Men must stop being defensive

As a man, you could help alleviate the scourge by making abusers and chauvinists uncomfortable around you, the writer says.
As a man, you could help alleviate the scourge by making abusers and chauvinists uncomfortable around you, the writer says.
Image: 123RF/ STOCK IMAGE

On Monday night as students on various campus held night vigils for University of Cape Town student Uyinene Mrwetyana, who was murdered by a man, the hashtag #NotAllMen trended on Twitter.

As news of the death of the man who shot and killed female boxing star Leighandre "Baby Lee" Jegels in the street reached many citizens still reeling over the senseless crime, the hashtag #NotAllMen trended on social media.

As fearful and traumatised women poured their hearts out and shared horror stories of the abuse they suffered at the hands of men, others saw it fit to defend their fragile egos. They saw it fit to once again put themselves forward as victims of unfair bashing from "social media feminists".

The select group of men felt the need to state that they were not responsible for the atrocities, that they treated women with respect and never subjected them to abuse. While women cried out for help and asked to be heard, they stood back and said "it wasn't me", "these hands are clean".

See, what these men failed to understand is that women know they are generalising when they say #MenAreTrash, they have witnessed love, support and protection from the "good men" out there. They know they exist.

The cry is for those who do not behave in such savage, evil ways, to stand in solidarity with women. The call is for men to stop pretending there is nothing they can do to help. Women alone cannot fight the scourge of violence against them.

Men can help by calling out "rapey" behaviour when they see it. This ranges from men who think that buying a few drinks or gifts for a woman entitles them to her body, to those who believe that a woman being drunk or passed out is an invitation for rape.

When a woman tells her story of abuse or violence, don't let your first reaction be that of victim shaming. Abusers and chauvinists should not feel relaxed around you; they should know that their behaviour is unacceptable.

Teach young boys about consent and respect for women and lead by example. Stop catcalling and making women feel uncomfortable while walking in the streets.

Instead of making #NotAllMen trend, try making #IpledgeTo the trending topic to never commit or condone acts of violence. This may not bring an end to the violence but it is a step in the right direction.

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