It sounds like an arrogant thing to say but really I feel that men like me are a true rarity. I’m that man that always opens the car door for his woman, that will offer to carry heavy bags for any woman and that will stop and help a woman who is struggling with a burst tyre on the roadside… and I’ve seen interesting reactions to this chivalry. For the most part, I get a confused look, like wow, you really just did that? The second most popular reaction is my favourite, it’s always an absolute pleasure to see someone appreciate the little act of respect and kindness. The third reaction, however, that’s the most disturbing for me, when a woman immediately thinks you are after something. It’s not just in South Africa but the world-over men have mistreated women in ways that sometimes defy logic.
Many times though right here in Mzansi, you see a sad case that will make you wonder about what being a man really means. You see a man cheat and on his all but perfect wife. Beautiful, smart, employed and still taking care of the household including the bills despite the continuing abuse. It makes you wonder. On the one hand, an argument could be made that there really aren’t enough options for a lot of women… good men are hard to find you could say. But on the other hand you have to ask, what is it that is keeping women in such doomed relationships? South Africa has one of the worst rates of physical and sexual abuse in the world. One in every 4 women is an abusive relationship. Every 8 hours a woman is killed by her male intimate partner and it is estimated that there is a rape every 25 seconds with most being committed by men that the women knew and trusted.
So it was with bewilderment that I read a post on social media from an American woman who suggested she liked her good man but is missing her lying, cheating and abusive ex. And this is a very interesting thing about being a man in our times. It always seems like the bad boys are the ones that get the good girls. About two years ago, a close friend who is not only happily married but is also a good man, told me about someone in his class at a business school in Sandton that preyed on women using their “baggage”. This classmate would observe his prey and figure out what their insecurities or baggage was and that was it. This is unlikely to be the exception, I suspect it is, in fact, the rule.
Very few women fall head over heels in love for safe. They want drama, twists and turns like a Danielle Steele novel. And a lot of men have realised that and jumped on the bad boy wagon. But is that really the way to go? If the situation remains the same then we can expect the physical and sexual abuse statistics to rise further not decline. What is clear is that we need to groom the next generations, both men and women not to make the same mistakes that this and previous generations made. Whether its in the form of mentorship programmes especially at a young age or if it’s a peer to peer discussion that we have with our mates in order to change attitudes and behaviours, action is needed now. If we don’t act now we risk failing our children. Would you as a man want your daughter to go through the kind of pain you see a lot of women going through? Would you want your son arrested and convicted for rape or worse murder? I know I would rather see a world where I can confidently say there are more men like me when speaking to a distressed woman who feels hopeless about love.
Writer: Katlego Modipane