Friday, April 29, 2011

Brutal Attacks on Black Lesbians in South Africa Continue, Three Years After Simelane's Murder

I am re-posting a message I received this morning from the Forum for the Empowerment of Women in Johannesburg. Noxolo Nogwaza was raped and murdered this week, three years after the outcry over Eudy Simelane's murder should have brought these assaults to an end. Every few weeks, it seems, another woman is killed: Nokuthula Radebe, just 20 years old, was killed a month ago.
Ekurhuleni Pride Organizing Committee (EPOC) and the Coalition of African Lesbians (CAL) call on all supporters for equality and dignity for all, to join us in specific actions calling for justice for slain lesbian, Noxolo Nogwaza and all the other LGBT people who have lost their dignity and lives on the basis of their sexual orientation and/or gender identity in South Africa.


The body of Noxolo Nogwaza, a 24 year old lesbian, was found lying in an alley in Kwa-Thema at about 9am on Sunday, April 24 2011. Noxolo’s head was completely deformed, her eyes out of the sockets, her brain spilt, teeth scattered all around and face crashed beyond recognition. Police and other witnesses at the crime scene say that an empty beer bottle and used condoms were pushed up her genitals. Parts of her body had been stabbed with glass. A large pavement brick that is believed to have been used to crash her head was found by her side.
Noxolo was raped and murdered in a similar manner as that in which another member of EPOC was murdered, 3 years ago today. Eudy Simelane’s body was also found in an open field in Kwa-Thema. She had been raped and murdered, crimes that the perpetrators confessed to. Just last year, a gay man in the same township was attacked by eight men, who attempted to rape him. Luckily, he escaped the “vultures”. The men, as they attempted to rape him, were heard saying, “We are determined to kill all gay people in this area and we will do it.” 
Noxolo will be laid to rest at a cemetery in Kwa-Thema on Saturday, April 30, 2011. EPOC and CAL call on all your support in this time of grief and shock. Please come and stand with us.
What can you do?
1. Come and join us as we lay Noxolo Nogwaza to rest. The funeral will take place in Kwa-Thema on Saturday, April 30, 2011. For those outside Gauteng and South Africa, you may send condolence messages that will be read out at the funeral to and wreaths/ flowers can be purchased online at for pick up on Saturday morning. Have them labeled EPOC for Noxolo and we will pick them up. For those around Gauteng, there will be a taxi to transport mourners to and from Constitutional Hill in Braamfotein and at the Baragwanath Taxi Rank, Soweto. Please be at your station by 7:30am on Saturday. Also confirm your attendance with / 0733711556. The address of the home where the funeral will be held is 19206 JAQISA Str, Ext 6 in Kwa-Thema (behind BP Garage, Duduza Rank).

2. Call, fax or email Tsakane Police Station and demand for a speedy and thorough investigation into the rape and murder of Noxolo Nogwaza. The reference number of the case is 635/04/2011.
Tel: +27 11 363 5347/8/9
Fax: +27 11 363 3454

3. Call, fax and/or email the South African Government and demand that they openly speak out and take action against the increasing violence towards LGBT people in South Africa. The contacts of the officials to contact are below;
His Excellency Jacob Zuma
President of the Republic of South Africa
Tel: +27 12 300 5200
Fax: +27 12 323 8246
His Excellency Kgalema Petrus Motlanthe
Deputy President of the Republic of South Africa
Tel: +27 12 300 0501/+27 21 464 2128
Fax: +27 12 323 3114
Mr. Jeffrey Thamsanqa Radebe
Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development
Tel: +27 12 357 8212/8217
Fax: +27 12 315 1749
Mr. Nathi Mthethwa
Minister of Police
Tel: +27 12 393 2810/2811
Fax: +27 12 939 2812
Gen. Bheki Cele
National Commissioner of Police
Tel: +27 12 393 2874
Fax: +27 12 393 1530

4. Hold demonstrations at South African Embassies in your countries demanding that they speak out against the increasing violence against LGBT people in South Africa. There will be national demonstrations held in South Africa before and on the International Day Against Homophobia (IDAHO), come May 17, 2011 and we encourage that you hold a demonstration at the embassy around the same period.
For more information please contact:
1. Ntsupe
Chairperson, EPOC
Tel: +27 732 263 287
2. Bontle
Tel: +27 732 270 026

3. Victor Mukasa
Project Coordinator, Human Rights Defenders project
Coalition of African Lesbians (CAL)
Tel: +27 784 363 635

Friday, April 1, 2011

US Soccer Fans: Actually, You Are Quite Divisible

As the fanfare surrounding the launch of a new uniform for the US Men's National Team died down, Nike quietly released the new uniform for the US Women's National Team - Is this the outfit the women will wear to Germany as they fight for the 2011 World Cup championship?
A USWNT shirt can always be distinguished from the USMNT shirt by the two stars that the women's shirt prominently displays over the USSF badge - one star for each World Cup trophy they've won (1991, 1999). That difference is not enough for Nike and the USSF. They want you to know, for sure, that this is a not a man's shirt. So the FIFA #1 ranked women's team will go to the Germany in a nurse's uniform.

This is quite simply the ugliest women's football jersey I have ever seen. It's central problem is the line someone has drawn down middle of the shirt - a purely decorous gesture meant to create the impression that the USSF would like its women to play in an open necked blouse. 

The uniform is an expression an ongoing effort to divorce the "branding" of the men's team from the legacy of the USWNT circa 1999 (when they last won the World Cup). In doing so, they create a host of problems for those of us who are USWNT and USMNT fans.

For example, women fans are supposed to buy separate shirts to show support for the men's team and for the women's team. Fine - I like those two stars, and I also support the men's team with or without those stars. But men who support both? Unless they want to look like a female jock dressed like a nurse, and they happen to also be small enough to fit in the limited sizes on offer, guys who support the USWNT won't have an option. Which is just as well - because Nike doesn't deserve money from us, for this and a thousand other reasons.

Very few countries offer totally different "looks" for the national uniforms for their men and their women's teams. Part of this is because very few care enough about their women's teams to even consider this. But perhaps it is also because women playing for Brazil (for example) represent that country's futebol tradition, and their style is as much a testament to the legacy of players like Pele, Garrincha, Ronaldo and Ronaldinho as it is to their triumph over the sexism of the country's futebol structures. It's a reminder that one ought not divide the women from the men, as if they play different sports - as if they don't admire and inspire each other on and off the pitch.

Germany and Adidas have gone down the same road as the USSF and Nike, and launched a new "look" for the Frauen:

Germany Men's Team, Away
Germany Women's Team, Away
I can't see why one would want to back away from the bad-ass look of the men's away kit, except in order to "feminize" the women's shirt. As is the case for fans of the USWNT, there is no man's option for fans of the Frauen - as a guy, you either wear that black shirt (for the men), or you wear a shirt cut for a slightly curvy woman. I should say, a lot of women fans don't particularly like these feminized designs: there is something fundamentally irritating about them.

It is one thing to build a shirt to be more comfortable for a woman (women fans who want such shirts can buy them to show their support for men's teams). It is quite another to design a shirt whose primary design function seems to be not the declaration "We are our country's national team," but the anxious apology "We are not the men's team." There is no real purpose to the difference in look other than the re-enforcement of gender division - as if the difference between three and two stars (Germany) and zero and two (the US) were not enough. And this all has really crappy implications regarding male fans of national women's teams, who are completely ignored as active participants in the women's game - the implication is that being a fan of the women's game is basically a form of cross-dressing. Which, in a way (the way of gender and sports politics), I guess it is.

But at least Germany's kit still looks like a football jersey. This is not something I can say about the USWNT uniform.

Maybe we can recover our relationship to that look by imagining it as "heads up" to the competition: By the time the USWNT get through with them, they'll be calling for an ambulance. Not quite the spirit I associate with the squad - Abby Wambach, perhaps, excepted.
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