“Corrective rape” my ass!

16 03 2009

Eudy Simelane was one of the leading players of South Africa’s national female football squad. She was also an out lesbian and an equality rights campaigner. Last April, she was brutally murdered. She was gang-raped, beaten and then stabbed 25 times in her face, chest, and legs.

The Daily Mail reports that this one case gained prominence, but countless women in South Africa are victims of homophobic brutality, murder and “corrective rape” that will supposedly un-lesbian them and make them straight. An LGBTQ rights organization, Triangle, deals with approximately 10 cases of “corrective rape” every week. Despite all this homophobic sexual violence, the South African government refuses to prioritize prosecuting hate crimes as such.

Laura Turquet, the women’s rights coordinator for NGO ActionAid has said:

So-called  “corrective” rape is yet another grotesque manifestation of violence against  women, the most widespread human rights violation in the world today. These  crimes continue unabated and with impunity, while governments simply turn a  blind eye.

It is mindblowingly ridiculous to think that any form of rape can be “corrective” and that it can “cure” sexual orientation. Rape is rape, end of story. It doesn’t correct or cure anything. It’s just a weapon to enforce patriarchy and imposed gender norms. Moreover,  all of these attempts to categorize rape (“corrective”, date rape, spousal rape, etc.) are just ways to try to lessen the violent reality.

These homophobic hate crimes exemplify how our society pathologizes and criminalizes queerness. If you’re not straight, not only must you be punished for it but there’s also obviously something wrong with you that needs to be corrected (Aha! By raping you! That oughta teach you!) The idea that lesbianism is an illness is not new. It was pathologized as a medical illness until 1973, but the stigmatization did not end there.

What’s more, if you look at the “Femail today” side bar of the article on the Daily Mail page, you will see links like:

– “So exactly why ARE you dating Madonna, Jesus? Mr. Luz’s younger (and prettier) ex-girlfriends revealed”

– “Sarah Jessica Parker’s looking good…but there’s no disguising her veiny hands”

– “Trinny, no longer quite so skinny (looks like she’s been down on the gym)”

When juxtaposed alongside an article about rape, “Femail today” just belittles rape and goes to show how women who aren’t feminine enough or don’t do feminine right are overly scrutinized, humiliated and punished. Women are vilified for being old (because apparently old = ugly), not thin enough, being lesbians and overall just not conforming to societal demands of femininity.


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One response

25 10 2009
euandus

Thanks for your post. I just wrote one about what it means when such brutality is “normalized” by virtue of simply being used on a regular basis…when in fact it ought to be regarded still as beyond the pale. I am providing the link in case you are interested. http://euandus3.wordpress.com/2009/10/25/using-rape-against-political-protesters/

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