From 25 November to 10 December is the 16 Days of Activism for Non violence against women and children. and by the very name it is a call to action, a call to do something, to change, to stand up and be counted, but I must admit to having no idea as to what we can do that will make a discernible difference.
“The pen is mightier than the sword” Edward Bulwer-Lytton
I love words they are my chosen medium for; dealing with issues in my life, communicating with others and hopefully in some small way challenging people to think. I truely believe that words and stories can bring about change, yet today I feel like the power in the words is gone and that all eloquence has left me. I am however determined to say something and I hope that collectively if we speak our words trigger thoughts which mean actions are examined and maybe one day changed. Reminds me of the Starfish Story
Sam Wilson on Women 24 wrote an article ‘Where are our men?’ she said every year they tell women’s stories and highlight the issues but not much changes so this time she was challenging the men. Many guys took great exception to the article and I was really quite shocked by some the comments. So many of the guys went no further than being defensive and taking what Sam said out of context. I must admit to be quite despondent after reading some of these comments. I felt like there was no hope for our society and that change would never happen.
In a discussion with a male friend about the article he asked me for my opinion on what I thought he should be doing and I must admit to being at a bit of a loss as to what to say. Besides the obvious of not standing for abuse if he ever had knowledge of it, but I guess most nice guys would do that, what other tangible thing could I suggest? The problem is that this is rarely something that happens where others can see it. Men like to fix, they like to do, they don’t just like to talk and hope that it will affect change. We tell them to stand up and join the fight but we don’t give them the tools to do it.
Sam in response to a lot of the attacks she got for her article said:
@Camelthief There’s lots you can do. 1) A monthly stop order to Rape Crisis, POWA or any credible NGO that assists victims of violence. 2) Speak out whenever you hear of/see abuse happening. I know it’s not something often ‘bragged about around the braai’ (at least I fervently hope not)… but vigilance and attention does challenge the silence around domestic abuse. 3) Be a role model. Look to your own relationships; your own family and ask yourself… am I present enough in my child’s life? Am I providing an example of manhood that I am proud of? You can see from many of the comments above how badly even these simple steps are needed.I was kinda hoping other men would make suggestions…that didn’t involve abusing me.
I don’t have the answers but I think the call to action needs to have a few guidelines as to what we can all do. I know as a mother I hope to work from the ground up and teach my kids about respect and that this is paramount no matter their gender. I think that lumping all women with children, and other groups that need protecting in our society might make some view them as somehow vulnerable. It is easier to take advantage of something/someone who you have preconceived ideas about being vulnerable. I know that Andre has blogged about a similar thing before. I want both of my kids to feel they have a right to be respected and that they have to treat others with the same respect.
The sheer frustration of this blog has been looking at such an important topic, on in which we really need to pull together and yet at the same time not have a clue how to even start initiating the change I so long for in our society. I dream of a future where our sons and daughters do not face this issue in the pandemic levels that we do now. What I do know is that we have to be careful not to come across as attacking because we are not going to solve this problem if we get people’s backs up. If we make all men feel like they are lumped together with the perpetrators I think we have failed them too. We have to leave our egos at the door and stop trying to say who’s fault it is and look at what it is we as a society are doing to perpetuate this problem and how we move forward to solve it.
I am really keen to hear if anyone else has some bright ideas.
And if you are interested some other people’s views and blogs
Andre: I’ve had an apostrophe
Scott: I have XY chromosomes, too.
Megan : 16 Days
Thought leaders Cows Makarovs and the dangers of Charming men