MenAreTrash – I said what I said

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Recently, in South Africa, a young womxn Karabo Mokoena was killed and burned by her boyfriend. This had the nation in uproar against this kind of violence that womxn are susceptible to on a daily basis. This incident is yet another reminder of the hard, cold reality that womxn are not safe – with anyone – and not only from strangers but from the people we love and trust.

Many men (and womxn) on social media have shown the need to see the disclaimer, which outlines not including all men in the #MenAreTrash banner, as a prerequisite for people to be taken seriously. This made me particulary mad because I am not here for any men telling us “not all-” and so I wrote down reasons for why we can and should say men are trash without feeling the pressure of having to include “not all men”.

  1. Empirical fact

When we’re out in the street or any public spaces and in  our lived experience in that specific given time and place, these “exceptions” to the MenAreTrash narrative are almost always nowhere to be found. We endure the cruelest, scariest and most demeaning experiences in the presence of dozens of men, yet every time we are groped, beaten in public, or in our homes by people we love – onlookers walk on silently… family members prevent intervention because “it’s not their business”. So, in as long as that “exception” presence is not felt and not impactful, #MENARETRASH.

2. Victim-blaming

When men tell womxn to correct themselves when saying all men are trash, they are shifting the responsibility to womxn. Creating a reality in which not all men are trash is not the duty of womxn. It is the responsibility and duty of men. Instead of being so preoccupied with womxn using the correct wording to provide a satisfactory representation of reality for them, men ought to concern themselves with creating this reality. When we see the change and our experiences reflect this change, our words will reflect that truth. But to expect our narrative to change while we experience the same old violence at the hands of men, is an act of violence in itself.

3. Fragile Masculinity see this insistence of

I see this insistence of womxn to say not all men are trash as an immaculate demonstration of fragile masculinity because womxn expressing their lived experiences must obviously be a direct attack on you (a man). We cannot possibly speak about our realities and not leave room for you in the dialogue. As a man who is not abusive, violent, or passive in the face of injustice – assuming that this is the case – the discussion is not directed at you, so why feel the need to invalidate people’s experiences for the sake of proving that you, indeed, are not trash. To constantly attempt to position oneself as the center of this argument by trying to prove one’s own “good nature” is a diversion from tackling the actual problems and harms that womxn face and a typical demonstration of the selfish narcissism men demonstrate when womxn are victimised.

This banner is to divert our attention to the spoils of society that we need to rid ourselves of – and in case we haven’t been clear, this reason is not because we hate men intrinsically because their make-up is fundamentally evil, but because of the violence nad oppression we have to endure BECAUSE of men’s action or inaction. So fix your trashiness and that of your male counterparts and the systems that protect them, so that we can go back to being happy & care-free as we were in the womb.

4. Exceptions or Benefits of the Doubt

By insisting that we recognize that not all men are trash – potential rapists, killers, abductors, harassers – womxn are being forced to give ‘certain’ men the benefit of the doubt. We’re expected, again, to disregard all instances of people being hurt and attacked by people who “seemed kind”, “looked genuine” and were familiar and close to them and to not assume that all men have the capacity to hurt us. At the expense of our safety, having seen cases where these “exceptions” were harmless and not like the rest, we must be trusting and place ourselves in the danger of being yet another statistic of someone who was killed or abused by someone they knew and trusted.

If believing that men are trash – with no exceptions – is womxn’s way of protecting ourselves, allow us that much. Out of all the things that men have power over, allow us just the right of autonomy to hold our own beliefs and protective mechanisms without constantly trying to dictate how womxn should navigate their experiences (which men can never fully understand nor relate to).