“at least everyone knows their roles”
These are sentiments generally expressed by either those who (do not) understand [see the problem with] the binaries resulting in complacency and the heightened gender struggles imbued in the production and reproduction of such, furthermore gender is continuously being remade at different scales, through national legislation, and changing life circumstances, thereby presenting different layers of complexity for coherent analysis (Beebeejaun, 2017:323) is therefore imperative for all those that are said to be conscious to properly delineate these binaries and clarify the ambiguities that are a result of such social reproductions phenomenon. To a lesser extent, the binaries are said to maintain some harmony and balance in terms of what one can do, however that is both limiting and limited; the latter meaning that it is short sighted in that it fails to account for many cases where certain groups of people push the boundaries and successfully execute duties that are said to be allocated and/ or reserved for the segment of the binary and it is limiting in a sense that it categorically box and classify certain tasks and ascribe them to each end of the binary. For this paper, the gender binaries would be defined as the “inherently differentiated” classification of people based on societal ascription and assumption of their sexuality based on their physiological attributes.
The role SASCO is, therefore, to lead society (microcosm) in a direction that seeks to create conducive spaces for dialogue (constructive engagements) as well as providing society with a framework to “normalize” what the society deems abnormal relating to gender related issues.
Scripted gender roles
As a result of the binaries, people have certain tasks which they are expected to perform and on the extreme end, womxn are expected to perform certain uncompensated duties (reproductive labour work) which are associated with caring and domestic duties, done mainly in the household.
The current crisis: Patriarchy
The socialization of most men (male cadres) in a patriarchal society also poses a challenge for the movement as many are too oblivious of the daily lived experiences of their female counterpart thus harbouring the most intense form of misogyny experienced by women in the history of liberation struggles. The emancipation of women is, therefore, an obligation of all. The FEMINISTS propose that men must “UNLEARN” all that they have been socialized with, noting that social forces either have a causal role in bringing gendered individuals into existence or (to some substantial sense) shape the way we are qua women and men (Mikkola, 2016) It should be noted that the concept unlearn is also problematic in its nature, thus it is used as an operational concept within the confines of what change is sought.
Patriarchy has successfully created an uneven society, given women’s continuing economic and social marginalization and the prevalence of violence against women (Beebeejaun, 2017:324). Intimate contexts make gender roles salient, men and women may feel compelled to conform to gender roles during sexual encounters (Kiefer & Sanchez, 2007:269) thereby creating further reinforcement of the conventions
The binary system serves to advance on a group of the population at the expense of another, however, the Student Congress (SASCO) has a greater role to play in creating platforms for discourse and shaping the direction of society through creating the calibre of cadres that understand the differences of society and advocacy.
The binary system does not in any way unite each segment of people but continues to polarize them as those who attempt to rise against these binaries are met with violence in all its forms; intellectual, physical and emotional.
Vusi Malala is a BEC member of SASCO at the University of Pretoria, he writes in his personal capacity.