Despite lots of efforts to fight gender based violence from different quarters, the menace continues and every other day we wake up to shocking cases in the news and on social media.
A lot, if not all cases of violence against women stem from toxic masculinity and it needs to be checked. Fighting toxic masculinity is not a war against manhood or even masculinity. Nobody is asking men to be women. What has to be taught though is the difference between masculinity and toxic masculinity. The parts of society that still consider aggression and sexual conquest as primary virtues of manhood needs to realize that such beliefs are not moving us forward, just making women suffer and breaking their spirits.
There are many types of abuse, some of which we’re discussing in this article.
Physical beatings that may result in slight bruises, the popular black eye, serious bruises and broken limbs and even death. One very prominent case not long ago was that of Jackline Mwende whose hands were cut off by her husband. That is in addition to serious injuries to her face and other parts of her body. Despite all the rumours and truths surrounding the case, nothing justifies that kind of violence on a woman. Or any violence at all. Nothing.
Unrelated, we have heard of unfortunate cases of abuse where an expectant woman is beaten by her spouse to a point of losing her baby. Or the reverse where they’re beaten because they lost a baby even through natural courses. Lack of education aside, what socialization brings a man to batter a woman carrying his child?
Violence is not always physical. If you’re on social media for example, you may remember cases where radio personalities Lynda Nyangweso and Kalekye Mumo were mercilessly bullied on twitter for their weight. Whole gangs of strangers took to their keyboards to tear the two ladies apart. To be fair it is not only the men who were involved in this but majority were men alright. Caroline Mutoko has been bullied for so many things including her age and her decision to adopt a child. Who are these people who decide that someone’s body size and personal choices in life are fodder for ridicule? What socialization brings someone to be so mean to another human being?
Verbal abuse is very very damaging and very common across age groups. We have seen people insulting their children, spouses and unfortunately even parents sometimes. Granted, it is not only men who engage in this but they do. Verbal abuse eats at the victims’ confidence because perpetrators speak to hurt.
This still stems from the masculinity cult. The need for a man to cement their power through brute force. Sexual abuse is one of the worst atrocities that can be meted on a woman. Yet it is also taken very for granted and vaguely defined. Men’s entitlement to women’s bodies seems to be widely accepted and promoted in some quarters and the sad bit is that beyond the obvious like rape, some women do not understand what constitutes sexual abuse. Many do not recognize marital rape for what it is for example, and endure it for years.
What’s with all this violence?
Violence is complex but one of the big problem is that due to cultural and religious norms, some men often feel the need to take total control of their women and children. This sense of entitlement often goes hand in hand with other discriminatory attitudes like sexism. We’ve seen cases where as a woman gets more and more empowered, the man feels like he’s losing control and turns to violence to ‘tame’ the woman.
How do we stop this?
There are different ways of ending violence against women, some of which we looked at in an earlier article. But one of the most effective of them is for men to stand up and take a stand against it. I admire men who grew up seeing their mothers and sisters being beaten up by their fathers, and have grown up to be responsible men who would never lay a finger on their wives or any other woman for that matter. They choose to learn from their fathers’ errs and be better men. Let us teach our kids to be respectable and responsible. Let us instill in them the culture to resolve conflicts using non-violent ways.
Truth is, every man knows the difference between peace and violence. They all know the difference between sex and violence. It is a matter of deciding to personally refrain, and also to push for social change and vow to create safer environment for women and girls.