Twitter has been abuzz with the constant popping up of the #menaretrash trend and as a response, the #NotAllMen has taken birth. And while the world continues to harp on the technicalities of the implications, the entire concept of #MenAreTrash has been translated into hate speech.
So here I am, trying to clear the air and make the phrase "men are trash" more cohesive for everyone. While the world is torn between which side to jump on, for me, it's clear - "men are trash." Now, before you come at me and tear me down to pieces, maybe if I just explain why so many other women across the globe and I, choose that, we could stand on the same ground.
Let's go to the roots of the origin to really understand where and how this phrase became so popular.
Where Did "Men Are Trash" Originate?
Like most Twitter trends, it's difficult to tell where the term originated because it was thrown around long before it gained popularity, but we can narrow it down to one particular tweet that set the trend off.
In 2017, Karabo Mokoena was murdered and her body burned by her boyfriend in South Africa. In this country femicide is a chronic problem. Statistics show that a woman is murdered every 4 hours. It is also reported that more than half of these murders (57.1%) are initiated by an intimate partner.
Karabo’s death sent chills through the country, with #MenAreTrash trend taking over social media platforms for weeks.
Ever since then, the phrase has been used rigorously across all social media platforms.
What Does "Men Are Trash" Really Mean?
First things first, women KNOW that not all men are trash. The hashtag and semi-social movement "Not All Men" wants us to know one thing - good men exist. And surprisingly we know that. Wonderful men exist all around us in fact, we are friends with them, we are in love with some of them and we were even raised by some of them - so we really do recognize that great men exist.
But the phrase "men are trash" has nothing to do with those men. It's best explained by Jesse Vhasy Rasoesoe using a simple snake metaphor -
"We all know that snakes are dangerous, yet there are some snakes which are not deadly at all. However, you never hear people say ‘some snakes are dangerous, some are not’. They just say, ‘snakes are dangerous’ because it is hard for the average person to tell which snakes are dangerous and which snakes are not, so they urge people to be cautious of all snakes."
The phrase stems from the sheer frustration and exhaust of women dealing with men who are inappropriate, entitled or simply complicit. So when we say "Men Are Trash", it's like saying "Fruits are sweet." Not all fruits are sweet, sure - but we don't talk that way - it's simple linguistic understanding.
Also, looking at the context that the phrase came into existence, and then viewing the statistics related to the incident - it becomes hard to express the fear and stress that comes with dealing with men who are taught to be dominant and superior - or any other basic fundamentals of toxic masculinity.
While we recognize that toxic masculinity is just hardwired into the system and is probably taught over generations - it doesn't make life any easier for women subject to that kind of toxic masculinity. It's hard not to express our frustration when we're surrounded by these ideas and practices.
Should We Stop Saying "Men Are Trash"?
A general point of contention has been that "men are trash" and "boys will be boys" has overlapping tones. Which basically means that saying the phrase "men are trash" is just lowering the expectations we have from men - essentially saying that men have always been a certain way so if they do act in accordance to that standard there's no surprise.
And that has been an interesting turn in the debate of whether we should stop saying the phrase. Now, we know that men aren't born "trash" - it's just environmental hardwiring and reinforced gender stereotypes that shape them into a particular framework - but we're all capable of unlearning and change.
So should we stop saying "men are trash" - I don't really know. It's a confusing web to undo. I don't think the phrase "boys will be boys" has the same implication as "men are trash. The first phrase simply excuses men for toxic masculinity and the latter is more of a jolt - a rude, almost derogatory shake that men should do better and phase out the saying.
When it comes to the argument that we should stop saying the phrase because it's generalization or untrue and has hurt the sentiments of many men - I think we should let it stay. The whole idea of the phrase is to bolt the receiving audience, to be a little rude and unapologetic so there's some form of reform.
Another factor is that the phrase is a form of solidarity of the frustration and tire of women around the world - and we should let it stay that way because it's the one coping mechanism we have learnt to battle our everyday struggles with toxic masculinity.
As I've said before, we know it's not all men, and we know it may not even be your fault that you behave a certain way - but we are all capable of change and we're all capable of unlearning. So men, if the phrase offends you - it should. And instead of creating the #NotAllMen defence - next time just be critical with yourself, analyze your behaviour, ask us what you can do to help create a change - maybe then the #menaretrash parade may just rest in peace.