By Matthew Edwards
After four years of Rhodes life, I’ve seen my fair share of marches, protests and demonstrations. Hell, I’ve even taken part in some. But to be completely honest, the most recent one took me completely by surprise. Literally. I wasn’t looking where I was going and I almost walked into a girl lying across the library quad.
So after apologising profusely, I looked up to see scores of more women all sprawled out across the surface of bricks. Some of them had their mouths taped shut. Some of them didn’t. But pretty much all of them were wearing bright purple shirts. As I said, I’ve seen my fair share of demonstrations, and so I recognised this one as part of the annual 1 in 9 Campaign, but no demonstration I’ve seen before has made me think as much. This can only be a good thing. I think it was an outstanding campaign, by the way.
But the first thing I thought was “Where are the guys?” Granted, there was the odd male spotted amongst all the women and I can only commend these men, but there were not even remotely as many men as women.The second thing I thought, was “How do I feel about that?” Let’s face it, when it comes to something surrounding sexual violence, you don’t often hear what the guys have to say about it. I’m not saying this isn’t warranted, it’s actually very warranted, but it’s still true – in my mind, as a guy, at least. So then, as a member of the male species, this is my opinion.
In one of my columns last year I said that “Rape is not a woman’s problem. Neither, though, is rape a man’s problem. Rape is society’s problem, and if ‘society’ does not realise this pretty damn soon, we’re all in trouble.” Reading over this today, though, I don’t quite agree. I do still believe that rape is more society’s problem than a gender-based problem. I mean, I think that without the full co-operation of men and women together we’ll never put an end to anything, and sexual violence has proven to be a problem that neither gender can face alone.
But, in my opinion as a male in society, the lack of co-operation in these matters doesn’t do anything to make me feel good about being a male. After today I am convinced that rape is most definitely a man’s problem. Guys, face it. The women are up and ready. The women have spoken. The women have said that enough is enough, and they are more than willing to fight the problem. What have the men done? The men have listened. The men have sat. The men have said “Ja, it’s a problem, but it’s not really our fault.”
What is our fault then? As a gender I mean. Our fault is that, as men, as the other half of society, we’ve failed to support our women. I welcome any disagreement, any arguments, any disapprovals of this point of view. But before you complain, I ask you to ask yourself: “What have I done?”