A couple of days ago, I woke up to #MenAreTrash—A trend generating momentum and arousing interest from people around the world. I do not know how far the trend has gone, but I believe it has indeed spread far and wide because of the number of countries or locations people on the internet are tweeting or posting from across social media platforms.
For context, an incident happened in South Africa where a young woman was brutally murdered in cold blood by her alleged boyfriend who later confessed to his crimes. Her body was found one week after she was declared missing by her friends and family on Facebook and Twitter. This sparked anger and much outrage by people. Furthermore, the fact that a man committed this heinous crime generated more annoyance, bitterness, strife and eventually fear amongst women globally. Thus, the #MenAreTrash hashtag which is currently trending. However, I have thought about this as well as discussed with people to synthesize multiple opinions to make sense. This led me to write this article on the pros and cons aka— advantages and disadvantages of the trend.
Pros and Cons
Many of us know that over the years, we, the males have been the privileged ones—The ones who had the opportunity to go to school, to hold key positions in the society, etc. while our female counterparts are mostly subordinates. In the society we live in today, women live in fear because they are being objectified and molested by perverted males. Yes, it is high time we said something about this and begin to challenge the status quo. However, is this [#MenAreTrash] the right way? Maybe yes to some people and no to others. I do not have an answer to that question but I can certainly justify how this hashtag might be a progress towards the elimination of gender-based violence against women, and how it can also be a weapon that can ruin relationships, break bonds and dissolve the unity in diversity we preach and practice in some spaces we find ourselves in. Let us start with the pros.
From my understanding, the aim of this hashtag is to achieve three primary objectives: 1) Create awareness; 2) Spark conversations 3) Challenge the status quo. That’s all! The aim of this campaign or movement is to create awareness that women are not safe in a male dominated society in the world today. A society where women cannot walk to a nearby store at night because of the danger of the unknown; because of fear of the violent tendencies of the opposite sex. It is to create awareness about the abnormality in the actions of men on how they continually objectify women and make them look like sexual tools that are meant to be analyzed through the lens of men. It is to create awareness of the pain they go through each day feeling unsafe about what and how we talk to them, the way we sometimes look at them and the way we act against them. It is to create awareness about the social injustice women face every day in the hands of men. Furthermore, it is meant to spark discussions online so that people can really talk about it and try to craft out potential solutions to tackle this menace.
A good man that has been a very nice and loving partner to his spouse will see this and should start thinking of ways to challenge the status quo. These conversations are meant to make good men challenge their fellow perverted and beastly brothers on how to be ethical and show them ways to desist from these evil acts. The conversations are meant to break the silence and make us stand up for our fellow sisters. Then, we can talk about challenging the status quo. I feel like the first two points on creating awareness and sparking conversations have actually been achieved but regarding challenging the status quo, there is still a lot to be done. Now to the cons.
Since we are all trying to fight the social injustice against women, we have to know that combating this injustice is not just the task of women alone but the coalition of both genders. Men need to be aligned to this vision to break the anomaly, which is seen as the norm in the society. However, the hashtag has proven to be an insult to some good men, which to some extent, is understandable. I mean imagine a good man who has been very kind, caring and loving to his wife wakes up one day, without having any idea about the whole hashtag thingy and hears his wife say “All men are trash”. That statement, in its form, is going to arouse skepticism, frustration and probably anger. The reason is that this man, completely unaware of the cause for this movement might start speculating of what he had done wrong to claim such belittling title. Other men might question the reason behind the statement. Therefore, since we are trying to challenge the status quo, I can see this hashtag breaking bonds and shattering relationships. In the complexity and traumatizing happenings of the world today, the least of the things we need is division. I mean, there is strength in unity. We are supposed to stay together, stick as one and be one united global people to challenge ideologies and mindsets as well as tackle the everyday problems we face as humans. Hence, it is not the literal meaning of the statement that matters but the awareness it is creating. However, I have seen additional comments like “men have trashy mentality”. Now, if you critically examine this statement, this individual is digressing from the aim of the campaign to specifically attacking the man stating an area that characterizes his existence as human (Mentality). I mean, that isn’t necessary if you’re trying to challenge ideologies. Inasmuch as the hashtag itself is sort of stating the same thing, you don’t have to be petty (or maybe blunt) to the extent of stating what the hashtag literally means. People that make comments like that are the ones causing the division because they have moved from the trend to attack the mentality, thoughts, intellect, perceptions of the person. And if care is not taken, that person will further spew comments that might start getting emotional. People that make comments like the one above are not trying to challenge the status quo but rather trying to put up a fight against men. Also, it wouldn’t be a bad idea if there is another hashtag that’s less harsh— something everyone can be a part of. I do not know if it will generate maximum impact, but it will definitely pull both genders together instead of another gender (that is the men in this case) having a mindset that they are being attacked. But the question is: will it arouse much interest as it has in the last few days?
To all the activists relentlessly supporting this campaign and ensuring its success, I crave your indulgence to please educate people on the importance and meaning of this hashtag and not think that since Man A, B and C do not have any problem with it, then every other man (Man Z) shouldn’t. It doesn’t work that way. Let them know what exactly you are talking about and how you want men in the society to act. This way, everyone can reason with you and think along the same lines. Within your small community, if you keep bashing men who keep stating that “not all men are trash,” you are moving farther away from the goal of challenging the status quo.
The challenge starts by educating the people that want to be educated and not by hating them simply because they feel as though they have been good to their partners so why are they being called trash? Take time to let people see what this whole campaign is all about and hopefully, the goal of challenging the status quo will be achieved at the end of the day.
You can drop your thoughts in the comments section below.
DISCLAIMER: Every opinion here is based on my own personal research, thoughts, ideas and notions. Hence, you are welcome to disagree and challenge the idea but not revile the writer of the idea.