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Hey Renaldo, a selfie is a selfie, not an invitation

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On Wednesday, the DA’s proportional representation councillor for Nelson Mandela Bay Renaldo Gouws posted a Facebook status calling out women who post “sexually suggestive statuses and images of them half naked bending over a bed taking selfies,” for complaining about men who slither into their inboxes. Mishka Wazar believes he’s crossed a line.

According to Gouws, when women ask men to stop with their unsolicited comments and demands, we’re being hypocritical. Of course, he made sure to say that he wasn’t talking about harassment; he just meant that women should be polite about men dropping into our DMs to ask for our numbers, because we should expect it when “the goal was to get attention”. (As he so eloquently puts it “ You know that I know that you know that the goal was to get attention.”)

Image via Renaldo Gouws on Facebook

In case you hadn’t noticed, the implication is that we’re asking for it.

Gouws either misunderstands the gravity of his statements or he’s oblivious to his misogyny. So let me help you, Renaldo: you are perpetuating rape culture.

Women don’t take photos in the hopes that men dive into their inboxes to shower them with unwanted attention. A selfie is a selfie, not an invitation.

Rape culture is more complex than just defending rape. It’s about controlling women, about managing their actions and interactions, and forcing them into performances of ‘respectability’ for fear of the consequences; consequences like physical and psychological harm by men.

When people insist that women need to toe the line of sexually acceptable behaviour, either online or off, they’re really trying to box women into the ‘virgin’ or ‘slut’ boxes that make it possible for men to either infantilise or sexualise women. It’s complete dehumanisation.

Gouws doesn’t seem to understand that men’s comments and demands can be intrusive and intimidating. He tries to create a divide between what he thinks is harassment and what he thinks is a normal response to “suggestive photos” by adding the qualifier that, “If they harass you or insult you however, then that is a completely different ball game and should not be tolerated or accepted.”

But he’s missing the point.

Harassment isn’t always explicit, and men who harass have different ways of doing so. A simple hello can turn into a full-scale attack when women don’t respond, or refuse the attention.

Women don’t complain about the men who slide into their DMs with respect and eloquent compliments. We complain about the ones who don’t take no for an answer.

We complain about the grabby creeps, the men who make us uncomfortable, who seem to think that selfies with “too much makeup” or “revealing clothes” mean we’re open to any of their requests.

If you’re not sure if what you’re saying constitutes harassment or not, you probably shouldn’t send that message. If you have messaged someone, and they don’t want to speak to you, DO NOT CONTINUE MESSAGING THEM.

When Gouws casually calls us hypocrites for demanding safer interactions online, he fails to recognise that this request extends to interactions in the physical world too. (Or are we pretending that the two are mutually exclusive?) The men who harass women online are also men who harass women on the streets, and defending these actions online means defending them offline too. Would Gouws tell a woman walking on the street in “revealing clothes” that men’s lechery is defensible?

Women flaunting what they have without men’s interference is obviously too much for most men to handle, so they have to shift the blame of sexual harassment back on to us.

Rape culture is very real, and it will take serious efforts to combat it when media personalities such as Gouws insist that personal expression equates to an invitation.

Featured image via YouTube
16 Comments
  1. Timothy Lombard says

    //Harassment isn’t always explicit, and men who harass have different ways of doing so. A simple hello can turn into a full-scale attack when women don’t respond, or refuse the attention.//

    Yeah, but that can happen online or in real life. Guess men should all stop saying hello then, lest we perpetuate rape culture. It’s not as easy as some might suppose to meet a woman. If we can’t say hello, it’s going to a get whole harder. Men risk rejection all the time, and for the most part, women I prepared to put their ego’s on the line. I think its clear that Gouws draws a line between approaching a women and harassing a women. I think the author is the one missing the point. Also, a DM can easily be blocked, and the harassment will end there. It’s not so easy in real life.

    BTW: It’s just “Rhodes University”.

    1. Timothy Lombard says

      *most part, women aren’t prepared

  2. Dave says

    Dave Chapelle says it best:

    “The girl says “Oh uh-uh, wait a minute! Wait a minute! Just because I’m dressed this way does not make me a whore!” Which is true, Gentlemen, that is true. Just because they dress a certain way doesn’t mean they are a certain way. Don’t even forget it. But ladies, you must understand that is fucking confusing. It just is. Now that would be like me, Dave Chappelle, the comedian, walking down the street in a cop uniform. Somebody might run up on me saying, “Oh, thank God. Officer, help us! Come on. They’re over here. Help us!” “Oh-hoh! Just because I’m dressed this way does not make me a police officer!” See what I mean? All right, ladies, fine. You are not a whore. But you are wearing a whore’s uniform.”

  3. Jonathan Mccarthy says

    Daily Vox = CNN = Fake News

    You guys are ruining your reputation by the day by uploading these lies

  4. Laura says

    You’ve completely and utterly both missed the point and deliberately misconstrued what Renaldo said.

    If a person (gender irrelevant) sits on social media saying and posting sexually suggestive content to RANDOM men or women and deliberately portraying themselves as sexually available then they lose control of what the exterior world will want from them. If you let strangers into a space where they can contact you freely you cannot control the quality. Also as he said it’s hypocritical to portray yourself as someone who openly adores and relishes the constant attention but doesn’t understand the repurcussions.

  5. Dave says

    This is good.
    Drive traffic from this site (probably not much!) to Renaldo’s youtube channel.
    The more exposure his videos get the better.

  6. Dirk says

    This is truly ridiculous, Mishka. I don’t think you understand what he’s saying.

  7. Walter Pike says

    Gouws has blocked me everywhere as I keep on calling him out. Go look at his YouTube channel his stuff is shocking.

    His FB post is an example of rape culture – it’s a classic example. I don’t understand the apologists who say its misconstrued – how can it be misconstrued?

    1. Dave says

      How is his stuff shocking wally?

      1. Walter Pike says

        My name is Walter, Dave.

        Go look at his YouTube channel. How else would you describe it?

        1. Dave says

          Ok Walter.
          I watch his videos often.
          He has over 30k subs. He gets favourable like to dislike ratio on his videos.
          I’m curious, why do you find his content shocking?

          1. Ivan says

            Dave you somehow seem to mistake popularity as a measure for his videos being good or credible. They are nothing more than the rants of a privileged egotistical man who wears his bigotry like it’s a badge to he proud of. His clear lack of understanding on almost all the topics he discusses is blatant to anyone who bothers to read more than the news headlines. He cherry picks his arguments to suit the trending topic of the day without any real attempt to understand the issues at play. At the end of the day he is simply an attention seeker, with a narrow minded view of the world and his videos serve only to stroke his own ego. The fact that you see nothing wrong with them says a lot

          2. Dave says

            Ivan. Would you say the Daily Vox is credible? If so, then you and I will never agree on anything because your credibility meter is out of whack.

            I’d love at least one example of Renaldo’s “bigotry”?

            The man is hated by both the far left and the far right. That’s a pretty good place to be.

          3. Dave says

            @Ivan + @Walter. You guys have nothing… Accuse Renaldo of being “shocking” and “bigoted” but aren’t able to give me any proof or examples of him being either. Why don’t you enlighten me and his 30+ subs?

            It’s ironic that you accuse him of cherry picking his arguments to suit the trending topic of the day. Isn’t that EXACTLY what this site does?

            Just because you dislike the guy, doesn’t mean he isn’t credible.

  8. Sue Rutherford says

    Gouws gets it all wrong. Again.

  9. Nigel says

    WTF?? When Mabel Jansen tried to address the rape culture in SA she was stigmatised as racist. But non-white women may address it but are not racists? WTF???

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