Happy AU day or whatever. Now to my agenda this evening :
If you’ve been following international news, you might have heard of the gruesome death of a South-African woman Karabo Mokeona, allegedly murdered by her boyfriend, in the news these past few weeks. According to the story that broke, the 22 year old budding motivational YouTuber was found burnt beyond recognition two days after she was reported missing. She’d had acid poured on her. Current updates on the developing story indicate that the boyfriend, Sandile Mantsoe, has since recanted his story of not knowing of her whereabouts and has confessed to her murder and even showed the police were he was buried. You can find more details here
Now this story has caught the international media eye and more women are sharing stories of abuse and horror at the hands of men with a trending seemingly brazen hashtag #MenAreTrash. It’s not a pretty picture. While the killing of Karabo is beyond horror, a few people feel this #hashtag is an unfair labeling and a generalization that does not move the conversation forward.
It causes a stir
Men are angry because they are being called trash
More women are opening up about abuse and the dangers
What does this mean? Locked horns?
I actually think any decent progressive thinking man will feel shame and powerlessness at the cruelty of his own kind. So yes, i do agree that not all men are wired the same. Not all men are capable of cutting a woman’s throat or smashing his fists into her face even when he is provoked to anger. Some people also believe that you get what you ask for and that perhaps her lifestyle brought her to this tragic end. Bullshit.
That being said, Karabo’s death and the ever increasing call for more safety measures to protect women, the feminist stance on rape culture, sexism, misogyny, equality, identify, gender classism and the reproach of men on the matter, isn’t because feminists are looking for things to yell about. A girl just got burnt because her boyfriend was pissed off. This is real legit shit happening before our very eyes.
Today my dear friend, Philip Ashon said to me, “Please do not tell me you support this #MenAreTrash campaign”. It was just about the same time i was really asking myself how i feel about the hashtag and seeing it posted so boldly by a woman on Facebook. My initial reaction was fear. I said to myself, “Ei, is she not worried or scared to share her sentiment so openly about Karabo’ s death on a social platform?”. And then i thought “But that right there is the problem isn’t it? I have been conscientized to fear the worst of what a man is physically able to do to me. I’d rather shove it and deal with my anger silently. What kind of suffering is that? What kind of world is that?
See let’s not get lost with a hashtag and let’s get real. I will give #MenAreTrash my hundred percent support if i believed it will end rape and matricide. We are screaming on top of our voices mad as hell that a woman’s life or rather a number of women have been killed from decades ago simply because we do not possess the physical strength to fight back. If a three-letter word was all i needed to stop abuse Lord knows we will all be out in street or tweeting my ass off every second that #MenAreTrash. But we all know that’s not going to happen. It’s complex. And there is only so much frustration and a small amount of power i can put it into a hashtag to make my case.
For me, this should not be a woman’s fight. Rape and physical abuse should not be just a woman’s burden because she is likely the one it will happen too. Do not get me wrong, I have never been prouder to be able to speak and share my grievances the way i can now. Female writers paved the way for people like us several years ago. I will proudly own my truth and own all of my ‘woman’
But I cannot deny, that it is hard job. We are dealing with women who have been controlled so long they do not that being liberated is not and should be seen as a rebellion on men. The task is twice as arduous, when the Minister for Women in South Africa, Susan Shabangu makes statements describing Karabo as ‘weak’ I am also dealing with men who coil at the word feminism because it signifies radical, un-woman-like, not meek enough, unattractive and definitely unlikeable. The ubiquitous strategy : We must stoop to conquer.
Most days, I am actually ok with this because it only fuels my belief that there is something fundamentally wrong with the our societal structure is set up. It fuels me to keep writing. Taking cognizance that as a human being first and as a woman, I must own my freedom and a clear understanding of the possibilities open to me. It won’t be given to me on a silver platter, I will have to fight for it.
But on days like this when I read about Karabo Mokoena, I get tired, I get deflated without hope that we can live in the better world. You get a damning sense that we might scream ourselves hoarse and we may not go anywhere with our cause.
So as angry as this makes us, we respectfully plead to good men out there: Speak out, speak louder , let your voices be heard if you really believe that women deserve better. Ignore the noise and reach out. This is not to seek approval, or endorsements, but a call to your conscience. What do you really believe is right and fair? Or perhaps I should feel lucky that I do not live South Africa or that this isn’t my problem because it is “much better here"
You see, my dear men, when you tell me you believe that women should be free to live the life they choose, prove it. Because your silence tells a different story. Your decision to turn away because you feel uncomfortable dealing with the truth makes you culpable too.
Because it does not affect you directly does not mean you should “brighten your little corner” and mind your business.
Speak up, if you really see yourself as a protector and the epitome of safety. Until then, I am sorry to say you have failed me, your sister, your mother and every other woman that matters to you.. You have shown that in your desperate attempt to protect your masculinity you have exposed us to the dangers of elements quite like yourself. Because that SHE is Karabo Mokoena.
Until then, you ARE them.
So prove that #MENARENOTTRASH