No-one who calls himself a man can sit back while our society is ravaged by toxic masculinity. The opposite of masculinity is not femininity, it’s passivity. All it takes for evil to prevail is for good men to do nothing.
Rape and violence against women and children is a deadly cancer festering in the psyche of our nation and unless we take radical action to destroy it, it will destroy us.
Cancer is a deadly disease. It cannot be treated by ignoring it, putting band aids over it or popping a pill or two. It needs radical treatment. The longer it is left untreated the bigger it grows and the more deadly it becomes. Throughout history people have demonstrated the sadly destructive ability to become slowly inured to attacks against humanity until they reach a deadly critical mass and inflict unforgettable injury to society. The cancer of rape and violence is one such attack. It has become so deeply rooted in our society that radical treatment is necessary.
The first step is to see it for what it is. At the core of it is a sickness in the minds and hearts of men.
The stark awful reality of what goes on in a man’s head when he rapes or abuses a woman or child must be exposed. Any man who is capable of the act of rape is desperately sick. Let me repeat that in more graphic terms; any man who is capable of becoming sexually aroused (a necessary precursor to rape) by a scared, vulnerable woman is a pathologically disturbed individual. And in South Africa men don’t seem to be content with simple rape, they feel the need to add violence and assault to the already desperately evil act. Any man who feels the need to physically harm an innocent women or child for their own wretched gratification is worse than sick, he is deeply depraved; worse than an animal. Animals don’t behave like that. Add to that the despicable act of gang rape and the sane mind begins to go into overload. How can it be? How can one human being treat another in such a warped, wicked and vile manner?
The real question we need to answer is; what has so de-humanized men that they can behave as demented beasts? And how can we stop it? Increased policing and convictions are necessary responses but they really only deal with the symptoms. Increased public awareness and campaigns against rape are also good but largely ineffectual. The reality is that as angry people march up and down protesting against rape, the men who perpetrate this vileness carry on their lives as sick and depraved as ever, the urge to rape and do violence unaffected by the placards and platitudes.
What we need to deal with is what has gone wrong in the minds and souls of the men who are perpetrating such atrocities.
That is where the real solution lies. It’s obvious that men are desperately wounded. The cancer that attacks the women of our land lives and grows in the souls of the men of our land. This is where we need to focus. We need to heal men of that malignant, malevolent cancer that so erodes their humanity, corrupts their minds and darkens their souls that they are driven to acts of violence and sexual abuse against women.
This is not an overnight process, neither is radiation or chemotherapy or surgery. But without it the cancer will destroy. How much more of this can we endure before we begin to lose our humanity? The time to act decisively and deal with the core of this madness is long overdue. Men abuse for two reasons; one they have a deeply distorted view of what a real man is, and two their own manhood is desperately wounded. Healing for our nation will come when we deal with these two core issues.
Firstly we need to raise up a standard as to what it is to be a real man. For far too long society has tolerated the image of a macho male having his way with multiple women as the standard for a real man.
We have got it wrong. That is the animal kingdom, not the realm of the human and humane. Taking from a woman what she is not willing to give is never the act of a real man. It is the desperate act of a cowardly, inferior man unable to stand as a man amongst men. The male leaders of this nation need to stand up and set the tone. They need to speak as one, unequivocally condemning rape and the men who perpetrate it. They need to live their own lives right and not allow any amongst their number who has ever acted violently or in a sexually abusive way towards a woman. We need to change our culture and the way we understand men. Men are only men when they use their strength to love, protect, nurture and provide. End of discussion.
The second step is to address the wound in men. A man who is whole doesn’t need to prove himself by primal acts of pseudo-machoism.
He knows who he is and is confident in himself as a man. He has no need to assert his strength in cowardly and inappropriate ways. He takes responsibility for his actions, to love and serve his family. He lives life well and can be trusted. Those around him feel safe and empowered by his presence. He respects others and feels a deep sense of responsibility to use the gift of his strength to serve and protect. This is how a whole man behaves. Unfortunately bitter experience has shown us that so few men are whole and so we need mass programmes to heal men and address their woundedness.
This is more than serious, it is a crisis. Radical action is needed.
Only when men are healed inside and have a personal understanding of what it means to be a real man will we see the cancer of rape and violence begin to shrink and go into remission. There is no greater nation building imperative for South Africa than the restoration of men. We owe it to ourselves, our children and our children’s children to act decisively and to act radically. This cannot continue.