Johannesburg - Indefensible, incredibly offensive and hurtful is how FHM described rape jokes made by two of its staff on Facebook on Tuesday.
Many people were shocked by comments made by the men’s magazine’s features editor Max Barashenkov and editorial assistant Montle Moorosi, with some calling them sick and disgusting.
The jokes come two weeks after Duduzile Zozo, a Thokoza lesbian, was found murdered in her neighbour’s yard with a toilet brushpushed in her vagina.
It was also believed that Zozo had been a victim of so-called corrective rape.
The furore surrounding the FHM writers started when Barashenkov posted “I propose correctional rape and sterilisation for any white person who twerks”.
Twerking is a dance popular among black American women, involving the shaking of the hips and buttocks in a sexually suggestive fashion.
While some of Barashenkov’s Facebook friends reprimanded him, saying he must not condone rape, Moorosi took the joke a few notches up and wrote: “I think rape can be quite fun if executed in a romantic manner. Like saying ‘I love you’ before you slip a roofie in her earl grey tea.”
When a bewildered friend of Barashenkov asked the pair whether they “live in this world” when it came to the jokes they made, Moorosi said “my father never loved me”, while Barashenkov’s response was “I, myself was a victim of correctional rape, so I can make jokes about it”.
However, just like many people, FHM editor Brendan Cooper didn’t find the jokes funny and immediately suspended the pair.
“I sent them home and said ‘we will be in touch.’ I don’t understand how anyone could say something like that. It is unacceptable.”
Cooper said even though the comments were made on a private account, the criticism that FHM was getting was justified because the pair worked for the magazine. The utterances were causing reputational damage to his magazine.
“They are on suspension and we will have to wait for the disciplinary process. They made their bed and must lie in it,” Cooper said.
The men’s jokes also stunned organisations like the Commission on Gender Equality (CGE), which said the pair’s comments were discouraging the gains made in terms of making people understand issues pertaining to the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex community.
Said CGE spokesman Javu Baloyi: “The comments also call for us to be responsible in the usage of social media, as what we might think is a joke might be very offensive to others, henceforth hateful.
“We must strive to eradicate elements that seek to portray lesbians and gays as nobodies worth to be raped and brutally murdered. We call upon FHM to set a precedent that they do not tolerate homophobic comments within their ranks,” Baloyi said.
Phindi Malaza, of the Forum for the Empowerment of Women, said they were appalled and disgusted at the pair’s “insensitive joke”.
“We are shocked. These are two media people who, instead of being ambassadors of driving for public change on these issues, choose to perpetuate incitement of hate speech, which leads to targeted rapes and murders.”