Women drown in morass of male dom­i­nance

CityPress - - Voices - Gayle Ed­munds voices@city­press.co.za

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

Men do not ask: ‘Who among us are the predators?’

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