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Let us decode terms that relate to gender, gender equality, patriarchy and sex to make them more relatable.

That was a popular sentiment at a gender dialogue hosted by the Centre for the Advancement of Non-Racialism and Democracy and The Herald at Nelson Mandela University’s Missionvale campus.

At the dialogue, with the theme “How Gender Defines My Life”, three panellists spoke about their own experiences of how their gender had limited their lives.

Gender activist Loyiso Saliso said she had found that being a cis-gendered woman (who happens to be sexually attracted to men) put her at an advantage to women who formed part of the LGBTQI+ community.

“I think there is really also huge confusion [about] what is gender, sex and sexuality, and I think we need to start there when we start a conversation on gender,” she said.

Saliso called for the “dumbing down” of concepts to ensure people who were not activists were informed.

“Sex is about your body and hormones. Gender is about who you are to yourself and sexuality is about who you are attracted to sexually,” she said.

Saliso called for women like herself to acknowledge they were privileged, adding that there must be a redefinition of the buzz words used when speaking on gender issues.

“Gender defines our lives [but] society makes it difficult for us to be comfortable in our genders,” Saliso said.

She mentioned corrective rape, where gay or lesbian people were attacked because of their sexual preferences, and said: “I think also as a nation we are not willing to evolve [because] we understand that politics evolve, technology, life

. . . but we cannot understand that as a people, we as human beings must evolve,” she said.

Lubabalo Ngcolomba, a project manager of the Doxa Youth Programme, which focuses on the mentorship of men who have suffered abuse, gave examples of his work.

He said the role of a good father was important in the life and development of children.

“I was married before and I grew up in a tough family. My father transferred that to me and I thought it was the way to treat my wife,” he said.

National task team organiser of anti-gender violence group #TheTotalShutdown, Gretchen Sudanie, told how her upbringing as a devout Christian woman affected her.

Sudanie, like Saliso, began decoding what terms such as patriarchy, sexual orientation and “triggered” meant for the mixed audience.

She said society sustained patriarchy through institutions such as the church.

“My gender is influenced and affected by how society is set up to make a man superior,” she said.

REDEFINING THE BUZZ WORDS: Gretchen Sudanie, left, Loyiso Saliso and Lubabalo Ngcolomba were the speakers at The Herald/Canrad dialogue, ‘How Gender Defines My Life’, held at NMU’s Missionvale campus. Picture: BRIAN WITBOOI 

This article appeared in The Herald of 2 November 2018 written by 
Naziziphiwo Buso

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