#MenAreTrash - Gender Based Violence 2019: Things We Are Not Told!



Every now and then I see #MenAreTrash appearing on my trends, usually signalling the death or rape of another female person (I won't be using emojies on this one). For those who are not familiar with the hash tag, it became popular in South Africa after the death of Karabo Mokwena, who allegedly died at the hands of her then boyfriend Sandile Mantsoe (not sure how the case went). It started a huge public outcry that resurfaces every few months to highlight what feminists have coined "femicide". Today it has escalated into some sort of a feminist movement.

With it comes 4 types of people:

1. The defensive men who don't get it (and not prepared to get it, EVER!)
These are the kind of guys who believe insult should be directed to criminals who commit the crime, and not the entire gender. They believe crime is crime, and that it should be treated as such. They don't understand how being insulted should prompt them to take a stand.

2. The angry feminist

These are mostly women who are so upset by gender based violence, I think if it was up to them all men would be thrown in jail. They stand for the hash tag through thick and thin, and they are always ready to defend it and its relevance. And anyone who questions it to them is an enemy. What they fail to understand is that every inventor has a responsibility to explain their own invention before it's adopted by everyone. If you disagree with them and you're a man, then you're either "rapey" or "rape apologist" or any other term that associates you with perpetrators.

3. The apologist (a.k.a the "trash")
These are men who claim to get what the hash tag is about. They exist on social media to apologise for any rape or death of a woman that makes the news. They offer themselves up as punching bags of the angry feminists. Whether they're genuine or pushing an agenda, no one knows, but everyone else don't like them (well, most of those in the 3 other categories), including the angry feminist with whom they claim to stand.

4. The traditional woman
These are the type of women who stand against either or both #MenAreTrash and feminism. Not sure whether they're coming from a religious or traditional point of view, but they're as determined to defend men with the same kind of enthusiasm feminists have in a fight against GBV. Both, this group and that of the apologists have fewer supporters, mainly because their motives and reasoning isn't always clear.

And what's my take on this? Well, I'm against crime... All crime! Here's my problem... Have you heard the phrase, "all men are the same"?... Well, we are not. And I feel very offended whenever I hear anyone (a.k.a women) say that (hear me out feminists!). Crime is a big thing in South Africa, and there are more men killed in South Africa than women, in fact there are more men killed by men than women who are killed by men in South Africa (you may check stats for me if I'm wrong, and correct me in the comments). Of course, this does not reduce the fact that women live in fear and face abuse on a daily basis.

The question is, does microscoping crime actually reduce it or does it just make papers sell? I think the latter, because criminals aren't afraid of news articles, let alone a mere hash tag. Criminals fear law that is effective; law that isn't selective; law that is proactive and protective (sorry, I just had to do that). If we are to deal with "gender-based violence", the whole criminal justice system needs to change, not for the betterment of the few, but for everyone, because crime affects us all. Is like having a roof that leaks in many places, but instead of finding an overall solution for the leaks, you focus all your energy and resources on one hole that leaks the most (if that's how big GBV is). Truth is, yes you're making a difference, but the question is, does your difference make the difference when we look at the bigger picture?. I know my head is probably going to be bitten off because of the kind of arguments I'm presenting here, especially after having been called a "rape apologist" before for trying to ask questions around this very same issue on social media.

My argument is and has always been that trying to be an activist against crime as whole does not undermine, in any way, activism against gender-based violence. But sometimes I feel like some of the so called "GBV activists" are just in it for the popularity contest. After all, activism should be result oriented, not just a contest for most retweets. I mean, while these Twitter activists fight over "likes" and "most comments", there are real people (usually men) out there trying to stand up against nonesense, and it's their lives at risk. They are the ones who are out there facing harsh reality, not hiding behind strange avatars, fighting virtual thumb wars at the comfort of their Rondebosch or Winchester Hills tush cushions (yes, I'm jealous of y'allz nice life problems! Shoot me!).

Don't get me wrong, I'm not undermining the effectiveness of social media, but some wars can only be fought effectively at the field, and the one against crime (GBV included) is one of those. In my years on the streets I've never seen even one woman stand up for another when a domestic situation got heated (wondering where these Twitter Zinas live?!), but instead I've seen many guys take a stand (I'm talking about my own observations here!), even when their lives are threatened I've seen them stand their ground for strangers. Without looking for praise or even saying who they are. Point is, I've seen real life heroes. So, to reduce all men to "trash" is just like saying all those good deeds don't matter, because someone like you did someone like me wrong.

My question is, what's the solution? I'm asking because the hash tags plead with sober minded men for actions perpetrated by intoxicated minds. Is like telling the cat that the dog should not bite people when they enter the yard because it's bad rep for pets. Truly speaking there's nothing much the cat can do. As much as you can't point out a criminal until they've committed a crime (and you've witnessed it), we also can't. And as much as you fear criminals, we also fear them. Just like you have one life, even guys have one life (we don't have extra 2 like in arcade games). They shoot at us, we die. They stab us, we die. Gender-Based Violence is a crime, and any solution against it should be a solution against crime as a whole. No more microscoping - crime is crime!

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