By Mavis Braga
I was in a room filled with three men and two women. Three men so oblivious to their privilege that they felt that they could argue why men are not trash. The argument went back and forth as they argued hook, line and sinker as to why men are not trash. Statements such as not all men, flew in the air. Statements such as – if you say all men are trash, are you including your father, brothers and male friends. Statements such as – when speaking about rape culture, can we for a second also talk about the precaution’s women do not take.
Let’s go back to base shall we. Men are trash is a hashtag that originated off Twitter, its real origins are not known, as there has not been one singular person who has been credited to have created the hashtag. When one says men are trash, it is both a hashtag and a movement, one created for awareness as to how men continuously do vile and harmful things to women. It seeks to highlight just how unsafe women are in society. This as a result of events and articles that go on end with a man being the perpetrator each time. Time after time, we read newspaper articles about incidences where men continue to vilify, rape and kill women. The conversation goes deeper than trying to cower from highlighting that some men are rapists, murders and rape apologists. When we try to water down the reality of the harmful nature of women, it detracts from a much-needed conversation and unhinges a conversation that highlights that women and children remain unsafe in their day to day lives.
Let me run you through some cases (information retrieved from @TinaKy):
- Magdalena Stoffels was a Dawid Bezuidenhout High School Learner, she was raped and killed on her way to school. She was found with her throat slit and to date no arrest has been made.
- Alina Kahehongo, aged 24 was gunned down by her lover. This after several death threats from him and after she had reported him to the Namibian Police.
- Cheryl Ujaha, aged 9 was found dead and dumped in bushes. To date no arrest has been made.
- Helao Gideon, aged 23 was stabbed and had her throat slit with a pocketknife by her ex-boyfriend.
- Sarah Mwilima, was shot by her subordinate due to his employment contract not being renewed.
- Constancia Christaans, aged 26 was shot by her ex-lover due to a jealousy rage.
- Karabo Mokoena, aged 22 was assaulted and doused with acid and set alight by her ex-boyfriend.
*to list a few
- Not all men – When a conversation about men perpetrators of violence is ignited and there is a voice that wants to highlight that not all men are perpetrators, in that moment when having to choose whether to stand with women or stand against them. You have chosen the latter, because as opposed to standing with women and understanding what they face on the daily and looking at the statistics, you have chosen to look at a minority of men who are not perpetrators and chosen to defend them as opposed to understanding the gross harmful environment women live in as a result of men who are entitled to the bodies of women and children. In that moment, you have chosen to side with men even though women are the ones who have to constantly fear for their lives when walking home at night, when women have to worry about their drinks being spiked, when women have to worry about waking up to a stranger raping them, when children have to worry about whether they will be abducted as they walk home from school, as they play in the playground and as they go about their daily lives. That worry and fear, you say is secondary to the fact that not all men are preparators, in that moment, you chose a side and that side is not with women.
- Women need to be more cautious – If the conversation was about women being cautious and ensuring they are not walking around at night and should be dressed more appropriately, how then do you explain a child being raped, murdered and mutilated as she walks home from school, in broad daylight and dressed “appropriately” in school attire. How do you explain an infant being raped? How do you explain a woman fully clothed, being raped in broad daylight as she went to go collect her mail from the POST OFFICE? Each one of those examples highlight that it does not matter how she is dressed, what time of day it is and where she is, men continue to perpetrate violence and a sheer hate for women that we cannot defend in the name of being cautious.
- Men are not trash – well, statistics show that 8 out of 10 cases reported of violence are with a male perpetrator. If we are to highlight the two remaining cases in that of ten, we then mean to say that the other eight are insignificant in comparison to the two. When you say not ALL men are trash, you are saying that we should focus our energy on the two men who are not violent and forget to create awareness about the eight who are. You as a man have the responsibility to teach yourself about the violent nature of men and violent environment women must live in on a daily. To equip yourself with knowledge as to what part you can play to make it safer for women. To ensure you understand what part you play in the unsafe environment women have to live in and to do better. To understand that your male species is dangerous. To understand that arguing against statistics is counterproductive and you should much rather spend that energy having meaningful conversations with other men that can unteach them male toxicity, male privilege and male entitlement.
We are aware that men need to be empowered in unteaching generations of unhealthy views of women, however we are too busy fighting for our lives to be able to focus on men.
All we can do is highlight what men need to know to create a safe environment for women and ensure that the lives of women and children are not lost to yet another trash man.
If even after reading this, you are still on the defense, wanting to rebut why NOT all men are trash, you sir… are the problem.