Protesters outside court where a man faces murder charges for killing Karabo Mokoena. Picture: Nokuthula Mbatha/ANA Pictures
There we were; feeling emasculated, our egos bruised, yet we deserve the #MenAreTrash moniker because of how we treat women, writes Kabelo Chabalala.

Dear black men,

We are trash. As a fellow black man, I stand here today a very infuriated and disappointed man. My infuriation and disappointment stem from our behaviour and big but easily bruised egos.

As the #MenAreTrash started to pick up momentum after we learnt about the death of Karabo Mokoena, one of the many women to die at our hands, we quickly turned to defence mode.

There we were; feeling emasculated, our annoying and fragile egos bruised. Our sense of entitlement was threatened by a hashtag that aims mainly to spread awareness of the evil, unhealthy, illegal and inhumane ways we have habitually adopted against women.

So, you may wonder why I chose to narrow it down to one race, the black race in particular.

Here is the thing, my premises are black men. It is because as a black boy, I was raised by you – black men. I come from a community full of black men. And today, I am one of you black men.

Do not be fooled by my exclusion of other races, it does not preclude them from being #MenAreTrash. There are white, coloured and Indian men; in fact all men are trash.

I just choose to talk to you fellow black men. Because it hits home.

The taxi ranks I visit to catch a taxi home to Pankop via Hammankraal are full of you, black men.

The whistling at women, and sometimes even at little girls that are definitely as young as your daughters, is where our trash begins.

We unashamedly call her; “Eh wena sefebe, etla mo” (hey you whore, come here) when these women ignore our whistling and walk away.

And when she alights from a taxi late in the evening and walks towards a corner with about five of us standing chatting or enjoying a cigarette or a joint, she hangs on tight to her handbag and hopes and prays that her walking past is not an invitation to you to cause any harm. She is scared of us black men.

A hundred metres from your group, she breaks into a run without looking back, thanking God or her gods for protecting her from us.

That is trash.

When she’s riding in a taxi and a disagreement ensues, you try to flex your masculinity and raise your deep voice at her for standing up for herself. You want to remind her: “You are a woman, I will slap you if you continue to back- chat me. Know your place.”

We police how she responds to us. She speaks in a trembling voice even when she is right. She is scared that something might happen to her in our presence.

Let me remind us black men, our masculinity is supposed to make her feel safe and protected, not frightened and vulnerable.

Men, your negative portrayal and practices of masculinity are exactly what emasculates YOU. It is precisely why we are labelled; #AllMenAreTrash

Wait, did you know that in South Africa one in every four women is physically abused by an intimate partner? Every six hours a woman is killed by her current or former intimate partner. This is why #MenAreTrash.

Women trust us with their love and life, literally. We betray them and their loved ones every day by abusing and even killing them.

By the way, murdering someone is a crime, it is a serious crime, call it a sin if you will.

We portray disgusting levels of misogyny. We have become the epitome of sexism. We are behind the high levels of rape and abuse of women.

That is why we are trash.

I have a few questions for us:

Why do we feel such a great need to govern, police and give guidelines on how women are supposed to mourn or grieve the death of one of them?

Why do we feel so emasculated by the truth of how as men, we are trash?

Why do we feel the great need to vindicate our actions?

Why have our fragile egos become so important to us that we miss the aim of the hashtag but never miss to insult, abuse and kill women or girls?

#IamOneOfTheTrashyMen

Do you know why?

Because you and I are guilty of the following things we have said to a woman or girl;

You are “too much”, you are “un ladylike”, you think you are a “man”, you think you “have balls”, “you are “bitchy”, “too modern”.

We have called her names because she dressed or spoke to us in a way we deemed “unladylike”. You are “too loud for a woman” and “... this is why no man can love her”.

That is why I say #BlackMenAreTrash

Of course many of you do not want to be in solidarity with us. You think we are generalising and that #NotAllMenAreTrash.

This means you have never felt that because she has a voice of her own, she is ‘another bull in your kraal’. It would mean, you have never felt a dent in your entire existence because she may be wiser, more driven, stronger, clearer or more successful than you. Right?

It could mean you have never felt the need to reprimand her or call her to order, shoved, slapped and possibly punched her.

If you have never reminded her that she is just a woman and therefore you are better; if you have never felt she “owed you” for you being a decent human being towards her; if you have never turned a blind eye when your fellow man abused her, and never questioned how it may have been her fault, then perhaps you are not trash! But if that is not the case, accept, you are trash.

I do believe that we can change all this when we take collective responsibility for our wrongs. I truly believe that if we support the march by men against the abuse of women under that other hashtag, #Not InMyName, we will be doing a great service to women.

And these women are our grandmothers, mothers, wives, aunts, sisters, nieces and girlfriends.

Don’t we all want to see the #MenAreTreasure trend in a few years to come? Let us hold ourselves accountable and say, ENOUGH!

Regards, one of you.

* Kabelo Chabalala is the founder of the Young Men Movement. E-mail [email protected]; Twitter, @KabeloJay; Facebook, Kabelo Chabalala

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

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