By all means, speak up

I do not know if it is National Domestic Violence week or that the people in the journalism industry share ideas and all decide to print the same thing but the issue has been everywhere, on the airwaves, in print, online, everywhere. It is a contentious issue because we are talking about people’s lives in an environment influenced by varied cultural views and norms.

On a breakfast radio show, two co-hosts, a man and a woman got into such a heated argument that they stopped discussing the issue altogether and played adverts instead. Even all the way on this other side of the microphone, I could sense the tension and enrage in that room. The lady’s argument was; by saying “Men should not beat women but…” was sending an implied message to the younger men that there is a point where it is okay to beat women. The man’s argument was that domestic violence is not just about women, men get beaten too. In essence, they were both right, but it got personal and harsh words were said, on air. I believe our message shouldn’t just be women shouldn’t be beaten or men shouldn’t be marginalised. The general message should be that there oughtn’t be violence in relationships. It is a good cause but I think we need to stop the fight for the sexes and bring people back to the fact that before we are male or female, we are human.

It is very easy to stand as a spectator and judge people for their decisions; battered, abused, mentally and physically without understanding the background story.

“Why is she still with that man?” we often say ,” he obviously treats her so badly. He beats her” “she openly disrespects him”

The fact is people make decisions that at times make you wish they did not have the power to make their own decisions. However, they are people and they have experiences which may or may not have injured them in one way or another. It is very easy for us to tell battered people to just leave because it does not make sense to us for them to stay without considering what it is they are fighting within. Voices, experiences and ideologies that in one way or another have them believing that they have no choice or they somehow deserve the pain that is in their lives.

A good friend of mine and I had a bit of a situation yesterday. He pissed me off, as in got me really worked up that had he been next to me, I would have been glad to draw blood. He has his reasons and being the understanding person that I am who is so full of love for this person; I kind of let it pass. I say kind of because later on, when I saw him, it was somewhat evident in the lack of tenderness in my words that I hadn’t. I let him have it, I did not curse him out but I let him know that I was unhappy and I was not going to allow to be spoken to like that. He aplogised, which took me by surprise by the way, not because he is a bad person but because it was the last thing on my mind. I just wanted to let him know. I was standing up for me. I am not saying apologies are not good, I love apologies, his apology might have even contributed to the brightening of my week! but, it is not just about the apology.

Some people will never face up to what they have done to you, many don’t even acknowledge that they did anything wrong,putting it all on you. While an apology is good, an apology is not the end that we seek. Just speaking up is alot. Recognising your value and letting others know your standards. Believe it or not, people only treat you the way you let them; especially people with whom we relate, the ones we have continual interaction with. I am not talking about that random boda boda guy outside the park who just passed a nasty comment or that person you’ve just met at a party who goes ahead to draw some ridiculous generic conclusion about you. No,I am talking about the people you choose to let into your life.

You have every right to stand up and speak up for yourself. It does not even have to first be something big like getting punched in the face by your lover; it could be small things. Small things like the other party discussing personal issues with everyone else but you, small things like hands “accidentally” ending up where they should not. It is your right to speak up. Granted, you may be wrong at times but better to know for sure than live in suspiscion or opression. You will even probably rock some boats but speak up. Practice standing up for yourself. You have a right to expression. Do not let people treat you in a way you do not agree with, by all means, speak up.



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