dear men | honest letters #3

Oh boy.

Hello, men. Male human men. I have a lot to say to you, and less patience than I once thought. So, I’m going to tell you some things and I’d like you to bear in mind that this isn’t even half of what I’d say to you if I could address you all as a collective group. I know this letter comes across as though I am, but having this space on the internet allows me to do things I would never be able to do.

So, without further ado, let’s begin. TW: assault, sexual harassment

Men, you exist. You are real. Every. Single. One of you. You are real, and when a man is abusive, a rapist, a murderer, I see far too many things saying that “real men” would never do such. I’d like to pull your head out from under your “I know I would never do that”-shaped thought hole, and remind you that real men did that. Real men who exist are the biggest threat to women’s safety and life expectancy. Real men. Not the imaginary ones that you seem to never relate to, those evil guys! Real men. Like you. Your masculinity doesn’t give you a pass on decency. When you absolve men of any responsibility, you are standing by and letting it happen.When you create a defensive movement in response to a movement that was never about you (see #YesAllWomen & #MenAreTrash and vs #NotAllMen & #NotAllMenAreTrash), you are doing it for real.

Why are you offended by #MenAreTrash? Are you offended because you are not a trash man? Because you’ve never, and would never disrespect women? Because your ego is taking a knock? Because the statement makes you question whether or not you’re the nice guy that you claim to be? Look, #MenAreTrash isn’t about one man. It’s not about two or seven or a million. It’s a movement about the treatment of women in greater society.

We know that there are “good men”, we understand that not ALL men are trashy bigots. That’s not the point of the movement. In fact, “Not all men” misses the point every time. It [quiets] us [and] it’s an attempt to shut us up. It has to stop.

The “not all [insert problem]” argument is not constructive, it doesn’t bring forth any substance to the debate and it certainly doesn’t bring forth any solutions to the problems *womxn are systematically faced with.

Is it not relevant that the majority of [men] are raping, abusing, killing, disenfranchising, undermining, patronising, policing, pirating, mansplaining to and widely victimising *womxn?

Must we just pack up and go home, forget this is happening because “not all men”? So what are *womxn to do? Nurse our wounds, overcome your systematic oppression and also have enough energy to try to figure out who’s trash and who’s not?

-Thabi Myeni, News24

You are dismissing real life problems that women face every day because your ego is bruised. You are dismissing the fact that I have never, in my entire life, met one woman or girl who has not been sexually harassed or assaulted. You are dismissing the fact that no matter how many times you are told that catcalling is not a compliment, you do it anyway. Or you watch your friends do it. Men, you are real. You are a real threat to my safety, whether you choose to acknowledge it or not.

Men, stop using “she’s someone’s sister/mother/blah blah blah” as your basis for respecting women. I don’t know if it’s crossed your mind, but there is not a single person on the planet that does not have some familial relationship with a woman. Not one, buddy. Every person deserves respect, regardless of who they’re related to. Stop placing women’s worth in their relationships with men. Honestly.

Men, stop calling us females! What the hell is with that, you guys? Did you forget how to say women? I just…I don’t get it. I don’t understand why you do it, or why “females” is near always used in a demeaning or disrespectful way when talking about women.  First off, female is an adjective. Your grammar is bad. Female as a noun works when it’s derogatory, and why the heck are you so rude? Secondly, have you ever heard anyone refer to men as “males”? Eugh. It’s gross. Stop it. JUST STOP IT.

Men, you’re privileged. Shhhh. Don’t debate me on this. It’s not up for questioning. It is a fact, and you need to accept that it is and then use your privilege to make things better for those who are not. The patriarchy hurts everyone – women, men, gender-nonconforming folk – and the manifestation of this is often used as anti-feminist reasoning. When men are raped, assaulted, and suffer domestic abuse, there is a misconception that feminists don’t care about those instances because we’re too busy smashing the patriarchy. We do care. The patriarchy is the reason most men do not report assault because of the conceptions they have of masculinity. When we fight the patriarchy, we fight because of how it hurts everyone.

Men, stop piping up with unconstructive arguments for the sake of it. Stop saying you’re a good guy while you creepily ask that girl,”Where’s my hug?”. Stop being transphobic douchebags, saying you’re here for women but only ones you deem acceptable. Stop being complicit, watching your friends catcall and harass women. Stop making this about you when you don’t calculate how fast you’ll have to run if some guy decided today’s his day every time you walk past a group of men. Stop killing us because you think you can, stop raping us because you think you can, stop disregarding our “no”s because you think you can. Stop because not giving a man a phone number has cost several women their lives, because a woman not responding to a man on the street resulted in her being punched unconscious, because women die when men decide that they should. Stop because women are people, and gender based violence is real. Stop it.

Be better. You have to be better.

love and light,
shalom xo

I assaulted someone today.



I’ve had a lot of trouble with banks this year. It’s only the end of March, but I have been to 5 bank branches (mostly for the same reason), and I’ve been annoyed to the same degree when leaving each of them.

I was at a branch today (that had free wifi and lovely sofas and no queues and the most beautiful aircon I ever did feel), and I left after hearing that my card was locked because someone at a previous branch didn’t give me a form to fill out. I felt fantastic. Amazing. I love having my money locked in a card that I cannot use.

On my way to the mall where I would later meet my sisters, a bakkie (pick up truck?) carrying 13 guys stopped at the red light where I had stopped. I was catcalled (annoyingly, but expectedly) and then, I was yelled at for “seducing [them]”. In my floor length skirt and tank top, my arms (aka the mistresses of seduction) did some serious damage to these guys.

Nonetheless, I kept walking. Earphones in, head down – you know the drill. Until one of the guys climbed down from the truck and started walking next to me.


He did some more catcalling, perhaps believing that the proximity would help his cause. I ignored him. He yelled at me, called me a whore, called my mother a whore, and asked how I dared to put myself on display and then reject his advances.

The logical thing to do would be to get the hell out of there. Heaven knows why I did what I did next.

I stopped walking, took my earphones out and said, “If you touch me, I will hurt you”. He laughed, and grabbed my wrist.

Then, I kicked his ass.

Look, a childhood obsession with Totally Spies and three years of Kickboxing don’t go unnoticed when an annoyed Shalom finds herself in the company of threatening men. They just don’t.

I pushed him over when I was done, and said, “I told you not to touch me.” He swore at me (and my mother) again, and I walked away.

I’m currently in a café, drinking a chamomile tea and looking like the calmest calm person to ever calm. I don’t look like someone who left a grown man lying in a heap on the ground.

Honesty, though – for how long will girls have to take self defense classes so that they can go to the mall? How long will the idea that men on cars have rights of access to women on the street be perpetuated? How many more people have to kick their way out of a violent encounter?

I am so tired. I am tired of this. I am tired of having to fight because I am female. I am tired of “she was asking for it”. I am tired of “what was she wearing?”. I am tired.

If you’re reading this, you owe the world better. We owe the world better. I don’t know how we’re going to fix this, but we’re going to.

shalom xo