AFRICA IS A COUNTRY

August 21st, 2009
SEX AND RAPE: TOAST COETZER RESPONDS

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Earlier this week I posted a comment by my friend, Christi van der Westhuizen, going after novelist-singer Toast Coetzer for this statement in an interview:

“One probably writes about the things that you think about a lot. Sometimes the line between having sex with someone and raping someone is very thin, even within a relationship. If the girlfriend does not want to, but you do and you have sex with her — is that rape?”

The remark has pissed off lots of people (not just on this blog).  Coetzer has now responded in a comment to this blog about the context and his own attempts to set the record straight:

I’m glad the article has sparked this sort of conversation, because I believe it’s something that always requires further dialogue (otherwise we wouldn’t have such horrendous rape stats).

The quote from the interview was meant to describe the driving thoughts behind some of the actions of the characters – especially the main character, a fictitious famous singer, who commits rape twice in the novel.

The quote ends as a question – is that rape? The answer is obvious: Yes. The problem is that the main character in the novel probably doesn’t know that this is the obvious answer. My fear is also that many other men in South Africa don’t know this either.

There is no thin line when it comes to rape. There might be for the offending character in the novel, but it is clear to the person who has been raped.

I have sent an explanation to the newspaper (in answer to one of several upset letters which they’ve received) which starts with an apology to all those who were offended by the quote and I shall repeat it here. It was not my intention to try and absolve men or rapists from their crime. I therefore apologise to those hurt by the statement.

I am no gender or rape expert, but I think about these things like everyone else and I hope that this website, the newspaper and whoever else can take the discussion forward. Ultimately it’s the only way we’ll explore these issues properly and hopefully we’ll one day see a moral turnaround in the gender violence and rape statistics in South Africa and elsewhere.

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Sean Jacobs

Otherwise known as Hasan Wasan.

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