Yesterday i wrote some thoughts about the Bishops sex scandal where a female teacher allegedly had sex with an 18 year old learner from Bishops. There were possibly more incidents involving other learners, possibly over a number of years and ‘jokes’ and apparently a rather disturbing video of the teacher have been doing the rounds at alarming rates.

Bishops sex scandal clarifications

This morning i added some thoughts:

[1] We need to keep talking about this – the number of people who have shared about the number of jokes doing the rounds predominantly in men’s whatsapp groups is overwhelming, although sadly not too surprising. Because this stuff is seldom challenged.

[2] For anyone who thinks the situation was legal because the boy was 18 it was not. Both from a space of position and power the teacher crossed lines and there definitely are legal lines that have been crossed. The strong likelihood that other boys were involved and the suggestion that this may have been going on for close to six years both suggest the age line at some stage may have been crossed but that is not the only thing making it illegal and unethical.

[3] Apparently [and i have heard this more than once] there is a video of the teacher being passed around [still looking at you men’s whatsapp groups!] which, if not illegal, is disgusting, especially because the accompanying comments seem to be men talking about how they would ‘tap that’ which is both objectifying the woman [she is NOT an object] and, actually if that is happening without her consent then i’m pretty sure it is illegal.

[4] If blaming the victim in this case is bad enough, then hearing comments and seeing cartoons that celebrate the victim as if being sexually abused by an adult who should have known better is something to celebrate or joke about is completely disheartening and hope-reducing.

[5] The ‘Imagine this was your daughter’ or ‘Imagine the victim was your son’ approach is effective to some degree but it does seem to minimise the awfulness of what happened which should be wrong if it happened to anyone on any situation even if they aren’t related to anyone else involved. If it can help get the point home to a dense man who is struggling to get it, then do what you have to do, but also remember that this is wrong just in and of itself!

So please, men especially, bring this up in your men spaces and talk about how it is not okay, share this post if it helps, shut down any “jokes” that arrive in your whatsapp group immediately and if there has been something and you have not said anything, even if you are petrified to because you know how it will go down, PLEASE be a man and demonstrate what that means by interrupting the status quo and gently but firmly saying “This is NOT okay!”

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The Bishops sex scandal in my whatsapp group

Story from my hockey whatsapp group where i originally discovered this story by means of three picture ‘jokes’ relating to Bishops and Water Polo and applying for jobs [two of which made the offence seem praiseworthy] which were dropped by two different men. [Master team so everyone over the age of 35]. Here is a glimpse of the timeline:

  • Three jokes dropped
  • i find out what the story is all about a day later
  • Post a challenging message on the group calling it out
  • Absolute crickets for at least two hours whereas on most posts in the group within five minutes there is a response
  • Eventually some somewhat healthy conversation happens on the group
  • Anonymous number leaves the group [when we identify the person it is one of the two who dropped one of the jokes]
  • Today we get a message saying, “Hey guys can we agree to discuss only hockey-related matters in this group.”

Think about that for a second. No problem with the jokes [this is the second time i have had to speak up against inappropriate content in the group and jokes have been a regular thing in the group] but the moment we start speaking about the work we need to do as men… hey guys, hockey only!

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The connection to #EnoughIsEnough

Kristal Duncan shared my blog post this morning with this addition which feels like the missing piece of something i had been feeling but not adequately found the words to express:

This 👇👇👇and the comments from Brett Fish Anderson below sum up so much on my heart this morning….to all the men out there who just a few weeks ago were “standing with women”, “not one of those men” and “always there if you need us” read this and understand that toxic masculinity starts here in these whatsapp chats. So if you really meant what what you said and believe that #enoughisenough then please shut this crap down in Whatsapp, around the braai or wherever you find yourself…

There is a definite link between this incident or series of incidents and particularly how men have been responding to it [jokes, video-shares, comments celebrating what went down] and the gatherings that paused the country a few weeks ago. i am wondering now how many men who were at those gatherings or showed support for them are the same men who are sending or entertaining or defending the jokes and videos now? Do they see these as unrelated things?

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When who i am online meets who i am offline

Last thing i want to comment on here is the disconnect many people seem to feel between who they are on the internet [or in their whatsapp groups] and real life.

This cartoon illustrates it best to me:

Bishops sex scandal

i see this on the hockey field where a guy can be a complete chop and the second the whistle goes wants to shake hands like none of that mattered? [i know the good sports are the ones who shake hands regardless but that attitude bothers me and i can fully understand it when some opposition guys would not want to shake hands with me!]

But some people seem to have this idea that what happens in a whatsapp group [or on the internet] is somehow not related to who you are in real life. This has to be your belief if you are happy to share things in a group with certain friends that you would not put next to your name on the internet or share with your parents offline.

The way i see the maths on this though is that if you’re a [negative adjective of your choice] online or in whatsapp, then that doesn’t stop being true when you are offline. Our true character is displayed in the secret places, in the whispered conversations, in the thoughts we would be embarrassed to have spoken out loud and in our responses [or lack thereof] in pressured moments when other people are saying/sharing things we know to be wrong.

You don’t have to hate people to be a racist. Or to have racism in you.

You don’t have to hate women to be sexist. Or to have misogyny in you.

Let’s join the dots. And be absolutely sure that who we are online and in whatsapp groups and in business meetings and around braais is reflective of who we like to think we are and the kind of the character we hope to display.

[If you missed the original post on the scandal, click here[