As I hopped onto the taxi this morning, I spotted a man peeing on the side of the road. At that moment, as someone who is anti peeing on the side of anything, toilet seat included, I just swelled up with rage. I was also listening to a breakfast radio show as they spoke about the Soweto crisis. I got angrier. An image of male police officers walking away from a scene of township residents looting a tuck shop supposedly owned by a Somali man was being looted and they had decided “there is nothing we can do”, at least the article would have us believe. Them walking away didn’t do any help to the cause. I then wondered why do we hold men to such a low standard and applaud them for the very basic.
Perhaps I have a bias, as someone who has a feminist leaning, but then again, my feminist idealism has never meant I hate men. Quite the contrary, considering I am a man myself and am born with the case of only being able to be attracted to other men. Be that as it may, I find myself always criticising men for a plethora of things. I wondered why it was natural and normal for a man to just stop on the side of the road and whip out his schlong and relieve himself, yet the same men erupt into beastly maniacs when another man’s spear is part of an artistic piece speaking to the issues faced by greater society. The same spear having been subject to criminal proceedings. I wondered why these spears were so sacred, after all, when that spear has wounded another, it is protected. I keep hearing people say “she wanted it, why was she walking that late?” A defence of the crimes created by these spears. “Teach her what manhood is about. She doesn’t know what she is missing” they say when they violate women who love other women.
A friend of mine, raised by a fierce and strong woman once asked, “why do we applaud fathers for doing what they should be doing by being present fathers and accept that men can up and run away after impregnating women?” The basic answer is that we hold our men to the lowest standard that even the simplest of tasks deserve a reward. “He doesn’t leave the toilet seat up” or “he does the dishes” or even “he cleans up after himself”. All these basic acts, which simply say one has basic home training, when performed by men, could make front-page headlines of a women’s interest magazine. I would hate to say it’s only women who marvel at these acts. I know gay men who also follow in this path when they meet other men who are decent human beings and want to throw a party.
When speaking of crimes perpetrated by black men, the response is that there is a war against black men. They are disenfranchised, unheard and almost unseen. Women are all the rage and they are lashing out. Who bears the brunt when men lash out? Women, children, societies. And these men, keep walking. Why? Because we protect them. We find reasons as to justify their insanity. We call on our government to be lenient on them, we blame the colour of our skin and we never say they are human, imperfect but even their imperfection needs to be called to account.
Perhaps I am angry and battling to voice out my anger properly. Perhaps I am frustrated by so much, as a black man myself. Perhaps I am lashing out and need an outlet. I know all I did was accuse and question but have not given any solid ideas on a resolution. But I think at the least, maybe we should start by raising our standard where men are concerned and holding them to these raised standards. When they fail to meet them, tell them to “man up” and act accordingly. Maybe tough love and “tigers don’t cry” need to resurface. If women are held to such abnormally high standards, by men, surely women (and other men) can return the favour.
Image – Urinals in the toilets of a hotel in Harbin, northeast China’s Heilongjiang province, on March 19, 2012. (AFP)