Tuesday 18 May 2021
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The End of the Left/Right Divide?

A recent hashtag #menaretrash in South Africa in response to the gruesome murder of a young lady by her partner sparked debate on social media, especially twitter and Facebook in the past week. I want to contextualize the relevance of this hashtag as an awareness campaign and online movement against Gender Based Violence (GBV). This is because the response by some men and women entirely reinforces why #menaretrash in all its inferred symbolism is a much needed conversation. To set discourse parameters, reference to GBV will be ‘violence against women by men’. Hence while I am aware and acknowledge that cases of men being abused by women exist and are indeed cases of gender based violence as well. This is not the conversation at hand. Secondly, the conversation is also not a comparison on the ability of women to be trash either, nor is it about whether a woman did something and a such deserved to be wiped off the face of the earth according to the male ego. On observation, one of the challenges that social media actually is highlighting, is that we seldom have constructive conversations on issues because too many folks opt to react and miss the entire point altogether.  Closer to home, GBV in Namibia is not news and is packed neatly in a basket of ‘normality’. The average Namibian might immediately think  episodes of ‘passion killing’ such as a women hacked to death or fatally shot by her partner when discussing GBV however, it is as harmless seeming as verbal abuse. Take catcalling as an example, in all sincerity, whistling at me to get my attention, knowing it is usually animals that humans whistle at, undignifies me as a person. And I am sure that some of the good men who have been defending their virtues in response to #menaretrash have whistled at a woman at some point in their lives. Hence, this is my attempt to highlight the reality that we are living in a society where women are akin to the walking dead as long as attempts to converse on GBV with men are met with fragile egos.
I am aware that variant solutions exist on how to address GBV and in my books any idea that aims to protect and preserve the woman is worth exploring. Engaging men and their attitudes on GBV is one such idea that I fully endorse. This is because I am writing fully aware that by virtue of my gender, I am a walking potential victim to a good man with the ability make bad choices regarding my value as a human being. Therefore, I maintain that as long as all human beings have the ability to make choices, I will do what I can to encourage men to choose being good to women. This choice starts with acknowledging that being passive and insecure because of a hashtag is a negative variable in the quest to understand why men continue to make bad choices towards women. An acknowledgement necessary if we are striving to develop tools and draft policies that will mitigate GBV.  Hence having this evidently uncomfortable conversation is an idea that aims to set the agenda on future policy making that entails addressing GBV for starters. It is an idea that could potentially endorse projects to offer alternatives to men faced with the choice of being good or bad towards women in ways that are groundbreaking in the fight against GBV. It is an idea that will challenge men who are aware that they have misogynistic tendencies to seek help. However, a gross limitation for this idea became visible in the reactions towards its presentation on social media. To that end, it is important demystify the theory of the ‘good men’ in response to this idea.
We have already established that being good or bad is consequent of choices people make. As such, we can agree that some of men who have so far verbally and physically abused as well as killed women were not all necessarily bad until they made a bad choice right? . Thus dear good man, we can safely establish that by virtue of your gender and the awareness that former good men like you exist who are now behind bars, you are a potential perpetrator either directly or passively right?  So with all your goodness by choice, I implore of you to see that as women, we are asking you to choose us over your self-awareness and acknowledge that to address GBV, the attitudes of men who are all potential perpetrators needs to be pro-women in order for them to let us live. Hence, the conversation is never about what I am doing to justify your choice to hurt me and it is especially not about your ability to be a good person nor how I must speak to you in a certain way. It is just not about your feelings at all. As long you keep responding to a woman’s cry for help with justifications such as; “I spent my money on her, she cheated, she provoked me, she wore a short skirt, she must not walk alone so late, she tempted me, she this and that up to women are also bad and but I AM A GOOD PERSON”.  Your choice is an endorsement for women to keep walking dead as good men watch. An attitude very dangerous because it is what you will pass on to your son’s whilst teaching your daughters what not to do , to justify why men make poor choices that is priced against women’s lives.
I write as one who has the most amazing and supportive Father imaginable to my heart. I can regal anyone willing to listen with stories of how Dad is the epitome of a “Good man”. Yet I am aware that my experience with Tate is because he chose to be a good man. A fragile choice that he will have to keep making for the rest of his life. A choice his sons, my brothers look up to, whilst they themselves need to actively choose to be good daily. It is because I am aware that the men in my life can easily choose to be bad in equal proportion to their choice of being good that the #menaretrash conversation is important because it exposes just how good men really are at the expense of women. So #menaretrash is our way of asking the good men to stop watching us getting hurt. How saddening that it took bad language for you to hear us but you quickly dismissed us just as fast and chose to make it about you in a not so good way. Not all women need to come forward with stories of abuse for good men to choose us however, it helps us breath somewhat easier when men acknowledge and pledge to choose being good in deed daily to ensure our survival. It gives us hope that these men will pass this idea of a women’s life over their ego onto their sons and reassure their daughters that they do not need to walk around with cages made up of reasons why they are to blame for men making bad choices at their expense.

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