Toxic Masculinity at Play

“… I was already seething with anger that had been building over the past six days. I bombarded her with a series of questions, giving her no chance to respond to the barrage of inquiries posed by an angry monster. In the heat of the moment, without further thought, I raised my voice and my hand. I slapped her across the face and kicked her randomly. She cried. At that moment, I was immediately overcome with shame and remorse…”

As writers, we should prioritise storytelling to raise awareness of societal issues such as
gender-based violence and challenge toxic masculinities and harmful gender norms, writes
Bhekisisa Mncube in part three of his three-part series on his experiences with GBV.


(Trigger Warning)


I must confess that I once lost my temper with a woman. Until then, I had always considered
myself calm, collected, and rational. There is no justifiable excuse for my deplorable actions.
My toxic masculinity upbringing, a product of the old apartheid South Africa, played a
significant role in this incident.


The woman who bore the brunt of my misogynistic anger was Busi. We were in a romantic
relationship despite Busi not being an exceptionally skilled kisser. However, that was not the
reason for my outburst of anger.


Busi was, as there is no better way to describe her, a “big-boned voluptuous feline woman”
(Coetzee: 2004). While we were romantically involved with Busi, I would not go so far as to
say that I loved her. She entered my life when it was fashionable to have multiple partners to
“fit in.” My diary entry records the precise beginning of our loveless relationship as of April
21, 1992. Apparently, 1992 was a successful year for me in matters of the heart. My diary
records five events marked “coronation day” with the initials and surname of the woman in
question. I only recall two women from that era – Busi and Hlengiwe. But I digress.


Here’s what angered me about Busi, leading to our unnecessary altercation. We had made
plans with Busi to meet on a dreary Friday night. She was supposed to spend the night at my
place. On Friday, at around 9:30 PM, I arrived at our agreed-upon location, but there was no
sign of Busi. I waited in vain. On my way home, I made a decision that I would regret for the
rest of my life. I decided Busi’s absence was a severe transgression requiring stern action.
Strangely, the misogynistic voice in my head wrongly believed that I was being kind by
giving her four days to come up with a plausible excuse – an excuse that she never provided.


I met with Busi the following Friday afternoon to address her failure to honour our late
Friday night appointment. The meeting place was at our high school, Bhekeshowe. I found
her waiting for me behind the Standard Six block of classes – a spot that offered more
privacy. By the time I approached her, I was already seething with anger that had been
building over the past six days. I bombarded her with a series of questions, giving her no
chance to respond to the barrage of inquiries posed by an angry monster. In the heat of the
moment, without further thought, I raised my voice and my hand. I slapped her across the
face and kicked her randomly. She cried. At that moment, I was immediately overcome with
shame and remorse.


Despite this, “the school big boys’ tradition” dictated that I had to leave the crime scene
immediately, leaving no trace of my presence or actions.

According to this widely accepted tradition, a girl who had an altercation with her boyfriend
could not report it to teachers or parents. If, for any reason, a girl dared to report such an
incident and the boy got into trouble, further repercussions would befall the girl.
Following the Busi episode, I made a vow that I have kept to this day: never to raise a hand
against a woman. Needless to say, after our altercation, our “love affair” continued to stumble
along as if nothing had happened. I never apologised for my actions, and she never asked for
one. However, I always expected her to. This is my only chance to say I am sorry.


This article draws inspiration from the latest audacious endeavour of the Faith Action to End
Gender-Based Violence (GBV) Collective, marked by its recent launch of a Statement of
Commitment, which I have signed as my contribution to never raising my voice or hand
against any woman or child. This pioneering initiative signifies a communal vow to actively
engage in collaborative efforts aimed at eradicating GBV and achieving the goals outlined in
the National Strategic Plan to End GBV and Femicide.


Faith communities have pledged to adopt a series of measures to tackle GBV, acknowledging
their influential and trusted position within society. These measures encompass the
integration of anti-GBV messages into sermons and religious teachings, the provision of
unwavering support to survivors, the challenge of detrimental gender stereotypes, and the holding
of perpetrators to account, and the advocacy for substantial political reforms. This holistic
strategy highlights the resolute commitment of faith communities to foster a society devoid of
GBV.


Moreover, the campaign strives to motivate individuals, both perpetrators and survivors, to
find refuge within faith communities. It advocates for survivors to voice their experiences and
pursue justice while urging perpetrators to confront and accept the repercussions of their
actions, seek redemption, and ultimately transform into exemplars of positive change.


Bhekisisa Mncube, an author of three acclaimed books, a regular columnist for Witness,
guest columnist at News24, and a rape survivor, rehabilitated abuser turned activist against
gender-based violence, has shared his powerful story to raise awareness and challenge
harmful gender norms.


Disclaimer: This article is the third and final installment of a series that delves into the
darkest chapters of my life, exposing incidents of intimate gender-based violence. It is
presented in observance of the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence. It serves
as a testament to the transformative impact of the Faith Action to End Gender-Based
Violence (GBV) Collective.

The Collective’s unwavering support and provision of a safe haven have empowered me to confront my past and embark on a healing journey.

Show your support and SIGN THE PLEDGE HERE

https://chng.it/Q6YC9SdmmC


We Will Speak Out website: www.wwsosa.org.za

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