Meet Mvasi’s Sexiest Babe – Weekend Observer

Date: October 9, 2010
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Name of article: Meet Mvasi’s Sexiest Babe
Name of publication: The Weekend Observer
Date: 31 October-01 November
Gem classification: Blatant Stereotype
Genre: Profile, human interest story

This is a question and answer piece with Siviwe Motsa, a Bachelor of Commerce student at the University of Swaziland. She is described as the varsity’s sexiest babe. The story focuses on Motsa’s personal life, concentrating on her achievements, dreams, and background. The story also highlights that Motsa is often misunderstood and as such the piece attempts to gain more insight into the kind of person she is.

There are no sources in the story as this is a question and answer piece. Siviwe Motsa responds to the questions posed to her by the writer.

The headline does not reflect the contents of the story. “Meet Mvasi’s Sexiest Babe,” is a headline which emphasises on Motsa’s sex appeal. This stereotypical headline draws readers to Motsa’s physical attributes more than her intellectual capabilities. However, this is in sharp contrast to the article, which portrays her as a hard-working young woman with ambitions and aspirations. The author’s perspective on beauty stands in contradiction to the interviewee’s perspective. In fact, Motsa does not even believe in beauty contests.

The language used is demeaning. Motsa is reduced to a mere sex object and described as, “bootylicious” and “Varsity’s sexiest babe”. Notably, much emphasis is paid to Motsa being “sexy” rather than a University student aspiring to becoming a corporate leader. The first paragraph even puts a sexual spin to Motsa’s intellectual capabilities when she is referred to as “booty” with brains. The language in the opening paragraphs of the piece is in sharp contrast to the rest, which portrays Motsa in positive light, especially when she highlights that she is an aspiring CEO.

The phrase ‘booty with a brain” is in itself insulting and demeaning to women. This title draws readers to Motsa’s physique, especially her behind. This is in line with most sexist media portrays of women as objects of sexual gratification for men. Even hard working young women are boxed into this perception of women as sexual beings.

Notably the sexist language is from the writer rather the actual things Motsa says. It would have been interesting to hear what her opinion is of the labels the writer gives her.

Visual images
A number of images are used to justify the headline. The cover page has a full portrait of Motsa, who is pictured with nothing covering her upper body except the words, “MVASI’S SEXIEST” covering her bosom. On page three she is photographed in various poses and in party outfits. However, the clothes that she is wearing still do not justify the title, “booty with a brain”.

Story Angle and Perspective
While the story angle aimed to emphasise beauty rather than brains, the interviewee clearly speaks to her academic and professional dreams. She emphasises her aspiration of heading a company and states that: “there’s nothing ‘cool’ about beauty pageants”, and that she has no interest in these. This profile piece is an example of a story not reflecting the voice of the interviewee. It is an example of the portrayal of women in stereotypical roles even if the actual views and content of the story are contrary. The language is denigrating and the author’s perspective is integrated in the story at the cost of the interviewee’s sentiments.

The story placement should ring warning bells in the way society and the media view women – it is the cover page of the Lifestyle and Entertainment section of the Weekend Observer. It continues on page three – the story is accompanied by a collage of pictures of Motsa sporting party clothes.


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