Die Antwoord And The Politics Of "No Means Yes"

Dear girl at Die Antwoord concert who catwalked past me in a white tank top bearing, in black electrical-tape, the words "NO MEANS YES" and then, when I said, "Worst shirt ever," yelled a hugely self-satisfied "THANK YOU":

Let me tell you something: you're welcome. Because some women might look at you like, "honey, where's your self-respect?" But I don't give two fucks whether you respect yourself. What blinds me with fury, the blazing incomparable fury of women's rights scorned, is that you don't respect your gender, or the generations of us who gave you the right to say "no," whether or not you mean it, or the 250,000 of us per year who do say it, and yet. And yet. And yet. And never mind the hundreds or thousands of thousands more who don't report it to their police, or whose police don't report it to the governments, or whose governments don't report it to the UN.

I know rape statistics would be cooler if they fit on a wife-beater. But they don't, and I'll keep this simple. If there were a thousand-ish people at this sold-out shit show last Tuesday night, there's a very good (though good is not the word to use here) chance that a rape victim was among them. Her "no" meant yes, too, by your book. There's an even better (worse) chance that among the crowd were girls who, at some point in their growing-up, didn't say "no" because they didn't feel like they had the right to say it, because they'd said "yes" to all the hard lemonade at the house party and "yes" to the fuzzy makeout on the stairs and "yes" to the empty bedroom at the top. Then maybe they stopped saying "yes," knowing silence would suffice for the guy. Maybe they thought they asked for it. Maybe I know because I was in that bedroom once, silent. I was as old as you look, girl, and I am not much older now, but I'm wiser.

The law that makes rape impermissible in Canada doesn't change the societal conditions that make it possible. It doesn't change the male aggression still latent and encouraged in our culture, or the rank objectification of females in which you so freely participate. It doesn't change the fact that when Eminem-slash-dude-from-Limp-Bizkit-slash-Da-Ali-G up there on stage yells "where is that motherfucking bitch?" and it turns out he's referring to his girl co-rapper, all the bros pump their fists, and straight up, those bros are not being ironic.

Nor does it change our ranking when it comes to reported rapes per capita: fifth in the world. Sorry. Fifth in the motherfucking world. Now, do you hear me? Or are you pumping your fist, too? Because it's just a band. Just a show. Just fun, you know, and your rights are, like, whatever, because fun is all a girl wants to have. Because rape is just surprise sex, and "no means yes" is just a line from the Die Antwoord song "Scopie," and maybe those lyrics read like a script from the snuff-film version of Law & Order SVU, but that's all it is to you: danger in a flat-screen box. You're white, pretty, identifiably middle-class, like me, and like me you grew up comfy and sure that nothing would ever happen to you.

Probably it never will. You're still so wrong it hurts. If "no means yes," what does the right to say "no" mean? Wives in Afghan can't say it. Hungarian sex slaves in our city can't say it. Somali girl-children can't say it, and if they do, they'll be publicly stoned to death. These women have their mouths figuratively taped shut, and meanwhile you, you with your first-world rights and privileges and ignorance and bliss, you take that tape and you literally stick it on a fucking t-shirt. Go stand in front of a mirror. It's as backwards as it appears. And then some.

This is what post-feminism looks like: white, trashy, powered by sex instead of brains, unschooled in the waves before it and shockingly unfazed by injustices to women everywhere.

As for the band at hand: if Die Antwoord's video-game-violent, rave-rapey schtick is - as a smart and trusty African friend of mine argued - some next-level art form born of a South African state of mind that I don't understand, well, it's safe to say you don't understand it either. For sure your little DIY Antwoord shirt isn't going to make anyone else "get it." And if the band is a joke, it's a bloody sick one. Don't be an easy punchline.

No means no, thank you,
SNP

This post originally appeared on Eyeweekly.com

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