This is the actress Charlize Theron doing a video for an anti-rape campaign. Here is a transcript of her words:
‘People often ask me what the men are like in South Africa.
If we consider that more women are raped in South Africa than in any other country in the world.
That one in three women are raped in their lifetime, in South Africa.
That every 26 seconds a woman is raped in South Africa.
And perhaps worst of all, that the rest of the men in South Africa seem to think rape isn’t their problem.
It’s not that easy to say what the MEN in South Africa are like, because there seem to be so few of them out there.’
- The end credits – REAL MEN DON’T RAPE
I have written before about ‘real men don’t rape’ campaigns. And I have taken part in discussions on Mark Simpson’s blog about how the idea of ‘real men’ is used in our (and especially American) culture to present a macho, manly version of masculinity, that really is quite ‘camp’ if you look at it closely enough. It is laughable, and we have laughed at it mercilessly, but it is also a way that men are reminded to maintain a presentation of their masculinity that denies whole aspects of themselves. And that demonises anything feminine, anything ‘faggy’, anything ‘sissy’.
But this ad featuring Charlize Theron takes the concept of ‘real men’ one step further.
Theron is a white woman of South African origin. An attractive woman. The typical ‘victim’, the most acceptable ‘victim’ of unwanted attention by predatory men is the attractive, young, white female. And in South Africa, even years after apartheid was officially disbanded, the aggressor that would immediately come to our minds when we think of an attractive white woman, would be a black man.
‘It’s not that easy to say what the MEN in South Africa are like, because there seem to be so few of them out there’ says Charlize.
The men in South Africa who rape women are not ‘real men’. The men who do not challenge the men who rape women in South Africa are not ‘real men’. And so, in South Africa, where the majority of men are black, incidentally, there are ‘so few’ real men ‘out there’.
If a man is not a ‘real man’ what is he? A pussy? A faggot? A wimp? A sissy?
When I was beaten by an ex partner, many of my friends commented on how cowardly it was for a man to hit a woman. How pathetic. How only the lowest of the low in masculinity would do such a thing. I hated that. Because non-consensual violence isn’t exactly ‘cool’ in any situation as far as I am concerned. And I was already excruciatingly aware of my ‘weakness’ in that relationship. To have it hammered home to me by ‘concerned’ bystanders just made it worse. They were commenting on my ex not as a person, but as a ‘man’. And if they were saying ‘what kind of man would do that to a woman?’ it followed, in this woman’s mind at least, that they were also saying ‘what sort of woman would go with a man that would do that?”
So in this grim picture of South Africa that Theron paints, it is not just the men that sound pathetic, ‘unmanly’ and cowardly. The women don’t come out of it too well either. What sort of women would let men do that to them? Helpless, oppressed women?
I can’t quite believe this ‘advert’ exists. I know that South Africa is riddled with socio-economic problems. But they are not caused by the characters of individual ‘men’. The ‘men’ in South Africa are not worse than the men anywhere else in the world. They suffer along with the women in that country. Those of them that suffer. Because some men in South Africa live rather nice, opulent lives and so do some women. A woman such as Charlize Theron, for example, should she return to her homeland, would be among the richest in the country I expect. She would be in much less danger of violence than other women anyway.
Real Men don’t exist it seems in South Africa.
But that is no surprise to me. Because I believe that ‘real men’ don’t exist anywhere.