Female students at the University of Cape Town have shared their viewsÂ and experiences of sexual harassment on campus.Â And nowÂ itâ€™s the guysâ€™ turn. Male students at the university spoke to RAâ€™EESAÂ PATHER about when men cross the line and why they do it.
Sexual harassment is invading someoneâ€™s privacy, going against their will, andÂ touching them inappropriately or saying inappropriate things to them. You donâ€™tÂ have to touch someone to sexually harass them, you can just say something. InÂ some conversations Iâ€™ve heard, certain guys do have a tendency to make jokesÂ that objectify females, like â€œshe touched my leg, she wants it.â€ When it comes toÂ inferiority or superiority in gender, in my experience itâ€™s the other way aroundÂ now, because thereâ€™s this whole feminism thing and people arenâ€™t quite getting it.Â I once held the door open for a girl at the library and she was like â€œfuck offâ€. IÂ know sheâ€™s competent enough to open the door by herself, but I was trying to beÂ polite. In class, there are females who assume leadership roles based on theirÂ capabilities. Iâ€™m not saying some females are less capable, they just prefer toÂ be led â€“ they lack the character to lead. Either way, it doesnâ€™t affect me.
Sexual harassment is making someone uncomfortable in any way, whether itâ€™s making sexualÂ innuendos, not respecting their personal space or the physical act of touchingÂ someone in a way they arenâ€™t comfortable with. As a natural sense, guys will lookÂ at women in a certain way, but my mother made sure that I was raised to beÂ respectful, so it makes me uneasy to hear guys speak about women in demeaningÂ ways. I have sisters, and I know that I would never want someone to speak aboutÂ them in that way, so I make sure I donâ€™t speak about other women like that. SomeÂ guys just feel pressurised to exude that confidence â€“ itâ€™s almost as though theyÂ feel thatâ€™s what makes a man. A lot of guys my age have a weird way of looking atÂ the world â€“ as if things are owed to them. If they feel as if everything is owed toÂ them, then theyâ€™re going to think that everything is there for them, so thatâ€™sÂ probably why most of them end up seeing women as objects rather than actualÂ people.
Gundo Nelwamondo, 19, second year, BCom, Rondebosch
Sexual harassment is doing something to someone that makes them feel uncomfortable and notÂ respecting that individual. Weâ€™ve taken it to be a permissible thing because itÂ happens frequently, so everyone just says â€œitâ€™s one of those thingsâ€ and brushes itÂ aside. I notice it a lot on Jammie Steps, because as guys we make those sexualÂ jokes, and Iâ€™ve been involved in that. Itâ€™s not a respectful thing. Men have aÂ superiority complex and in some regards we believe we still have power overÂ women, which isnâ€™t right, but itâ€™s in our minds and itâ€™s something that we have toÂ fight against. But we find it permissible, because nothing much is done about it.Â Itâ€™s permissible to all parties. For starters, most of the girls that I come acrossÂ actually donâ€™t mind, and thereâ€™s only a specific select few who do mind. I viewÂ those ones as the respectable ones. In terms of the guys, they feel that they areÂ entitled to treat a lady as they please, because they are guys and they wear theÂ pants. Most girls like it, and most guys use that as an excuse.
Michael Tree*, 24, masters in financial management, Sea Point
Itâ€™s all about that feeling of being uncomfortable, so if someone acts in a sexualÂ way that makes you uncomfortable then itâ€™s sexual harassment. I havenâ€™t been toÂ Tiger Tiger, so I havenâ€™t really seen students get harassed, but on campus thereâ€™sÂ nothing Iâ€™ve noticed. In my accounting class last yearÂ there were more men thanÂ women, and accounting is generally male dominated. I think the media has a bigÂ role in sexual harassment. You have guys like Chris Brown, whoâ€™s a known wife-beater, and he still plays at Cape Town Stadium and the crowd still comes, soÂ thatâ€™s basically everyone voting with their feet and saying itâ€™s okay. You can haveÂ campaigns and all that crap, but I donâ€™t think they have a lasting impact. PeopleÂ just need to feel comfortable that they can say no, that they donâ€™t have to go toÂ those concerts, and that itâ€™s not okay to be harassed. To some extent, itâ€™s aÂ confidence and a conditioning issue, so people have been conditioned to thinkÂ itâ€™s okay, and they donâ€™t have the confidence to say: â€œDonâ€™t ever do that.â€
Sexual harassment can the way you look at someone, or touching them whereÂ they donâ€™t want to be touched. Guys know when theyâ€™re going too far â€“ no is no,Â but some just donâ€™t listen. UCT I think is good when it comes to gender equality. We try, but there still people who think that women are lower than men. ChangeÂ has to start from home. If you are back at home, and the father is the head, thenÂ in everything that you do, thereâ€™s always that difference between a male and aÂ female. When you come to campus, youâ€™re still going to have that mentality. ItÂ must start from a young age.