The world we live in now is rather interesting to say the least, we are in a world where we are arguing and fighting ourselves, some of it good and some of it not so good. We are constantly looking for new ways to break every rule, which is good for progression and innovation. We live in a world where you don’t need to own anything really in order to be able to live comfortably as well, our ambitions are completely different compared to our parents. More women have better access to opportunities that they didn’t have before, or ones that were just reserved for men. We now live in a society where dual income is a norm or aspires to be the norm and everyone contributes towards building a certain lifestyle for themselves.
As a black man in South Africa, I understand my privilege and the access that comes with just the fact that I am a man, the security that comes with the idea that not just anyone can attack me without thinking twice of the possibilities of a fight. The comfort that, the chances of me getting raped are minimum, there are more chances of me being robbed of my possessions and I have insurance for that. There is no insurance for being beaten up every day by your partner, there is no insurance that will make things ok after you have been raped. I have that sense of “I can do anything I want” as a man and chances are, I’ll get away with it. That is what privilege has done for me that hasn’t done the same for women. Now more than ever, more conversations need to be had about male privilege and the negative effects that it has on society. I am hoping that this article opens up that dialogue and we can have a discussion about it.
No Room For Mistakes
We have come a long way as people and many things actually require education because society is built up in different ways as well. Years ago, more men than today in South Africa were homophobic and this was not because they hated homosexuals, but because of what society told you they didn’t understand. As a child you are told certain things, instilled certain beliefs and you also learn plenty from your parents more than anyone else. Today we are much less accepting, even when we don’t understand. More and more it seems like there is no room for mistakes, or space to figure it out, we are supposed to have figured it out, we should know everything by now. How to be a man, how to navigate how to be a man, how to make money, how to make a woman orgasm, how to be a partner, husband and how to be father. What many women have that the men don’t have is guidance from the previous generation. Also, we don’t have deeper conversations on why and how things got here and most of the time, we only discover the truth while doing these deeds. It really does feel like there is no room for mistakes, all the pressures society has placed upon us sometimes one can’t handle, usually there is no outlet, or space, to express how you really feel without judgement or backlash. There are few places that have more understanding and a place that comes from love. This makes sense why the suicide rate amongst men is so high and even if you reach out and let people know that you are struggling, it will take more work for them to actually believe that you are struggling. Many people don’t know what an emotionally struggling man looks like, therefore it becomes difficult to recognize the outcry.
The Voiceless Era
It’s a struggle for men to express how we feel, it’s not an easy task and if we try and get belittled, we get discouraged to try again the next time. We feel more voiceless than before and it’s not that we want to be right about everything, what we want is to be heard. Men are a big problem when it comes to society and we have seen how it has become in South Africa today. Men kill women and children, as though that would be enough, men also kill themselves; on average 14 to 18 men die of suicide every day in South Africa. The question also becomes, how hard must life be that you kill everyone around you and then kill yourself? There is a deeper problem, there is a deep need to sort these issues out because no matter how amazing mothers are or can be, at the end of the day boys will learn from other men how to be men. If we don’t come together and have these conversations, women and children will suffer.
Photographer: Adrian McDonald