Responding to criticism a few decades back that she disliked men, British comedienne Jo Brand quipped: “I like men … as a concept.”
And, wow, what a concept.
The guy marketed to women, from as soon as they can flick on a cartoon, is the prince who sweeps you up and takes you away from all this.
But what happens off screen is all too often the real story.
That prince returns to his warty self, a transformation that is life-threatening to so many women.
Men need to stop whining and start living up to the claims they aren’t a hazard to the wellbeing – physical, mental and economic – of women.
Because they are. Every day. They are not “protectors” or “providers”. They are predators.
I won’t be outraged, we have all cried and raged this week – we will again. That’s a given.
And don’t bother me with your exceptionalism stories about your wonderful husband/father/son – all men are part of the system that perpetuates predatory behaviour.
We, the women of South Africa, know this is the problem.
What is so incredible is that men haven’t had the collective self-awareness to say: “We are the problem. Our WhatsApp groups are full of sexist jokes, we ogle girls when we are 40, we call 40-year-old women girls, we allow our friends to objectify women. That we want to protect women.”
Don’t protect us, stop preying on us.
As for the president’s suggestion that we spend the next three days praying and contemplating.
Please, we need action – and funding. We don’t need the death penalty, unconstitutional tosh.
We need practical suggestions.
So here’s how I’d fund our demands. Let’s introduce a penis tax – South Africa has 4.8 million taxpayers.
If half of them have penises and pay R100 a month that raises R240 million – a month.
The dismal transformation report came out last week.
Less than a quarter of top jobs are held by women. There should be tax for not hitting 50/50 gender targets.
The money raised could also be put in the pot.
Let’s use the money for shelters and laboratories, to train an elite squad of women to be the front line of dealing with domestic abuse and to buy electronic bracelets for known predators.
While men can’t understand the pain women go through, there is a way to help them get it.
As Brand also said: “They say men can never experience the pain of childbirth; but they can, if you hit them in the goolies with a cricket bat for 14 hours.”
We’d have to keep it up for longer to give them a sense of the pain of being prey – all the time.