DON’T LOOK AWAY

Dedicated to all the women that lost their lives to the cruelty inhabiting the minds of heartless men…May17_Ideas-SoobramoneyLook1

I read an update in our daily newspaper about the murder trial of one of the girls whose memory is edged into my mind. I always remember their faces from the articles that were posted. I always remember their smiles. And from that picture I try to imagine what type of person they were. I imagine what their voices sounded like and how they might’ve started that day not knowing what lies ahead. This year’s theme for our 16 Days of activism against Violence against women and children is “DON’T LOOK AWAY – Act to end Gender based violence”. There are so many more names, so many more women that came before and after the names I mentioned in my poem. I’ve made a decision not the look away anymore. It’s repulsive the manner in which our women, the mothers of the nation, the future childbearing queens are being slain. “Gender based violence is a pandemic that cuts through all barriers of society. It absolutely does not discriminate. It affects the young as well as the old, the poor and the rich, no matter the race, social status, political affiliation or religion”. Our country is at the breaking point of violence against women and children.

Our sons are being raised with the perception that they must be the “man of the house” meaning women must not be superior to them. They are taught for example not to cry hence the saying “big boys don’t cry”. They are taught that sensitivity is not for boys. Men are indoctrinated by older generations that they have to be sexually aggressive and that it’s their right to demand sex. The idea that women are objects of sex and the property of men, for their pleasure at any time and any place must be overruled with all might. The time has come for us as parents to change the view of social stereotyping tendencies towards our boy children. There are many healthy forms of expressing manly behaviors that does not involve violence and dominance. The braai, beer and bulling concept in our communities must stop. It is common knowledge that after a party and alcohol consumption then the arguments between husband and wife or girlfriend and boyfriend start. Quite often these arguments turn into violent physical abuse.

It is all of our duty to change this perception. Parents, the government, schools, religious organizations, sport communities as well as the workplace must all stand together to reform and redefine the meaning of manhood. Manhood does not mean beer, braai and bully. It has to do with self-worth, respect for others, sensitivity, protection and caring for the person he choose to be his partner. The traditional dominant role of the man is too easily accepted as the predator, the robust aggressive leader. According to a lot of religious groups the wife is expected to be very submissive and is seen as the weaker individual. Christian women for example are encouraged to act according to the Bible and it is seen as Gods will to be humble. To a certain point that behaviour and command is to be respected, but when it comes to a man dishonoring and abusing his role, then it’s a different story. We know in the era that we live in today that it’s not necessarily the right way. We know that we’re not expected to take the word literally as it was done in the era from the Old Testament.

The man is seen has higher and more equipped because he is physically bigger, even though a woman is able to do exactly the same amount that a man can and sometimes even more for example giving birth. The traditional concept of manhood is also influenced by culture and we all come from different backgrounds but it is possible that even with cultural difference the perception can still be changed towards positivity and the right attitude towards women. The role and the position of men in a healthy functioning society are of paramount importance. We can no longer turn a blind eye or say it is not our business when we see incidents of abuse and violence. A new age has begun. A new generation must arise that does not tolerate these behaviors from men and where men do not entertain such foolishness.

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