Wits to root out sexual discrimination in residences

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SMELLING TROUBLE: Raiders Men’s Residence first years singing the lyrics “I smell p*ssy” led by senior residents at the Varsity Shield finals. PHOTO: Anlerie de Wet

Wits will be implementing “systemic holisitic intervention programmes” in residences next semester after students from Men’s Res sang “I smell pussy” at a rugby match.

The Raiders had already received criticism last month for posting sexist tweets about women visiting the residence.

The Gender Equity Office (GEO), Wits Transformation Office, and Res Life held a closed-door meeting with the Men’s Residence House Committee (HC) on Monday afternoon.

“At first the guys told us that the song was a long standing tradition of the house mascot, Zoro the cat, but after declining to sing us the song the HC acknowledged that it can be interpreted as offensive,” said the GEO director, Jackie Dugard.

However, in an e-mail interview with Wits Vuvuzela the house committee chairperson, Rodney Motjamela, denied knowing the history of the song.

“I do not have knowledge of the history of the song,” he said.

Dugard said the problem of sexism at the residence started at the institution and not individuals, who will not be disciplined for the singing the allegedly sexist song.

“We need to change the way people think about gender and get them to find sexism unacceptable”

“This involves a systemic issue where groups are reproducing these offensive traditions. Holding individuals responsible is not the best way to ensure the problem doesn’t continue,” said Dugard.

Motjamela said that the house committee was “most satisfied with the outcome of the meeting” and that they will discuss the song with the rest of the house.

“[W]e categorically and unequivocally condemn these deeply saddening acts of discrimination. This is the stance and belief of the entire Men’s Res House,” said Motjamela.

The parties involved in the meeting have aligned to make sure that the problem doesn’t reproduce, according to Dugard.

“We need to change the way people think about gender and get them to find sexism unacceptable. Leaders of Wits need to move from reactive interventions to comprehensive reactions for change to work.”

Raiders sing “I smell p*ssy”

Raiders Men’s Residence are being investigated for sexual discrimination after singing the lyrics “I smell p*ssy” at Varsity Shield rugby match.

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SMELLING TROUBLE: Raiders Men’s Residence first years singing the lyrics “I smell p*ssy” led by senior residents at the Varsity Shield finals Monday night. PHOTO: Anlerie de Wet

Raiders Men’s Residence first years sang the lyrics “I smell p*ssy” led by their senior residents at the Varsity Shield finals on Monday night.

The Gender Equity Office (GEO) has received complaints from a staff member about this song being sung at a rugby match last month.

“Unfortunately individuals couldn’t be identified,” said the director of the GEO, Jackie Dugard.

Manager of the residence, Doreen Musemwa, said she does not know the song but she is aware that there is a problem of misogyny in the residence. “We are addressing issues such as this with the GEO, because we don’t want the group to spread the wrong message.”

“The wrong doers will face the wrath of the university”

According to Raiders Men’s Residence chairperson, Rodney Motjamela, the House Committee is not in a position to comment on the issue yet. Although Motjamela has confirmed he is aware that the first years know and sing this song, he wasn’t aware that they sang it Monday night.

“The case is being pursued by the GEO and the wrong doers will face the wrath of the university,” said Wits transformation manager of diversity, ethics and social justice, Pura Mgolombane.

Early last month Raiders Men’s Residence posted a series of sexually discriminating tweets, where, among other things, the screams of women having sex with residents were compared to that of a “dying bear”.

On 10 March the House Committee apologised in an official statement on Twitter for the sexist tweets saying: “We view sexism and misogyny as deplorable in all senses of the word, and going forward we will not be shy in conveying these beliefs.”

The GEO, Wits Transformation and Student Affairs met yesterday to discuss systemic interventions to be implemented in the residences early second semester, according to Mgolombane.

“The residences’ views must be in line with the university’s value system and since that is not the case we need to find collective solutions to solve this problem,” said Wits transformation manager of diversity, ethics and social justice, Pura Mgolombane. He believes that the fundamental problem lies in residence traditions, which influences the first years, “but the boys have agency”.

“We need to bring about awareness of these issues within residences and change the image these students have of women, but it starts with the first years,” said Musemwa.