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Reader Blog

When a man is not allowed to speak because he is a man

I am one of the organisers of Slutwalk Johannesburg and I was attacked by a feminist on Wednesday on her timeline on Facebook. The reason being because I am a man and I have no right to be a spokesperson for a movement reserved for women.

This all arose out of an invitation by SAFM to be interviewed on the show PM Live and express my views as an organiser of #slutwalkjhb over the appalling, traumatic and disgusting intimidation of two teenage girls in Noord Street, near the taxi rank in Johannesburg this week.

Firstly, Slutwalk is certainly not reserved for women. It is, according to the founders in Canada, a coming together “not only as women, but as people from all gender expressions and orientations, all walks of life, levels of employment and education, all races, ages, abilities and backgrounds” to protest victim blaming and the associated slut shaming, the bizarre belief that somehow the victim is to blame for the assault on them because of their views, sexual practices or how they dress. That they deserve it.

This attack on me merely because I am male is a chilling reminder of how far we have to go before we are able to address issues as people without the generalisations of race, gender or social standing. I respect radical feminists for their views as I respect others who hold very different views to me on all manner of topics but I chose to approach this issue in my way and why shouldn’t I?

Victim blaming is a people issue, it’s how society operates. Rape is not only a female issue, men are raped as well and male children are also abused.

The abuse and insults hurled at me included that of being a phallocrat, a creature which, until now I had no idea even existed, do not dissuade me at all. It seems to me bizarre that having a man involved is such a bad thing, does it merely make a lie of this woman’s world view of the generalisation of what all men are like, as absurd a generalisation as most are.

Victim blaming is a problem of all of society and as long as radicals marginalise it, it will stay on the margins. It is important that every member of society discuss these issues and examine their own beliefs, it’s important that fathers speak to their sons and to their daughters and to their friends until the people who are ridiculed and scorned are those people captured in the news pictures harassing these what must have been terrified young girls.

The Slutwalk that took place in Johannesburg on National Heritage Day was a triumph of ordinary people. All races, all ages, all sexual orientation were present — all united by the cause.

This is what I want to be instrumental in achieving because this will change society — when the issues become the issues of everyone not just of the radicals.

Why shouldn’t a man speak out on behalf of society, a changed society, a new society a society that rejects patriarchy? Should I call this attack against me matriarchy or should it just be ignored as the actions of a radical extremist?

Do you believe that as a person who also happens to be a father who marched with his sons and daughter has no right to be part of a group organising a protest such as Slutwalk?

Walter Pike is a father, teacher, speaker, writer and consultant on the subject of marketing in a social world. He is also one of the organising group who arranged Slutwalk in Johannesburg.

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