Violence against anybody, not only a woman, is cowardice

Kwanele Ndlovu Singles Lane
Violence against anybody, not only a woman, is cowardice says the writer.
Violence against anybody, not only a woman, is cowardice says the writer.
Image: 123RF/ Marcos Calvo Mesa

Umuntu wesifazane akashawa (you must never beat up a woman).

I have so much negation to this statement. It can't just be that! The problem is the beating up of others to begin with, before it even gets to the gender of the victim.

We are forgetting that our society has been encouraging and rewarding the boy child with a lightning-quick backhand slap. We have installed the "fight club" culture as the ultimate reinforcement of masculinity for the boys we raise.

You must never beat up a woman. This has been the advice given to black men throughout their lives. This is how our community has styled our education and solution to gender violence. From a young age, our brothers were harshly reprimanded for laying a hand on us girls.

They were even punished for doing that, and reminded that they were our protectors. But they were also taught to retaliate against boys. The propagation of violent men.

Umuntu wesifazane akashawa! This is how our elders mediate domestic violence between young couples - sit the man down and remind him how much of a disgrace it is to beat up his wife.

But why are we not telling them that resorting to violence and beating up someone (regardless of gender) is the problem? Why do we not instil in our men that violence is wrong altogether, that when they are in conflict with their women, punching and kicking is not an option? Why don't we raise them to become accustomed to peaceful conflict resolution even if at odds with other men?

If we address the issue of physical violence, it should not be selective. The start should be with the men understanding that they must not resort to it. Period.

Young black boys are allowed to beat the hell out of each other to settle scores. They must fight. They are raised to believe that their masculinity and manhood depends entirely on the art of fighting.

Even my son slaps his peers mid-conversation and then carries on with his life as if nothing happened. While we consistently educated him against fighting and physical confrontation - he is conflicted. Among his friends, his might is mostly measured in rage and kilojoules.

Young boys even sit and review who is the most feared among them, while they strategise on how he can possibly be defeated in the next physical confrontation. The level of violence we permit between boys is shocking. We are creating monsters.

We are saying, if someone challenges your masculinity, have a strong fist ... but do not beat up a woman! Kick right in the ribs ... but do not beat up a woman!

Punch hard and keep your balance ... but do not beat up a woman!

These men are not admonished against fighting. It's encouraged. They are violent because it is allowed between boys. This is their best craft. This is how they protect their dignity. It is flawed. We need to tell our boys that fighting is violence.

We need to tell them that slapping a local boy during a disagreement is violence, so that they learn never to do it, so that it doesn't spill over to their romantic relationships.

We need to realise that some of the problems surrounding all this violence against women started with that advice from their fathers, uncles and big brothers.

Violence starts with those little talks on how a fist separates a man from a coward. That very same grooming is what boils him up when he is confronted with issues in his own home, with his domestic partner.

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