Friday, March 13, 2009

I'm Sorry, Did Someone Just Say 'Corrective'?

The disheartening news of an increased trend in the rape of South African queer and lesbian women did three things to me: it caught my attention, made me want to throw up, and forced me to re-evaluate my stance on a few things.

Reuters reports that a number of South African gangs are targeting lesbians in what is being called "corrective" rape attempting to make them straight. The ideology behind this tactic is that lesbian women will know what it feels like to be a 'real' woman once they've been raped by a man. Such notions leave me pondering the possibility that at least a small portion of lesbian women may have encountered sexual abuse by a man early enough in life to cause excruciating trauma so that, in adulthood, heterosexuality becomes simply undesirable.
In such a case, why would anyone want to know what it feels like to be a real woman if it means being subject to traditional, patriarchal and simply inhumane bullshit?

On top of all of this, despite the fact that South Africa is one of the vast continents' most progressive countries, the South African justice system fails to acknowledge crime on the basis of sexual orientation. This means, even if a victim survives an attack and reports it, which is rare in itself, convictions are even more rare and professional support is often nowhere to be found.

Inevitably, reactions to this news have varied from outrage to impartiality. Some are quick to point fingers from across ponds without stopping to recognize that much of the same activity happens right here in our very own backyards.

What's most bothersome to me about this type of rape is the term, "corrective". Whether or not it was coined by those hoping to bring light to the issue or by the criminals themselves doesn't matter; there's nothing to correct. Unless we're going to strip one another of our identities and until we're all machines, there won't be anything to fix - that needs to be made clear.
It's still rape, it's still crime and it's still heinous. "Corrective" is false, disgusting and genocidal, to say the least.

Watch: South Africa's Sinister Claim to Fame

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