i started off quite irritated and frustrated with the #MenAreTrash tag that i’ve seen pop up all over Facebook this last week.
So i eventually started writing a Facebook status on it and literally changed my mind as i was writing… so this may come across as a bit of a clever clickbait make-you-think-one-thing-but-i-am-saying-the-other misdirection but i actually watched my mind change directions as i was typing this on my phone…
So a lot of woman on here who i greatly respect have been promoting the #MenAreTrash slogan and clearly it won’t be a popular stance to not back that up, but i am not seeing it.
It seems like having that opinion puts me in the #AllLivesMatter or #NotAllWhites category and i think i have a decent understanding of why both of those are unhelpful and miss the point.
Also how awful Patriarchy vibes are and what a mess they have created in the systems and structures and mindsets they are embedded in. Man privilege is definitely a thing.
What happened to Karabo Mokoena was horrific. And the stats of domestic violence and rape in this country and the world are just plain evil in the form of numbers.
The fact that so many men feel like they have some kind of right to ogle or wolf whistle or call out sexually to women they don’t know who walk by them onnthe street or approach them in bars and make them feel uncomfortable or pressured or fearful of their lives or the danger in walking anywhere by themselves…
My friend Megan helped me get it a little bit more with her status:
[And if you’re in Cape Town you REALLY should try and get to her directed play of Niqabi Ninja at the Theatre Arts Admin Collective. i have seen it and it is so powerful and every guy should see it just to get that tiny little bit more of a clue!]
But then someone made a comment in the commentary that followed which helped me recognise the thing that i did feel uncomfortable with in the commentary and so i wrote this one:
So in my previous status – not the one about watching the movie, the #MenAreTrash one – i literally changed mind course as i was writing – it may have felt like a clever misdirectional post but i was literally writing i was against it and then i wasn’t… but then someone commented something that helped me clarify why i have felt so strongly against it… and it’s the identity thing… if men are trash then there is no hope… but if men do trash or commit trash or decide trash or enact trash then there is hope for change…
As a follower of Jesus i believe we are all created in the image of God and so somewhere deep within all of us [deeper in some than others] there is the potential to be Godlike, to act like God, to love like God and with that belief comes the fact that no person is beyond the reach of God while they still have opportunity to change… which goes strongly alongside my feelings towards the death penalty but let’s not get sidetracked.
When you are saying that in man’s very identity or very image that he is trash then i think you are getting it wrong. When you are looking at how men act and speak and don’t speak and power over people and treat each other and particularly women like trash then absolutely we can call the label and recognise that it exists in most of us, that something so inherently wrong has happened to a man to move him to the place where he can murder and burn his girlfriend… the image of God has been tied up, pushed back, ignored, rejected and evil has taken over… but the power in the faith i have is that even that guy, even the worst of the worst, if they turn to God, there is possibility of redemption and change [the consequences do not get removed and i think this is something we miss a lot with the race thing – there is still mess to fix or make amends for or pay penalty for or reparate]…
So i think i agree with the heart of #MenAreTrash because the majority of men around the planet suck – not all of them and like my friend Megan says if it’s not you keep walking but if it is you, even just a little bit [and that includes allowing things to happen on your watch – your friends joking, men wolf whistling, inappropriate comments, men shutting down women in business meetings etc] see that in your self then work on that trash and be better and do better and let the image of God shine out of you…
And then my friend Rob posted this article by Rev Lawrence Mduduzi Ndlovu, which i think is really helpful as well:
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.
And a little later:
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.
Great and helpful article but i do have a problem with the idea of “Seeing in every woman your sister, mother, daughter” etc as if a woman should only be protected because of the relationship she has with a man in some way. Every woman should be treated with our best simply because she is a woman. We need to change that line of thinking. All woman are supremely valuable and worthy.
In the midst of all the race conversations i think this particular conversation is helpful for two main reasons:
# Patriarchy is a huge problem in society and our nation and needs to be tackled more. That is definitely on the cards. i was going to write a status asking which women would like to write a post for me on it but then i figured that is just as bad as expecting black people to do the work of helping us white people be less racist. So if any of my man friends want to write something on patriarchy and the need for us to tackle and dismantle that, please drop me a line.
# The way the argument unfolds. It is often not safe to share opinions on Facebook because you get shut down and insulted and arroganced by those who know the right words or the right answers [as right is determined by you] and moving from race to gender highlights some more of this and hopefully gives us opportunities to get better at engaging around these things, being able to hear other people’s opinions [and perhaps even be changed, like i was a few times] and at least try to understand where people are coming from and if their thinking is wrong or unhelpful, to understand why or how they got there and hopefully have some ways, ideas, thoughts or links to help them educate themselves. We have to learn how to do this better. Social Media interactions are still a baby or perhaps more correctly a teenager to most of us and it’s a work in action…
So if you can share them in a non insulting way, what are your thoughts on #MenAreTrash? Let’s see if we can get some helpful/hopeful dialogue going on in the comments section… #YouDontHaveToAgreeWithMe #YouDoHaveToNotBeADick