Taxi ranks are bad for women

Expect long queues and a strained commute to work as taxi operators go on strike from Monday. Picture: Bheki Radebe/ANA Pictures

It is common knowledge that any action would get a reaction or response whether positive or negative.

I have observed that human beings use their senses to respond to a situation immediately, take for instance when the music plays, people respond by bobbing their heads, snap their fingers, tap their legs or dance. When they see something good happening they often react by uttering words or using their facial expressions to show that they see something good happening. Even when bad things happen they use their facial expressions and also comment in shock or disgust.

I’m going to focus my observations at the many taxi ranks that I have been at as I often use public transport. But let me start by saying there has been a lot of brouhaha for Nonhlanla ‘Skolopad’ Qwabe’s revealing dress at the MetroFM music awards in 2017 as she deliberately admitted that she had worn the yellow dress with the slit on purpose. She got the reaction that she sought after showing her tattooed bum to the world.

Skolopad describes herself as a Kwaito/house singer and had been looking for a record deal for long without much success, then she resorted to be half-naked most of the time whenever she performs. She happens to be a professional nurse, plying her trade in Bethlehem in the Free State. She is quiet popular in QwaQwa and Bethlehem where she performs in taverns and community halls.

She got mixed reactions from people as it could have been expected. Indeed Skolopad stole the attention from well known celebrities who are also known for showing off their bodies. Some people sneered that it was crass and low for her to show her bum in that manner to get attention. Even well known people who have shown their private parts in public talked bad about Skolopad’s stunts at the MetroFM awards.

I was so appalled of the snide comments made by popular celebrities who despised Skolopad yet they do the same thing, the likes Bonang Matheba, Boity Thulo, Minnie Dlamini, Khanyi Mbau and Pearl Thusi have worn revealing clothes and were celebrated. Some of them have also taken nude pictures claiming it was for a certain course or that the pictures were meant for their own private use. Be that as it may they have done what Skolopad had done but because they are celebrities they were not criticized instead they are often applauded how sexy they are.

People like applying double standards whenever they see it fit. Skolopad got interviewed by radio stations, Television programmes and newspapers for her stunts and became the sensation. With her new found fame, came Zodwa ‘Wabantu’ Libram who became a hot dancing sensation on twitter after many of her videos appeared on YouTube, taken from her former regular spot at Eyadini lounge in Durban.

Unlike Skolopad, Zodwa has monetized her dancing skills to cash in a lot of money from her dancing. It has been widely reported that whenever she is booked to appear to dance at clubs or festivals she is paid more than R35 000. Zodwa dances with a bottle of beer in her hand and gets down putting her hand in between her legs while the other one is held high holding Savannah cider.

Zodwa has performed at top clubs like Taboo in Sandton, Thoughts Lounge in Bloemfontein and some strip club in Hillbrow where she performed with strippers and said she was handsomely paid. She justified her dancing in a strip club to fulfill her dream of entertaining diverse people. Zodwa said she had been called names because of her dressing sense, also claiming that she did not like to wear a panty.

Many videos have appeared of Zodwa showing her private parts and people started comparing her to Skolopad but didn’t like to be likened to the latter. A beef erupted between the two as Zodwa claimed that Skolopad was still crawling in the game. Mind you Skolopad only charges R5000 when she is booked to perform and she had once said she attended one of the events while she did not have money for food.

These two women are not ashamed of showing off their bodies but the other one looks down at the other. It is quite amazing that people who do the same thing could have a different opinion of the other. Skolopad and Zodwa are not the first celebrities to embrace their feminity or nudeness in the public space.

Internationally women like Rihanna, Jennifer Lopez, Janet Jackson, Kimberley ‘Kim K’ Kardashian, Amber Rose and Nicki Minaj have at some point had their nude pictures published in the media. They are influential women who have a huge impact on how young girls wear or style their hair.

Almost all Hip-Hop music videos have women scantily dressed thereby encouraging young people to dress in that fashion. The truth of the matter is that videos and films are work of art solely made to entertain but people dress in that particular fashion not realizing that they are putting themselves in compromising positions.

In the early 2000’s a woman was terribly harassed at the Parkstation in Johannesburg for wearing a sexy revealing outfit, so much that some perverts tried to touch her, until someone rescued her from the vulture of men. One would think that women would try to wear clothes that don’t attract that attention from men but they keep on wearing leggings, tights and miniskirts that reveal their private body parts. Recently a young lady probably in her early 20’s was yelled at and men whistled at her for just wearing a shorts that covered a bit of her bums while going to bard a taxi at Bara taxi rank.

The men at the taxi ranks, mostly taxi drivers hoot, whistle and utter some bad words on the women who are wearing revealing clothes. Some clothes are so bad that they are see throughs leaving nothing to the imagination. Everything is just there in the open and these men react to what they see in a very bad way.

Yes, African women especially South African women have great bodies and they like showing them off rightly so but the reaction they get at the taxi ranks is appalling. No one should dictate what anyone wears because people have the right to express how they feel. After all you are what you wear as clothes convey a certain message.

But what is surprising is that, these young men who wear their jeans and trousers under their bottoms showing their underpants don’t get such reaction from women. If men expose their bums why is it that no noise is made or bad comments made against them because if showing off private parts is bad, it should get the same reaction?

But it seems like men just get away with showing off their dirty underwears in the streets because of the Hip-Hop music videos they see on television and YouTube.

Both men and women have the right to wear whatever pleases them and express themselves however they want. However, make no mistake there will always be a reaction to every situation, so be always prepared for reactions that you might somehow attract.

Some people tend to think that a semi nude person should be charged with public indecency but what do you say to a man who would just whip out his member to piss in the street yet there are public toilets nearby.

It is true that life of a person comes once and people are encouraged to flaunt their bodies but some places like taxi ranks are no go areas as I have observed. You can wear a sagging jeans and shortest dress in a club and no one would harass you.

Nowadays with the presence of smartphones and social media unsuspecting people find their images on shady websites for only trying to express themselves. This has affected some badly but others have capitalized on the unfortunate event turning it into a positive one. Just look at Kim K, Zodwa Wabantu and Pulane Lenkoe getting more deals.

Sello E Morake is a freelance Journalist, based in Diepkloof in Soweto, Johannesburg. He has been a Journalist for more than 10 years writing for Newspapers such as the now defunct Free State Times, Daily Sun and Dumelang News in various capacities as a Senior Reporter, Sub-editor and Freelancer