MARIE MJACU

Recently a friend of mine wrote an article calling out Helshoogte Men’s Residence on their ‘Demolition Day’ where various objects are thrown fromthe top floors of the staggeringly highresidence.

Days after the article was published and began circulating on social media, my friend received a screenshot of a Helshoogte section group chat where one of the men was claiming that she could not be taken seriously, or be objective about the issue, because earlier in the year she had been in a relationship and was supposedly rejected by a man from Helshoogte.

Naturally, the author and many others who saw the screenshot (myself included) were appalled and disgusted by this overt sexism and petty counterattack to her article.

In the article titled “Boys Will Be Boys, Right” the author asks what many were thinking when images offlat screen televisions being thrownthrough broken windows emerged on social media: why this exorbitant waste and destruction all in the name of tradition?

She then went on to criticise the toxic behaviour that is perpetuated in men’s residences and gave her opinion on these issues.

To be met with criticism after sharing your opinion is not unexpected. However, as a woman, being criticised or having your opinions dismissed because of your romantic past is nothing short of insensitive and sexist bullying.

The article was never intended to be objective, it was an opinion and speculation into the practices of Helshoogte and it certainly was not the result of some petty personal vendetta. The reason this response frustrated and disgusted me so much was because it draws on so many sexist assumptions about women’s abilities to be independent of their emotions and to be taken seriously on an intellectual level. If a man had written this article would he be called out on his romantic or sexual history and thus dismissed as being emotional or petty?

Why is criticism from a woman met with an immediate attack on her emotional past?

It is insulting that critics would  circulating, many of the ‘good and innocent’ men were angered and did not understand why the hashtag was so all-encompassing of men in general.

But this is a prime example of what it means – comments such as the one that was made about my friend are part of the problem, and not calling your friends and other men out when they exhibit such behaviour makes you complicit in allowing these acts to continue unchecked.

Donald Trump recently said that it’s a dangerous time to be a man right now because you never know when you’re going to be accused of sexual assault or of being a misogynist or exhibiting sexist behaviour.

But really, it is not. All that is happening is that people are becoming less tolerant of problematic behaviour because it is becoming more and more evident that this behaviour is hindering progress. It’s 2018 – it is not the time for toxic masculinity, and it is certainly not the time to be calling women out on their romantic and sexual pasts when they criticise you. It is not a dangerous time to be a man – it is simply a time where people, especially women, are coming out and saying time’s up.

It is insulting that critics would sooner turn to a sexist personal attack than meet the author at the same intellectual level at which she addressed them.

If anything, this response reinforces the exact point the author was makingin the first place. The environmentsin men’s residences foster attitudes which are neither transformative,nor reflective of a progressive andaccepting culture.

We cannot hope to combat gender- based discrimination and assumptions when those acts of discrimination and assumption-making are so readily accepted as okay ways to deal with issues.

If the culture that condones such behaviour is not being challenged it will only continue.

When #MenAreTrash started circulating, many of the ‘good and innocent’ men were angered and did not understand why the hashtag was so all-encompassing of men in general.

But this is a prime example of what it means – comments such as the one that was made about my friend are part of the problem, and not calling your friends and other men out when they exhibit such behaviour makes you complicit in allowing these acts to continue unchecked.

Donald Trump recently said that it’s a dangerous time to be a man right now because you never know when you’re going to be accused of sexual assault or of being a misogynist or exhibiting sexist behaviour.

But really, it is not. All that is happening is that people are becoming less tolerant of problematic behaviour because it is becoming more and more evident that this behaviour is hindering progress. It’s 2018 – it is not the time for toxic masculinity, and it is certainly not the time to be calling women out on their romantic and sexual pasts when they criticise you. It is not a dangerous time to be a man – it is simply a time where people, especially women, are coming out and saying time’s up.

Photo: Cat Walker