Johannesburg - Cape Town radio station Heart 104.9 FM was reprimanded on Monday for a presenter's use of the words “jou ma se paw paw” (your mother's paw paw), the Broadcasting Complaints Commission of SA (BCCSA) said.
“The words 'Jou ma se paw-paw' are grossly offensive within the South African context,” it said.
“They strongly remind of the seriously derogatory original phrase, which need not be repeated here.
“This is not the kind of language one would wish to be heard or used by children. The words have the capacity of being repeated just for the fun.”
The BCCSA upheld the complaint that a broadcast had “included a derogatory statement” made in jest.
It said the broadcaster was reprimanded and not fined because it had apologised and had said use of the phrase was against station policy.
The BCCSA said the complainant submitted that the phrase was distasteful because women had fought oppression and sexism for centuries.
“This is a direct attack on women per se and their dignity. Yet here Heart 104.9 FM radio presenters jump on this very band wagon and in so doing encourage sexists attacks on women however 'differently' intended,” she contended.
The BCCSA said it agreed that the phrase was degrading, but the question was whether it reached the point of advocacy of hatred amounting to incitement to cause harm.
“We have no doubt that the dignity of the complainant was impaired seriously. The harm requirement has, accordingly, been met,” it said.
“The words amounted to more than mere disrespect, they debased the femininity of women seriously.”
However, the BCCSA found that the phrase did not amount to advocacy for which Heart FM could be responsible.
The BCCSA said that although the words used did not correspond with the original derogatory expression, which was much more problematic, everyone who knew it would have been reminded of it on hearing the “softer surrogate”.
“Weighing the ease with which the words were said by the male presenter and the laughter it evoked from the female presenters against the indignity suffered by the complainant and, most certainly also by many other women, we agree that the words were ill-chosen and did not fit the high standards which are expected from, especially, presenters.
“We, accordingly agree with the station manager, that this kind of language is not acceptable on Heart FM....”