Tentacles of patriarchy toxic to both men and women in Mzansi

Mbuyiselo Botha Gender Imbizo
The #SandtonShutDown march against gender-based violence in SA which has reached alarming proportions with police recording 41,583 rapes in 2018-2019./gallo images/ Alet Pretorius
The #SandtonShutDown march against gender-based violence in SA which has reached alarming proportions with police recording 41,583 rapes in 2018-2019./gallo images/ Alet Pretorius

Pundits, scholars, analysts, and international onlookers alike have given South Africa several jaw-dropping tags - with the recent spate of attacks on foreign nationals and violence against women and children adding fuel to an inferno.

Perhaps the most famous of the tags being the "Protest capital of the world", or maybe even the "Rape capital of the world" tag considering that the police recorded 41,583 rapes in 2018-2019.

This means an average of 114 rapes were recorded by the police each day, and these figures obviously do not even account for the gross under-reporting of sexual crimes due to the lack of faith in the justice system.

The veracity of these tags is neither here nor there, but numbers seldom lie and the reality is that South Africans, particularly the men, are violent.

In 2018-2019 a total of 2,771 women were murdered in SA, an average of three women murdered every three hours. Men are violent towards their kids, violent towards their spouses, and violent towards other men.

In 2000, the World Health Organisation (WHO) reported that the murder rate of women in SA was more than five times the world average. The same data also shows that between 2000 and 2015 the murder rate for men in SA has been three times the rate for women.

This makes SA a particularly dangerous place to be a man or a woman.

As a man who has benefited immensely from patriarchy, I am urging all men, particularly South African men, to realise that contrary to popular belief, patriarchy as a system also negatively affects men.

Men, like women, are not protected from the poisonous tentacles of the system. It is now time to wake up and smell the coffee.

Patriarchy in its simplest form can be defined as a political and social system that treats men as superior to women, a system where women are constantly at the mercy of men as men joyfully reap the rewards of a system that favours them while women are violently falling like dominos.

The above figures, however, paint a picture of a system that is failing both men and women. Men can no longer watch on with masculinity as their force field.

If we want to demolish patriarchy, and by extension violence, the first step then is for men to realise that we can no longer both actively and passively benefit from a system that is evidently violent towards both men and women. The system is broken and needs to be fixed.

To foil this breeding of violent men, as men we need to realise how toxic our ideas of masculinity are.

The events of the last month have shone a grim light on the violence of South African men and necessitate the need to address the high levels of violence that South African men demonstrate.

August, a month that is purportedly meant to celebrate women, was marred by violent killings of women by men. As a result, it focused national and global attention on the scourge of gender-based violence against women and children in SA..

Parallel to the scourge of violence against women, foreign nationals were violently attacked and their shops looted by South Africans. The attacks, of course, were predominantly led by men.

I then ask again, why are men so violent?

They say "boys will be boys" but from the onset I want to dispel the myth that boy children are inherently violent. This statement is nonscientific and deliberately shuns the role of primary and, most importantly, secondary socialisation of a child.

Instead, I argue that a boy child who exhibits signs of violence or is violent was either a victim of acts of violence himself or believes that masculinity is only expressed through brute force.

Both possibilities are rooted in the toxicity of patriarchy.

When, then, will men realise that patriarchy is literally gunning down both men and women at an alarming rate?

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