More in Opinion
So vele amadoda zinyamazana who can’t control themselves?
Is that the take-away from what rapists, rape apologists and the misguided women who love them have been saying about consent???
I’m asking because some of the things they say in conversations about consent and rape…
I know rape culture runs deep and we need education around these things, but to see men comment “in my culture consent isn’t a thing” and “my wife knows how to treat her man” (implying that marriage is consent) is very, very worrying.
But men are not the only problem.
Women are problematic too. Women ask “Where was she going, why did she wear that, what did she think would happen…” I mean how, Sway?
When #metoo happened, when #menaretrash happened, a lot of men – decent men, fathers and husbands- discovered that they have committed rape and that discovery has, I believe, created the dissonance where a man will hold the belief that rape is wrong and also the belief that a wife cannot be forced and presence in a man’s company is consent. Men KNOW when they have used force but have convinced themselves that that’s how the game is played. Someone actually said “But if I don’t force them I’ll never have sex, what am I supposed to do, women are taught to always say no.”
This man is someone’s brother, someone’s father, someone’s HUSBAND, and he is a rapist who genuinely thinks his rapey behaviour is normal sexuality.
I’ve heard women say things like ” If he sees you want it he won’t respect you” and it’s always heartbreaking because these are the women who withhold consent and yet return the next week for more of the same. When that man meets someone new how does she convince him that no means no when others have said no when they meant yes?
As an SRHR (sexual and reproductive health) educator I taught young women never to play hard to get in the bedroom. Stop saying no to make him think you’re worth his respect because of sexual inexperience. Stop saying no because you like being coaxed out of your clothes, because safe non-consent turns you on. That’s a kink and your partner should know about it so you can both enjoy yourselves, and so that he doesn’t think every other woman who says no is playing a game.
As for the men, when she says no don’t beg, coerce, or force and if it’s in the middle of the night don’t kick her out or threaten to do that. Men who do that are not men at all so don’t brag about “I kicked her out” because you’re outing yourself as a danger to women, as someone who does not recognize women as full human beings, and as a person who is not fit to live in human communities because that is NOT human nature and for us who are Nguni it is not ubuntu. Yibunja, in fact.
If you take a girl home and she says no to sex, I do absolutely expect you to leave her alone AND STILL act like a decent human being. You have hands, and if you absolutely can’t function without an orgasm then by all means, give yourself one. You are not owed intercourse by the presence of a woman, and the sooner men understand that the better we’ll all be. If she says no leave her alone, and if she communicates by word or action that she was ‘playing’ when she said no, educate her about the dangers of turning consent into a game and dump her. She’s obviously not ready for a sexual relationship and she too is a danger to a society. Leave her alone to mature into a decent human being who can put sex in the right context and not try to use it to manipulate men into treating her a certain way.
Consent is a thorny issue because rape culture is almost inseparable from the rituals of dating and courtship. Too many women recount first sex in the language of rape and that’s really not ok, nor should it be justification for maintaining the status quo. Culture is dynamic, and if we have a culture where men EXPECT women to work outside of the home when they know full well that their grandfathers were able to support their families without needing a woman’s salary, then we can talk about a culture where men aren’t owed sex by women, where they don’t take it by force, where they don’t justify rape in the name of culture. Getting from where we are now to a point where grown men aren’t saying stupid things like “consent is a western concept” requires us to talk to each other in private and on public fora and really interrogate these issues.
I get that it must be hard for men to be told they are rapists, and to look at their past behaviour and know that they have committed rape. I get that the dissonance is uncomfortable. None of that means we should be silent.
I hope men speak more on these issues and I hope those who are qualified to help men in particular do so.
I hope we can teach our sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, and our nieces and nephews better than we were taught. Consent is ongoing and it can be withdrawn at anytime and that’s that on that. Argue with your ancestors.