It’s 2018, but men are not being held responsible enough for their actions against women. At Aretha Franklin’s funeral, on live broadcast, Bishop Charles H. Ellis III groped Ariana Grande. Grande’s body language exhibited full discomfort at how she was being held by Bishop Ellis. However, Grande’s name has been more on the news for wearing a short dress, diverting attention and scrutiny from her abuser. If this is not a way of blaming the victim and putting her in the limelight, while shielding the abuser, what else is it? The importance of the #MeToo movement was not just about women speaking up about rape, abuse and sexual violence but about women naming their abusers, and shifting the blame to change some of the negative attitudes towards the victims.
The criticism of Bishop Ellis III has been widespread, but more from women. Why are men not as vocal about such blatant abuse? Men are certainly ware of the harassment, abuse and sexual violence, which happens in society, within the households, communities, work places and various spheres of life. The silence of men when another man makes abusive or sexist statements, rapes or sexually harasses women is a tacit approval which perpetuates the cycle of sexual violence. At a time when there is a strong movement across the world and indeed the continent fighting against gender based violence, social media, particularly Twitter has been essential in amplifying voices of advocates. Interestingly, the arguments on feminism has taken centre stage, but its many men and women because of lack of understanding have labelled feminists as bitter women and reduced the discussion of feminism to who cooks or who does not.
At the Africa Magic Viewers’ Choice Awards held in Lagos, Nigerian presenter IK Osakioduwa, the MC of the event said after Falz’s performance “In my next life I want to be a music artiste so I can have irresponsible girls dancing around me.” The statement caused quite a stir on social media and the MC posted an apology saying; “Hey Tweeps, I think I need to apologise for the joke about the dancers I want in my life. I was just saying I like ‘Bad’ girls (Who doesn’t ?), Sorry to the people it offended. Please don’t get in your feelings about it. Let’s not kill ourselves over my adjectives”. This tardy apology didn’t help matters either. Professional dancers are labelled irresponsible because they are women is part of what feminism fights against.
The role of men in 2018 shouldn’t be about labelling feminists as bitter women but to critically look at the construct of society and question why a woman should be limited in the roles she plays either at work or at home. The focus of the society has been to police women, their bodies, careers, and their age and men have been extremely complicit.