It is lunch time at university and I’m sitting with “the guys ”. In between us laughs echo away the morning’s stresses, at least for now,or should I say then? Without warning an uneasy comment about ‘girls ‘ flies like an angry paper plane thrown by a distressed six year old. Even the girls sitting two tables away must have heard him, I thought. Again the comment gets iced with giggles to brush it off, it is second nature to them, but I’m not one of them.
In seconds I’d already decided what to say in response, I’m trying to ease the situation. “But…you can’t say that about women.” I freed my voice at last. I’m met with a lot of opposition from him, most guys just look away, that’s how they avoid these situations …I can’t stand such ignorance. From a more informed side of the fence I find it easy pointing out the flaws in his thinking, I don’t leave anything.
After about five minutes of talking it is obvious he gets my point, but the ego in him stands firmly in denial. At this point I’m only doing this for the young girls whom his views will leave a scar. It takes one word to give other more aggressive males the notion that it is okay to treat women with offensive language, feeding the monster laying dormant with power. I’ve learned that it is these scenarios where misogynists and to a less likely extent rapists and women abusers are born.
Women in South Africa might have the same rights as men(on paper) and enjoy some rewards of living in a country with one of the best constitutions on earth,if not the best.This is easily overshadowed by the way this beautiful country operates ,it is not new to this land.Women once matched to the Union Buildings for these injustices during the unforgettable dark days of apartheid.From a tribal point of view it was also the same scenario. I remember grandmother was said to have been very bright at school …but school was for boys so she was stopped at an early age.I remember how her eyes would light up when she talked about school, I could sense the pain of a young girl that had been deprived the human right of learning.
Women make up majority of the population here but somehow that ratio gets flipped upside down when it comes to employment rates,and if she’s a black woman she is five times less likely to get employed. And that is if she straightens her hair or wears a weave,because her African hair no matter how beautifully taken care of it is it is doomed to be called unprofessional…yes in Africa.
But they also already live in a country that’s been named a rape capital, it makes me uneasy just thinking of this statement, hopping it does to you too. The stats are horrifying, for instance Johannesburg which is one of the biggest cities in Africa already has about thirty three rapes on an average day,yes 33 you heard me right. Apart from ‘rape culture’ in South Africa there is also women and children abuse which is alarmingly high. But, but it seems the general public isn’t bothered by this, it breaks my heart thinking that right now theres a woman being beaten up by her spouse.And like the girls sitting not far from my table would probably find themselves in the same situation and assume it is okay. Men have taken most of their voices, they would say things like men are all the same, but only after they do something they shouldn’t. What this does is cement feelings of fear with hopelessness. This seeds a belief that if she break(s) up with him she’s also doomed to find another man just like him,so why move on if she can try to familiarise herself with the situation she’s already in.
But things never get better and before you know it you’ve wasted your time with not only the wrong person but the worst person, at least with respect to your self esteem and success in general as a person. I know you have heard this a lot but maybe now it will sink in, there are wonderful men out there. Men like your brother who vows to always protect you, or the authentic love your father tried to give your mother if you ever had that kind of family. I used to keep quiet when I found myself in situations where someone must say something. I’ve realised I was just being as much of the problem as the perpetrator, if you consider yourself “woke” but keep quiet when your words can make a difference you are still as trapped as the rest of those in the dark.
Another problem with society is that we tend to only concern ourselves with an issue if it directly affects us/someone we care about. Imagine how many men could have helped stop rape in their neighbourhood and misogyny at work/school. Imagine how many white people could have said no to keeping quite when they saw racism taking place. We should put the love for another being first for they are human just like us.I’ve taken the decision to not only be a voice for the voiceless women going through even unimaginable pain everyday on the Internet/with friends ,but an active speaker among other men whom are strangers I might even just say a few words to.
The new generation of women in this beautiful country are stronger than ever, for they stand on the shoulders of those in the liberation struggles. Black girls whom are the most oppressed not only here but all over the world somehow find the courage to move past these obstacles. They lead one of the biggest protest movement of the ‘new South Africa ‘, the #feesmustfall campaign. I’m inspired by you,and to the rest of the men reading this don’t be silent in these crucial moments, educate your friends and family because we are in this together.
I have a plethora of other stories to tell so I’ll share as many as I can as I continue blogging,actually more like sharing experiences. Please subscribe, like, share or comment. “☔⚓🌻: May the rain anchor the hopeful wild flower of peace”.🎈