Last weekend, August 24, a National Men’s Rally was held at Johannesburg Stadium, Gauteng. Some reports say thousands of men and women attended event organised by Brothers for Life to agitate for gender equality and against men’s violence. Others indicate that Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe, who graced the event, addressed a fairly empty stadium.
In the struggle to help all of us to eradicate violence against women, find our purpose as men, and develop healthy forms of manhood, no positive contribution is too old, to small, too tired.
You might not be one for rallies and marches, but everything helps. You might not think writing against rape or for men to work on their masculinities does anything to change society, but believe me when I say nothing positive is wasted.
Here is a contribution by Thebe Ikalafeng to the cause of making good men. Ikalafeng brands himself as “a global African adviser and author on branding and reputation leadership and founder of Brand Africa and Brand Leadership Group”. His contribution is to write approvingly of the Rally. He says things like
The male brand should not to be tarnished by a delinquent minority and the nouveau riche with fleeting money, which they use to objectify impressionable young girls and desperate women to enhance their own poor self-image or shortcomings.
All contributions to the cause are welcome, certainly. But nee man: the male brand? That is taking this brandspeak too far, isn’t it? What is the male brand?
Think of it: it implies there is something called the female brand, the child brand, the elderly brand. And possibly the white brand, black brand, gay brand, heterosexual brand. Stop it. really. The marketers can have good ideas, and we need them to come up with ideas to make the work on healthy forms of masculinities sexy, but this is not one of them.
Anyhow, Ikalafeng notes some important points that can bear repeating. He writes:
The state and image of men – black men, in particular – is one of the biggest societal challenges today. It is not an American problem, but a global issue facing the more than 3.3 billion male population.
To be sure, men are being challenged by changing economic, racial, cultural and gender orders and regimes to rethink what being a man means. And for black men, who come out of a history designed by white fathers, the challenge is an ongoing one, but ever more complex.
Ikalafeng correctly observes:
For the millions of young men looking for inspiration in a world blinded by statistics of the failures of black men and in a state of despair because of the quality of education, lack of jobs and opportunities, and a variety of lifestyle health challenges, need to know that there are men past, present and future who have, can and will always play a good role in society.
If nothing else, what rallies against men’s violence against women, children and other men must remind s of is that we can. Yes, men can say no, that’s not on. And they can say yes to respecting women’s rights and freeedoms. They can show others, young ones or peers or those who are stuck in the violent ways, that we can make a positive contribution. They can free themselves of the attitudes that impel them to violence. They can choose.
Many men do that each day, in fact. They do all sorts of small good deeds as fathers, husbands, lovers, sons, friends, workers, bosses, teammates, colleagues, you name it. They do so without any fanfare. These men need to get written about much more. We have to temper our fascination with the 27% who rape, the murderers, the corrupt, and the drug-peddlers, with stories and images of those who are affectionate, how heal, who give to charity and who create life-saving drugs.
The majority of men will change if they are shown how to and why they need to change.