Good men must fight men who hurt women
CAPE TOWN – Usually my column is dedicated to sport and the social dynamics that come from sport, but more than being considered a specialist in sports analysis, I am first and foremost a man, and given the current climate of abuse towards women and children, any sporting topic seems very secondary and irrelevant.
I’ve been horrified by what I have read on social media and mainstream media in the past week and each time I log on it is with a sense of trepidation as to what story of abuse will be next.
The fears haven’t been misplaced because it doesn’t matter what time of the day that I have gone online, there has been another story of rape, indecent assault, kidnapping, attempted murder and murder towards women and children.
Men in our country are doing this to women and children; men who have betrayed every man who doesn’t assault, rape, kidnap, attempt to kill or kill.
Women in South Africa are fighting the evil of these men, but it is the good men among us who must fight the hardest to minimise the numbers of men who prey on women and children and commit these atrocities.
The good men must do it through education in changing the mindsets of their sons, their brothers, their fathers, their grandfathers, uncles, cousins, nephews, friends and colleagues.
My controllable is myself, in the way I talk and act, and that has to be the starting point for every man who wants to make South Africa a safer place for women and children.
What example do I set to my 19-year-old son when it comes to how I treat his sister, his mother, his grandmother and my partner? What does he take from my interaction with female colleagues?
How does he see me interacting with my male friends and how does he interpret my response to men who objectify women and who have a disregard for the innocence of children? My responsibility is to show my son and daughter equal respect in how I see them and in how I see gender because being born male does not make for a superior human being.
People are calling for the death penalty and for rapists to be castrated, locked away and the key to the lock thrown away. This won’t solve the problem and it’s like putting a plaster on a bullet wound.
The solution to a better future for women and children is through men accepting that gender discrimination is not acceptable and through men believing that women are the equal of men. My generation has the responsibility to help shape my son’s generation and to crush the stereotypes that make it okay for men to objectify women.
A starting point is being prepared to call out a colleague or friend whose words or actions insult women. There is no finish to what has to happen, but there is the most inspiring of journeys to be had in shifting the mindset of today’s young boys, teenage boys and young men.
Men have marched in protest this week but the real march is in the way they will walk the talk every day of their lives. Better men will make for a better society in South Africa and better men will nurture the next generation of better men.@mark_keohane
Keohane is an award-winning sports journalist and the head of sport at Independent Media