An idea can have good intentions; however sometimes these good intentions can be applied in a way that can take meaning away from the idea itself. In the past few weeks, following the murder of Karabo Mokoena, the hashtag #MenAreTrash has been trending on Twitter. The idea behind #MenAreTrash is to inform people of the physical dangers that women face with regards to abuse in the home, especially by boyfriends or husbands. This is domestic abuse.
Understandably, the hashtag #MenAreTrash has been found offensive by some. The most common response to the hashtag is that not all men are trash. This has lead to debate over the hashtag itself without any attention given to the larger problem that #MenAreTrash is supposed to address. For example, when your average male, who does not abuse his female partner or any female acquaintances, sees the hashtag #MenAreTrash trending on social media he is very likely to ignore the hashtag’s intended meaning and be offended by the hashtag itself.
The problem with the #MenAreTrash hashtag is exactly that, the hashtag. Unless one knows exactly what the hashtag means and what it stands for, one is most likely to assume that its intended meaning is to promote hateful attitudes towards men. Of course this is not the idea behind the hashtag, but once it has caused offense it is already too late. #MenAreTrash, in the author’s opinion, is a poor choice of words to promote awareness of abuse against women in a familiar setting by a loved one. This is because the hashtag itself does not highlight anything to do with domestic abuse. It only focuses on the most common culprits of domestic abuse, men.
Yes, it’s true that men can be trash, it also happens to be true that women can be trash. However, these are generalisations and placing a group of people under a blanket more often leads to arguments than solutions.
The meaning of the #MenAreTrash hashtag has good intentions behind it. Shining a light on abuse, whether domestic or not, is crucial toward pushing the world into a better place. Unfortunately the good intentions of this meaning are overshadowed by misunderstood ideas. Perhaps if #MenAreTrash was something like #DomesticAbuseIsTrash or simply #AbuseIsTrash the focus would not be on who the hashtag offends but rather on the actual and very real problem of abuse towards women in the home.
By: Robert Eldon