In the spirit of Women’s Day, I’d like to formally wish you all a Happy Women’s Day.
The struggle to compose this post has been real – I’ve typed, re-typed, researched and just left this post not truly knowing what the right words for it were. Then today I was scrolling through Facebook and came across a friend’s status asking about the provoking and recurring topic of #menaretrash. The comments from men and women were centred around trying to understand what the movement around #menaretrash means; the consequences of such movements that seek to label a gender; and the usual back and forth that stems from such a conversation. I know being able to see the status and thread of comments would be great, unfortunately I don’t have the rights to the content. However, no one is a stranger to the topic of domestic violence, rape and everything else that threatens the existence of women.
The sad truth
Recently, South African news has been flooded with the deaths of young women who have been raped and murdered by their ex-boyfriends. The #totalshutdown movement where women marched in solidarity against domestic violence and holding placards saying, “My body – not your crime scene”, and the loss of Rhodes University student Khensani. The images below clearly demonstrate the pain, anger and frustration of women. The continuous and unfortunate truth of women suffering at the hands of a man.
I know first hand of family members who have survived abuse from husbands or boyfriends and the hard decisions they had to make for their own lives and in some cases, those of their children. The psychological trauma and embarrassment of feeling like you’ve failed your family, children and yourself. The added difficultly of confronting the truths of your relationship with a man who then loses his shit, to the extent that you fear finding yourself being carried away in a body bag. But, I only came to know of this information because these women felt safe to seek comfort in family without the fear of being judged. The judgement that also follows if you decide to reveal such and choose to return to the man.
The difficultly about abuse is that it’s not always easy to admit in the beginning since factors such as finances, jealousy, insecurities could be the quickest excuses behind someone’s behaviour and it’s easy to believe because you love the person. With time, the thing you excuse about his behaviour can either turn into the enabling factor in the relationship or the tool which causes him to change. That change can be enabled with the assistance of external family members not judging either person in the relationship, but instead working to find the root of one’s problem and solving that. If efforts towards rehabilitating someone doesn’t work, then leaving on amicable terms makes for an easier transition from pain and anger to completely letting go.
I can never truly speak of the pain, anger and frustration women have felt towards the injustice of a system that rarely seeks to protect your dignity, however, I’ve seen that negatively connotated labels never help relieve the pain of any society. Instead, it only ever provokes debates heavily driven by emotions and continuous slandering of the opposite gender – basically nothing constructive comes from it. Furthermore, I don’t condone name calling and slandering of men because I have examples of men around me who have made the decision to forgive their past, ask for forgiveness, and today respect women. Men who treat their wives and daughters like queens regardless of the circumstances of their parents relationship; and men who are raising young kings even though they may not be married to their mothers. These are just a few of the examples of men I have come to know and respect over my short lifetime, so I would be doing an injustice to the men who still choose to treat women like queens.
Before you start thinking this post is in favour of men it isn’t, instead it’s a conversation to begin to pay attention to the damage slandering and name calling creates in our society. There’s no satisfaction in it, if it only seeks to slander everyone under the same umbrella. The conversation should be instead that #mencandobetter by confronting friends who abuse their girlfriends or wives, men openly seeking counselling or therapy to deal with the emotions that trigger them to go ape-shit, just anything that would lead to one less woman dying at the hands of a man.
Love and Happiness,