Nineteen-year-old Sinoxolo Mafekuva’s body was found stuffed in a toilet in Khayelitsha. She was allegedly raped. File picture: Cindy Waxa

As much as there are men out there who don’t deserve to be called men, there are those who love and cherish the women and children in their lives, says Morne Esben.

The #MenAreTrash “debate has had the tongues wagging over the past few weeks.

I’d imagine it first started out as a remark made by angry women, but it has now snowballed into a full-blown movement … A movement that has become an immeasurably important narrative in our country.

For those people who take offence and still think that the term “Men Are Trash” is literal and directed at every single man in society, allow me to spell it out for you in terms I hope that are easy to understand.

“Men Are Trash” doesn’t mean every man under the sun is a piece of worthless garbage. The term addresses the inherent patriarchal privilege that we as men have enjoyed almost since the beginning of time. That institutional favouritism we’ve enjoyed in the workplace and in society at large.

“Men Are Trash” addresses the age-old practice of men doing everything first and getting the best of everything before anyone else. It addresses that inherent need for us to want to own and be the boss of everything … even women’s bodies.

Are there men who are worthless pieces of garbage? Absolutely YES! Let’s think of “Little Rock” Liezel August from Eerste River who was raped and set alight. Let’s think of Anene Booysen from Bredasdorp who was brutally mutilated and left for dead. Let’s think of Reeva Steenkamp,

Anni Dewani, Sinexolo Mafevuka and now more recently three-year-old Courtney Pieters and Karabo Mokoena. The men who did unspeakable things to these women are the lowest form of trash!

Now, as a man I’m not going to claim that I don’t have any of that patriarchal privilege in me. It’s something I need to identify and guard against, but luckily I believe I’m one of those who’s learnt to identify and deal with it.

I’m not asking for a pat on the back because I’ve not raped or abused a woman and because I make my wife and child feel safe in our home. No. But what I am saying is, the literal side to #MenAreTrash does not apply to me.

There are many men I know who’ve sacrificed greatly for the well-being of their families. Men who’ve died to keep their families safe, men who’ve raised other men’s children as their own.

As much as problems and tense situations arise in my household, there has never been a time where I’ve raised my hand to my wife or son in a manner meant to do them serious harm. And there are many out there like me as well.

As much as there are men out there who don’t deserve to be called men, there are those who love and cherish every moment they share with the women and children in their lives and worships the ground they walk on.

So yes, the movement must go on. We need to become aware of how society has conditioned us to mistreat women, to somehow view them as inferior. That way of thinking must be rooted out for us to move forward as society … But can I ask that we change the hashtag?

Because in the literal interpretation of the phrase, it’s not every man who can be compared to the garbage we put out every night.

* Morne Esben is a News and Sports Reporter and currently hosts The Smile Early Bird Info Hour on Smile 90.4FM.

** The views expressed here are not necessarily those of Independent Media.