This is not a recipe but my personal story
I am of the belief that, we all have the propensity to be good or to be bad, based on how we were raised, exposed to, and what life throws at us. Instances of this can include:
- A mother or father with no criminal record killing someone who abuses his or her child to an unbearable stream.
- A well-known womaniser or what is believed to be the “Village Girl” becoming a pastor.
- A trusted man or woman becoming greedy and corrupt…
- A person known to be above others, and acting as such becoming humble, because they now see life differently. The examples could be endless, however allow me to get to the point of my soliloquy.
Sometime ago, I was sexually harassed by a stranger in an environment that I found safe and comfortable. One man (colleague) found me when this man was touching and kissing me while I froze and stood still. He then quickly walked out of the room (and later apologised said he thought the man was my boyfriend). I could not move, my body went into a shock. Luckily, someone else walked in and this man stopped and left the room. I went back to my desk, in shock and feeling numb and holding tears. Two of my male colleagues, noticed I was not myself and not talking (I am rather the talkative and bubbly person in the team). One asked me to nod if what he thought happened actually happened (he later said he had been watching the guy following me and was going to check up on me when I came back) – after I nodded he went to management (voluntarily) to report the issue and then the official policy process started.
For two days, while I was giving the statement of what had happened, my two male colleagues took turns to accompany me to the kitchen, bathroom and canteen and when leaving, this was out of their own will – I felt safe with them as my “body guards”. Then the guy who sexually harassed me was removed from the floor and the company. I was pleased by how the company quickly acted, I was now safe again at work, however this did not absolve the psychological part of the problem, where I now questioned the dress I loved so much (knee high), my dress code in general, the weight loss, my perfume and makeup. I now needed to work on the mental aspect of it. With that said and because of what my two male colleagues did for me:
- I could never call all men trash.
- The managers who dealt with my case were also males and never made me feel like I was at fault, they too took a stand against abuse.
- I am forever grateful to these two men because upon reflection I realised that I was never going to report the issue, not on that day or week. Probably later but never immediately.
When I was mentally okay, I shared the story with my now ex mentor (also male) and he told me that I should have never reported the issue because it will stifle my career trajectory. Do I think he is trash for saying that? Absolutely not, and do I agree with what he said? Absolutely not. And here is why:
- Nowadays, we live in a world where as a woman I am empowered to defend myself when sexually harassed\assaulted and how to respond to the male ego and so on, conversely, the man is left with their old mental models of whatever they believe a woman is and how they should be treated.
- Women grow up being taught to wash dishes, iron, clean the floor, and the boys to take trash outside, wash the car, garden and then his sister or mother must reward him with food after he did the “heavy” lifting. The cycle continues from one home to another.
- Then later in life, almost all of the time women are taken to conferences, to be taught how to get a man and how to treat him when they get him – how to respond to the ego and the male bosses – while the man is still sitting in the old “boys club” being taught what we deem preposterous, patriarchal and egocentric. Are these scales balanced?
- The current climate of high levels of women abuse and violence, along with the hashtags such as “#menaretrash” – makes some good men begrudge in giving their views or say ‘hey I’m not trash’. Currently, men cannot say, “I didn’t know better, I’m sorry” or “teach me how”. We expect men to respond to these women (empowered) that our mothers were not while they still have the same perspective their father, mother, environment and the so called boys club taught them.
- We have women initiatives that are done at the expense of men, and we are not correcting this by balancing the scales. My little knowledge of accounting says ‘what happens on the left side must happen on the right side ’, that is, credit and debit.
- We have boys growing up in broken homes, where parents are drunkards and beat each other up including the children, while also demoralising them and telling them that they are nothing, mistakes that should have never been born and will never amount to anything. This breaks the boys – the broken boy then becomes a broken man and what does he do? He breaks others.
- This broken man meets a woman who is from a loving family (assumingly) and knows what love is and feels like, and he does not know what love is, in turn he breaks the woman. He goes around breaking other men and children too.
I could have never called my mentor at the time trash, because in what he had observed and witnessed such cases did not make women prosper, because other men who are hiring “will see that woman as troublesome” (he said).
How can we solve these?
I do not have all the answers as human beings are complex; however, my observation is that as the society, perhaps social media (where hashtags cause utter havoc, unqualified at times), has a tendency of looking at the symptom (effect) of cataclysmal issues and rarely try to find the root cause. It’s like someone who over drinks alcohol (trivial example) and wake up with a debilitating hangover and thinking pills or whatever they use for it is a cure, while they are just treating it or managing it until they drink again. The root cause is over drinking alcohol or just drinking alcohol so the solution to this would be to stop drinking alcohol.
Another example (severe), people who’ve suffered with fatal diseases they start feeling some sort of pain, some will take a painkiller to make the pain go away then at some point it comes back…. then they go to the general doctor or a specialist, it is only then that the root cause is found and\or treated\cured.
This brings me to ask these questions: are we (as South Africans) treating the symptoms of our social ills or the root cause? – are we just taking painkillers to subdue the pain violence and abuse is causing and praying “Dear God please make it go away”?
One cannot deny that, treating symptoms and not the root cause leads to hype that happens on social media where things are hyped for few weeks and virtual outrage emitted all over the timelines while sitting comfortably at home, watching TV. Then after sometime we tend to move to the next excitement or disheartening issue while leaving all others unresolved, until we are yet triggered again, leading to the continual vicious cycle.
I do not have all the answers, nor do I know the “Hows” or Where to start. Suffice it to say, I would like us to not see things in a vacuum, and open our eyes to see, ears to listen to different views, extend a hand to help those who are broken and not feed the beast inside of them, or keep tightening the chains that make them prisoners, mentally. Those who know what love is – know that love is a catalyst for change; it heals the broken and finds a way. We need to examine ourselves on what we over value and under value.
Do I think all men or people in general can be helped? My answer is no. Nonetheless, we will never know until we try. Until we give love to the unworthy and undeserving (according to what the world defines it as), we will never know.
We need government assistance, we need our families to raise us with dignity and heal us, we need the society to heal us – above all, we need LORD God to deliver us from evil, we need God’s assistance by calling upon his name to save us and keep us in his presence. We need to pray for the country and not just ourselves, friends and families. We need divine intervention.
We need to talk to our everyday associates about abuse and violence – listen to understand and not to judge – help where we can and get professional help when possible. Be the conduit of love to our surroundings, and not just on social media and/or not when our phones are off.
The man who sexually harassed me is trash, yes. However that does not give me the license to put a blanket statement such as “men are trash” which includes all men including the ones who helped me and others who help other women. This hashtag has become a stigma, and is defeating the purpose to get good men to stand up and take action. We should not even condone men on men violence. It is also not okay. We should be wary about feeding the beasts inside broken and demoralised people, by doing so, we are confirming what they already know about themselves, and reinforcing that there is no good in them. There is hope for change, and that starts with me. Writing this was not easy, I am exposing myself to the world, hoping it will be received well as I intended, and also with the knowledge it might not be taken well and a possibility to be teared down exists. However, I will sleep well at night knowing I shared my story and maybe it touched one person to see things differently. It is my wish that next year a legitimate Men’s conference will be established, where men can discuss their issues and also involve women.
There is hope, because currently there are discussions about change, violence and abuse, including my one, however, a question beckons that, are we having the right people at the right place to propel the impact?
Thank you for taking the time to read.
God help us ♥♥♥
*to my regular blog readers, I apologise for not giving you a recipe today*