The anniversary of the #TheTotalShutdown intersectional march on the 1 August 2018 is upon us and I thought I should reflect on the journey since then.
No doubt the march placed violence against women and the girl child in the centre (of South Africans’ consciousness) and emboldened more women to speak out. We managed to reiterate that issues of violence against women are not the purview of women only, that men must confront their male fragility and recognise that humanity is not male, as aptly said by Simon de Beauvoir in 1949.
The conversations around gender-based violence and femicide have raged since then and even found expression in the many manifestos of political parties contesting the 2019 general elections.
More women have unmasked themselves and bravely shown their faces as survivors of rape, sexual harassment, sexual assault and economic violence.
And for those women killed, their voices were carried and are still being carried by the women who marched and continue to march.
As we honour the anniversary of the 1st August 2018, we are fully cognisant of what we are up against – we are challenging a culture saturated by male voices and male faces. We are not invisible women – interviews by the media on the economy or politics cannot be the exclusive domain of men, we must see more women commentators and analysts on our national radio stations and televisions.
We honour the 1st August anniversary by decrying a culture of demeaning young women and dismissing their contribution in politic and the workplace. We challenge a political system that is skewed towards electing men, perpetuating systemic discrimination against women.
We are deliberate in our intentions to interrupt patriarchy, sexism toxic masculinity and misogyny. We are challenging the norms, structures, and
institutions that keep such in place.
We are now at a point where we are waiting for men to openly say how they intend to address their fragility and confront their violent streaks.
We are tired of explaining consent, we are tired of the disrespect, we are tired of explaining male privilege, we are tired of not being sure of what to wear in case we offend men and ended up being raped, we are tired of being interrupted when we speak lest we are slapped across the face for talking, we are tired of being told that we are too angry, we are tired of being made to feel guilty for being mothers to boys and being blamed for their indiscretions, we are tired of bringing up fatherless children, we are tired of deadbeat men who are not responsible enough to take care of the business of looking after their families, we are tired of men who think that rape is a game, we are tired of ignorance and code of silence on the abuse of women, we are tired of we are tired of a world that believes that we are invisible – whether in the design of furniture, urinals, public transport, tax system that drives gendered poverty and inequality.
We are not an added extra in any decision-making process. We are an integral part of the decision being made.
* Brenda Madumise-Pajibo is a director at The Wise Collective.