Men Are Trash: Taking collective responsibility

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According to reports Karabo Mokoena, a part-time student (22) and Sandile Mantsoe (27) had had an argument in a Sandton night club hours before she was killed. Karabo’s body was found by a passerby in Bramley two days after she was killed. Karabo’s gruesome murder sparked outrage all over the country and on social media, the hash tag #MenAreTrash was a response to the evil crimes perpetuated by men nation-wide. Women on social media used the hash tag to tell their stories of abuse perpetuated by particularly by their “loved ones”. Agreeing with the sentiments by Rufowa Samangaof Okayafrica, I believe that it is important that we understand that “#menaretrash is not about singling out individuals, it’s a challenge to South Africans to speak out against the epidemic of women murdered at the hands of their male partners.”

According to a study conducted by the World Health Organisation in 2012, “65% of women in South Africa had experienced spousal abuse a year before the research was conducted.” The names of Reeva Steenkamp, Jayde Panayiotou, Fatima Patel, Anni Dewani, Zanele Khumalo, Dolly Tshabalala remind us that South African women have been oppressed for far too long and that it is about time that all men took responsibility and realise that the source and solution of the problem lies in their hands. These women have lost their lives in the hands of the people they trusted the most and probably never imaged that they would hurt them.

Although I agree with Khaya Dlanga, a columnist, with his views published in the mail and guardian in 2015 that “Men who abuse their women have to stop what they are doing. There is nothing to understand about their actions. There is no need to over-intellectualise it. We know the historical context that has led men to think that they can do as they wish. Women live in fear of their partners yet the actions of men are understood.” It is again important that Sociological perspectives be considered in the attempt to tackle this issue precisely because of the context he speaks of. Social theorists such as Mischel (1970) argue that inappropriate behaviour like any other behaviour is a product of “social learning.” In the fields of Psychology and Sociology among others it has been argued that violence particularly gender based violence is influenced by the effect of historical and social dynamics. Gender based violence perpetrated by men according to these disciples can for example be traced to the conception of de-masculinity, this is when men perceive their positions to be under threat and as a result they attempt to “protect a position of status which is central to the man’s experience of being a man, and in this way is tied to societal expectations of manly behaviour.” I should also acknowledge that as a sociological concept masculinity is a socially constructed gender identity and ultimately does not exist.

The South African Domestic Violence Act of 1998 defines domestic violence as:

“Physical abuse; sexual abuse; emotional, verbal and psychological abuse; economic abuse; intimidation; ­harassment; stalking; damage to property; entry into the complainant’s residence without consent, where the ­parties do not share the same residence; or any other controlling or abusive behaviour towards a complainant, where such conduct harms, or may cause ­immediate harm to, the safety, health or wellbeing of the complainant.”

A combination of methods attempting to solve this problem should be led by the notion of all men taking collective responsibility. For the South African society to tryto solve this sickening problem, it is imperative for men to firstly understand that taking no action is an indirect perpetuation of abusive behaviour and that one contributes to the prevalence such of nauseating social evils. Taking collective responsibility means speaking out against abuse, taking responsibility to influence the actions of ones friends, relatives or work associates. South African men need to realise that acts of violence begin with abusive “locker room” conversations and as such, they need to begin at that level to speak out against abuse and take responsibility of the perspectives their brothers hold. Such social ills can be attacked through taking collective responsibility and through making other men aware of their potential ability to abuse others. Through taking collective responsibility men will create the type of a society they would want their daughters, sisters, mothers and all human beings to live in.


About Author

I am a lover of current affairs and everything media, Strategic Corporate Communication student. I write to spark conversations, influence perspectives and inform.

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