Men across South Africa are making a pledge to end gender-based violence and make the country a safer place for all.
On this Women’s Month, much like many in the last decade, the women of South Africa have let it be known that many key issues have not been addressed. The 9th of August was not a “happy” Women’s Day and to further exemplify the issues faced by women across Mzansi, the month was marred by the gruesome murder of 19-year-old Kwasa Lugalo. There was little to celebrate this month because little had changed from Women’s Months gone by.
All of this has begged the very pertinent question:
What are men doing about this man-made crisis?
While several men have made their voices heard in a bid to show allyship in the fight against gender-based-violence, our gender has been largely silent on the most pressing issues in the country. Too often men have been silent, and thereby complicit in the face of abuse. While other times we have perpetuated negative behaviours through our own choices, actions and language.
Women’s Month is not a month for men to take centre stage, but there are opportunities for men to make it clear which side of the fight they stand on. This year, Moziak Magazine recruited men from across the country who have taken the stand against Gender-based violence.
At a time when it’s easy to perform and or for empty words to overshadow lasting actions, these men are making it clear which side of this battle they stand for. They have made the pledge to work towards correcting toxic traits in the male community.
For this heavy-hitting feature we asked our group of male personalities to answer four candid questions about men’s role in the fight against GBV but it’s important to note that the conversation won’t end with this feature.
We will be hosting a panel discussion with a group of men and women from across various industries in South Africa for a constructive discussion around the roles men need to play in ending abuse and violence against women.
WHY DO YOU THINK IT’S IMPORTANT FOR MEN TO BE PART OF THE CONVERSATION WHEN IT COMES TO ISSUES RELATED TO WOMEN?
I believe men innately learn or base their behaviour on watching other men. It’s not only important for men to be in the conversation but be the solution and that can’t be done if we don’t take ownership of the fact that women have been going through the worst treatment because we’ve failed to lead our brothers and sons better.
It’s imperative because we’re involved, period. Not having men be a part of the conversation would be like making a meal without its ingredients.
An unfortunate reality is that we live in a patriarchal society. In my view, in order for things to shift, men must contribute. We as men must support the efforts of our mothers, sisters, aunts, cousins, neighbours, colleagues and women in general in their fight to be equal and live free from violence.
In my opinion, it is unfortunate that this conversation still has to happen. There is much ‘un-learning’ that needs to happen in society as a whole. Simple example last year, at 3am, I was walking alone through the streets of Bogota a city I have never visited before in a country perceived as dangerous. A simple example, but so much privilege in it partly because I was born a male. I need to be aware of how society can program my thinking. I need to be better. The world I want to see starts with me.
Alexander “Lex Leo Dr Smile” Rawhani
As men, it isn’t enough for us to say we respect women, or we value women, or we love women, or we appreciate women. Without action these words are fruitless, meaningless, and if anything, only serve to temporarily fill a tiny crack in the wall of the gigantic void which is gender inequality.
We have a duty to ensure that gender equality is realized, and that “feminine” characteristics of strength, confidence, perceptivity, nurturance, sensitivity, sweetness, tenderness, gentleness, love, compassion, determination, steadfastness to name very few, are celebrated, valued and encouraged, not merely tolerated.
Until we take accountability for ourselves and those closest to us in our circle of influence then nothing will truly change. At all levels of social-economic life, we as men need to have an active call to duty when it comes to women. Laws & punishment must be changed to protect them, the behaviour and attitude towards cases reported needs to change on a policy level. More than anything we need to educate men on the pain we inflict and scars we leave when we harm women. Let’s be the difference we want to see in the world and say enough is enough.
It’s no longer important but vital that men be involved in conversations or create dialogues that revolve around issues related to women because for too long have the backbone of our society, our women, been oppressed and left voiceless. They are now standing up for themselves and we should be ashamed. Unfortunately, most of those “issues” have been created by men, so before the brothers jump down my throat, let me clarify that NOT All men are guilty of course and since that is the case, those good men now need to man up and be the voice for the voiceless and speak up especially around gender-based violence and rape.
WHY ARE YOU TAKING A STAND THIS WOMEN’S MONTH?
I believe that men need to take a stand against violence against women in South Africa. We need to not only speak up but also drive action and behaviour change in communities. Discrimination against women starts with micro transgressions that are seemingly small and innocuous acts of bias and stereotyping. As men, we need to change the way in which we speak and the language we tolerate in our friend groups. We need to look around our boardrooms and feel uncomfortable if there are only men in the room. We need to demand change and work hard to make this a reality in the face of unpopularity and exclusion.
I am the type of person that when I see there is an issue, and when I have information that can assist, I must share it. I’ve ‘battled’ with masculinity my whole life. Being an “effeminate” boy, socially-valued masculinity was forever something I never attained. As such, I was bullied and still to this day have to work on my shame of being a “failed” man. The ideals of socially-valued masculinity are unattainable for all men. Scars of a “failed” masculinity haunt each and every man and I want men to begin to heal their wounds, express their repressed emotions and exorcise our collective ‘femmephobia’, the fear of the feminine that lives within all of us. I am taking a stand because I believe in repurposing my privilege: using my privilege to create space to discuss privilege and oppression; having the tough conversations in the hopes of creating social change.
WHAT MESSAGE WOULD YOU LIKE TO GIVE TO THE MEN OF SOUTH AFRICA?
Dear Men. I am a man and I am sick and tired of being the problem. I want to be part of the solution. I’m sick and tired of being silent because when you are silent, you become an accomplice. There comes a time when silence becomes betrayal and I think many men in this country are betraying women, and they are betraying children, and they are betraying society. Call out your friends. Call out yourself. Be accountable. Make your friends accountable. The time is now. This fight will not be won by women, without men. We are the ones causing all the trouble. It is time men stand up and fight. Enough is enough.
HOW CAN MEN MAKE THE WORLD A BETTER PLACE FOR WOMEN?
By respecting all women; their choices, their freedom and their bodies, men can make the world a better place for women. Men must call out other men including their friends and family members for trash behaviour. Gender-Based Violence has no place in society and it is up to men to end it.
As men we need to learn to step up in supporting the equal rights and privileges of our women; and step down in letting them lead in a more inclusive, responsive, and equitable world.
It starts on a micro level where you call out the men you know are abusing the women in their lives. We need to practically iron out each other’s issues as men. Take yourself or your friend for counselling to deal with issues. Physically stop him when he is being emotionally, verbally or physically abusive to his wife, girlfriend or any woman in their life.
FROM YOUR PERSPECTIVE WHAT DO YOU THINK ARE SOME OF THE SOLUTIONS TO ENDING GBV?
I believe Education is key in establishing a solution for the next generation. Teaching young boys about respect from an early age. Making sure we raise sons to respect ALL women. I Lead by example so it’s not just talking about it but being about it.
Right now, apart from government intervention and having a higher conviction rate, we as men need to actively hold each other accountable. Stop objectifying women to each other, speak up and act when other men disrespect women instead of turning a blind eye.
The victims of GBV do not beat, rape and murder themselves. Men do that. The men who abuse women are not aliens with horns from another planet. They are right here with us. They are our family, our friends, our co-workers and our neighbours. Men are the problem, but we can become the solution. We must not be complicit by turning a blind eye, saying nothing, doing nothing, when we know what is happening on the other side of the closed door. We see the bruises, we hear the noises. Men need to hold men to account. Don’t ‘mind your own business’. GBV anywhere is all of our business.
If you are a man who wants to lend their voice to the fight against women abuse, you can do so on our dedicated Capsule platform here:
All you need to do is record a video of yourself answering the questions above and more importantly – hold yourself accountable to the promise you have made.