Jen Thorpe

A deep dip in everyday racism/sexism/classism/etc

Cape Town swimming coach Tim Osrin was arrested last week when he allegedly beat up a middle-aged domestic worker, Cynthia Joni, in the middle of the day without the two ever having said anything to one another. Osrin was driving his car along a road, saw Joni, and stopped his car to beat her up….

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Like every other day of my life, this morning I woke up female

Once I was a girl, then I was somewhere in between, and now I am an adult woman. What that means for me is not the same as it is for other women. We can know our similarities and differences, but we cannot know any other life as intimately and honestly as we know our…

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An ordinary evening

On a Thursday evening not so long ago I decided to stop by Woolies on the way home. I got off the train earlier, got some groceries, and undertook the walk from Claremont to my house in Harfield. I had underestimated the weather. It was howling with wind and I spent most of the journey…

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Apology for the sexual assault of Jordao College learners not enough

It is Child Protection Week this week in South Africa. Last week a bloodied condom was found in the girls’ bathroom at Jordao College, a private school, in Gauteng. Instead of using this as an opportunity to encourage positive and healthy discussions around sexuality, the principal instructed teachers to conduct “tests for sexual activity” on…

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How you can tell when someone is a real rape survivor

How should a woman behave to convince us that she was raped? When she breaks down, is hysterical, is rabid, is broken, is ripped apart, is together, is calm, is cold, is hyper sexual, never wants to have sex again, is manic, is depressed, is this right? Should she report and save others, report and…

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Obama, women and hope

There I sat, five hours after leaving home, sunburned and wind chapped. I was hungry and thirsty and had spoken about engineering and women’s rights and weddings and which city in South Africa was the best. I had travelled thousands of kilometres the day before, and despite the anticipated excitement, at that moment I just…

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On not just walking past

It’s Sunday. I go to a mall to get some art supplies. It’s an ordinary mall, outdated even, with strange linoleum flooring and an assortment of second-hand stores and haberdasheries. It’s the type of mall your gran goes to for wool, or other assorted items needed when growing older. So imagine my surprise when I…

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Consent is king KK

NUMBER 1 — Transactional sex is not only really uncool, it is also really dangerous Kenny Kunene went on Noeleen last week with five of his 15 girlfriends (who he only likes to be under the age of 24). Multiple concurrent partners are, as we all should know by now (yet a certain Simply Red…

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A correct police response to domestic violence could save lives

Every eight hours in South Africa, a woman is murdered by her intimate partner. Three a day. At least. The Preamble of the Domestic Violence Act (DVA) states that victims of domestic violence are among the most vulnerable members of society. The DVA describes a variety of behaviours that can be classified as domestic violence…

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Never tired enough to stop

I am tired of rape in South Africa. I am tired of thinking about it, reading about it, hearing about it. I am tired of the fact that last year more than 60 000 women (enough to fill the Greenpoint Stadium) reported a rape to the police, and hundreds of thousands more women were raped but…

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