Saturday, January 9, 2010

Dear Mr President, Why Are We Regressing into the Dark Ages?

This week, the president of South Africa - Jacob Zuma - married his fifth wife Nompumelelo Ntuli in a traditional Zulu ceremony at his Nkandla homestead. Fifth, yes, fifth. Polygamy happens to be a legal sport in this nation I find myself residing in. It is absolutely fine, under our country's constitution, for a man to wed more than one woman and have each of these marriages lawfully recognised and registered under the Home Affairs database.

What protects these ludicrous ideas? Tradition. Long-standing tradition than modern pan-Africanists believe European imperialist powers have tried to remove in their attempt to control trade during colonial days. It's quite clear this side of the argument is merely a guise under which misogynistic ideals that substantiate this commodification of women are concealed. With this anti-colonialist stance, traditionalist South African men are hoping to protect their supposed male privilege which makes them feel they have the right to own women and engage in intimate relations with more than one woman at a time without the weight of being accused of adultery. Even more so, those in support of polygamy believe it is somewhat better for men to be given the right under law to have more than one wife than to revel in illicit affairs on the down low with their mistresses.

Progress is gender equality. Gender equality is the future as far as I am concerned. These kind of practices simply do not belong in the fabric modern society. They are primitive and demeaning. When the president of a country does nothing more than collect women in the manner one would collect prized posessions, how can problems such as wage gaps and violence against women be properly addressed. At the root of the patholgies that cause men to appropriate and disrespect female bodies is the notion that women are somehow inferior and should take their role as weak and powerless submissives in society. Which limits them from being taken seriously (as men are) in the workplace and in parliament. And also encourages men to beat their imperiously beat their wives up. Seek extra-maritial affairs without guilt or concern for the psychological implications this will have on the various members of the household. And simply treat women not as fellow human beings but rather as members of some sort of subhuman race of people that happen to exist alongside them and on who, ironically enough, they are intrinsically and desperately dependant for just about...everything in their lives including their very own existence on this mad planet. How funny.

This practice should not be legal. For a country that is struggling to reduce its HIV/AIDS infection rate, it is not only terribly embarrassing for the president to set the standard for female oppression and objectification for men in the country to happily follow, but also exacerbates the various problems underlying the spread of this disease. These problems, of course, have plenty to do with gender relations. Which I believe are deeply troubled and in need of fixing.

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