For weeks social media has been awash with commentary on gender based violence specifically involving women.
The birth of the hashtag “Men are trash” has evoked emotions ranging from anger, confusion, empathy, sympathy and indeed dismay across the country.
Over a scrumptious lunch at Sgotti restaurant at Rail Park mall; Voice Woman had a man’s perspective on the matter.
Omphemetse Oneile of Men and Boys For gender Equality says, “ Although I may not necessarily agree with the hashtag, I empathize with women because they are at the mercy of men, and there are many contributing factors to this scenario.
There are however better ways to articulate a problem in a manner that would not necessarily bash and isolate the other gender, but then again men need to change their actions for women to change their language.”
A psychologist and counselor, Oneile emphasizes the need for a dialogue in order to arrive at an understanding of what could be contributing factors to the problem so that we can then find a solution.
It may be easy to chant the hashtag, but one wonders if those it is intended for have a clear understanding of it.
“ Both men and women are products of their socialization and a close look into backgrounds of women abusers may offer answers to why some men act in the manner they do and maybe from that, we can find a solution. As a society we are faced with a problem that requires all genders to play to solve. We need to promote interdependency between men and women and ensure we bridge the unequal economic gap between the two sexes as a way of fighting issues of control and ownership of women by men.In instances of violence against women, the media needs to move away from concentrating only on profiling the victim but also highlight the behavior of the perpetrator and his background. We need to understand the behavior patterns of men who commit such acts. The broken family system has robbed many of lessons on acceptable behavior. Men don’t have role models that teach them that it is okay to cry. They bottle emotions (rejection, frustrations, disappointments) and lack of emotional intelligence and maturity when overwhelmed, often result in aggression”
Mphoeng Mphoeng; a lecturer in Finance at the University of Botswana says that he generally refrains from commenting on trending topics on social media but, he felt compelled to weigh in on the matter as he noted that many, especially men had misunderstood the #menaretrash.
“I felt that a lot of people had not gotten the genesis of the hashtag as it broke on twitter following the brutal murder of South African young woman, Karabo Mokoena. Locally many followed the conversation on Facebook with little context to the hashtag.”
The hashtag Mphoeng explains, addresses violence against women at a macro level and is not meant to bash men that are supposedly good but to highlight a prevalent problem.
“It is a macro problem that extends beyond the good shared by some but rather the uncomfortable truth that women generally live in fear of men. The fact is that women, including my dear wife cannot at half past six in the evening walk safely in their neighborhoods; they have to second-guess their choice of dress and even their decisions where men are concerned lest they upset them. It is not just harassment from complete strangers like in the case of the young woman attacked at the bus rank but even in their homes and in the workplace women have to constantly worry about possible harassment and abuse. ‘ Will my outfit solicit unwanted attention? Will accepting a drink from a man lead to rape? Will wanting to end a relationship lead to being killed? These are just some of the everyday worries women have to deal with”
Mphoeng says although it may be natural for men to want to defend themselves and protect their bruised egos, men and society in general ought to be receptive to the cries of women.
Both men agree that there is a need for positive pressure to drill into men acceptable behavior and weed out disparities amongst the sexes.
“We are a lost nation with nonexistent structures that promote model behavior,” says Mphoeng.
“Unlike in the days of bogwera and bojale, many young people are left to fend for themselves with little direction on the roles of men and women. There are little, if no conversations at all on how a man must act and what expectations both parties must have of each other. This anomaly plays out in all of life’s spheres and unfortunately we find ourselves grappling with the harsh realities we face today,” Says Mphoeng