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“Only ‘faux-feminism’ disempowers men by classifying them as ‘trash'”
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“Only ‘faux-feminism’ disempowers men by classifying them as ‘trash'”

Giving in to the ‘#menaretrash’ trend could sabotage the progress that feminists have long fought for, writes Tshwanelo Fokazi, 24, a Commonwealth Correspondent from Ekurhuleni, South Africa.

Lately, I’ve been struggling with the urge to fit in on social media.

One recent example that underscored this sentiment was a message I saw posted on Twitter which said, “men are trash because they are the number one threat to women’s existence…’’

Immediately after reading that, I wanted to jump onto the “men are trash” bandwagon. I was stopped, however, by new-age Twitter feminists (women) who tore me down when I enquired about the intentions of the Men Are Trash Movement.

I wanted to understand how the mantra strengthens the global feminist agenda to empower the interactions between women and men. I had several questions in mind. I needed clarity on how referring to men as ‘trash’ challenged men to not treat women as objects. I needed a better understanding about whether the movement holds pop-stars, such as Rihanna, accountable for lyrics that hyper-sexualize women for the pleasure of the make gaze. I was also curious about whether saying “all men are trash” was okay because sexism towards men is justifiable and serves as revenge against centuries of patriarchy.

Unfortunately, I didn’t get an answer!

Instead, ‘faux-feminists’ from around the country flooded my account with notifications containing insults and curses because they couldn’t believe that “a whole woman would dare question the hashtag”.

This was when I realised that this exercise in hash-tagging was narrow-minded because a simple label cannot be attached to all men. Some men have sacrificed themselves in defence of civilians in their respective countries; some chiefs have banned child marriage in their villages; others have sacrificed being there for their children’s formative years in exchange of attending meetings that will implement better policies in society and many other men are shining their light in their little corners around the world.

There are good men and bad men. Pure and simple. But the decision to be a feminist should not be to stereotype any one or any group.  Isn’t that ultimately, what we, as feminists, are fighting against, pertaining to how our sex is perceived?

My bad Twitter experience told me that, in this episode of ‘Feminism in Our Millennial Generation’, the sisterhood no longer priorities empowering equality and improved interactions between men and women; or between woman, for that matter.

Feminism in 2017 shouldn’t be about forcing all women to hate men. In these trying times, feminism still needs to be about educating young women academically, and educating young men emotionally about how to protect women in society, not only women beloved to them.

I believe that instead of pointing fingers, we should rather work on maintaining the agenda of real feminism: to put women on equal footing with men. The feminist mission should be to end child marriage, break the glass ceiling, and ensure that sanitary towels are more accessible than condoms for teenagers and that there are stricter laws against human trafficking and more.

Photo credit: Iwakura Akisuki via photopin (license)

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About me: I am a custodian for women empowerment through my online platform, Smart ZAR Girls.

My passion for leadership has opened me to opportunities: I am a One Day Leader alumni and a former BBC Africa debate key guest speaker, and a 2014 voluntary delegate for the Media Monitoring Africa initiative ‘‘Youth News Agency’’. My mantra is ‘‘we are more than that’’. This pushes me to constantly perceive and celebrate growth in myself, others and the rest of the continent. You can reach me on Twitter @TshwaneloFokazi

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Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the Commonwealth Youth Programme. Articles are published in a spirit of dialogue, respect and understanding. If you disagree, why not submit a response?
To learn more about becoming a Commonwealth Correspondent please visit: http://www.yourcommonwealth.org/submit-articles/

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