Her name is Uyinene Mrwetyana.
Or is it was? Already? Has it changed from an ‘is’ to a ‘was’ in just the few hours since they found her beaten and broken body?
i didn’t know her except for the missing posters all over social media and it didn’t take long for that deep-knotted feeling in my gut to emerge. It feels like it’s too late. We would have heard something by now. But you keep hoping and praying and just begging for there to be some convoluted or innocent story about where she wandered off to and let a community’s anger at the fear that was produced be the worst of it.
But that was not to be. And the story surrounding her death is just one that is too hard for many of us to get our minds around.
Uyinene Mrwetyana died from going to the post office.
Can we let that sink in for a minute?
An adjective post office. Not even a car or a laptop or a phone, as if any of those things would have made it any better. But somehow a trip to the post office makes it so much worse.
Uyinene Mrwetanya. i wish that typing out her name made it any better at all. But everything feels so futile and overwhelming right now.
Men! This one is on us.
It’s time for us to man up.
Even the word itself is problematic. We know that the braaiside saying, ‘Boys will be boys’ is problematic and we’ve addressed that.
But the answer: to be a man! Just doesn’t feel like it is all that much better right now. Because being a man in South Africa today looks like killing a young woman who was on the way to the post office. Being a man is about contributing overwhelmingly unequally to the murder and rape rate in South Africa. To the domestic violence and the bullying. To the road rage and the brawling. To the Xenophobia which seemed to feel like today was the perfect day to start showing its face in numbers again. We need to stop being that kind of man and find a new way of being a man that loves and protects and respects and uplifts and cheers on…
All over my Facebook and Twitterer feed there is outrage and tears and fear and confusion relating to this murder [and and] but the majority of it is coming from women, especially on Facebook. Status after status after status, and here are just two of them:
This is a personal plea to the men I know. Please. Women need your help, your outrage, your alliance, your intervention. This cannot go on. Right now only good men can make a difference. You. Women are being slaughtered, raped, bloodied and bashed by men. They need to be stopped by other men. Nothing else is working. Women are not able to fix this. You. We need you. Now. [Megan Furniss]
I don’t know how to feel – angry, heartbroken, disgusted, powerless?!! Too many women and girls kidnapped, raped, murdered, subjected to daily abuse. Violence against women and girls has been normalized to such a point that we don’t even mourn it until we have a week of it publicized and on our timelines, yet it’s a daily reality… [Nadine Bouwers du Toit]
So many things
Sho, just read this from Tom Eaton, a man…
Which is good. Because we need all the MEN to be talking about this, to be getting outraged. To stand up and be counted. To say “NO MORE!!!” and then to figure out how we can actively start doing something about this.
i tweeted this earlier:
South African men. We HAVE to do better. This has to be ended by us. And it starts with ‘innocent’ comments and jokes around the braai that need to be interrupted and shut down. With unruly behaviour in pubs and sports games. And more..
But it’s so much more than that. As i’ve been sitting here thinking about it, there is a level of truth of how that kind of toxic masculinity [men being toxic and letting it pass as a joke or something else] is violent in and of itself and leads to violent attitudes and mindsets and eventually actions. But at the same time there is the whole question of systems and structures and a whole lot of this is fighting against the consequences and ramifications of apartheid that separated people and squished particularly black and coloured people [in Cape Town] into small far-away areas and withheld jobs and dehumanised and emasculated and so much more. This is apartheid legacy stuff. And how do you fix that in a day.
However, i am also somewhat convinced that this thing is fed every time we as men let it pass by uninterrupted, same as with so much of the stuff i tend to talk about with race. Someone makes an anti-women comment, someone makes an anti-woman joke, someone uses the word rape to describe a bad soccer game or terrible exam, and we laugh or we forward or we allow and refuse to interrupt and say NO, THAT IS NOT OKAY!
We need to start where we can, right now, even if it feels like those small battles and victories are not going to have much effect as far as the bigger picture is concerned. We need to get together and start figuring out that bigger picture better [and i honestly don’t know where to start, but that’s not good enough as an end point!] but in the meantime get more serious about shutting the other stuff down – on social media, at the dinner tables, around the fires. And i honestly believe that it’s at the point where we need to stop being so polite. Cos that is not working.
Uyinene Mrwetanya. i am sorry we did not do better by you. i am sorry that we still have so much work to do. i am sorry that anything we do from here does not impact you one little bit. But i am hoping that from the horrificness and brutality of your death, that something of a ‘This far and no further’ can be signalled, and that in some way your nightmare will serve as a catalyst in a story that so very desperately needs to change.
Men, are we on board. What are we going to do about this?
[For 40 Tips For Men on how we can do and be better, click here]
[Three years ago i was writing this piece in response to the #MeToo movement which just shows we have so far still to go!]