“Jy’s n Moffie”
It was never easy, constantly being called a “moffie” also known as “sissy”, you look like a girl, you talk like a girl, you act like a girl. It’s always been tough when having to publicly face the fact that someone is going to say something along these lines.
This has been by far the most difficult to write or even to think about. It’s opened old wounds and resuscitated dead dogs. This part sees me revisiting the most humiliating moments in my life.
As sad as it might seem, being bullied by family has been the worst and many would say “oh no, they were probably just joking”. My emotions, self esteem and confidence didn’t seem to think it was a joke. Being the baby of 5 and the youngest of 3 brothers. I had it tough when it came to my appearance and what was perceived I needed to be. I was told things like ; “You’re going to be the one to bring home a guy!” “You a moffie!”, as much as this seems like nothing, it is the words I fought my entire life and it will forever be edged in my memory.
Getting so much criticism about “the effeminate boy”, I knew this won’t be well received, because I’m shining a light on the cruelty of words and the ignorance of difference.
As much as I’ve gotten this far, I’ve never spoken about this because it always felt like it was my fault that I am who I am, but it doesn’t give anyone else the right to name, shame or humiliate me for something, I have no control over.
It’s always been difficult with family, tread lightly because you the offended one don’t want to offend anyone else. What has this world come to? The oppressed has to apologize to the oppressor, the victim has to apologize to the attacker just like the bullied has to take into account the feelings of the bully.
There’s only one person that had my back when it came to bullying. Everyone else in the room would laugh and find it hilarious that I’ve just been called a “moffie” or a “mate”, as they would say in the coloured community in Cape Town but my mom always had my back. I would usually laugh it off, show that I’m taking it as a joke but deep down I was hurting. I couldn’t wait to exit the room or that someone would change the topic.
Bullies at school
At school. I strayed away from boys, made sure I only kept contact with girls because well not only were they easier to relate to but they never called me names. Whenever I walked on the soccer field, school quad, or just randomly past a group of boys. I had to brace myself for what was about to happen, I knew who to avoid to not be ridiculed or humiliated.
One of the toughest moments was on college. Myself and 3 other students got the opportunity be part of the marketing campaign for the college. We were on posters, flyers, website and billboards. My first and only attempt of being a model. I was praised for it. My face was seen everywhere, I was on the back of every student card. Unfortunately, this also meant that I was exposed to the broader public. I was walking down the corridor with a very good friend of mine, he raved about the posters being everywhere and me now being famous. We came to a dead stop at one poster that had writing on. I could see it wasn’t one person because the hand writing was different. Across my face was a drawing of a penis and the words, “suck this”, “Moffie”, “Gay”, it was a humiliating experience because at this time. I’ve not really faced being called names or being bullied. My friend turned around looked at me and ripped the poster off the wall. Later I realized it was done one every other poster down the passage. I don’t think that it was necessarily the words that were smeared across the posters but rather the embarrassment and realization that there are so many of my peers that said these things about me.
It’s like tripping and falling in front of a crowd, most of the time its not the fall that hurts but rather the embarrassment that the fall was witnessed by so many people.
This is but one of many, many other occasions where I was indirectly humiliated for being who I am. “Jy’s n moffie!” is a saying that still haunts me because my entire childhood and teen years were overshadowed by this. A quote by Madea, “honey, it’s not what people call you but what you answer to” is something that always plays in my mind because even though I was called a moffie, I could never answer to it. I never retaliated, never had the confidence to say something mainly because I was made believed that who I am is weird, wrong and shouldn't be.
Hearing those words to this day completely numbs me.