It’s being called #MenAreTrash: The Documentary. If that doesn’t pique your interest, what will? Like its predecessor, The People vs The Rainbow Nation, the documentary is an unflinching, honest lens that unpacks the dynamics of gender, race and class in post-apartheid South Africa.
If the trailer is anything to go by, you don’t want to miss this one – it’s going to be lit.
The People Versus Patriarchy seeks to have these conversations by allowing voices affected by the sexism and misogyny that permeate our lived experiences to have a platform and share their stories.
By sharing these stories, we realise that patriarchy may not be something everyone understands but what we do understand is that most of us can say #MeToo.
You can spot activists and artists in the doccie including musician Dope Saint Jude, actor and author Nakhane, performance artist Desire Marea, and poet and writer Nova Masango.
We interviewed producer Jasmyn Asvat on why we need The People Versus Patriarchy more than ever.
Why do you think South Africans don’t want to talk about patriarchy?
People don’t understand the word patriarchy. We break it down. We do that in this documentary by exploring it through five pillars, but most people don’t understand what it means, but they live it every day. We’re raised by it, we’re raised in it, but it doesn’t even come up in our languages. If you go to someone directly and then ask about an experience that’s sexist, that’s misogynistic, that’s toxic, people then start understand it. You have to give people an experience. The lingo is so hard to understand, so when you start breaking it down, it makes people understand what that lived experience is, rather than giving them a massive feminist term.
Why was it important for you to be involved in this documentary?
As women, we live it every day. It was important for me to make this film because I have daughters, I have sisters, I have friends and women everywhere battle with this. I am also a survivor of sexual assault, and worked with organisations from a young age. I’ve battled with issues of sexual violence, and having it as a lived experience every day, it was an important time for me to make this film. So it was a lived experienced and it’s something we all need to know. I read a piece by Stacey Chin where she confronts the #MeToo movement and says the reality should be #NotHer or #NeverMe. We need to reimagine a world in a way that ensures we will never experience this system. It’s a big thing for me on a grander scale because I’m raising a young daughter and she will certainly experience this system but we have to start making a difference.
In what ways do you hope this documentary will confront and disrupt a deeply rooted culture of misogyny and sexism?
Lebo [Lebogang Rasethaba, the director of the film] and I wanted to make this film so that people can understand the terms, and start to create safe spaces where they can talk about these issues. The big thing is we need to have conversations. Women need to have conversations and men need to have these conversations. This film may not dismantle the system now as that takes years and years of radical activism, but this film is a starting point for people to have this conversation. This film shows people in groups where they have opportunity to vent and discuss, and I think it will allow others to create those safe spaces. When we start confronting these issue that way, we become conscientised.
Do you think #MenAreTrash is an adequate descriptor/movement for the ways toxic masculinity oppresses a multitude of identities?
#MenAreTrash is so powerful for so many men and women to realise the pandemic of this issue. I do think when men saw it, they did start to self-reflect, but masculinity and fragility is a tough one. Even my husband was shocked at how we can say all men are trash when we’re raising young women who will start to believe this and grow up hating men. But my thing is, it was a powerful movement that I think men don’t get it until they start listening to women’s stories. When they see the hashtag all they is see desktop activism, but it doesn’t doesn’t mean they get it. It takes a lot of self-reflection and even the men in the film who were saying ‘all the right things’, even men who are allies or ‘woke’ – you still have to be weary them.
— ron swanson (@yamalisa) November 21, 2017
Why was it important for you to tell this story through the lens of South Africa’s youth – more specifically, black women and femmes?
The feminist movement has always been driven by white voices. So we wanted to extend to the global black feminist lens, and the important of having black females telling their stories was of larger importance. We need to start getting that black feminist voice out there, so we told the story with the range of women we spoke to and that was the most amazing thing to experience, to have these young black women speaking to this. It’s time to start a black radical feminist movement and spaces where women can start activating, protesting and making the changes for ourselves.
Representation matters and in a world that says Black women don't matter, representation is even more important.
— Shay Stewart Bouley (@blackgirlinmain) November 27, 2017
What makes you excited or hopeful about South Africa’s journey towards dismantling these structures?
At the moment, I’m hoping that with so much happening like the Rhodes List and the rape-culture protest that happened a few years back, there are more and more movements against the gender-based violence and women speaking out. That gives me hope because there is strength that is starting to unfold. You can feel there’s this underlying shift and that gives me hope. Women are not taking shit any more. It’s the people who perpetuate this system that need to start acting. It’s the men who need to start learning and actively making the change. I know most of us are tired of helping men, so I’m hoping this film makes men realise they can have safe spaces among themselves to talk about this. As women, we have to be radical and take radical stances. We have to use self-care and self-love to dismantle these structures, we need to start doing things for ourselves and, most importantly, it’s up to men to start learning.
Catch The People Versus Patriarchy TONIGHT on MTV (DStv channel 130) at 9.15pm during the global initiative, 16 Days of Activism against gender-based violence.