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FHM writers' apology questioned

2013-07-19 08:01
Johannesburg - Two FHM men's magazine writers have written an open letter to apologise for joking about corrective rape, but also complained about "media madness" around their "private conversation" on Facebook.

The letter, published on wordpress.com, by Max Barashenkov and Montle Moorosi, contains an apology in the first paragraph, but some readers' comments described it as "fake" and "flimsy".

"We apologise sincerely for our distasteful and insensitive comments and would especially like to extend our apologies to anyone who has ever gone through the horror of rape," wrote the pair, who were both suspended by FHM.

"There is little excuse for our words and the careless manner in which they were delivered. We do not condone any form of violence against women, or against anyone for that matter."

However, Barashenkov and Moorosi complained that the "media madness" that was unleashed over the posting to their private Facebook pages received more attention than rape in the country.

Zozo's death

"The media madness that was unleashed over the posting of our private – and do keep in mind that it was private, with all Facebook privacy settings set to ‘friends only’ – conversation was surreal in the sense that it received a lot more attention, social media reach and established media buzz than actual cases of rape," they wrote.

"We struggle to recall quite as much of a public outcry over the [Duduzile] Zozo case itself - Twitter didn’t rage and [5FM presenter] Gareth Cliff hardly made wisecracks about it. And that is an issue we cannot help but raise."

On 30 June, the half-naked body of 26-year-old Zozo was discovered in Thokoza, Ekurhuleni. Her mother Thuziwe Zozo reportedly said she suspected her daughter was killed because she was a lesbian.

They said Zozo's death brought to light the "utter depravity of the society we live in now" and said for that they were sorry.

Blame shifting

"Both of us, in our careers as writers, have always engaged with the filth, with the chaos, the ugliness of the world, at the risk of being perceived as filth ourselves.

"Why? Because we find honesty in the unfiltered horror of life, not in politically and socially correct reportage which trivialises the real issues.

"It is our hope now that the newspapers and the social media mobs will react as strongly and as violently to more important matters in our country."

But some readers' comments posted on wordpress criticised the letter.

"As a woman who is irritated, as a rape survivor who is outraged, you can keep your fake apology that includes blame shifting," one comment read.

Another said: "This is a flimsy attempt at an apology. Whether or not people expressed an 'outcry' as you put it does not give anyone to joke [sic] about such a serious human rights issue."

Media 'barely bothered'

A reader called Kenny defended the pair: "I’m behind you guys. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with making light of a heavy reality. Me and my mates have made rape jokes before, but we would never ever actually rape someone and obviously don’t condone rape."

City Press editor Ferial Haffajee tweeted: "Sorry, meant to do only happy tweets but what does '...we find honesty in the unfiltered horror of life' even begin to mean."

A status updated posted on Barashenkov's Facebook page started a social media storm on Tuesday.

The update read: "I propose correctional [sic] rape and sterilisation for any white person who twerks."

To twerk is to dance by vigorously shaking your bottom.

One of Barashenkov's female friend's rebuked him saying corrective rape should never be condoned.
Moorosi then commented: "I think rape can be quite fun if executed in a romantic manner. Like saying ‘I love you' before you slip a roofie [Rohypnol, a sedative] in her Earl Grey tea."

Facebook friends derided the comments to which Barashenkov replied: "I myself was a victim of correctional rape, so I can make jokes about it."

In their open letter, the pair said the media "barely bothered" to contact them for a comment and said they hoped that newspapers and the "social media mobs" would react "as strongly and as violently" to more important matters in the country.

Barashenkov was the magazine's features editor and Moorosi an editorial assistant.

Read more on:    fhm

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