Opinionista Rev Lawrence Mduduzi Ndlovu 12 May 2017

#MenAreTrash: I get it

There has never been, on the part of many men, an opportunity to enter into the experience of being a woman. That exercise, although limited, will expose to men the rules imposed on women by the societies they find themselves in.

I have often detested, and to some degree I still do, the excessive use of generalisations. It has never really made sense to make utterances which cannot really be verified. Often the phrase “men are trash or dogs or monsters” has led many men, myself included, to be on the defensive because we do not consider ourselves to be monsters in any way. It is also true that there are men who take care of their children and are not abusive and so on. However, this defence, although logical because indeed not all men are monsters or trash, is in fact shallow and lacking in compassion. This is not a conversation about the accuracy of a syllogism but rather about the female experience.

The theologian David Tracy in reflecting about the interpretation of classics uses the metaphor of a game. He says that there are internal rules of the game which have nothing to do with the personal views of the ones playing the game. Their job is to enter the game and to lose their natural inclinations and positions and therefore be played by the game.

The reason why so many men miss the point about this view is that there has never been, on the part of many men, an opportunity to enter into the experience of being a woman. That exercise, although limited, will expose to men the rules imposed on women by the societies they find themselves in.

One has to really lose his manly security and enter into the insecure world of a woman where she can barely walk alone at night or on any deserted patch of land and not be afraid.

One has to enter into a world where women can barely go to a place of entertainment and not have to worry that their drinks will be spiked.

One has to enter into a world where a woman is afraid of the man she has married or even the son she has given birth to because when their rage is enkindled they could even kill her.

One has to enter into a world where by virtue of being a woman you are not paid equally to your male colleagues.

We as men cannot fully imagine what all this means when every single day you have to make decisions about your own safety, when every day you have to do every activity six times more because you have started from a disadvantaged position. All these, and much more, are inflicted on women by men. It is towards the male person therefore that the female rage ought to be directed without discrimination.

Often when such events happen in our country and in the world, one who considers himself not to be a monster is left wondering about what can be done to deal with this situation. It is very much a problem of every man and indeed every person.

I remember many years ago as a young boy visiting a friend of mine at his home. Like any township house at that time there were back rooms. In one of the backrooms I heard and saw a woman weeping and bleeding. Her boyfriend was beating her up with a golf club.

In another scenario, as a young boy, one Sunday morning on my way to church I saw a man chasing his screaming wife down the street with an axe.

Those kinds of images, which are still very much alive to this very day in many communities, contribute to the excessive masculine roles of power and authority in the mind of a boy child who is in the crucial formative years of his life. Above all, the absence of rage from other men and community members at the experience of such abuse serves only to affirm that this type of behaviour is indeed correct.

That is where we, the “it is not all of us brigade” become accomplices through our silence and complacence and thereby become participants in the same trashy and monster behaviour which is devouring our sisters and mothers every single minute of the day.

We also have to go into the private corners of our own “bro codes” where we fool each other about roles of power and our affirmations of maleness. We cannot any longer disassociate ourselves from what we see being done to our sisters. See in every woman your own mother, sister and daughter. It is a lie to claim to love them and would never abuse them but abuse another woman. #RIPKarabo DM


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