The gays made Oscar do it!

Western Cape Pastor Oscar Bougardt has singlehandedly solved the work of Desmond Nair, Gerrie Nel, Hilton Botha and anyone else concerned with Oscar Pistorius’ motives. It was the gays who made him do it. I for one can’t be blamed because on the night in question (and early into the next morning), I was polishing a 100kg golden penis I have on my front porch.

Wasn’t me. But, granted, it could have been any one of the other guys gays. If Pastor Bougardt says it is so, it has gotsta be true. Mambaonline reports that Bougardt said: “Oscar was one of those sports stars who supported the filthy lifestyle of homosexuals.” Before we go any further, let me also just inform you that Mambaonline themselves were behind the flood that killed 142 000 in East Asia in 1935, the drought of 1984 that killed 150 000 people in the Sudan, and me. I have officially been listed as one of the greatest disasters of our time.

I am going straight to hell. We know this is true because Bougardt has said that “…any person who supports homosexuals are doomed for hell.” This is hectic because no one can be sure how much time we really have and red just doesn’t look good with my complexion. Which leaves me at yet another crossroads. Here’s the thing: I used to think that any tepid small-mind who based their homophobia on the oldest book ever written, and thought it to somehow be a true reflection of any sense of the divinity that brought us here, could kiss my ruby red Judy Garland slippers. But… this Bougardt chap seems so legit. Just look at this picture of him:

Bougaardt

They say he has sent provocative emails to a string of gay activist groups. I like the word ‘provocative’. Physically it makes me think of Zac Efron. Cerebrally it makes me think of Madonna, Joan of Arc, Michelle Obama, Edith Piaff, Bette Midler, Helen Zille or Margaret Thatcher – to name just a few. Women who think and women who have never become victims of– or defined by stereotypes that are as old as the ground we stand upon. A great example to homosexuals everywhere, who are here to stay daaahlings. And if anyone who thinks beyond Bougardt’s little book is going to hell too, so be it. He can go spit the dummy by himself in some quiet, gay-free corner of the Universe. Fuck him.

 

© Dylan Balkind

An ingrown life

When last were your feelings hurt by someone that wouldn’t normally consider you, but who then went out of his or her way to say something awful and uncalled for, just to make you feel bad about yourself? Years ago? Recently? It’s always surprising to me how often it happens and how ready the human race is to take down one of their own.

We are a nasty lot, aren’t we?

I like to tease. I like to say things that provoke mirth because they tug at stereotypes and state the obvious. People giggle, enjoy the forum and even throw back some of their own banter. This is a dialogue I believe to be very necessary between friends of different backgrounds in a claustrophobic South Africa. Isn’t it a fine time to laugh at ourselves? It’s harmless… but… there is always a darker side. For example, I would never stand on the side of the street and yell faggot, nigger, moffie, kaffir, cunt, fatso, kike, fudge-packer, douchebag, spic or slut bucket to an absolute stranger walking the other way, yet, I can personally assure you, there are many who are of the opinion that this behaviour is perfectly acceptable.

Harassment, bullying, slander or defamation of character – call it what you want. The problem with this legalese is that it doesn’t resonate where this behaviour begins: among pre-teen insolents who haven’t been taught any better by the people who took responsibility for shaping their lives. Victims are taught little rhymes about sticks and stones but with no real help or a true behaviour-change, they grow lonelier in the darkness of isolation.

I have my own story. One that is unique to me but just like a million others all over the world.

I wasn’t the only one who grew up this way.

There are many who seek some form of therapy to “just get over it”.

This is such a personal journey that people take, seeking their own ways of finding the light. It is an outpouring of your feelings into something constructive for you that sets the wheels of healing in motion. Catharsis isn’t on a schedule but when it arrives, it is a lightening-bolt force of nature. The dialogue you have in this process is with yourself. You are the crier, the listener, the sad and the psychologist. You are the hurt and the discipline, the broken-hearted and the healing.

When you take seven minutes to watch the video below, may you see the most profound art created from such hollow-hurting that I have ever seen.

If you cry, I hope it helped. If you don’t understand it, I hope that one day you will.

Read the full poem here.

© Dylan Balkind

Love-pandemonium

The heart is a voracious force. I remember now. At thirty-four, I catch myself feeling giddy at the concepts and designs for people and personalities in a love-pandemonium.

These are things I reveled in everyday a decade ago. Then I got smarted and lost my smarts… along with my backbone, apparently. I spent a lot of time doing what everyone else was doing and not enough time doing what I should have been doing. Still… I wasn’t alone in that stupid. There are a lot of numb people out there.

This isn’t about anti-depressants or alcohol and I’m not talking about love or even a love-game-chase. I just mean that I catch myself feeling giddy at the concepts and designs for people and personalities in a love-pandemonium.

This is awake. I’m a big fan and I would recommend it to anyone. I never had to audition for this role in my life story. I just got the part and that’s all I have to do. Show up for it every single day because, as they say: life is short. Which led me to this: what will be here when I am gone? What mark no matter how big or small will this earth have to show that I was here?

That I felt, that I walked, that I cried tears but that I made so many people smile? That I achieved so much of what I set out to do? That I changed somebody’s life forever and for the better? That I pissed some people off because I told them what they already knew but didn’t want to hear? That I looked at each of my newborn baby nieces and nephews and felt a yen like no other before or since? That I cry when I watch wedding videos on YouTube, laugh unintentionally when something awful happens to someone I know; that I say the wrong thing far too often, am impulsive yet generous to a fault and that, still, I’ve lived more than many people get to do, have loved wholeheartedly more than many people get to love and haven’t had to say too many sorrys, yet.

The heart is a voracious force. I remember now. At thirty-four I catch myself feeling giddy about a love-pandemonium.

And when I’m gone? But I’m not. I’m still here.

© Dylan Balkind

SAB Anti-Rape Billboard

So… there’s so much (informed and uninformed) opinionaters on Rape in South Africa – and ways in which these conversations come alive among your (anti) social networks. One fellow thought he would weigh-in on the Rape-rant by voicing his disapproval of the South African Breweries (SAB) Corporate Social Responsibility billboard that pushes all the right buttons for underage drinking, women abuse and rape.

Screen shot 2013-02-19 at 11.40.44 AM

“Hey SAB! Were you OUT OF YOUR MIND putting up a billboard intimating that girls who get drunk are somehow choosing to get raped? Last time I checked, it was the RAPIST doing the deciding. In one fell swoop, you’ve managed to uphold rape culture AND lay the blame on women. Do you have any idea what kind of message this sends out to the countless women who’ve had to endure what you’re calling a ‘decision’? Congratulations. I wish I could simply call you imbeciles and be done with it, but that’s too innocent a word for what you are.”

I picture him in his skinny jeans, non-prescription specs and a plaid shirt with some or other morning’s Pronutro crusting on a buttonhole. He likes what he sees in the mirror and fancies himself quite the intellect. Before we go any further – to safeguard his potential embarrassment while allowing him his democratic right to continue on in his blinkered state – I will from this point onward refer to (beep) as Mr. Igno Rant.

Mr. Rant has gotten way too carried away with his very own self-congratulatory effort to cause a commotion. As an Advertising geek who has had a look at the Brand and Social Responsibility message by SAB, I suggest you consider this:

SAB:

a)     is not diverting the blame from these bastards who take matters into their own hands
b)     is highlighting the already-ablaze epidemic of rape in this country, and
c)     is admitting – from a CSI vantage point – that alcohol may play a role in contributing to victims.

Alcohol doesn’t for one moment give men an easy-out excuse for rape, citing for example that the victim was drunk and therefore to blame. It simply highlights the obvious: when inebriated, women may not have their wits at hand – something that these loser predators undoubtedly count on. Furthermore, Rant has neglected to appreciate the message for underage drinking and the perps that do nothing about it but fill their cash registers. Let those who sell alcohol to minors see this billboard too, find their conscience and stop contributing to the problem.

You may raise an eyebrow at my silly-man-bashing and accuse me of what I myself deplore so vehemently: bullying. No. I am not being a bully. I am disturbed and horrified that those who choose to make a noise about something they have given absolutely no thought to still have the dangerous power through the viral message in social media to incite enough other non-thinkers to make a noise and flap to that side of the fence.

Let me be clear: there is never a bad time to talk about Rape.

Also, I speak from my heart and soul when I say that a man who can’t comb his hair in the morning shouldn’t be taken too seriously – but rather that it is the lack of response of a nation to an issue that should have mobilised us years ago… now that’s what I really care about. Still, Ignor has meticulously highlighted the issue that people would rather suck their teeth and shake their empty heads in disgust at, because of the distaste of a brand to bring such attention to a very real problem. Truth is Ignor, this is an industry that has the potential to shine a very bright light on an issue that our useless government is far too quiet about, every single day. Don’t you think that that’s something you should embrace?

I congratulate SAB and the creatives at their agency who have shown that, in South Africa, a pair of balls can still be used for good.

#makeanoiseSA

© Dylan Balkind

I know a rape victim

I know a rape victim. On a day that started as any other did, it turned when a group of men exerted themselves on her tiny frame and changed her life forever. Psychologically, emotionally and socially… she will never be able to access the woman she was before. I know another rape victim. On a day that started as any other did, it changed when he was led home from a gay bar under false pretences and raped by three homophobic straight men who changed his life forever. Psychologically, emotionally and socially… he will never be able to access the man he was before.

I know a rape victim.

Because of someone else’s imbalanced reality, these lives will never, ever be the same again. No matter how much patchwork is done on the outside to reinforce a semblance of self-esteem, the psychological repercussions will travel with them forever, wherever they go. One day, when love arrives and their heart hopes to be happy again, the mechanics of how those souls plan to live out that love will draw them back into the trenches of their own uninvited war.

I know a rape victim.

No one is safe, anywhere. The school set up by media mogul Oprah Winfrey was host to violence against women and children charges. A prominent writer for the Mail & Guardian, the Washington Post and the BBC was herself a victim of this endemic epidemic. A national cricket player has been accused of rape. Our President has been accused of rape. Both had their charges dropped in overturned cases. Corruption-related or not, consider this: South Africa has lost an estimated R650-billion to corruption over the last 18 years. Think about the positive effect of the power behind that money had it been used for legal repercussions and enforcement that contributed to a safer, kinder South Africa for all. There are 29 different crime categories used by the SAPS for reporting crime stats. So? What difference does it make when the whole system is so out of control that the statistics these departments are using to reclaim their budget allocations are bullshit anyway?

“Crime expands according to our willingness to put up with it.”
– Farber, Barry J.

There is much support, in theory. People take to social media to join fan pages, “like” statements, pledge their concerns by joining groups – but then what? Pierre de Vos expanded on this when he pledged not to get involved in the slew of online noise about the issue (and in doing so, he did). In his article ‘Why I won’t join the chorus of voices protesting against rape’ – he makes the point that:

“…pledges by men that they oppose rape and respect women run the risk of once again turning women into helpless and vulnerable victims in need of the protection of men, thus reinforcing the gender hierarchy that lies at the root of violence against women.”

These ‘helpless victims’ are a very real populous of faces behind the staggering statistics and heartache, and yes, while the viewpoint of de Vos is to highlight the issue of our inter-gender relationships, he does nothing to highlight the legal and moral repercussions against these monsters among men. Well… that’s because there aren’t any.

No one is safe, anywhere.

I am a man. I am a South African. I live here. I hear the news. And then I meet these victims, because you will. The basic math means you will. The Bill of Rights in the Constitution of South Africa sets to ensure the rights of all South Africans. It has failed us. These rights have become unhinged and still, there is not enough noise across our nation about those being trusted, counted on and paid to make this a reality for the citizens of our country. Why?

No one is safe, anywhere.

I know a rape victim.

You know a rape victim.

Men rape women. Men rape babies. Men rape lesbians. Men rape men. No matter who you are and where you live, if you are a South African citizen, you are on the brink of sexual slavery.

Yes, you.

We all know rape victims.

What are we saying when we don’t say anything at all?

 

Need help? Want to help? Get started. 

Women Against Violence Against Women

Step 1 Foundation

Catherine’s Inspiration for Kids

Walk a Mile in Her Shoes

One Billion Rising

Crime Statistics South Africa

 

© Dylan Balkind

Why Oscar is still better than Zuma

What a week it’s been. The Pope has given up all that free drag because he is tired. A meteor shower hit Russia and injured 900 people, our turtle President said some more bullshit about the things he sort of plans to do in the coming year… but no one listened to that rambling because a national hero shot and killed his girlfriend through a bathroom door at 4am on Valentines day.

I’m left with such a hollow, slack-jawed feeling. Not about the Pope or any of the other stuff but Oscar Pistorius specifically. It’s just such a tragedy of epic proportions and I think we all feel it’s okay to have an opinion about it because these super humans who represent us on a global platform become public property, right? Whether that sense of entitlement is appropriately due to us or not is a whole different story. Still, the nation is gripped by this ambitious character flaw that has revealed a dark side to a man that seemed so brilliant in every other way possible.

I started a gas on my Facebook page when I remarked on the irony that the two men in the news all day were Oscar Pistorius and Jacob Zuma, and that despite whatever really went down at Oscar’s house that morning, he is still ten times the man Jacob Zuma will ever be. Naturally, this shocked many and they made it known that they felt I was wrong because any man who raises a hand to a woman should not be put on any sort of pedestal. Agreed. But in the context of my statement? Not so much.

My angle is that Oscar has given boys and girls hope and taught them that anyone can achieve what they work hard for. Zuma has taught people that you don’t have to work hard, show integrity or live up to your position as a public figure to deliver for anyone. I do not condone violence – I have been the victim of it myself – but if the ideals that each man stands for earned them a roster of points, there would be one clear winner.

Jacob Zuma has had more than 750 corruption charges against him. Still your hero? He also clearly has a well-functioning penis – represented by the 18 children he has spawned. Most men and women the globe over have a moral awakening when they have kids, to want to leave the earth in a better state for the sake of the young. Not Jacob Zuma. He knows full well the facts of strife around education, poverty and HIV in South Africa and yet thinks it’s a good idea to go and build himself a R250million home. What’s wrong with a R50million home? God, what’s wrong with a R2million home? In between planning all of that and not to be outdone by Tiger Woods, we know his penis got busy a 19th time when he raped a woman in his home. He got off those charges like he did the ones about the arms deal and his cahoots with Shabir Shaik. And now? Is he still your hero now? If you’re nodding, I’m genuinely surprised you could read this far.

Furthermore, as a flaming homosexual, I also find it diabolical that the man who got elected through a democratic process describes same sex marriages as a disgrace to the nation and to God, and said that when he was growing up, any gay person that stood in front of him would have been knocked out. Stellar. This is the man that runs our country every single day – albeit badly – but people get all self righteous about a sportsman they watch half a dozen times a year.

I’ll say it again; I do not condone violence in any form. No one has the right or the emotional capacity to take someone else’s life. Violence against anyone is never the answer – women, men, gays or straights. We have an overwhelming epidemic of rape in this country that is more out of hand than anything we have ever faced before. Yes, anything! There is so much hate, everywhere, yet we expend our energy with uninformed opinions about a sporting legend that allegedly murdered his girlfriend.

Grow up South Africa.

Where are your opinions about all the other murders that occur in this country daily?

If only people would have as much to say about the absolute state of our nation because of who is running it… Well, what a fine place this beautiful country would be.

 

© Dylan Balkind

The Shoe Box

Click to listen in a new tab | My Love

The relationship between one subject and another, and then both to their whole is what we call perspective. We lose it quickly, often willingly albeit unknowingly and still, barely bother the grapple to find it again. But… every once in a while comes a story that without even trying, guides you back to your p(a)lace on a speck that sails on a ray of light shone by the sun in this Universe.

We are all there, floating . . .

Perspective is power. Although it often makes us want to shudder in embarrassment for the things we thought were important, it too can reaffirm your opinion of yourself. It can remind you of the things you thought weren’t important but are … while teaching you the difference between the battles worth fighting versus those you should forget. Realising and remembering these help you see that – although small – you are an essential speck that sails on a ray of light shone by the sun within this Universe.

We are all there, floating . . .

It is the very fear of growing old and losing our innocence by forgetting who we wanted to be when we were little that reminds us that we are alive. Some cry at birthdays while others mull happily over faded photos. That pang reminds us we are here, there… floating… It is that sense of pride that comes with knowing the significance of you on your speck that leads to this admission: You have more opportunity in the magic of your own mind and the palm of your own hand – by the grace of your own making – simply because of your own sense of wonder.

But only if and when you agree to get out of your own way.

You are alive.

You are full of wonder.

You are capable.

You are strong.

You are here, floating . . .

Two baby boys found in a shoebox in war-stricken Iraq grew to know no limits – albeit over massive hurdles – but without fear of someone else’s opinion(s) of what at they could or couldn’t do with their time on this planet. They know they are alive, full of wonder, capable and strong. So… if they don’t need reminding, let me ask you this:

Why do you?

We are all here, floating . . .

“Sometimes there is so much beauty in the world… I feel like I can’t take it…”
– Ricky, American Beauty.

Only you know where you’ve put your dreams…

What are you doing with them?

© Dylan Balkind

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