The phrase is everywhere on social media. Some people associate it with toxic and extreme feminism as well as hate speech, while others defend their ‘honor’ and ‘dignity’ by saying that “not all men are trash” and that “women can also be trash”. Not everyone understands the actual meaning of the phrase but are quick to hurl rebuttals and counterattacks to those who use it.
Thabi Myeni, a writer a News24, wrote that “If you had a sack of potatoes, 8/10 of them are rotten, would you just let it sit there because “not all potatoes are rotten”? How would you describe it to someone? Say you’re too disgusted to open the sack; would you not just say “THE potatoes are rotten”? (hence THE men are trash) Or would you magically think of the exact ratio of spoilt potatoes to good ones – having not opened the sack? Didn’t think so.”
Where did the phrase come from?
‘Men Are Trash’ started as a hashtag that began with a few women who took matters into their own hands to call out problematic and abusive men. Most of the first women that used it had personal first-hand experiences.
It rose to mainstream popularity this year as murders and rape cases were on the rise in South Africa and they often go unreported, and people on Twitter eventually caught on.
It is now a movement to create awareness and start conversations about the murder and abuse of women who are unable to defend themselves and are even blamed for it.
Why do people use it?
‘Men are trash’ is not used to generalise all men, although it may seem that way. Domestic abuse, rape culture, victim blaming, and emotional manipulation are some of the things the phrase is used to bring awareness to.
It is not used to single out males that don’t text back, don’t do their chores, and other things that people try to associate the phrase with.
The phrase is used by women to voice out their frustration at a misogynistic, oppressive, toxic and patriarchal society. It is not meant to undermine men in an attempt to be a feminist, but to challenge those who defend toxic and fragile masculinity.
Men are immediately taken aback and uncomfortable when someone uses that phrase, and that’s what grabs their attention and starts a conversation.
“Not all men are trash.”
You’re not wrong there. However, pointing out that you’re a nice guy and that fact that you are triggered by a phrase suggests that there are hints of fragile masculinity there and it is irrelevant to why the phrase was created in the first place – to bring awareness to the murder and abuse of women.
Some have rebutted that women all have fathers, brothers, boyfriends, and husbands that they seem to categorise under ‘trash’. Again, this steers away from the fact that the phrase was meant to start a conversation about the murder and abuse of women, not to generalise all men.
The phrase is not meant to offend men or to talk smack about your ex because of a failed relationship. It is meant to bring to light the oppressed people (both men and women!) and their frustration with those who emit fragile and toxic masculinity, ultimately leading to abuse or murder.
What do you think about the phrase? Leave us your thoughts in the comment section!
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