Reigning Miss South Africa, Shudufhadzo Musida endured hours of cyber bullying this week. The social media blitz on Musida was triggered by bikini photographs of herself which she had posted. It is not clear which Twitter user fired the first shot at Miss South Africa but the general (negative) consensus among the tweets was that the beauty queen posts “too many bikini photos” than she does charity and/or motivational work.
Should Miss South Africa be “out there?”
Shudu Musida has the distinction of being the first ever bald headed winner of the coveted crown in a pageant which, for decades, has favoured long haired contestants. Another first by Musida is that she is the only ever Miss South Africa who has ample curves. But above all, Shudufhadzo Musida was crowned Miss South Africa in the middle of a life threatening disease outbreak whose number one preventative method is a countrywide quarantine. With South Africa and the entire world currently on lockdown, the reasonable person would ask why Miss SA is expected to be out and about doing anything other than staying home as called for by the World Health Organisation and government.
Miss SA organisation condemns cyber bullying
Some of Musida’s followers who came to her defence maintain that the bullying of Miss South Africa is motivated by tribalism. Being from the much maligned Limpopo Province, Musida was the target of childhood bullies.
The hate towards the current Miss SA all stems from tribalism. You hate her because she's not from the so called "dominant" tribes, that's why. But of course you'll deny it. You're no different from a racist. pic.twitter.com/SErluWyrzS
— Certified Lover Boy (@BrownBoyNeo) January 19, 2021
Hate which is directed to Miss SA is so unnecessary as she represent all South African woman…. Shudu is your Miss SA. pic.twitter.com/7ddI1L0Jy0
— Ndi MuVenda (@Hangwela) January 19, 2021
While you're busy bashing Miss SA don't forget that she has Honours Degree and wena what do you have other than children with different fathers….. Leave Shudu alone pic.twitter.com/CMtMXtEWs9
— Ndi MuVenda (@Hangwela) January 19, 2021
In an interview with TshisaLIVE, Stephanie Weil (Miss SA Chief Executive) highlighted Musida’s busy academic and social responsibility schedule and added that the Organisation condemned the personal attack on Miss South Africa.
“In response to social media comments about Miss SA posting images of herself in a swimsuit, taken at her apartment on the weekend, we would like to point out that Shudu has been on a well-deserved holiday after a whirlwind and demanding timetable following her crowning in October last year (2020, a period in which she also completed her Honours in international relations at the University of Witwatersrand,” said Stephanie Weil.
Musida is not entirely new to being bullied. Outside of cyberspace, the curvaceous Miss South Africa has endured bullying as a teenager so much that she suffered from low self esteem, in spite of her evident physical beauty. It was not until she came to the realization that the fault lay with bullies that she grew a thicker skin. In two separate interviews, the latest being on Newzroom Afrika, the reigning Miss South Africa said:
“I was bubbly & famous in the village but at the new environment I was not allowed to be myself. People found it OK to bring me down…. I developed low self-esteem… it took me time to realise that it was actually never about ME but the people who are doing the bullying”
Does Miss SA have no freedom of expression?
In this age of freedom of choice, should Musida be subjected to cyber policing simply because of her Miss South Africa title? The choice of social media content falls directly under freedom of expression. Does one lose one’s freedom of expression simply because one is a public figure? What, perhaps, works against Miss SA is that, like with all celebrities, there exists some copy cat social media accounts whose deluge of photographs may reinforce the perception that she focuses more on posting bikini images than her actual work.
If Shudu’s detractors had expected her to flinch from the notoriously anti social Twitter platform, she posted a further set of images from her verified account @abigailmusida with two laughing emojis, perhaps to say she is unaffected by the haters.
Abuse on the increase since lockdown
There has been a disturbing increase in gender based violence since lockdown.
South African men have declared war on our women – President Ramaphosa
Abuse of women & children is the real pandemic.
Dial *134*7355# for our free helpline.#stopdomesticviolence pic.twitter.com/zIkzPRwVCv
— Tears South Africa (@Tears_SA) May 15, 2020
States report rise in domestic abuse calls amid coronavirus lockdownhttps://t.co/Dy7fJVgWah
— AdultRapeClinic (@AdultRapeClinic) May 26, 2020
Gender based violence is getting rampat during this quarantine and self isolation period ,so please reach out and report if you experience any form of sexual or GBV during this lockdown.#No to women and children abuse#
Emergency GBV No:0800 428 428 pic.twitter.com/ATEyAYwxXE
— Phaphama Mzansi Foundation (@PhaphamaPMF) April 24, 2020
Globally, gender justice organisations have reported a spike in cases of abuse since the commencement of the global lockdown. As social beings, humans are not accustomed to being confined indoors. At the same time, internet use has also risen, which may translate into increased cases of cyber bullying.
With all of past Miss South Africa finalists being blessed with outward beauty, the tiebreaker in such a pageant is always the contestants’ ability to respond to questions on matters of social importance. Shudufhadzo Musida was elected winner in 2020 on the mental health ticket. As a passionate scholar and advocate of mental health, she would probably be aware, more than anyone else. that cases of stress are at an all time high as people grapple with the new normal of being cooped up indoors. Lashing out on social media, for some, is one outlet for pent up frustration.
My pen is capped