Michelle Solomon
Michelle Solomon

I’ve had enough of Bullard. And so should you

In 2008, proud racist David Bullard was fired from the Sunday Times for a column wherein he denigrated black South Africans. It seems that, after the failure of his many legal matters against the Sunday Times and its owning company Avusa, Bullard found a new hobby. And that hobby is harassing and bullying rape survivors — and I get the special honour of being his target of choice.

Six months ago, Bullard wrote the following as a footnote to a column published by Politicsweb. In short, Bullard accused me of planning to blackmail my rapist; that I made up having being raped due a “fevered imagination”; and, therefore, was preventing the proverbial “we” from taking rape seriously.

bullard
From Bullard’s Politicsweb article. (Click to enlarge.)

I decided not to take the matter further. In the months to follow however, it appeared that Bullard’s rape apology and harassment was infectious and spread to comment threads around the web, as well as my Facebook profile. The Daily Maverick, which could once boast a stringent comment moderation policy, has a comment thread that can by-and-large be described as the pseudo-intellectual’s News24. With its fall from grace came Bullard’s misogynist and rape apologist followers, who quickly ensured the once hallowed halls of DM commentary was a lion’s den for me as a rape survivor.

DM
A comment thread from Daily Maverick.

I still didn’t take the matter further after Bullard began regularly harassing me about my rape and calling me Twitter’s “terminally unhinged” and “a few chocolates short of a box”. That is, until today.

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I didn’t take the matter further. Until now.

The last six months have been a new low for me and my experience of living as a rape survivor in South Africa. For the first time since I publicly spoke out about my rape in 2011, I seriously regretted ever speaking out. I wanted to take it back.

For the first time, I was told that my rape wasn’t rape. I was told I was a delusional liar with no credibility to speak or fight against rape and sexual violence in my country. I was told that, because people like me make up rape, South Africans couldn’t take rape seriously.

I wasn’t told this once. I wasn’t told this twice. I was repeatedly told in a variety of fora.

Why? Because I chose not to report my rape to the police.

I didn’t report my rape in 2010, and neither have as many as 1.5 million other South African men, women and children who experienced sexual violence since then. These 37 men and women have shared why they didn’t report. And others have shared that they did try to report their rape — while some of them wish they never did.

Bullard is trying his damnedest to undermine my credibility and, thereby, my work in the sexual violence sector as well as my work for abuse survivors in South Africa.

This is a call to arms for all right-thinking people, including rape survivors, their families and their friends to stand up against what is nothing less than outright rape apology.

Bullard’s tweets represent nothing less than the hate and violence meted on rape survivors when they are not only not believed, but punished for daring to speak. I’ve had enough, and any decent South African has had enough.

Therefore I am asking that all South Africans that want a South Africa free of sexual violence and supportive of rape survivors to stand up against Bullard and his trolls. Stand up for all the rape survivors, both out-spoken and silent, who have been affected by Bullard’s casual dismissal of my rape experience for his own cynical ends.

Report Bullard’s rape apology, and that of any other person who attempts to undermine the credibility of a rape survivor through victim-blaming, slut-shaming, rape apology and online abuse.

I broke my silence and I will never be silent again.

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  • 27 Responses to “I’ve had enough of Bullard. And so should you”

    1. Herman Hanson #

      Michelle, I accept that you are hurt and angry but in this day and age there is no subject that does not have its detractors in satire. From Bullard to Malema you will have nasty and snide slings and arrows shot at you and your subject. My view is that you shoot back but also see to your armour and try not let your detractors’ fire get through to you. Don’t let it blunt your message and use your energy wisely to fight on. Bullards’s lifeblood is publicity and satire / being irreverent; not all of it amusing. Try starve him of it in your case.

      February 5, 2014 at 1:19 pm
    2. GS #

      I read through a bit of the twitter conversation yesterday and had to stop because Bullard’s blatant trolling was overwhelmingly disgusting. I’m sorry you had to go through that, Michelle.

      Lena Dunham recently tweeted her thoughts about Dylan Farrow’s open letter to Woody Allen and I think it applies here. She said, “Most victims NEVER speak up. Most never feel they can. These are not stories we tell for fun, attention or revenge.”

      I hope, to use his choice of allusion (https://twitter.com/lunchout2/status/430667524829507584), Bullard crawls back under the rock from which he came.

      February 5, 2014 at 2:08 pm
    3. Momma Cyndi #

      The saddest part of being a rape survivor in South Africa is that you are re-raped by the legal system or society (often more brutally than the original rape).

      If Bullard is saying this, then you can bet your stars that some others are thinking the same thing. Rather than shutting him up, let the ridiculousness of the (lack of) thought process see the light of day so that it can be seen in all its foolishness. Idiotic notions, such as this, survive in dark dank minds and cannot survive the full glare of light.

      Many, many rape victims do not report the rape. The vast majority of ‘date rape’ cases are virtually impossible to prove in a court of law. That doesn’t mean they were consensual but it does mean that taking it through the legal system is not viable. Even brutal rapes in this country have a very low likelihood of a successful prosecution. Putting yourself through that re-rape by the legal system simply becomes more than most women can handle – especially at such a time when they are in a fragile state

      February 5, 2014 at 3:53 pm
    4. Difficult..... #

      The social media is like a hydra – many tentacles and constantly growing new ones in so many different directions. It is a calculated risk to put ANY personal information or experience “out there” precisely because you are unable to dictate or control boundaries. The relative anonymity also allows people to say pretty much what they want without any fear other than a similar kind of attack from their detractors. So its a double-edged sword. Bullard has opened himself to precisely the same kind of treatment as that which has been meted out to you. Before posting/tweeting about any life experience we should all ask if we can handle the “fall-out” that will inevitable come with it. If not, it may be wiser to share on less public platforms. We are a very cruel species.

      February 5, 2014 at 5:53 pm
    5. Mpho #

      Wow.

      February 5, 2014 at 6:36 pm
    6. Rich Brauer #

      What’s perhaps most disturbing about Bullard is he doesn’t even seem to know what the definition of rape is:

      “You got horribly drunk, had a bonk…”

      The Sexual Offences and Related Matters Amendment Act, No. 32 of 2007, makes it abundantly clear that an intoxicated person can not give consent. Making any sexual act with that person, by definition, a rape.

      (No idea if that actually applies in your case, Ms. Solomon. Just pointing out Bullard’s deficiencies.)

      February 5, 2014 at 6:53 pm
    7. Michelle Solomon

      Thank you for your support everyone. Especially Momma Cyndi’s comment – too few people understand how damaging the justice system can be.

      February 6, 2014 at 6:59 am
    8. Well written, Michelle. Shockingly, today’s Daily Dispatch reports (by implication) on twenty women who DID report their rapes, subjected themselves to the necessary examination, and subsequently hoped for justice…but twenty rape kits have been stagnating in a store-room in the Berlin Police Station, without ever having been sent for forensic analysis. So even those who choose to report are betrayed by a dysfunctional justice system.

      February 6, 2014 at 9:49 am
    9. Fanta K #

      Michelle, while I do admire your courage for your work among rape survivors and speaking up against cyber bullying by the likes of Bullard and company, I am still however, mystified to your deafening silence when misogynists like Jonathan Shapiro aka Zapiro, use rape as a form of shock art http://i61.tinypic.com/t5r75x.jpg to sensationalize his mediocre political cartoons. Now I understand if you agree with his DA perspectives, but why don’t you speak out against Zapiro’s use of rape in his cartoons? Actually, I think there may be a grain of truth from Bullards tweets – that you will only speak up when it affects you directly. An uncomfortable truth.

      Remember, Bullard’s bullying has minimal impact in our larger society compared to Zapiro’s cartoons especially in the issues of rape and violence against women. This desensitization to rape and propagation of stereotypes of blacks inflicts far greater insidious long term damage to our society yet the silence from feminist groups is the height of hypocrisy.

      February 6, 2014 at 10:40 am
    10. Sam #

      From all corners of our country, there are no words to express the gratitude to you for this courageous stand. Continue in dignity and grace – let him live with his miserable, repulsive self.

      February 6, 2014 at 1:57 pm
    11. Paul #

      David Bullard isn’t even a South African and refers to the UK as ‘home’
      He used to complain bitterly because he could not vote, yet could not be bothered to apply for citizenship.
      He prefers to sit around puffing big fat cigars and trying to impose his Britishness on us South African’s, who have had enough of the Brits for the last couple of hundred years.
      David, learn and apply the FIFO rule ‘Fit In or Go Home’

      February 6, 2014 at 3:32 pm
    12. Johan Pretorius #

      Michelle

      David Bullard is wrong and I have always find him offensive. For that you have my sympathy.

      BUT

      I do not agree with your non reporting of a crime. However broken the criminal justice system may be, you should have contributed information and forensic evidence that could have solved a previous crime or prevented a future one. Especially with the DNA act in the pipeline.

      Reporting of all rape cases is a crucial step in stopping this horrible crime.

      February 6, 2014 at 6:05 pm
    13. South Africa’s de facto system of corrective rape in which prison services actively encourages gang violence in holding cells in order to maintain law and order, is par for the course. That people like David Bullard continue to deny that we have a coercive capitalist system, that much like coercive sex removes consent from its citizens and thus turns what should be a pleasurable act into rape, is merely evidence of the manner in which such people lack any spine. Has Bullard stood up for any cause other than his own self-interest? I very much doubt it and have often been moved by his caustic comments on all and sundry to write letters. One of these letters immediately preceded his been fired from the Sunday Times, so I suggest you keep up the good work until Bullard shows some contrition and empathy for his victims.

      February 7, 2014 at 12:06 am
    14. Antin Herink #

      I don’t get it. I simply used to love Bullard, even if I actually forgot about his existence now.
      But now I have to read THIS? It is not even remotely funny.
      Michelle -mission fully accomplished. I will remember him as I knew him from his columns, back in the day. This, this is not that Dave Bullard.

      February 7, 2014 at 3:37 am
    15. Sharon van Wyk #

      Michelle – you may be aware that comments like Bullard’s made in the public sphere (Facebook, Twitter) are actionable in terms of defamation laws here in SA and libel/defamation elsewhere (the UK). My advice to you is to find a lawyer prepared to work on a contingency basis to haul Bullard up and make him pay, in hard cash, for his allegations. Until someone throws the book at them like this the current “free for all” approach is going to continue. There have been several high profile awards made against people who said what they thought they could get away with on social media without realising that they can’t. If you don’t take action, Bullard and his ilk will be around for a very long time. So do us all a favour and sue him.

      February 7, 2014 at 10:01 am
    16. Stephen Browne #

      @Fanta K: as far as I know Michelle has taken Zapiro on, see below from Politicsweb:

      For instance in a 2011 critique of Zapiro’s use of rape as a metaphor in his cartoons she noted: “I am a rape survivor, and rape is not a metaphor. It is a reality. And it is a particularly brutal reality that I would not wish on anyone, and that I wish no one had to endure. I have endured it.”

      Even if she hadn’t, it makes no less a pig of Bullard.

      February 7, 2014 at 10:52 am
    17. Kevin #

      Michelle,

      David is nothing but a bully. It takes great courage to speak out and you are indeed courageous. You should know that there are men out there who believe you and who wish you the very best. The people casting doubts about whether or not you were indeed raped are in the minority.

      February 7, 2014 at 1:30 pm
    18. Male chauvinist pig #

      Michelle,

      Rape or any form of physical or verbal abuse is invasive and disgusting.
      As a sexual abuse victim (I was 12), I know the confusion and shame and loss of self-esteem it brings that no unscathed person can understand or empathise with. It never leaves you. I can also understand not reporting it. I never spoke about it to my parents and only first mentioned it (to my wife) after years of marriage.

      How people deal with trauma and “victimhood” will vary from person to person. The only thing in common is that it cannot be undone and the only choice one has is how to deal with it. Fight/Flight; rage/depression, etc. Alas, too may people become perpetrators getting stuck in the “victim perpetrator” thing.

      David Bullard is crass. His infamous ST essay, mentioning what “civilisation” had brought to SA focussed on material gee-gaws and ignored arts, human rights traditions (including gender equality), science, philosophy, literature; well each to their own. He has a certain humour and following and plays to his audience. Each to their own. There is no need to reply.

      What does disturb me is your ad hominem attacks on him. Don’t become a victim-perpetrator.

      February 7, 2014 at 2:47 pm
    19. Percipient #

      “I decided not to take the matter further.” – then you were not raped. You were allegedly raped. Let a magistrate decide.

      You, Michelle Solomon, are a drama queen.

      February 7, 2014 at 5:28 pm
    20. Arthur #

      Hmm, I see you are only showing those posts which have some sort of support for your point of view.

      Sad.

      February 7, 2014 at 7:40 pm
    21. Conrad Steenkamp
      Conrad #

      @Arthur: the contributors to the Thought Leader have no control over what responses are shown.
      @Michelle: It feels as if I am joining a pack of baying hounds, but Bullard’s behaviour really is unacceptable and insensitive. His insights into what happened to you are puzzling (is he a psycic?), and he is clearly ill informed about rape, and the dynamics of abuse/rape and recovery. A fool who seems to talk before he thinks (or is he being deliberately controvercial?), he muddies the water making useful discussions nigh impossible.

      Therefore, go for it. Shoot him out of the water (metaphorically speaking). He deserves it. If one cannot assume the guilt of alleged perpetrators, then one cannot assume the duplicity of those that accuse them. A recent case of alleged abuse covered in the Afrikaans media shows the latter to be default response of far too many people.

      February 8, 2014 at 9:28 am
    22. Momma Cyndi #

      Percipient

      Tut, tut, tut. By your very own definition, Michelle can be no more than an ‘alleged’ drama queen. Goose and gander, sweetie. No magistrate has convicted her of being a drama queen, therefore it is only your allegation. If we are going to be pedantic about only believing what the courts say (for example, only one person raped and murdered Anene, despite the vast evidence to the contrary), then we have to extend that into all areas – even the ones you like to claim dominance over

      February 8, 2014 at 6:23 pm
    23. Graham #

      Percipient

      If you were murdered, and the murderer is never found, does that mean you were never murdered?

      February 8, 2014 at 6:47 pm
    24. CJ #

      Reading David Bullard’s tweets made me ill. I am sorry you had to deal with him.

      I feel like your situation with Bullard (and some comments herein) has shown just how horribly uneducated many are about rape and sexual violence in South Africa. I do hope that you can somehow draw strength from this awful encounter, and use it as an opportunity to inform and educate.

      With that in mind:

      1) Rape is not always perpetrated by a person lurking behind a bush, lying in wait for a helpless passer-by. Often the perpetrator is known to the victim. The perpetrator may be a friend, partner, colleague or acquaintance. Thus, even though still a crime – a survivor of rape may feel both deeply traumatized and conflicted about whether or not to report the crime.

      2) An intoxicated person cannot consent to sexual intercourse. I cannot understand how it is that people persist in not getting this. I also cannot understand that to this day, sex ed in schools fails to address consent.

      3) What the victim was wearing (or not wearing), where the victim was (or wasn’t), who the victim was (or was not) with are not mitigating factors in a rape. The common denominator in all rapes is a rapist. Blaming the victim for the crime absolves the perpetrator.

      4) The South African judicial process is often woefully ill-equipped to deal with rape. From police dealing with a survivor at a police station right through to how a case may be postponed several times, thereby lengthening the…

      February 11, 2014 at 11:43 am
    25. CJ #

      ordeal by years.

      February 11, 2014 at 11:44 am

    Trackbacks/Pingbacks

    1. I’ve had enough. And so should you :: iBlog | We The People Of S.A News 2 Day - February 5, 2014

      […] months ago, Bullard wrote the following as a footnote to a column published by Politicsweb. In short, Bullard accused me of planning to […]

    2. David Bullard sparks outrage over offensive rape tweets - htxt.africa - February 6, 2014

      […] This was apparently the last straw for Mish Solomon, who wrote a column for the Mail & Guardian yesterday titled ‘I’ve had enough. And so should you’. […]

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