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Men can destroy trash tag by standing up to violence meted on women

Mbuyiselo Botha Gender Imbizo
Whoever beats up a woman for whatever reason belongs to the #MenAreTrash club. The disgusting phenomenon is huge in SA and does not show any relent during the ongoing Women's Month. /123RF
Whoever beats up a woman for whatever reason belongs to the #MenAreTrash club. The disgusting phenomenon is huge in SA and does not show any relent during the ongoing Women's Month. /123RF

Have you stopped another man from insistently catcalling a woman? Has another man aggressively pursued a woman even after her first and affirmative "no" in your presence? Has your mate explicitly or implicitly made sexual innuendos to a woman in your presence and you laughed it off as charm?

Have you just carried on dancing as one of your buddies squeezed a woman's behind at a bar or club?

If you have answered "yes" to at least one of these questions, then welcome to the #MenAreTrash club.

The above is a simple but damning criterion that I implore all men around the world deploy as a litmus test for our trashiness. As we edge closer to the end of Women's Month, I believe it would be amiss for a father of two beautiful daughters to not address the surge of violence against women in South Africa and the world over.

Perhaps the best place to start this conversation is by honouring the late icon - prolific author, activist and Nobel laureate Toni Morrison - whose incredible works included Beloved and a plethora of social commentary. Morrison died on August 5 at the age of 88.

Many would say it is almost befitting that a giant of a woman like Morrison is laid to rest in the of Women's Month. Rest in peace Toni Morrison, may your work continue to inspire, in particular, the next generation of women literary giants. Women's Day was two weeks ago. As one would expect, #MenAreTrash was trending. Women the world over have coined this powerful social media tool that seeks to highlight the fact that women all over the world are at the mercy of violent men, who feed off brutally attacking women, sadistically dismembering their bodies, groping them, raping them and other gross acts of violence.

As men we need to urgently rid ourselves of our patriarchally instilled self-importance and in particular our myopic analysis of sociological phenomena and power relations, particularly pertaining to women and children.

As I scrolled through my social media feed on Women's Day, I could not help but marvel at the audacity of the #NotAllMen brigade - a counter movement by some men that argue that not every man is abusive, has killed a woman, assaulted a woman etc. This, of course, is categorically true, because not all men have individually laid their hands on a woman, but the #NotAllMen movement is founded on the falsehood that anti-women behaviour solely manifests itself in the laying of one's hands on a woman. This is untrue. In true patriarchal fashion, men have cunningly inverted a social media movement like #MenAreTrash and purported it to be anti-man movement.

Society has embedded anti-women behaviour almost to the point of naturalisation; it is baffling how men have attempted to hijack and reduce #MenAreTrash to individual "A", "B" and "C" who claim to have not violated a women is to disrespect a legitimate cry for help from women all over the world.

Most importantly, to counter #MenAreTrash with slogans like #NotAllMen is to deliberately overlook the tentacles of patriarchy.

Patriarchy is a male-dominated power structure that men whether directly or indirectly benefited from. I believe therefore, that any sound or valid analysis of the power relations between a man and a woman should use this as a starting point.

As I conclude this piece, I urge all men who are part of #NotAllMen brigade to remember the words of Toni Morrison: "The enemy is not men. The enemy is the concept of patriarchy, the concept of patriarchy as the way to run the world or do things". May these words remain looped in our heads.

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