

Once upon a time, South African writer-television-radio personality Eric Miyeni had a column. The aftermath of – what was to become – his last article for The Sowetan newspaper was hectic, so much so that the South African National Editor’s Forum stood “firmly” behind a South African named Ferial Haffajee. Fast forward a few months later –

South Africa isn’t one of those countries one could confidently describe as sexually aware per se. Our progressiveness is, however – ironically – riddled with sexually suggestive satire and misplaced expressions of masculinity. In tandem with our developing democratic developmental state, this does relatively little developing for our best practice and morality.

When covering stories, from people, places, presidents to even the simplest little league rugby matches, we ought to strive to express as paragons of virtue in a world where all of us do a lot to impugn our own dignities on a day-to-day basis. I am not the ANC, I do not seek to curtail expression, I am neither AVUSA nor Al-Jazeera, so the censorship debate aside: I am a young female citizen who appreciates good media coverage and a quality pictorial.

I cannot help but find Ferial Haffajee’s pride in a tabloid’s decision to show levels of content outside of the walls of the Goodman Gallery as awkward to say the least; quite unnecessary to be precise. Like …walking away from a designated dump area, throwing shit around crassly and smiling, saying ‘oh, look at this mess.’

Sue me.

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2 thoughts on “Cover your crass

  1. Well said. I’m all for artistic expression but my contention lies not with the defamatory claims made by JZ and the ANC. Rather, my contention is with this historical (read: racist) expression of hyper-sexualized black masculinity. A similar portrait of, say, a white woman (read: Helen Zille) would have received unimaginable backlash and criticism. If we are to be consistent and happy with this type of expression, then it ought to be applied uniformly so that no individual can claim defamation. If not, they we ought to reassess the appropriateness of such artistic expression.

  2. Very well articulated. This should be at the fore of the discussion, I must say, because black (wo)men really just get a raw deal out of what is deemed ‘acceptable’ ‘exposure’ of our sexuality. Not that we don’t have a role to play in that – negatively or positively; but it could be addressed more and urgently so: you have raised a fine point.

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