Jen Thorpe

Should men contribute to FeministsSA

Jen Thorpe
Jen Thorpe

By Jen Thorpe

I’ve seen a few images lately that got me thinking about whether FeministsSA should continue to publish posts by men.

I agree that men can be committed to the values of feminism and gender equality. I agree, that they have valuable insights about the way that men can address patriarchy and inequality. What I’m not so sure about is giving them the space to do it here, on FeministsSA, when they should be doing it out there in the world where it actually has more potential to make men uncomfortable. I started thinking about this in relation to this picture.


What it made me think about was the fact that men writing about feminism on are essentially preaching to the choir. We’re all going to agree and be receptive to what they’re saying. In essence, it doesn’t disrupt. It doesn’t challenge the chauvinists that are out there on more mainstream websites.

Of course the same goes for women writers writing about feminism. But, FeministsSA was also started to make more space online for women writers to have their say, in an internet that is filled with articles written by men. If FeministsSA becomes a space that gives more space to male writers, is it living up to its aims? I’m not sure it does.

I also thought a lot about this picture.



Feminism does certainly hold that men are capable of more than rampant harassment and sexual denigration. It holds that men can and should do better, and that gender equality will be better for both men and women. The question I wonder about then is ‘If men are only trying to do better in women’s spaces, is that enough?’

I guess what I have started to become uncomfortable with is the ‘exceptional’ essence of what men on feministssa become. They become the good men that are the exceptions, right? They become the men we accept and support. But, are they also saying this stuff to other men? This is what I’m asking. I see that contributors like Gcobani Qambela, Thorne Godinho, and Kameel Premhid are also writing about these issues on other sites like Thoughtleader and News24. This is, I think, more valuable than men contributing to FeministsSA. Because it opens them up to the possibility of challenge and debate from other men – and it is other men that male feminists need to challenge most.

Part of this thinking also stemmed from the #notallmen hashtag and how common it is for men to come to feminist gatherings and feminist spaces and to continue to be the first person to put up their hands or speak the loudest. How they are desperate to assert that they are a ‘good guy’, the exception, and they just want to dominate the space to make sure we as women know how much they support us.  The bottom tweet in this last image sums it up.

notallmen 2

It got me thinking about whether these good guys, and I really do believe that they are good, are also having the difficult discussions in other public spaces about what it means to be a good guy. And whether, by giving male feminists, the good guys, a space on FeministsSA means that they don’t have to do that.

I’m not decided. And so for this week I’d like you to tweet back to FeministsSA using the hashtag #feministssamen and let me know what you think. You can also comment on the blog, or post on the Facebook Page (see the link on the right of the page). Let’s discuss this. Or, vote in the poll at the bottom of the page. And that means you too men.

feminism vs misandry






During Child Protection Month, Sonke Gender Justice calls on parents and caregivers to cease spanking

June 2, 2014

It takes 28 days to change a habit – use Child Protection Month to improve your parenting habits!

‘I never spanked my child, even though everyone around me was doing it. Today she is an adult, and tells me that it helped her to grow into a responsible and caring person.’ – Mbuyiselo Botha – Father, grandfather and activist

Physical punishment of children is contrary to our own constitution, and to several international treaties that we have signed as a country. Quality research studies from Africa and the rest of the world have proven that there are much better ways to discipline children that do not depend on using physical punishment or spanking. They have also shown that even the so-called ‘little slaps’ can be harmful in the long-term, impacting on children’s social and emotional development.

Parents usually don’t like spanking their children, but they don’t know what else to do. The starting point for positive discipline is for parents to think about the long-term goals for children, rather than the short-term goals.

‘So while it’s urgent for her to put on her school jersey right now, you also want to remember that you want her to grow up as a caring person one day. Take a deep breath, calm down and tell her why it’s important to keep warm. And remember that children copy everything adults do, so if you want to teach her a lesson, she’ll copy that and want to teach you a lesson!’ – Wessel van den Berg – Kindergarten teacher and parent.

Using positive discipline is also a smart way to prevent violence in the long term, since children grow up learning that problems are not solved through violence, but through thinking and negotiating.

Sonke is calling on all parents and caregivers in South Africa to avoid spanking for one week, and then to decide about the best method to manage their children’s behaviour.

In 2015 the Children’s Act is due to be amended. Sonke and the Working Group on Positive Discipline are advocating for the use of positive discipline and the prohibition of physical punishment in home. This will not criminalise parents, since the removal of the parent from the child’s environment is obviously not in the best interest of the child. It will rather encourage healthy and caring relationships between parents and children.

Contact people for media inquiries:

Patrick Godana (                       073 233 4560

Mbuyiselo Botha (               082 518 1177

Wessel van den Berg (               082 686 7425

Carol Bower                                                                             061 414 6889

Child Protection week is from 1 – 8 June 2014

Learn more about positive discipline from the Working Group on Positive Discipline:

Find out more about Sonke’s MenCare campaign and work on parenting issues here:


The sexualization on the Male mind

Many a times we talk about the over sexualised representation of women in advertisements, Magazines , Television , music Videos and other forms of Media. Many a times women have been used as tools with which to sell/market a product or as a form of Decor. What we seldom talk about is the role society plays in the sexualisation of the male mind, to a point where the objectifying of a woman is a norm.

Let’s have the conversation on @SAfmRadio ‘s Intune on the 12th of April 2014 live with @NalediMoleo from 12:00 – 13:00.

Station Frequency : SAfm 104 – 107 Nationwide
Live stream:

Sona Mahendra

Amadoda – challenging masculinity

Sona Mahendra
Sona Mahendra

By Sona Mahendra

Concepts such as femininity, womanhood and other issues directly impact a young woman’s sense of self growing up in this patriarchal world, especially concepts of virginity, ‘purity’ and honour. Feminist discussions on these topics invite young women to participate and provide a platform where we can voice the challenges and obstacles that we face and how contemporary and orthodox definitions of the topics listed above stifles our actions and voices.

These discussions have been extremely helpful for young women such as myself to help define ourselves where our immediate social circles may be dominated by male interests, thoughts and actions. Much of this conversation has also targeted the ideas of masculinity and manhood and how these have come to be exhibited in our societies past and present in an oppressive manner towards women.

Many women feminists have also approached this topic in an academic way, deconstructing the masculine identity very effectively.  I was eager to find out if there was a space where young men were given the opportunity to deliberate, discuss and debate these ideas, a lot of which have great relevance to the creation of their identity. I was looking for a platform where men can voice their opinions in this regard and watch them deconstruct historical and societal notions on manhood and create their own definition of this identity.

It was to my great delight to have found a new youth movement that has dedicated itself to filling in this vacuum and addressing issues of masculinity and ‘maleness within the context of South Africa, that is, addressing issues surrounding young South African men.

AmaDODA is a student-based social movement at the University of Cape Town. It is keen on targeting topics and issues affecting young males and encouraging them to be better educated and sincere to the world around them, which not only makes them better allies for women’s rights movements, but it also creates disciplined, conscientious and moral individuals and citizens. The conversation that they have started is important because it encourages men to question their privileges and realities.

To find out more about the movement, I spoke briefly to one of AmaDODA’s co-founders, Dalisu Jwara, who highlighted certain aspects of this project.

Sona. M: What purpose is AmaDODA trying to serve in the community?

Dalisu.J: Amadoda aspires to raise men of value. We have noticed the dearth in good male role models in society, and we are trying to create a positive change in our generation.

SM: What main issues will AmaDODA be tackling?

DJ: Issues we are tackling are leadership, values based manhood and of course, the contentious gender debate. We have created a platform where people are engaging on issues of masculinity and the possible effects of such a movement as perceived by feminists.

SM: Will AmaDODA address the issue of gender inequality?

DJ: Not sure on gender inequality, I think indirectly we may be tackling this. But this is not our sole purpose. We are saying, we see that as men we are perceived in a negative light, we have left many homes, fatherless, how can we be better and useful “men” in society. And I guess this begins by recognizing that men and women must co-exist, we are both equal, but face different issues.

SM: What are you doing right now to carry out your vision? 

DJ: We have formed a partnership with international women’s organization V-day, and are bringing an initiative called One Billion Rising to UCT. We are also taking part in Cape Talk/Primedia, 16 day activism campaign in December, and are scaling up nationally-we are looking to launch in JHB and in the Eastern Cape.

SM: How does one became part of this project? 

DJ: Like our Facebook page, join in on the discussions. We don’t have a formal process. One can purchase a T-shirt to show that they support what we stand for.

SM: Is AmaDODA open only to men?

DJ: No it isn’t. If one identifies with our ideals, they are free to be part of the movement. We welcome criticism (as it stimulates debate) and open, frank conversations between men and women.

To read more about AmaDODA and its origins, click:

You can find them on Facebook ( where I would encourage the youth, especially men, to follow and join the important conversation they have started.