My white privilege lets misogyny sneak in through the back door

Lesedi Moche has laid a complaint with the SAHRC against Paul Da Silva, owner of Spetada restaurant in Rosebank, after he hurled misogynistic insults at her and her friends when they confronted him over a billing issues.(Spetada)

Lesedi Moche has laid a complaint with the SAHRC against Paul Da Silva, owner of Spetada restaurant in Rosebank, after he hurled misogynistic insults at her and her friends when they confronted him over a billing issues.(Spetada)

It’s hard being a white male restaurant manager in South Africa. Times are bleak. I have to contain my racism most days and swallow the hard reality of dealing with patrons that aren’t, well, white.
This isn’t Cape Town after all. It’s Jo’burg. 

I have to be so careful of what I say. I often spend my mornings over coffee wishing that I worked there, where racism in restaurants is more rife. Those brothers of mine down there are so brave. I admire them.

That said, I have become really good at proudly dragging my bigotry around with me but still managing to keep it dead silent. 

I dream about it often, yes, I dream about cursing and violently denying service to anyone who doesn’t look like me or think like me, but I hardly ever act on it. Yes, it makes me grumpy and sometimes I do reach a saturation point and it all comes bursting out. 

But luckily I am a white male in South Africa who can get away with the race card. I know this sounds weird, but I will explain – and I’m sure the rest of the white male population in South Africa will agree with me.

Remember that saturation point I mentioned earlier? Well, the other day, when I was thinking about the inequality of our society, when I was cranky about how I was expected to serve people so far below me, because, let’s face it, no one is more supreme than the white male being. It happened. My saturation point was reached.

I had a complaint from a group of black girls at the restaurant. Something about a cockroach, the meal, the bill – I don’t even recall properly. Anyway, I told them to “get the fuck out”  and shouted: “All you black girls need is a good shagging … all you black girls need a good fuck.”

Privilege recovered
Well, I have to say, thank heavens I used that term “black”. 

Don’t get me wrong, I meant it to be racist because I am a racist and they were black, but I have never been more appreciative of my own racism and the society we live in. Believe it or not, that’s all society focused on – that one word (“black”), how I used it and how it was racist.

No one for a second thought about the rest of my statement and how the vitriol was clearly misogynistic. 

I exercised my patriarchy in broad daylight and ignored the rape culture we have in South Africa and just went with it, basically implying that black girls needed to be fucked by white men. 

See there it is again, all you see is race. It’s golden! 

You don’t even think about the implications of a man saying that to a woman (of any colour) in this day and age. You just think black and white.

And while I’m on the subject of colour – because aren’t we all, all the time – let me mention that the incident has highlighted the privileged position I am in. Privilege I thought I had lost in a post-democratic South Africa, but still very much endures.

I mean, imagine if I were a black male. Imagine if I were a black manager and those patrons were a bunch of white sorority girls or whatever and I said to them “All you white girls need is a good fuck”!

‘Thank heavens, I’m white’
You can be pretty sure of the fact that everyone would have overlooked the race card then. I would have been a rapist because all black men who make remarks like that, or who would dare, are rapists. 

For heaven’s sake I know that even without ever uttering those remarks, there are plenty who form part of the “whiter pastures” who think black men are rapists just because they’re black men. 

Society would definitely have had its knickers in a knot then. I probably would have lost my big black cock in the middle of a square surrounded by “whities” – it’s a metaphor, but you get what I am saying.

But no, not me, not today, not now. Sexism and rape are reserved for black men. I can only be a racist. And I will gladly take it, because this way I can still go around handing out fucks to black women (or any women for that matter) and live out my Django Unchained fantasies in a totally self-righteous way.

Thank you society. Thank you for all the fucks I don’t have to give about actually being a bigoted, white patriarchal misogynistic pig.

Haji Mohamed Dawjee

Haji Mohamed Dawjee

Haji Mohamed Dawjee became Africa’s first social media editor in a newsroom at the Mail & Guardian, where she went on to work as deputy digital editor and a disruptor of the peace through a weekly column. A stint as the program manager for Impact Africa – a grant-disbursing fund for African digital journalists – followed. She now pursues her own writing full time by enraging readers of EWN and Women 24 with weekly and bi-monthly columns respectively. She also contributes to the Sunday Times and a range of other publications. Mohamed Dawjee's inaugural book of essays: Sorry, not sorry: Experiences of a brown woman in a white South Africa, is due for release by Penguin Random House in April 2018.Follow her on Twitter: @sage_of_absurd Read more from Haji Mohamed Dawjee

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