Guest Column

Women drown in morass of male dominance

2017-03-26 06:34
Students at the University of the Witwatersrand painted their bodies with phrases in protest against rape culture and sexual assault. Picture: Ndileka Lujabe

Students at the University of the Witwatersrand painted their bodies with phrases in protest against rape culture and sexual assault. Picture: Ndileka Lujabe

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Gayle Edmunds

The devastating story of the woman who was raped in a taxi as her child was forced to lie facedown nearby, which has exposed a ring of rapists that appears to have been operating for more than a year, is another appalling example of the unrelenting violence and constant threat of violence women are forced to cope with.

The woman at Spur who was verbally abused and physically threatened by a man, who demonstrates in terrifying detail white male privilege, is another example.

Both attacks have the same source – the unhealthy attitude of men towards women.

A woman cannot take for granted that she will be safe while catching a taxi, walking down a street, being in her own house or visiting a family restaurant with her children.

She must assume she is always at risk of being attacked, smirked at and judged for what she wears.

These women could be your mother, sister, wife or lover, yet men do not look at their friends, brothers, fathers and sons and ask: “Who among us are the predators?”

Too many men seem to only be interested in shouting that they aren’t to blame; that they’d never do anything like that.

Or they state that they will protect “our women”, exposing what they really believe – that women are possessions.

The unpalatable truth is that all men are, to a greater or lesser extent, guilty of not taking decisive action to solve the root of the problem – themselves.

The fact that violence is almost always perpetrated by men means that any discussion of violence against women must have men in the room to create the solutions.

But they aren’t there.

Too many men are guilty of having opinions about women’s bodies or what women’s roles are – this is where the rot starts.

It is everywhere, and is accelerated and allowed to fester by religious and cultural practices.

A bizarre example is the increasingly dangerous presidency of Donald Trump.

Penis pumps – a subject women would never discuss because, who cares? – are paid for by medical insurance.

However, maternity benefits and birth control are considered unnecessary, and abortion rights are steadily being eroded in the US.

These are decisions that could only have been made by a room full of privileged men.

Men who will not have to clothe, feed or educate the unaffordable children these decisions will create because nurturing remains women’s work.

The never-answered questions are: Who nurtured the men doing the abusing? What are men doing about addressing the problem among themselves?

Men need to start answering these questions and take responsibility for the state of violence their mothers, sisters, wives, daughters and friends live in.

Follow me on Twitter @GayleMahala

Read more on:    gender equality
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