Journalist. Activist. Freelancer. Twarrior.

Government spokesperson says what now?

Following the outrage over the gang rape and brutal murder of a 17-year old girl, government spokesperson Lionel Adendorf tells women to “take your rape cap off, put your loving cap on”.

Adendorf works for the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, where it is apparently a-okay to infringe on your wife’s bodily autonomy. In fact, women are encouraged to give in to their husbands, lest, you know, their kids get the wrong idea. Because there is nothing wrong with teaching your son that wives are their husband’s playthings.

And to convince the already outraged masses that you are on their team and really mean well, include a hashtag mourning the brutal rape and murder of a schoolgirl. Well, I’m convinced!

A young girl was just brutally murdered, and this – I have many ugly words I would prefer to use, but I’ll refrain – troll thinks it somehow appropriate to not only belittle a girl’s gang rape and murder, but all South Africans who are justifiably outraged at her murder. And then he has the gall to suggest that wives should submit to their husband’s unwanted advances “for the sake of the children”.

If you were wondering what rape culture is, see it in action:

LionelTweets

Please email a link to this blog to DAFF Chief Communications Officer, Priscilla Sehoole. Or sms her. Let her know that we will not tolerate rape culture from anyone, including our politicians.

#speakoutSA

E-mail: CCO@daff.gov.za

Cell: 083 265 8728

UPDATE: Adendorf has issued a ‘fauxpology’. I.e. never meant to advocate touching one’s wife against her will; it was my “assumptions” that lead me to be offended. Oh, and it’s “affections” that shouldn’t be refused, not sex. My bad. Wives must not refuse their husband’s “affections”. Gotcha.

UPDATE: Adendorf has commented below. I approved the comment because I think it fair to let him explain himself, but I don’t in any way condone his comment for two reasons. First, he still plays the “sorry you were offended” racket, which is not a true apology. Second, I don’t need or want an apology. It’s not about me. What Adendorf did was a clear example of rape culture, which is that men are entitled to women’s bodies, entitled to invade our space. He may not rape his wife, or even hurt her. Rape culture happens on a spectrum, and denying your wife the ability to refuse your “affections” falls on that spectrum. It’s disrespectful to her dignity and autonomy. As my favourite feminist writer, Melissa McEwan, put it:

Rape culture is not, as it is continually misrepresented, a culture in which one can trace a direct line from every rape joke to an actual act of rape, but a culture in which there is endemic hostility to the notions of consent, autonomy, and respect of individual boundaries, privacy, and dignity. The rape culture is not just about actual and attempted acts of rape, sexual assault, and sexual harassment, but also about all the other ways in which contempt and/or indifference toward other human beings’ consent, autonomy, boundaries, and right to halt any unwanted interaction in their personal spaces are violated.

Adendorf 3 Adendorf 1 Adendorf 2

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Categorised in: Activism, Gender Action Project

12 Responses »

  1. It is indeed sad that what I meant innocently is misconstrued in this way. A personal thought, a way how I thought can help in our scourge against rape, used against me in the most hurtful way but I accept responsibility for what I said and deeply regret the results of my words.
    I have been with my wife for the last ten years, this month we will celebrate our second wedding anniversary and we have a 5-year old son.
    Hogs and kisses are an instrumental part of our household and we taught our son and all other children that visit us that they should not allow anyone to touch them, report any incident like that and to respect one another.
    We also teach him and others that affection is part of a loving household but sometimes when I steal a kiss from his mom, she hates the disturbance. My son cannot understand it and once, confused, asked me why mom responded that way, “is she not your wife?” he asked.
    I told him that just because she doesn’t wanna kiss now, she hates my kisses. I was just wrong to wanna kiss at that point.
    This brings me to what I meant. When a mother or father refuse a kiss, it will obviously confuse the child who is witness to it. This does not mean that fathers or mothers can force themselves on one another, not at all!
    Children, in my view, should be taught to distinguish between a loving rejection (in conditions of safety, respect and care) and a violent rejection (force, violent, disrespectful) so that, once it happens to them, they know the difference and report any acts of abuse.
    What I said in my tweet also applies to men. From my own experience, I merely wanted to say, when infront of kids, show the good side of love, show them that love and affection is good and a foundation for family happiness. If there is rejection, explain it to them that it is not because there is no love but because it was not the right time or it was a disturbance.
    Sometimes, when fast asleep, my son will feel my ears, kiss my cheeks and my forehead and even, when I am lucky, whisper that he loves me. That is what I wanna experience everyday but my wife, unfortunately, does not always like it when I kiss her when she is busy with her Cosmo or even the dishes. Thank you for allowing me to explain and be part of this debate.

  2. Oh my God, I refuse to belief my eyes and ears! I am shocked beyond disbelief. Not because of what this man said but because of how you twisted his words to suit your campaign. I am certain that this man never meant it like that and certainly does not encourage rape or abuse. For you to present his words to mean just that and your campaign to have him fired is simply shocking and heartbreaking. Sad, in fact. Simply refuse to belief this.
    Is this perhaps not why men refuse to be involved in anti-rape campaigns? This fear of vilification or being suspected must be very discouraging for men. I can only imagine how fearful this man might be to ever be involved in these campaigns and won’t blame him if he would rather stay away from this matter. If this happens, a valuable lesson was lost and someone who might have added strength to the campaign is lost forever.
    In one tweet he tells you, not women, to “take your rape cap off and put your loving cap on”. To then make it sound as if he was speaking to a group of women and then to present his good intentions in the most heartless way is simply beyond my imagination.
    You should be ashamed of yourself.
    I am not a journalist nor a rape or gender expert, simply a community worker who works with young children in Eerste River, not far from Cape Town and I see and experience first hand how men prefer different roles when it comes to anti-rape campaigns. This man is at least involved. He speaks at least out but instead of directing him on the right path you did the most despicable.
    This is very sad and really wanna make me cry.

  3. Abby, I did not twist Adendorf’s words in any way. They are as they stand, as you can see in the above print screen of his tweets. What Adendorf meant is clear: that women, specifically wives, “should not refuse affection from fathers or partners”. Now, let’s unpack the implications of this statement. First, it assumes that a woman or wife should not refuse unwanted advances from her male partner. It assumes that women’s consent to male “affections” comes secondary to men’s want for affection. Clearly, this undermines the notion of consent in relationships, as well as a woman’s right to her own bodily autonomy, dignity and privacy. Insisting that a woman “should not refuse” her partner’s advances is a violation of her bodily autonomy. And it denies her the ability to consent. This idea that a woman “should not refuse” her partner’s advances is an example of rape culture, where women’s consent regarding male contact is rendered irrelevant.
    If men choose not to be involved in anti-rape campaigns when they are rightly called out for perpetuating rape culture – a culture that normalises and condones rape and the violation of women’s bodily autonomy – you really aren’t going to hear any complaints from me.

    You can imagine how “fearful” Adendorf might be after being rightly called out? “Fearful”? In the context of sexual violence against women, do you really think that is an appropriate word to use?
    I don’t see how a man who belittles the rape and murder of a 17-year-old girl is a valuable asset to the anti-rape movement. Even less so of a man who insists that women should be submissive to men.

    I am sorry that you clearly do not understand the nature of enthusiastic consent, or why Adendorf’s actions are hostile to the notion of consent. I think if you did understand these things, you would also understand why his comments are hugely problematic.

    I should be ashamed? And the guy who insists his wife should be submissive gets what, a pat on the back for trying to get involved? Abby, you are extremely misguided on this issue.

  4. I have no intentions of being part in an all-day debate about this. You continue to misconstrue his words and you don’t think that you could have handled it any other way. That is fine. You use big words like “rape culture”. Does this man know what it means or do you simply assume what it means? I am even convinced that what he said could easily be used the other way around where men should also not reject affection. Do you even know the word “affection”? I read what he meant and it was after reading his comment that I realized that he has a particular point that you seem to ignore. Just because you are a journalist and know a few things about this matter and I am just a community worker who works with women and children without formal training does not mean that your views are the gospel truth and you are always right on the matter. You totally ignored what he said and disregarded his explanation and that it a shame. This proofs that you have a particular agenda against another black man who you tried to bully into thinking the way you do. Point is, I read what he said, understood what he meant. You didn’t. Let another black man be your victim, be unemployed or embarrassed because he simply wanted to put an end to rape and his intentions were misconstrued by you. That is sick!

  5. Abby, this has nothing to do with my role as a journalist, and everything to do with my role as a gender activist and rape survivor. I would be failing as an activist if I did not call him out on his poor behaviour. This also has nothing to do with Adendorf’s race, and everything to do with his insistence that his partner submit to his affections.

    Irrespective of whether Adendorf’s argument extends to men or to women, no person has any right to force him/herself into another person’s space without that person’s consent. No one “should” submit to someone else’s affections. End of story. Insisting otherwise, both from you and from Adendorf, is an example of rape culture. And as I’ve explained above, rape culture is a culture that makes consent irrelevant. Adendorf’s comments on this matter do exactly that: his wife’s consent to his “affections” are irrelevant, because she “should not reject” his affections.

    Again, do you really think it is appropriate to use the word “victim” in this context? Where we are talking about women and children being victims of rapists? Adendorf is not a victim and nor has been victimised by me. I called him out for making comments and sharing an attitude that serves to victimise women and girls across the country. It is a shame that you can’t see the difference.

    Again, if a man’s idea of fighting rape is to insist that his wife’s consent to his affections is irrelevant, then I don’t want him fighting rape. It really is that simple, and the same goes for any one else, regardless f their race or gender.

    If you don’t believe I am right in this matter, then do some reading and show me that I am wrong. I have read deeply into this matter, and I have not only tried to explain it to you, but I have used other sources as well. Insisting that this is a racist vendetta against Adendorf is ridiculous, and a cop out on your part. I would have fought this same line irrespective of a person’s race or gender, which is clearly indicated by my Twitter timeline.

  6. Abby, no man (or woman) can force himself on another person. That is the bottom-line. While I certainly did not mean that women can be abused and exploited sexually by their partners in from of their children and accept such abuse because of the children, the point is that too many men still think they have a right to do whatever they want to to women. You are right, I used the word affection and meant it in a loving and save environment and never meant for it to be taken out of context but I also have a responsibility to apply more caution when I speak especially on a social platform. I was not careful and as a result, opened myself for the kind of scrutiny criticism and vilification that followed. In a way, I deserved it.
    It is unfair to bring racism into this as I do not think that I was attacked because I am Black or Coloured. My word selection was wrong, not the race of the person who said it and in fact, that had nothing to do with it.
    I would love to meet you and be involved in your organization. I feel very bad about it and really wish to redeem myself and am certain that your cause would give me a rare insight into a matter that I seemingly need to learn more about. Lets continue the fight against abuse and let us all work together to ensure that Anene’s rape and murder was the last.

  7. Thanks, Lionel.

    The point of this post was to call you out for your problematic comments. Your most recent comment and attempt to engage with me about the matter is what we need most as an anti-rape movement. If you are willing to playing a supportive role by listening and understanding us as women, rape survivors and activists, then I am, for one, more than happy to have you on our team. But being on our team doesn’t make you exempt from being called to order from time to time.

    Thanks for your engagement, and yes, this was not about race at all, but about the content of your original comments.

  8. Where are you based? How can I get involved? Really wanna. Just let me know where, when and how and I am in. Will take part in march planned for this afternoon in Bredasdorp. Wishing to wear a “no means no”-tshirt. Also thought of volunteering at the Saartje Bartman Centre. But agree, I have a lot more to learn and would really like to be part of your team.

  9. Okay, came into this late but here goes (from the perspective of a spectator of these arguments in isolation):

    1) Lionel, I think your error was linking your thoughts/ opinions to Anene Booysen’s rape and murder was (I risk to say) in poor taste. I saw no link between what point you were making and the case that you linked it to. To be honest, had you said what you said in isolation – no link to Anene’s story – I would have taken the opinion that Michelle was off the mark with her notion. Alas, you have apologised and shown remorse (which appears genuine) and I respect that.
    2) Abby Damons, you had me until you got to this point: “This proofs that you have a particular agenda against another black…”. I pretty much switched off at that point. The truth about SA is that as soon as you bring in race (where there was no evidence of it being about race, as was the case here), you immediately lose credibility and it becomes an ad hominem. At that point, I was unclear why you felt so strongly: Was it because you completely disagreed with what Michelle did or was it because you felt (or convinced yourself) she was one of “those” white people and wanted to nail (no sexual innuendo, Michelle, so ease up) her to a cross. Ironically, you accused her of having an agenda and kind of revealed that you had an agenda of your own.
    3) Michelle, linked to Point 1: I wonder if you would have been as strongly outraged if he hadn’t linked it the Anene case. You argued: ‘What Adendorf meant is clear: that women, specifically wives, “should not refuse affection from fathers or partners’.” I disagree that it was that clear. There is a possibility (whether it’s true or not, we’ll let the courts decide) that he used “Mothers” and “Fathers” in the order that was relevant to him. I get the feeling that he was coming at it from the angle of “Parent A (regardless of gender) should not refuse affections from Parent B (regardless of gender) in front of the kids.” It’s possible that he was alluding the the concept of “Parents shouldn’t reject each other in front of children – it sends a bad message.” He then brought his own frustrations that he suffers in the marriage to give it a personal touch – unfortunately, it came off as him venting and airing out his laundry. To be honest, I don’t think this had anything to do with rape and cannot see how NOT rejecting in front of kids will stop rape. That’s why I said (in Point 1) that the error was him linking his point-of-view to the Anene case. In the context of what he said and what he linked it to, I can understand outrage – but not from a journalist. Granted: This is a personal blog, but I would imagine it’s a reflection of your work. I was under the impression that a journalist does a sh*t load of homework before they produce a paper. There are volumes and volumes of reading; telephone calls; e-mail correspondences with sources; statements from the person who is the topic and a lot of information gathered before an objective story is reported. I suppose was not supposed to be a news report but the approach on the matter actually lost me. I found it difficult to sift through the “Holy crap! She’s on a rampage” and get to your arguments and what you were saying – I was distracted from the message by your emotive piece, which seemed like a crusade to crucify and make an example of someone. This is why Abby mentions “villifying” the person. You don’t come off as “Let me hear your side of the story.” You come off, more, like “I’m right! You’re wrong! Now conform or I’ll destroy you!” That’s not how you win people over into a cause – that’s how you lose them.

  10. We need fewer “no means no” t-shirts and more “only yes means yes, anything else is a no” t-shirts. The idea that someone can be pressured into a reluctant “alright”, and this count as consent, is a major part of the problem.

Trackbacks

  1. Raped and murdered in Logan. | In The Bed Inside Me.
  2. Let them eat cock | chrisroper.co.za

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