It’s been a while since I blogged about anything. I feel I need to add my tiny voice to the topic of the moment. Violence. I’ve never been a fan, I’ve never understood it. I was brought up to defend myself but that doesn’t mean shouting at the other person and especially not becoming physically abusive. As a kid, my sister and I fought all the time. We were kids and we are 5 years apart. The perfect age gap of indifferences. Sometimes our arguments would turn into pushing and shoving and throwing things at one another, as kids do. But one day I shoved my sister that she fell against the wall and cried. She naturally told my dad. This time I didn’t just get a hiding but I was spoken to like an older kid. He said to me, and I will never forget those words, “If you hit your sister now, you will grow up to be a man who will abuse and beat his wife and that is not going to happen, so this stops now!”. It stuck with me throughout my life. I use to have a short fuse and my temper would always be an issue and looking back I remember a boy in my classroom and his parents came to my house one evening and it was reported at school that I hit him in the face. Of course I can’t recall any of this. But I recall the 4 parents having a discussion in our house about it. I also remember picking up a brick while at high school when some boy teased me and I was about to slap him with it when I just put it down and walked away. This could’ve ended differently but thank God it didn’t.
Whichever excuse you want to find, whatever your background, being violent is the dumbest thing in all of the world. I’ve never seen my dad lift a hand towards my mom, they had arguments and disagreements like any other couple but he would just walk away to cool down. In fact they would argue and state their case but no one slammed doors nor threw things around nor broke windows. I did however see my dad fight once with a stranger. It was just how it was and he was defending his family and he did it the only way he knew how.
You see, I may be generalising now but for many of us growing up with a violent culture on the Cape Flats, that is the only way we know how to protect or defend ourselves. Use violence. When my sister didn’t want my nephew at a young age to own a toy gun or sword I was like urhm okay, but I grew up with toy guns and knives and swords and grenades and shields. I quickly understood why she did not want to expose him to it at an early age.
I am by no means an expert in any field nor did I read up on tons of books or do research because sometimes in life it just needs logic. You see, I feel it all has to do with your mindset and also what you’re exposed to. As a coloured male from the Flats I was never taught conflict resolution. I was never taught to argue your point and walk away still being friends. It was not the way in which our society reared us. If you liked a girl but her brother or ex boyfriend didn’t like you and he spread the rumour that he was going to eff you up after school, you would take up the challenge and fight him cos otherwise you would be called all types of derogatory names. And I’ve seen this shit, it happened to close friends of mine. We allowed that nonsense to happen. And don’t misunderstand me, I am not even talking about gangs or gang culture, this is just ordinary boys from the hood who were brought up that big boys don’t cry and you’re a sissy if you don’t stand your man in a physical punch up. What cuc! What utter shit. The skewed mentality we are raised under makes me want to tell the new generation that there is more to this bullshit than is out there. If you have a disagreement with someone that’s ok, and you are both entitled to your opinion, whether you or he wants to admit they are wrong or whether both have valid points, it’s ok, it’s allowed. It does not have to end in a screaming match with swear words and pushing and shoving then punches being thrown, weapons used or worse even, someone losing a life. This rape culture of ours, this violent culture of ours it needs to come to a God damned end! Just because she is wearing revealing clothing or just because she gave you attitude or just because he’s gay or black or muslim or a foreigner or just because he or she disagreed with you, or even upset you, or looked at you funnily, or cut you off in traffic, it gives you no right to pick on the person or worse, abuse and hurt them.
Our boys sadly don’t have much in the shape of role models. Why do you think I push all the South African personalities the way I do? Because every township in the Cape Flats has thousands of great soccer players, rugby stars, cricket players, actors, singers, designers, models, business people, doctors. The list is endless. There is huge potential but we fail to see how amazing the Cape Flats is. We fail to see how amazing we are. Our kids are. Our neighbours kids are. So we undersell ourselves first and it gets mirrored by the way we are portrayed in the media.
The culture of violence is compounded when you’re living in poverty stricken areas where gangsterism, crime, drug abuse, alcohol abuse, physical abuse, teenage pregnancies and tons of other scourges seems to be prevalent. Sadly, almost the norm. No one taught me how to “talk it out”. We would always become violent in order to prove a point or feel better about ourselves. Why though? You’re just being an asshole if you are hurting somebody. Stop being an asshole man gees not everyone in the world needs to agree with you. That is the beauty of our society and a democracy, we are entitled to our opinions.
I drive through the Flats whenever I am there, and the same here in PE and I see tons of boys just roaming the streets aimlessly. I say aimlessly because in an ideal world I would’ve liked for them to be upstanding citizens of society whether they are running businesses or helping to clean up their community. But sadly, a smaller percentage is following suit. What is needed are a few things. Change of mindset, buy in from everyone, moving away from a victim mentality, a positive outset on life with an aim to achieve a goal, more male role models and youth having their energy channeled into something good. This becomes a start.
We spoke the other day about speaking up. When someone at the braai uses the k-word in a discussion just tell them politely you don’t like when they use that word. If they continue, just walk away. But in most cases that I’ve done it everyone has apologised and stopped doing it. When someone skinners about others who are not there tell them it’s uncool to talk about someone when they are not their to defend themselves. And the big one and the one we are all scared of, when you see someone being abusive tell them to stop it or report it anonymously if your life could be in danger. It’s always difficult for a man to tell another man who is built like a brick house to please stop assaulting his partner cos he will in all probability turn on you but sometimes we need to take that risk or let authorities know. I know, easier said than done but those are in extreme cases. As long as we do something.
We need to do something, especially us men. And don’t think that abuse by women on men doesn’t happen, cos it does and this shit too needs to stop.
I remember telling my friends I can see I’m getting older because I am talking to strange kids and teenagers to voice my opinion. One such day I waited on my dad in the car as he closed the gate and two teenage boys walked by having a loud conversation, they looked 14. The one was gesticulating as if he was a gangster using words I’ve grown up with on the Flats to get his point across. I just called him and said “Are you a gangster?” No uncle, was the reply. “Then why do you speak like that? Do you think that makes you cool?” He bowed his head and walked away. Whether I changed that kids life we would never know but at least I did not just stand by and watch it happen. We all need to speak up, especially against abuse, but it’s in the manner in which it’s done and how we get our point across because I feel people are so aggressive and violent with a “I don’t lose a fight” mentality. What childish bullshit. But it is what it is.
Rape is wrong. It is an abuse of power and some sick twisted bastard feels it’s ok to force sex on someone else. I once dated someone and she told me she was raped as a teenager. Of course it broke me. It shattered me cos how could some sick bastard abuse the one I love? I started telling my friends whom I entrusted about this and I was not ready for the response. So many of my friends, their friends and family, were all abused raped both by known and unknown men. There is still that shameful stigma attached to rape as if it is the woman’s fault. It’s not your fault. You did not ask to be raped.
I know my blog is all over the show and probably about 1000 pages shorter than what it should be with all the things I want to say but I would like to say to people today, if you are in an abusive relationship, please get out or at least put an end to it, you’re not someone’s punching bag. If you are an abuser, STOP IT! JUST STOP IT! It’s not right. Seek help. It will not make you less of a man.
Respect is squarely lacking in our society and I think it’s by damned time we bring that back.
I urge you, please, please, PLEASE. Stop being violent, stop hurting people and stop abusing people, especially those you know because this my friend, is not what love is about.
Just another guy from the Flats who believes it starts with us men.
Thank you for reading