I think sometimes we all need a reality check. We live in a society, especially in South Africa where violence against women exists and rape culture is a very real thing. I do not want to make everyone live in fear but just a gentle nudge, that hey, this is real, it’s happening… and obviously not only in South Africa.
I am not sure if you have been following the terribly sad news of the recent spate of gang rapes in India in the past several months, however the Times of India newspaper is currently running a set of adverts imploring men to treat women with respect through the stark statement,
“The true test of your manhood is how you treat a woman. All woman. Any woman. Every woman.”
Personally, I’m pleased the newspaper is questioning the traditional aspects of toxic masculinity, like “rash driving” and “drunken brawls“, which some men do think defines their manhood. Yet, I also think their conclusion about proving your manhood by behaving a certain way (even if its the right way) is problematic : “If you do not respect a woman, you are only half a man.”
That’s the flip side of the same thinking that says guys aren’t manly if they don’t want sex all the time. Just like sexist expectations of femininity can imprison women, sexist expectations can imprison men, too.
I’m all for eradicating rape culture and believe that South Africa could truly learn something from shocking adverts of a similar nature. But is the answer to tell men to act like “real men? In my opinion, no. It’s time to tell them to act like good men.