I sat in Church crying the whole service. It was Sunday the 8th of September 2019, the end of an emotional week. I was assessing the week before and my role in it, as there were parties addressing the pain of the Nation from the pulpit.
A few months ago I decided to write my Masters next year (2020). The thesis topic I wanted to write? The lack of representation of vulnerable male characters in popular storytelling proposing male vulnerability as a positive solution to toxic masculinity. I had no idea how relevant the necessity of that conversation would be become in popular discourse.
Last week posts circulated on social media of a missing girl in Cape Town by the name of Uyinene. She was found dead after having been raped in a Post Office in Claremont just outside of Harfield Village. The country rightfully mourned and was outraged. South Africa, is known as the country with one of the highest rates of femicide as well as the highest rate of rape in the world. Gender-based violence in South Africa abounds.
A week of protest of began. I didn’t know how to engage. My first reaction was annoyance at twitter feminists who were shouting #MenAreTrash. I was annoyed by tweeters using the death of a young woman to promote their political agenda. I felt it was being misused. Until I noticed that gatherings were being organised, demands were being placed on government, it looked like action was being taken. The only way I could think to engage in the moment was to do a live Instagram video.
I didn’t fully know what to do, but I knew I had to do something. So, I went live and spoke through my thoughts and heartbreak about gender-based violence in the country that has my heart. An interesting conversation with my followers (friends) was sparked but that conversation was female dominated. We tried to talk about solutions. For me it starts with how we raise young boys.
During the live I said that I cannot attend any of the gatherings, however, two amazing ladies in my office arranged for there to be provision for us to have 2 hours off to go to the gathering at Parliament on Thursday. I have been a part of a few protests and mass gatherings in recent years. This one had a very different tone, I didn’t know what to say, what to sing or what to shout. I stood in true mourning. It was one of the more subdued gatherings I had been to and I think it needed to be.
As we were leaving, we heard Cyril’s voice. He said everything that he knew we wanted to hear. He apparently is going to implement the laws and regulations that he told the crowd about. Hopefully it makes some difference.
More conversations are definitely being had. On Saturday I then attended the annual Open Book Festival. While sitting in various panel discussions I was reminded of my thesis topic for next year and its relevance. I have not received acceptance for my Masters at any institution as of yet. Nonetheless, I really hope I can have a conversation that promotes male vulnerability as a possible counter to toxic masculinity.
My week then ended on Sunday morning as I cried throughout the preach for pain experienced. The preach served as a moment of realisation and catharsis that has made me feel more hopeful for the future.
Gender-based violence in South Africa is still an issue. I experienced somewhat of a bookend to last week, however, the work towards making a safer South Africa is only beginning.