After recently hearing President Zumas comments against political satirist Zapiro, this time for drawing our president as a penis, I have to take a step back and wonder exactly what this says about our president.
Let me first give a little bit of background as to why this cartoon was created. After the artist Brett Murray displayed his painting of president Zuma with his genitals exposed in the Goodman gallery, Mr. Zuma sued the gallery and insisted that the painting be taken down. Later on the painting was defaced, and much uproar was caused in our country around the entire saga. Zapiros cartoon is centered on this issue, and depicts our president as a penis, looking at himself in a mirror in the Goodman gallery.
Once again, Zuma and the ANC insisted on a withdrawal of the cartoon from Zapiro, as this was, like Brett Murrays “spear”, considered an insult to Zumas human dignity. “The Spear” was going to be raised as a topic during the social cohesion summit. (For further reading on the ANC and Zumas reaction to the cartoon click here)
After this whole saga around the Presidents exposed genitals, I start to wonder if this can really be called an insult to his human dignity. I agree that the painting does not exactly depict our president in the most flattering light, but I honestly think that our country seems to have lost perspective on exactly what human dignity is, and the difference between a political commentary and a flat out violation.
As far as I’m concerned, in regards to human dignity, sexual violence and assault hold far more weight than a painting of you with your genitals exposed, President Zuma.
We live in a day and age where rape and sexual abuse run rampant and are frequently on the rise and making headlines nationwide, particularly against women. I think that it’s truly sad when our own president can claim to feel that a painting of him with his genitals exposed as well as Zapiros frequent depictions of him with a shower head, as well as his latest picture, can think of this as a violation of his human dignity.
Has he thought of the dignity of those thousands of rape survivors? Of women subjected to abuse and violence from men? Or what about the mentally disabled girl, who was gang raped and the video, went viral? When has our president, for that matter, ever really done anything to address the rape crisis that is on the rise in our country?
It’s even estimated that women born in our country are more likely to experience rape than learn how to read. We hear frequently of gang rapes, sexual assault and abuse, and yet where are the ANC marching against that? Where was the president’s outcry to have the viral video removed from the internet?
Somehow, we seem to have lost perspective on what exactly human dignity is, and who should really be having that clause of the constitution rubbed in their face. Sexual violence continues to spike, occurs every day; with more and more women living with the constant fear of falling prey to a sexual predator. More and more girls (and boys) are raped and violated before even reaching puberty.
South Africa has one of the highest rates of child and baby rape in the world, but for our president and government, it’s more important for Zuma to be depicted as a hero and to have his dick portrayed in his pants. (For more statistics on rape, read here)
Maybe he should look at the history of Brett Murray’s art career before he dubs him a racist, as well as look at his own political career and personal life before he decides to start lawsuits against artists and cartoonists who are only using art to comment upon his career.
Maybe if he took notice of women’s rights, and started to voice outrage on the violations that have happened against them, his penis would be far less depicted in the media.