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The misogyny and stupidity associated with it



I got into a social media rant this past weekend. I had hoped I am altogether too mature and level headed for such foolishness but as it turned out, nope. Given enough cause, I too am as explosive and emotional as the next person. In any case the matter was this; a young woman was missing and pictures of her were being circulated on Facebook and other channels for information on her whereabouts. One would think in this day and age of femicide, trafficking in persons and plain old high crime rates would mean that someone being said to be missing would worry all and sundry right? Wrong. In enters misogyny and the stupidity associated therewith. “She probably just went to get d*** and you guys are bothering us with this.” Hold on a damn minute, someone is missing, could potentially be lying dead somewhere or at the very least trapped and hoping for help and your very first thought is that she went to see a man. Now granted with the way men behave it would make sense if when women went to see them, we hide our whereabouts in shame. But realistically, do people really think that women in their twenties generally go unheard of for days on end simply to go have sex? What annoyed me was that this was not the first time that a woman or even a girl went missing and the world generally acted like it was not a big deal and she was probably off somewhere gallivanting with men. It does not even matter what age she is. Sometime last year a girl of about 12 went missing in Thetsane and people on social media were making the same comments. “No, do not be worried, she is probably with her boyfriend.” Now I do not know whether a 12-year-old would have an age-appropriate boyfriend with the means to keep her away from family for two days, given that teenage boys seldom have houses and if she was indeed with a man with a house then clearly, he is not a teenage boy and that should be cause for alarm. Also, what kind of childhood did people who say these things have that allowed them to go on sexcapades at 12? Now that women in their twenties go missing, they still think the same. What bothered me especially, misogyny aside, was the stupidity behind that statement. I may not like misogynists but I hate nothing more than stupidity, the stupid assumption that people do not know their sisters or friends enough to be aware of their movements or patterns. The stupidity is also that one can assume that in this day and age when we as women know that we could end up dead at any time, we do not inform our nearest and dearest about our whereabouts at all times. Women generally live under such fear that at any given moment we make sure that someone somewhere knows where we are and when we expect to be back. This includes when we are meeting our intimate partners because we are very much aware that they too could kill us. We tell our friends and family when we go to work, lunch, the gym and when we get into taxis, we let them know and if it’s a “special” cab with us as the only passenger we even take a picture of the registration and send the picture to someone so that should we not make it home they know where to start the search. We do not have the luxury of going off the radar all willy-nilly because we are aware that it could result in death. Of course, never going off the radar does not even mean that we are safe either but it gives us some comfort that in the event that something goes wrong, someone will inform the authorities, giving us maybe a 10 percent chance at survival. That is the reason why I struggle to understand as should any sane person why people keep making these comments when someone goes missing. This is not only limited to women and girls because men and boys also go missing and end up being found dead somewhere. Why are people still so invested, despite the evidence that people go missing, to chase harlotry and adultery? The assumption that someone would just disappear to go see their lover is at best stupidly naïve and at worst dangerous. It is dangerous in that it means these people think the police should do nothing and the public should not search, meaning that if the person is alive their chances of survival grow slimmer with each day delayed. This is not even limited to instances of foul play. People get into car accidents where no one can identify their bodies. They could suddenly collapse and could be lying somewhere dead or at the very least in need of medical attention. They can have a mental episode and might be wandering somewhere with no recollection of who they are. That your first thought is that they are with their boyfriends says a lot about the people who make such comments and what it says is not pretty. The other thing that bothers me about people ridiculing those who want to be helped in searching for their missing family members is always this: I get that you do not want to help but do you really expect a parent to sleep peacefully with no knowledge as to where their child may be? Do your parents sleep peacefully if they are not aware of your whereabouts? And if you are a parent; are you generally comfortable with going for days on end without knowing where your children are? If you answered yes to any of the above questions then your problems are far deeper than I could ever hope to address in this column, or any column for that matter. Seek professional help because whatever ails you needs someone more qualified than me. Thakane Rethabile Shale

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