CHESS: Witsies buoy team South Africa to strong position

BATTLEFIELD: Evasan Chettiar, 2nd year BEng represented South Africa at the World Chess Championships held in Poland last week.  He is pictured taking on an opponent during the 4th round of the competition.  Photo: Provided

BATTLEFIELD: Evasan Chettiar, 2nd year BEng represented South Africa at the World University Chess Championships held in Poland last week. He is pictured taking on an opponent during the 4th round of the competition. Photo: Provided

A number of Witsies helped to land the South African chess team on the 13th spot overall at the World University Chess Championships in Katowice, Poland, last week.

Seadimo Tlale, 2nd year LLB,and 2nd year BEng student, Evasan Chettiar, were faced with tough competition, but helped to improve South Africa’s overall international ranking.

Tough competition

“The tournament was the toughest tournament I’ve played in my whole life.  I played World Juniors in 2008, but oh my word, it was nothing like that,” said Tlale, the only female in the team, said.  She started the tournament with the lowest rating of 0 but ended with a rating close to 1600.

THINKER: Seadimo Tlale, 2nd year LLb was the only female in a team of four students representing South Africa in the World University Chess Championships held in Poland last week.  She is pictured in the first round of the competition.  Photo: Provided

THINKER: Seadimo Tlale, 2nd year LLB was the only female in a team of four students representing South Africa in the World University Chess Championships held in Poland last week. She is pictured in the first round of the competition. Photo: Provided

“We discovered that South Africans were underrated and we performed well above our national ratings,” said Chettiar, who scored the highest in the men’s section, amongst his South African teammates.

His male teammates from Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University and North West University scored half a point below him.

Overall, team South Africa’s ratings were below 1800.  “Over there, our performances were above 2000, and that’s good in chess,” he said.

Tlale and Chettiar were exposed to competitors of different cultures, which added to the value of their experience.  Besides learning new techniques to aid their game, they also made new friends from Japan, Switzerland and France and learnt a bit of Polish.

Polished technique

“There’s a lot of stuff I changed about my personal play that  I think I can even  bring back home and start playing at that level and that style,” said Tlale.

“We learnt how to take advantage of opening mistakes and how to avoid making opening mistakes,” said Chettiar.

“If we could keep up to par internationally, maybe we will do better nationally and locally”

Wits Sports officer TebogoRabothata is looking forward to the contribution Tlale and Chettiar will make to the chess club.

“Their fellow players would also want to up their game,” and possibly “emulate them” which would help the club get more sponsorships in the near future.

“It will actually help the young players going forward,” he said.

Tlale and Chettiar hope to inspire their teammates by incorporating more online tournaments and touring.  They are both nominees for full Blue Cum Laude colours and Sportswoman and Sportsman of this year’s Sports Awards, respectively.

Given “home-ground advantage”, according to Tlale, Poland took the first place in the tournament, followed by Russia and Armenia.

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Fizzy drinks taking years off your lifespan

FATTY FIZZY: Regular consumption of these products could lead to being overweight. Photo: Thabile Manala

FATTY FIZZY: Regular consumption of these products could lead to being overweight. Photo: Thabile Manala

A young adults’ chance of being overweight increases by almost 30% every time they consume a 330ml can of a sugar-sweetened beverage (SSB).

Wits Researchers have found that one can of a fizzy drink contains an average of nine teaspoons of sugar and some can easily contain more than that.

The researchers agreed there are many contributing factors to obesity, however there is a direct link between sugar and gaining weight because fizzy drinks have “absolutely no nutritional value”, they said.

The research paper confirmed a recommendation made by Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi that introducing a 20% tax on all SSB products would reduce sugar intake by 36 kilojoules per day.

Mercy Manyema, fellow researcher, said South Africa’s obesity levels are number one in Sub-Saharan Africa and seventeenth in the world. Obesity can lead to diabetes, strokes, heart diseases and tooth decay said Manyema.

The study has been met with a lot of defensiveness from the public, with comments pointing out that instead of increasing the sugar tax, why is the government not subsidising healthy food?

Another comment the researchers got during a radio interview said: “If you put another tax, we are already burdened with tax, you are gonna be taking money out of our pocket.”

Aviva Tugendhaft, fellow researcher, said: “A tax would work best with other approaches including health promotion, subsidisation of health food should occur, as well as easy food labelling … It would be more effective if incorporated with other promotions.”

Manyema said: “The cost of trying to cure a sick person, is heavier than [the cost] to prevent”. She added that it cost the state 23% more to treat an obese person compared to an average weight person.

Tugendhaft advised students to be more aware of how much sugar they consume, she said “eat your fruit, don’t drink it”. Tugendhaft further emphasised that students should make a habit of checking food labels before they eat.

 

 

“Sex pest” claims new play is not about sexual harassment

Tsepo wa Mamatu, a lecturer in Drama has also been fired from Wits for sexual harassment.  Photo: Provided

UNDER FIRE: Dismissed “sex pest” Tsepo wa Mamatu says his controversial new play is not about sexual harassment.
Photo: Provided

A controversial new play by former Wits University lecturer, Tsepo wa Mamatu,  was withdrawn from Cape Town Fringe (CTF) festival last week despite claims from the actor/director that the play does not deal with the issue of sexual harassment.

“People do not know what they are talking about. It would be incorrect to say it [the play] was about sexual harassment,” said wa  Mamatu.

Speaking to Wits Vuvuzela, wa Mamatu said the play is an autobiographical account of his journey that is based on his memoir called Even Still – Lessons Tsepo Learned.

He said the issue of sexual harassment does come up in the play because “it was one of the most disappointing chapters of my stay there (at Wits).”

Wa Mamatu, who previously taught in the Wits School of Arts (WSOA), was found guilty of sexual harassment at Wits through an internal disciplinary process last year and subsequently fired.

Following the removal of the play, By My Grave, from the (CTF) programme owing to protests by other participants, The African Arts Institute is hosting a panel discussion on the controversy tomorrow evening in Cape Town which includes wa Mamatu.

The debate itself has left the arts community divided.

Wits Drama for Life released a statement on its Facebook page opposing the public debate saying the organisation “does not support an initiative of this nature that implicitly validates the experience of the perpetrator and that reinforces the traumatic experience associated with sexual violence”.

According to the founder and director of Drama for Life Warren Nebe, allowing wa Mamatu to engage in a debate encourages a “normalisation” of his acts of sexual harrassment.

“He is being given a platform to validate his position in a way that we think he does not deserve”, said Nebe.

“For us this reopens wounds in many ways…trauma cannot speak back to denial”.

Brett Pyper, WSOA head, says he believes debates around the play will “advance the interest of the various parties who have a stake in the conversation”.

“As a school we believe profoundly in the capacity of art to advance dialogue, redress and restorative social relationships”, said Pyper.

Nebe confirms that the play was withdrawn due to the tensions around wa Mamatu’s history of sexual harrasment and was motivated by the withdrawal of The Mothertongue Project from the festival who were also performing a play on sexual violence called Walk: South Africa.

Artistic director of  The Mothertongue Project, Sara Matchett, says, “Even without knowing what Tsepo wa Mamatu’s work was about, we did not feel comfortable sharing a platform with someone who was found guilty of sexual harassment”.

Matchett says wa Mamatu is “unremorseful”, which is why she believes “there should not be any space on public platforms to be sharing this sentiment”.

“For us there is no debate”, said Matchett.

Nebe says the controversy over wa Mamatu’s new play “reopens wounds in many ways … trauma cannot speak back to denial”.

 

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Habib: ‘No intention to replace black students with white students’

There is no intention to replace black students with white students in Wits residences, says Wits Vice Chancellor (VC) Prof Adam Habib.

Speaking exclusively to Wits Vuvuzela, Habib responded to this week’s furore around the revised residence admissions policy which saw some student organisations threatening a boycott of the upcoming SRC (Student Representative Council) elections if Habib did not address their concerns.

Habib said “there is no special incentives for white students.” “What is at place is making sure that we have an appropriate balance between demographic representivity and cosmopolitanism. We believe this can be done without adversely affecting poor students or existing students.”

“We want to ensure that our students have a holistic experience in our residences that they interact with other students across racial boundaries, religious boundaries, ethnic boundaries and cultural boundaries but also class boundaries. We do not want rich students sitting in one place and staying in one res and poor students staying in another res”, said Habib.

On Wednesday, student organisations, residents and house committee members accused Habib of wanting to replace black students with white students in the effort to make residences more cosmopolitan.

According to Habib, the university’s “integration agenda” should be reflective of South African society.

“Even though our society and institution is majority black, obviously our residences will be majority black. But a majority black institution does not mean that we can’t be cosmopolitan.”

Speaking on behalf of student leadership representatives, Sunnyside chairperson Maame Boateng said:”We are not against diversity in our residences but a policy that looks to disenfranchise the majority of current residents in order to serve a privileged minority”.

The student leadership representatives are “calling for a recall of the policy in its entirety and/ or creation of  a new policy that will be fair and equal for all students and not unjustifiably benefits any class or race group”, Boateng said.

Habib, along with university management and student leadership representatives, will hold another round of consultations on Saturday afternoon where more cases will be heard and discussed.

“Student leadership will stand firm tomorrow in the fight for students those who we serve. We will not stop until a policy is put in place that will in no way detriment any student, a decision that will serve the best interests of all students”, said Boateng

In the meantime, Habib has agreed to halt the implementation of the controversial policy pending further discussion with student organisations.

 

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Tuition fees burn pockets

By Luca Kotton  and Roxanne Joseph

A proposed 10% hike in tuition fees next year will have an adverse effect on Wits University students, particularly those from poor and working class families, according to an economist.

Michael Keenan, an ABSA Bank economist, said the proposed increase from January 2015 will be well above next year’s average wage increase, expected to be about 8%.

He said the increase means that self-funded students whose parents will not receive a large enough salary increase will most likely be unable to afford their tuition fees.

“Inflation hurts the poor man more than the wealthy man,” he said.

Keenan said the increase may not be felt by higher income groups as individual net savings and wage increases will ensure that students from wealthier families are not affected by the hike.

Many Witsies said they would struggle to pay higher fees.

“Fees at the moment are quite hard to meet, I still haven’t paid mine,” said Quaanitah Manique, a first year chemical engineering student.

She also added there are other expenses like transport that are extra costs in addition to the increased fees.

“There are other things, like if you have to come with the bus, there’s fees to be paid, now you have to pay extra fees for varsity,” Manique said.

When asked how it will affect their day-to-day lives, first year   dental hygiene student Irene Sekiti said she will not be able “make a life outside of this degree”.

“I won’t have money to go out with my friends. It’s not actually a good thing to increase our fees, they are already high, what’s the point of increasing them?”

Deputy Vice-chancellor of Finance Prof Tawana Kupe attributed the fee increase to a combination of three things: inflation, the cost of importing university resources and the lack of government subsidies.

“Government subsidies are not increasing by inflation,” he said. “The average [increase] we expect this year is 3.4%, which is way below inflation. So you’ve got to take care of that funding gap in government subsidies.”

Kupe expected that students will react with concern over fee increases but described them as “understanding” when consulted by university management earlier this year. He added that he was not personally happy over the fee increase.

“I’m not jumping for joy, I would love the day where we can increase fees by only 5%, but that is not the reality,” he said.

Last week the SRC announced that the upfront fee will remain the same as this year, but did not address the overall increase in tuition fees.

The increase, like the upfront fees freeze still needs to be approved by the university Council, during a meeting on October 4, according to university Registrar Carol Crosley.

Res policy dominates SRC elections

 

SHUT OUT: Jamie Mighti of Project W dismisses accusations from members of the Progressive Youth Alliance. Project W was accused of being "sell-outs" for not joining a march against  proposed changes to the residence policy on Wednesday. Photo: Nqobile Dludla

SHUT OUT: Jamie Mighti of Project W dismisses accusations from members of the Progressive Youth Alliance. Project W was accused of being “sell-outs” for not joining a march against proposed changes to the residence policy on Wednesday.                                                                                     Photo: Nqobile Dludla

By Nqobile Dludla and Lutho Mtongana

The SRC election was dominated this week by a controversial new res policy which brought together the Progressive Youth Alliance (PYA) and Wits Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) in protests, marches and threats to boycott the vote.

The highly contested policy states that “[it has been revised] for new first-year undergraduates to make campus accommodation more accessible and appealing to all students, especially those who have a good academic record”.

In addition, the policy states its intention to “ensure a diverse and cosmopolitan residence environment in which everyone can feel at home and can succeed academically.”

The protests culminated in a four-hour meeting at the SRC offices between the PYA, Wits EFF, the SRC, house committee representatives, Res Life director Robert Sharman, Deputy Vice-chancellor: finance Tawana Kupe, Dean of students Pamela Dube and Vice-chancellor Prof Adam Habib on Wednesday.

At the meeting, Habib agreed to “halt” the roll out of the revised residence admission policy pending further discussions to be held on Saturday.

Public protest about the policy began at the evening circus on Tuesday. The 2010/2011 SRC president, Mukovhe Morris Musatha, pleaded on behalf of Mens residence to the three organisations campaigning in the SRC election—PYA, Wits EFF and Project W—to come up with a resolution.

Initially, it appeared that all three organisations would oppose the policy following a meeting at the circus when SRC president Shafee Verachia said they would all march against it on Wednesday morning.
Verachia said the parties had agreed to boycott the SRC elections if their protests fell on deaf ears.

However, Project W said it had not agreed to the march or a potential election boycott. Project W candidate Jamie Mighti said they disagreed with the PYA and Wits EFF on “process”.

“There’s a process before we follow these things. We can’t make a hasty decision as an organisation,” Mighti told Wits Vuvuzela on Tuesday.

“Consultation was the issue and the fact that students weren’t being consulted”

Although the Wits EFF joined the march against the new res policy they accused Verachia of a lack of transparency, saying he as SRC president had known about the new res policy for weeks.

“They [the PYA] knew this and they did not tell the students, they did not consult with the students when we asked him [Verachia] … We found out last night, then we probed him as the EFF, he buckled under pressure and he said he knew in July,” said Wits EFF candidate Anele Nzimande on Wednesday.

Critics speak out

Critics of the policy said it would result in students already in res losing their rooms and called it racist, arguing that it was designed to bring more white students into residences.

Coming in effect in 2015, the policy will ensure that more single rooms will be available to new students in addition to already allocated double rooms.

This point outlined in the policy did not sit well with majority of the residents who worried about losing their rooms next year.

“The resident students who are currently here now might not have a place next year because they [management] want to open the residences to first-years. What that means is that they want to give single rooms to first-years and when that happens those who are currently staying here now will lose their rooms,” said All Residence Council chairperson Mpho Maziya.

“They are to close off 30 percent space to try and accommodate white kids who can normally afford accommodation outside of university,” Maziya said.

Habib contested the racialization of the policy by critics: “What I don’t like is, people racialize the question as if because we are taking white students, we are going to bring out black students, I never said that.”
Students also contested the policy on the basis that student bodies had not been consulted on the changes.

“Consultation was the issue and the fact that students weren’t being consulted. We said we are not interested in the procedural issues we are more interested in the substantial [issues] for the purpose of that policy,” said Wits EFF candidate Vuyani Pambo.

Maziya said they wanted the decision-making structures around student issues to be more representative, including having non-SRC members a part of the process.

“We are requesting that the decision making structures need to be more representative because what you have now is certain members of the SRC sitting there making decisions for resident students without the knowledge of what’s going on in the residences and how these decisions will affect students,” said Maziya.

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Dynamite comes in small packages

 Photo: provided

BOILING HOT: Braamfontein’s Boiler Room showcases work by students and up and coming designers and architects.
Photo: provided

A small, dark room in a Braamfontein alley is opening spaces and places for lovers of architecture and design.

The Boiler Room is part of the Alive Architecture initiative, located down an alley just off Melle Street, opposite the Neighbourgoods Market. It serves as a space for architecture students and upcoming architects to showcase their work at no cost.

In the first six weeks of its opening, the room had over 1200 visitors, and is becoming known as a space for innovation according to the owners.

Alive Architecture as an architectural gallery was developed in September 2011 and it now has a home in Braamfontein in as of  December 2013. The studio that now houses this innovative space is about 25 square metres is a small dark room. The space has a boiler for the building, which is above it in one corner, hence its name The Boiler Room.

The owner Pieter-Ernst Maré – along with Simon Cretney – says that the room caters specifically for students, upcoming architects and designers because this group does not get the chance to showcase as much as developed designers and architects.

“We felt that the smaller designers don’t get enough exposure to the general public,” said Maré.

Maré says that when the concept was drawn up in 2011 there weren’t many showrooms that were available for these marginalised groups to showcase their work for free.

Maré, who is a blogger and architect, says they look at proposals for the use of the space and choose a variety of ideas so the public can get a range of skills, trades and art exhibited in the space.

“We really don’t mind what our tenants do with the space – as long as we get it back like we gave it to them, so that the next exhibitor can step in and showcase with the minimum of fuss and expense in setting themselves up,” said Maré.

He said that many people do not understand the architecture industry. The Alive Architecture initiatives through The Boiler Room aims to educate the public about the work that goes into designing homes and work spaces.

Maré says the initiative wants to show that “architecture isn’t just about keeping water out of a space, that landscape architecture is not about picking the right petunia colour and that interior architecture is not about scatter cushions and curtains”. It’s an exploration of materials, ideas and philosophies that translate into a space, he says.

Maré says they hope to expand and showcase South African talent in other parts of the country in the near future.

The silent scream of the tokoloshe

THE BOGEY-MAN:The Tokolosh, a group of anonymous graffiti artists, use the cover of darkness to create graffiti and stencils with political messages. Photo: Tokolos Stencils Collective

THE BOGEY-MAN:The Tokolosh, a group of anonymous graffiti artists, use the cover of darkness to create graffiti and stencils with political messages. Photo: Tokolos Stencils Collective

A group of “tokoloshes” has banded together to ensure South Africa does not forget about Marikana and ongoing social injustices.

Tokolos Stencils, a group of anonymous graffiti artists, has resuscitated the “spirit of the tokoloshe” in order to fight for the underdog. They believe what they do is not vandalism but rather “sharing space”.

“We believe in sharing. Sharing ideas, sharing art, sharing news – and most of all, sharing space. It is only those who want to define certain spaces as for the rich and other spaces as for the poor, who are upset by our work,” they said in an e-mail response.

The group chose its name because it believes that in recent folklore the tokoloshe has been given a bad name. They liken this to any oppressed groups in society, “like poor black men and lesbians”. “As such, the tokolos can be seen as a representative of the unjustly damned.

The damned of the earth, forever misrepresented by the elite and the elite-controlled media. But was not Robin Hood a similarly misunderstood figure? The tokolos steals private space and makes it public – in other words, it returns space to its rightful owners,” they said.

Tokolos Stencils has been very loud in its silent protest. Supporters have desecrated the Cecil John Rhodes statue on UCT main campus and peppered Cape Town with graffiti and stencilled slogans and images. Their work can be seen anywhere from the Ferrari dealership windows to billboards to the side of the wall. Their trademark stencil is the “man in the green blanket”, Marikana workers’ leader Mgcineni Noki, who was killed by police along with 33 other protesting miners in August 2012.

Their other stencils include “This City Works for a Few”, a response against the Western Cape’s tagline “The City that Works for You” and “Remember Marikana”. When asked why they chose to band behind the mysterious African “bogey-man”, the tokoloshe, they said their name is supposed to challenge stereotypical thinking in our society by “people who have imprisoned their minds and shut away their creativity of thought”. This group of artists stays true to the image of the tokoloshe as elusive in their mysterious silence.

They work in the dark, using scare tactics and creating thought-provoking images. They also encourage South Africans to be part of the “revolution” by allowing people to download and submit their own political stencils, with hints about where to put them and how to do it.

The artists also warn the “messengers” to be wary of “the 5-0” [the police]. Pierrinne Leukes, spokesperson for the city of Cape Town, said the issue with the vandalism is a safety and security issue. She said the city spends up to 67% of its budget on the poor and residents of Cape Town have the highest access to services in the country.

She said resources have been diverted from communities to clean up the “graffiti vandalism”, money which could have been used to improve service delivery.

That’s a wrap!

QUIET ON SET! Star and producer Joe Kazadi, director Cedric Wembe and the cinematographer on set prepping for a scene for the low budget student film The Missing Link.                              Photo: Provided

QUIET ON SET! Star and producer Joe Kazadi, director Cedric Wembe and the cinematographer on set prepping for a scene for the low budget student film The Missing Piece. Photo: Provided

 

THE AFROPOLITAN film independently produced by Witsies is nearing completion despite its low budget. The producer says this is due to careful planning and because everybody “came to do it with their hearts”.
The Missing Piece tells the story of a Congolese man named Joe who turns to a life of crime after losing his wife and child. The film also shows the relationship he forms with a little girl whose only companion is a teddy bear. The title of the film refers to the teddy bear.
When asked why people would want to watch their film, director Cedric Wembe said, “The problems and the issues at play in the movie are problems people face not only in South Africa but everywhere else.”
Joe Kazadi, the producer and star of the film, funded most of the film using his money which he set aside especially for the production.
He said, “Everybody came to do it with their hearts, no one came for the money.”
Despite the budget, Wembe said it was the aim of the crew to use the best equipment to make the best quality film people would want to see.
Wembe said the problem with making a film in Africa is always budgeting. There is never enough money to make a film in the “African context” especially when the production does not receive funding from external funders.

“Everybody came to do it with their hearts.”
Both Kazadi and Wembe have worked professionally in television and stage productions respectively but to them The Missing Link was different.
Kazadi said, “We [were] looking for the way forward. What was the positive and what was the negative and then we decided, yeah, we’ll do that.”
According to Kazadi, compared to other productions, this film had the most planning behind it.
“With the other productions we just rushed into it, we were not prepared mentally for it. That is why it [other productions] was not a full success,” he said.
The film is currently in post-production. Kazadi is looking to premiere the film at Wits University. They chose Wits because the film is primarily a student film. Students from Wits and AFDA film school in Auckland Park came together to write and shoot it.
“Ninety-five percent of people involved or 90 percent of the people [crew] are people who come from Wits,” Kazadi said.
Wembe and Kazadi want to take their film to the Ecrans Noir film festival in Cameroon, the Fespaco film festival in Burkina Faso and a film festival in Cape Town.
The trailer for the film has been released and is available on Wembe and Kazadi’s Facebook pages respectively.

Rapists can also ‘get their way’ online

One of the characters of Grand Theft Auto 5.  Photo: buzz wide

One of the characters of Grand Theft Auto 5.
Photo: buzz wide

THE VIRTUAL rapist who has recently appeared in the popular Grand Theft Auto 5 game, could “perpetuate the ritual of rape”, a psychologist has said.

Judith Ancer was commenting on the fact that the action-adventure game was recently hacked in order to create a character called Deep in The Butt, who specialises solely in terrorising and raping other online players in the butt.

Ancer said the implications of this were complex. If this kind of behaviour was accessible to people who had been exposed to sexual violence or abuse, it could perpetuate the ritual of rape.

This kind of fantasy created a “reality that women are victims of rape”, and that could have its implications in society.

She said that this implication can be detrimental to both men and women. “More so with men because they are more secretive about such issues,” Ancer said.

Not that all fantasies led to reality, she said. “I don’t think we should ban all fantasies but there are risks … If exposure didn’t make a diff erence we wouldn’t have advertising.”

Witsies had mixed reactions to the issue. Boitumelo Mpakanyane, BA Politics, did not see it as a problem. “If you can’t separate right from wrong that’s your problem, it’s just a game,” he said.

On the other hand, Edward Chan, 3rd year Bio-Science, said virtual rape “is not ethical and it’s an issue that should be looked into”. And Blaise Koetsie, 3rd year Law, said she was horrifi ed. She added that the way “we women are portrayed in the media is disrespectful and sad”.

“How are men supposed to respect us … I don’t like what the media promotes these days, I think it’s disgusting.”

In the game, the GTA5 terrorist always has his pants down, ready to molest his next victim. Although they get countless attempts to fi ght the perpetrator off , his victims always fail to kill him. When the off ender is done, his victims are left doing a strip dance as a sign of his victory.

When the game was released in September, there was discussion about whether characters should be able to rape. The owners, Rockstars Games, did not approve this change.

It did not stop hackers from accomplishing their mission, however, in their modifi cation of the game, which can be downloaded unoffi cially, whether the owners approve or not.

Commenting on games that allow virtual rape, print editor of Exeposé’s Games and Technology section, Adam Smith, told Marie Claire Online that rape was worse than murder.

“To be murdered is to be killed. It ends. To be raped is to be abused and left vulnerable and most importantly, having to live with that knowledge for the rest of your life,” he said.

When Wits Vuvuzela contacted Rockstar Games for comment, they received an automated reply, which stated: “Your comment has been received, Thanks”.

SLICE OF LIFE: Sense and sensibility

“I come here with no expectations, only to profess, now that I am at liberty to do so, that my heart is and always will be yours.” –  Edward Ferrars, in Sense and Sensibility.

Jane Austen ruined us … or rather Emma Thompson did, with that exceptional screenplay.  We expect men to profess exactly what they mean when it comes to love. We expect them to be expressive.

Women. We always seem to take it to the extreme when it comes to our affections.  If it’s not too much, it’s too little. It’s never in between.  Either way, you are almost certain to come across as “crazy”.  I hate that.

I hate that a conversation with a guy is never just a conversation with a guy.  And I hate that we are blamed for over-thinking statements like “you’re brilliant”, or “you look lovely” or “you get me”.  I hate that we are prone to misreading those “harmless” words and actually thinking a guy might like us.  We were seriously misinformed by those Drew Barrymore films.

IMG_1453online

The flipside is having your guard up all the time.  This is my favourite default.  Sure, being risk averse is boring, but it is safe.  You will not be the one lying on the bathroom floor, wiping tears away on a Friday night because you finally realised that “he’s just not that into you”.  (That movie ruined us too, by the way).

You will, however, be the shoulder on which your damaged friend leans while you hand her a Kleenex.  And you will be relieved that you are not her, for one night.

 

 

Every other night, you see, you’ll be attending parties alone.  Banquets and weddings included.  (Gay best friends are not as abundant as one would think).  And it’s not some hard-core act of supreme feminism.  It is excruciatingly awkward.

I know because I have had to answer questions like: “Where is your date?” or “Don’t you have a boyfriend?” or “Have you considered becoming a lesbian?” And I have had to watch purses. I am the official PURSE GIRL.  It is not cool to be the purse girl, unless you’re Tina Fey.

“I’m so sorry for all those guys out there who do not have any balls.”

I wouldn’t know how it is for guys, but I have heard (from a guy) that approaching a girl with a “big” personality and intellect is quite daunting.  Apparently it’s much easier to forego that girl for a less intimidating one.  Gee … I’m so sorry for all those guys out there who do not have any balls. (Not really, it would be a disservice to humanity if they had the opportunity to procreate).

So the rest of us are in a catch-22 situation.  You can’t wear your heart on your sleeve, but you can’t wear your “go-away” face either.

I like to consider what Mindy Kaling would do.  Only because she’s a Hollywood leading lady of colour, who happens to be a graduate from Dartmouth College (I know, right! She’s talented and smart) and is in denial about her weight.  Also she dated BJ Novak, so she makes good choices.  Unfortunately, I don’t have her on speed dial.

So the next sensible thing to do is this: don’t create unrealistic expectations or manufacture relationships in your head.  A conversation with a guy is just a conversation with a guy.  And a compliment from a guy is a just compliment from a guy.

Also, do not do this:

Elinor Dashwood:  “Did he tell you that he loved you?”

Marianne Dashwood: “Yes … No … Never absolutely.  It was every day implied but never declared.”