By Derek Davey
“Protection [of women] is the rock that all men push. We call it our burden, but it’s really our privilege.” — Lou Solverson
Oom Piet * is sitting one night on his farm stoep by a fire. He is alone except for his dog Butch, which lifts its head slowly as a strange figure steps silently into the firelight. Deep in his cups, Piet realises he might be seeing an alien, but it could just be a figment of his inebriation. When his dog wags its tail and goes to greet the tall grey figure, he decides to trust its intuition and, with a slightly trembling hand, offers the large-eyed, curiously sexless creature his glass of brandy.
Turns out, after a couple of dops, that the alien has been studying mankind since it arrived through the medium of Google, so it’s English is pretty much immaculate, though its Afrikaans is at best, patchy. Piet’s English is passable, but he prefers the Taal. The alien’s name is unpronounceable, and from where it hails (though Piet forgets that name too) they have no sexes, replicating from offshoots of their body which are then spliced onto … Anyway, it’s understandably curious about the whole issue of gender, and surmising correctly that Piet knows almost nothing of the experience of being a woman, it asks the oom for some firsthand information about what it means to be a man.
“Well, men are supposed to be stronger than women,” is Piet’s first reaction, to which the alien whips out an iPad and starts checking if this is indeed true. “Well, yes, men are stronger physically,” (1) confirms the alien, enquiring how this factor affects interactions with women.
“Well, we can use our strength to protect our women,” says Piet gallantly.
From what, or whom, the alien wants to know?
Oom Piet thinks a bit. “In the old days, it was against wild animals and other tribes and things, but deesdae, I guess it’s mostly from other men.”