Go for it boss_Zapiro

Date: January 1, 1970
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The cartoon shows four menacing looking men from the ANC, COSATU, SACP and the ANC Youth League holding down a blindfolded woman with the words ‘justice system’ on a sash across her upper body. The woman is screaming helplessly while ANC President Jacob Zuma unzips his trousers seemingly ready for intercourse with the woman. Zuma has a shower on his head (apparently in reference to the rape case where Zuma was accused and acquitted of raping an HIV+ woman, and him having said that he took a shower afterwards).

This article may be used in training to:
1. showcase a blatant stereotype;
2. provide an example of irresponsible media practice;
3. show the tension between media freedom and abuse of its right, in a way that  perpetuates gender stereotypes;
4. show how women and men are often portrayed in stereotypical terms with women as victims and men as powerful and always in control; and
5. show how media can tend to trivialise issues of national concern such as the spread of HIV/AIDS.
Trainer’s notes:

Media has a social responsibility that it has to be kept mindful of. As the fourth arm of any democracy it has to bring social ills to the fore. It also has a duty to represent the constituent groups of any society in a non discriminatory manner. As such women and men should be portrayed using non-derogatory language or imagery. After seeing this cartoon, gender and women’s groups reacted with indignation and disgust as they felt that it perpetuates gender stereotypes. Zuma’s supporters, on the other hand, thought it was a personal and racist attack on Jacob Zuma; the cartoonist Jonathan Zapiro said it was a grave depiction of the state of affairs where Zuma’s allies are raping the justice system to ensure that corruption charges against him are dropped.
Most of the time media carries the role of agenda setter. What people discuss in places of entertainment and social gatherings is shaped by what they see in the media. As such this cartoon, which on face value seems to be asking questions about the future and independence of the justice system in the context of a Jacob Zuma leadership, carries subtle messages which are likely to influence people’s opinions and perceptions of gender violence. The cartoonist chooses the wrong imagery to put across his message. Why a picture of four menacing men and a woman lying helpless and prostrate? The picture of the helpless woman being held down forcefully by four men clearly normalises gender violence. The cartoon seems to be condoning this violence instead of condemning it. The theme of the helpless woman is a common theme in media where women are seen as not able to fight their adversaries or their battles; they are never in control of their lives.
The words ‘go for it boss!’ apparently directed at the drooling Jacob Zuma who is taking off his trousers are a subtle way of encouraging gender violence. The woman ceases to be a human being but an ‘it’. The action that is about to happen is rape.  One wonders if the four groups represented, that is the ANC and its Youth League, COSATU and SACP encourage gender violence. HIV/AIDS is a critical issue in South Africa. Surprisingly, the cartoonist chooses to make fun out of the whole issue. After his alleged rape of the HIV positive woman, Jacob Zuma is said to have taken a shower to minimise the risk of contracting the disease. Instead of making a joke out of the ‘shower incident’, media should take the opportunity to correct misconceptions and stereotypes around the spread of AIDS.
Discussion questions:
1. Ask participants what they think the role of cartoons is in media? Should they be taken seriously or are they simply a light-hearted kind of entertainment?
2. Ask participants what they think of the cartoon.
3. What does the cartoon say about women and men and their relationships?
4. What would you add or remove from the cartoon to correct the stereotypes/misconceptions that you see? (if any)
5. The logo of the South African National Prosecuting Authority is that of an African woman holding a set of scales. Given this symbolism, how inappropriate is image of a woman in the cartoon? Is there another image that would have made the cartoonist’s point as clearly?
Training exercises:
1.Ask participants to redraw the cartoon challenging stereotypes around gender based violence.
2. This cartoon in particular was extremely controversial, with opinions divided over whether it was a clever poke at Jacob Zuma, or a gross misrepresentation of women. Hold a structured debate around the issues raised by the cartoon. What is the objective of political cartoons? Why is this particular image so controversial? Does it have any redeeming qualities? When does shock value become offensive?

Links to other training resources

Gender and HIV: A Training Manual Background https://www.genderlinks.org.za/page.php?p_id=168

Download : Zapiro Go for ti Boss Sunday times 070908

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