When I was growing up in a very tiny village outside Queenstown,
Eastern Cape, there was this bizarre belief among us young boys.
It was passed to us by older men, of course. I must have been about 12 or 13 years old when I learnt about this weird and harsh belief.
We were taught that if you want your girl’s undivided attention and love, you had to hit her once in a while.
“Sweet boys” who did not hit their girlfriends were viewed as weak by girls and often got dumped.
As young boys we believed this because at the time, we noticed that girls seemed to stick around the boys who were hitting them.
Until we were old enough to understand the dynamics of abusive relationships, some of us didn’t get why the girls stayed with those boys and why they “loved” them more.
We were made to believe that “sweet boys” often got dumped within days of a relationship.
I was about 12 years old when I fi rst experienced the pain of being dumped by a girl. She must have been the same age as me or even a little younger.
When I told my friends about the break-up, I got a real tongue-lashing. How could I have allowed her to dump me, they asked.
It was because I never hit her, that was why she was brave enough to dump me, others said. I grew up surrounded by this kind of talk throughout my teens.
I would see my female cousins, and sometimes my sisters, coming home from school with bruised eyes and swol len lips.
Adults in the house would probe this, but it would not go far.
It happened across the village Why I joined the 100 Men March.
Boys would beat up girls and in the end these boys would be celebrated as strong men who were able to keep their girls.
There was this generalisation that girls were attracted to aggressive boys who carried knives and displayed fake tattoos.
At the time, it did not make sense to me. All I knew was that something was just wrong about it.
As a young boy, I would avoid physical fights at all costs. For that I was constantly emotionally bullied.
I would be called “igwala” (coward). Hitting another person was just wrong as far as I was concerned and in the end I appeared weak among my friends and most girls.
This was how some boys were introduced to patriarchy and male power in the village.
I’m sure it was not confined to just my village. The many problems of genderbased violence that
we are experiencing in our country today were created by these bizarre beliefs,
Why I joined the 100 Men March traditional beliefs of patriarchy and dominance of male power
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