This month a femicide in my country made front page news—something that rarely happens because the news is meant to be exactly that: news. Another femicide is not news. It’s run of the mill. The press doesn’t put much work into writing about things that happen every day, like femicide.
Every eight hours, a woman in my country is murdered by a man she knows. This statistic doesn’t shock me. Nor does the fact that our femicide rate is five times the global average. I’ve been living with those numbers all my life. The first time they knocked on my door was at 14 when a girlfriend was murdered by a policeman who had already killed four others.
The second time it popped in for a visit was when my friend, Juliette was raped and murdered. Then a friend’s baby girl was killed. She wasn’t yet six months old. Then it was Maisie, who was gang-raped and beaten. She killed herself six months later. She was only 18.
Rape took away a decade of my own life. It takes away a huge chunk of most women’s lives here in SA. I’ve not recounted all the friends I have who’ve been raped because it would turn into a novel. Rape is normal here. Escaping it is sheer luck.
Sometimes, these things make me angry. Sometimes, I must put work into trusting a gender that has destroyed a huge chunk of almost every South African woman’s life because if I let my fear run rampant, I will miss out on all the beautiful men who are in my life, who support and love me and who would never hurt a soul. If I live in fear, I will forget the truth: that the vast majority of men are good, that most of our murderers and rapists are covering so much ground because they’re repeat offenders. They don’t represent an entire gender.
Violent men touch our lives every single day. Many of us live in fear, and we have good reasons. Murder is normal. Rape is normal, but we are called feminazis for talking about it. Looking at all these deaths I’ve listed, I hope you understand why we are scared and why we sometimes get angry, even if you’re a man yourself.
Is our fear misandrist? Maybe. Maybe not. Should men try to understand why it’s hard to keep thinking of the problem as a genderless one? I believe so. Should they give us leeway given how strongly they react to a silly little internet post like this one? Definitely. Should they understand our response to all this gender-based violence? Hell, yes. We are being killed for being women. Should that not make us angry?
It should make you angry, too. Far, far angrier than this post will.