GBV is a nightmare we’re currently living in and can’t seem to wake up from. One article says “more than half of all the women murdered (56%) in 2009, were killed by an intimate male partner”. Furthermore it says… “between 25% and 40% of South African women have experienced sexual and/or physical IPV (Intimate Partner Violence) in their lifetime”. And I believe the numbers are higher now that we’re in 2023. Because most incidents of GBV are not reported. How do I know you may ask? Well I’ve seen it.
Reality is, my lovely aunt is part of the statistics but not even once did she report her husband to the authorities. From the outside, it’s hard to know why she never did or why she never left him. Some call it love, but violence has never been an act of true love. And I lived a significant part of my life with my grandparents. But not even once have I seen my grandpa raise his hand or heard him raise his voice against my grandma.
However this one time visiting my cousins for the school holidays I heard my aunt and her partner fighting in their bedroom. And the traumatic sounds of strife and body shots escaped their room and ran all the way to the living room, where we were. At that time we were still kids, there was practically nothing we could’ve done about it. Elders held meetings but nothing changed. The abuse continued for years.
Until this one time last year when my younger cousin woke me up around 2am. As I struggled to open my eyes, I saw my older cousin holding a bread knife and he was fuming. I calmed him down, only to realize that my aunt’s mouth was bleeding. Then a fire was lit, deep inside of me. I wanted to attack the husband too, but I knew that I had to be sensible about it. Because if we both had lost control that night, we could’ve killed him. But at the same time, we couldn’t let him slide. So I convinced my cousin to act on it. I was there for support just in case things went south. And my cousin expressed the anger and pain he carried for years, through his own version of slaps and punches, delivered to the husband’s face. The husband didn’t do anything, but took his belongings and left. He did come back after a short while, but till this very day he has never laid a finger on my aunt again. Because I think he knows that if he does, there will be dire consequences.
Toxic masculinity is why we’re in this position today. I’m talking about senseless aggression, dominance, insecurity and lack of empathy for others. The harshness of the streets and the ridiculousness of peer pressure has turned us (men) into animals.
When I was young, I was heavily influenced by the character James Bond. Mostly by how he carried himself. Although he’s not real, his characteristics are. He’s known as “the ultimate Gent”. An example of a true Gentleman. What makes a man to be a gentleman you ask? Well this is it: A gentleman is imperfect. He knows that he will make mistakes, but he owns it and takes responsibility for the things He can control. A gentleman has good manners. He is courteous, and polite towards everyone. A gentleman is open-minded. He doesn’t stick stubbornly to ideas and traditions that don’t serve him or those around him. He is able to put himself inside other people’s shoes and to some point, understand them. A gentleman keeps his word. He does the thing he said he’ll do. In every aspect he follows through. A gentleman treats people with respect. By people I mean everyone, from family to close friends to women, children, colleagues, and everyone in between. He does not claim to have more or less rights than those around him. A gentleman knows the difference between arrogance and confidence. He does not seek external validation, for he knows and trusts himself very well. A gentleman is humble, and wields his power responsibly.
These are some of the few things a real gentleman does, in order to create a healthy environment around him. Now if my aunt’s husband was a true Gent, he would not hurt her. Because he would know how to resolve whatever issues he has through open and honest communication. Sometimes I think about a future generation who have grown to be sincere gentlemen. And I believe that the world could experience less if not zero GBV cases, should men strive to become true gentleman.