Yesterday South Africa was shaken by the news that yet another woman, Karabo Mokoena, has been murdered by her boyfriend. Social media fast became a triggering environment for many.
And to add salt to the wounds of many victims of domestic violence and rape, a lot of male public figures and their (male) fans flippantly responded to the outpourings of grief and anger with "women must be vigilant" and "don't call us trash."
Newsflash! Our entire existence is based on "vigilance." The minute we leave the house, we worry we may never return. Heck, a lot of us don't even need to leave the house to have to be "vigilant."
So no, DA L.E.S and co, rather tell your homies to stop talking about us like we're disposable goods, to call out your friends when they cheat instead of applauding them, to tuck in their misogyny because that's where the violence starts - it doesn't miraculously happen overnight.
And if you think our outrage against gender-based abuse and violence is based on hypothetical scenarios and isolated news stories, then please take a look at all these tweets of lived experiences from real women you probably interact with on Twitter daily.
On rape and sexual assault
When yall tweet "Men get raped too" you forget that most male rape victims are raped by other men. Theres no scenario where men aren't trash— Very Sad Pirates Fan (@Khuze_Elikhulu) May 11, 2017
Today was a hard day. A trigger for most. We are not safe. We are being targeted. The people that claim to love us, rape, abuse & kill us.— Camagwini ?? (@ginzimas) May 11, 2017
Everyday we RT missing women, read about instances of rape, abuse etc. Not a peep. But call men trash for those things and see. Outrage.— Kewty (@BongoMuffing) May 11, 2017
On abuse and femicide
Some victims are told "No one is perfect" and "relationships take work" which makes them rationalize abusive behavior— TheDevil's Sidechick (@FeministaJones) May 11, 2017
Guys (pronounced, ANIMALS) are killing and burning their girlfriends, kodwa we want to come here and argue about being trash. Haai man??— Sfiso Mthethwa (@SfisoHeroMtetwa) May 11, 2017
SA women more likely to die at hands of their partners than in car accidents.— Karyn Maughan (@karynmaughan) May 11, 2017
Most of us know women who were murdered like this. I do.
I lost my mother because of a man she married, who had other intentions than loving her. Someone we all trusted into our family. I know...— K Naomi?? (@KNaomi_N) May 11, 2017
On street harassment and daily fear
Who else waits for another elevator when there's a man or men in the one that arrives first?— Sis Khens (@Khens_Kent) May 11, 2017
When she's out alone & an overly friendly guy approaches, insists she stop being hostile.— silindile (@SilindileM_) May 11, 2017
I remember I was once walking behind a girl minding my own business.. she slowed down so I can pass her because she felt unsafe. ??— Tshepo Kaate (@TSHEPOKAATE) May 11, 2017
Don't date. Don't go out. Don't drive. Don't walk. Don't tweet. Don't eat. Don't breathe. I assume that's what "be vigilant" means— Amahle-Imvelo (@Jaxx_Amahle) May 11, 2017
It took a lot out of South African women to come forward with these traumatic stories and we wish them healing and strength.
And in case it wasn't clear earlier on in this article, I must reiterate - telling us to be vigilant only excuses what men put women through instead of addressing it. Telling us to be vigilant makes it seem like women are at fault for existing. It's dismissive and inflammatory.
And of course no one is saying that all men are abusers and rapists and murderers. Of course there are thousands of decent men who would never lift a hand to a woman and who treat the people around them with respect.
But that is not what the hashtag is about. The hashtag is a symptom of women who have suffered enough at the hands of men. This is our outpouring.
If you’re one of the good guys, don’t get upset about the fact that women are calling men trash. Get upset at the men whose actions have called for that moniker.