Bare Bottoms and Roses

By Brigitta Simpson

Once upon a time magazines were my daily reading matter. Then, one day I decided to dispense with all this “light reading” and was left with only De Kat which, I must confess, strikes me as having a rather snobbish air about it. Nevertheless,  I love it, especially the very unusual and stunning front covers, and a fair number of in depth articles about anything and everything under the sun. Call me a snob if you wish.

A while ago the latest Fairlady cover page caught my eye because of the following headline: “Famous men who hit women”. I promptly bought it to see who these “heroes” were. None other than Sean Connery, John Lennon, Sean Penn, Chris Brown and  Charlie Sheen graced the pages. It is old news that the rich and famous turn to violence against their women, or any woman for that matter. In the article it is reported that  Sean Penn stuck Madonna’s head in an oven and beat her with a baseball bat. Sean Connery believes a woman should be beaten if she “is a bitch, or hysterical, or is bloody-minded continually”. He is now no longer my favourite 007, and the others I am writing off summarily, they do not deserve to walk on this earth, let alone bathing in the limelight. And what’s more, although it breaks my heart, I shall never listen to John Lennon’s Imagine again.

In the same issue I came across an article about Laura Bates who started an  Everyday Sexism Project, “an online platform for women to share experiences of harassment or discrimination”. The project has become a global phenomenon and can be found at www.everydaysexism.com.

An example of what you may read on the website is:

Kat Manning
I can’t help but notice that when I insist people working for me do their job on time and properly I am an “uppity bitch”. My male colleague who does the same thing is a “natural leader who gets things done”. Go figure.

I work in a place largely inhabited by males as it is a boys school. Quite a significant number of teachers are female and expect common courtesy and good manners from the male contingent the boys as well as staff. Being the school librarian and with the library overlooking the swimming pool, an interesting scenario started to develop. The boys were given permission to change on a small, wall-less pavilion next to the pool, in full view of the female library staff and other women teachers walking by. Having complained a few times over the years about this practice, I did the same this year – which fell on deaf ears. The teacher in charge of Life Orientation was of the opinion that the view of boxer shorts were fine and acceptable. I disagreed profusely, as changing clothes was not restricted to boxer shorts, but included a variety of underpants and yes, bare bottoms. I am no prude, but this was a bit much. In any event, boxer underwear was not acceptable either.

I thought my chance of changing the status quo had arrived when the “no violence against women and children campaign” kicked off. I reminded the teachers during a staff meeting that the “Violence against Women …” campaign would also mean that the boys would dress properly at all times, including tucking in shirts in an acceptable manner during lessons. The practice had been to undo flies and so expose their underwear at the same time in front of the  staff member in the classroom. To me, and other female teachers, this practice had been unacceptable and disrespectful (to say the least) for quite some time.

I also mentioned the bare bottoms …

At a special assembly held in honour of all women as part of the no violence campaign, the female staff were presented by the boys with a rose each. I thought it a lovely gesture, but did the males actually put their money where the action was? We could have roses, but were we, the female staff, going to see more bare bottoms?

At the next appropriate meeting I pointed out the disparity between bare bottoms on the one hand and roses on the other. Can one present roses and still have bare bottoms running around? A definite no. I must confess I haven’t seen bare bottoms since, and hope I won’t view them from the library ever again. During my very own campaign, because this is how I view it, no stone was left unturned to ensure Management was informed about the open flies and bare bottoms and as I said, I haven’t seen bare bottoms since…

A new campaign about “Violence against women …” has just been launched …

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