Guest Column

#MenAreTrash: Where are the male role models?

2017-05-18 14:05
Video

WATCH: 'Karabo was failed by men who were supposed to protect her'

2017-05-18 08:36

The lack of male voices around the topic of women and child abuse, as well as femicide, took the spotlight at Karabo Mokoena’s memorial in Diepkloof, Soweto on Wednesday.WATCH

Maxine Becket

Twitter erupted with hashtags and debates like #RIPKarabo and #MenAreTrash when news broke that police were looking for Karabo Mokoena's boyfriend in connection with the young woman's disappearance. Karabo's murder was another in a long list of violence against women - and people started sharing harrowing details of women being abducted, beaten and killed – at the hands of men. 

It's easy to see why a "men are trash" hashtag trends, but it will take more than hashtags to stop the violence against women. It will take fathers – male role models – to become better leaders so that the cycle of violence against women ends. Men have an important role in shaping society for the safety of women.

One man came from a traditional family, went to good schools and had a generally good life. But all he ever wanted was approval and to be heard by his father. He was a good soccer player and athlete but his father never attended one soccer match or even acknowledged his son’s talents. The boy grew up robbing, hijacking and forming a strong network of criminals because that is where he was heard.  Becoming a criminal and womaniser, things he didn’t learn from his father, was a way for him to express himself since he never experienced that at home. All he ever wanted to do was express his thoughts but it was suppressed by his father who continued to put food on the table and make sure they were comfortable with material things. In the criminal world, this man had the attitude of “nobody is going to tell me what to do” and he thrived. After finding his voice and growing a conscience the man gave up his womanising and criminal ways to give back to his community where he serves as a role model to many young boys.

The parent doesn’t always have to tell his son what is right and what is wrong; children watch their parents and learn from that. From a young age a boy is moulded by the actions of his father. I’ve seen it. I’ve heard stories from grown men who admit that their actions are as a result of their father’s treatment of them and their mothers.

Some men are still under the impression that providing for their families is the only requirement to being a father. But how will a boy know how to respect women if all he sees is his father abusing his mother? How will he know that cuddles or conversation is sometimes all a woman wants from her partner, when he doesn’t see his father doing this for his mother?

Instead the son follows in his father’s footsteps and beats up his girlfriends, remembering how he hated feeling useless and scared that he was unable to protect his mother and confront his father.

When did it become okay for males to pretend not to see the wrong inflicted on women? When did it become okay for them to keep quiet about it and not reprimand or guide? Is that what “bro code” reduces males to? Or is it because fathers are absent, missing and refuse to take responsibility of their sons?

What happened to it takes a village to raise a child?

Where have all the proper male role model figures gone?

The cycle can be broken. Men can and do resolve to become better than their fathers.

We can't bring back Karabo – or the three-year-old Courtney Pieters, who was raped and murdered. But men can resolve to be positive role models - to stop being trash – so that we can bring about a less violent world.

- Maxine Becket is a content producer at News24.

Disclaimer: News24 encourages freedom of speech and the expression of diverse views. The views of columnists published on News24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of News24. 

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