Friday 10 December 2010

Real Men Aren't Violent

When blogging friend Damaria Senne put the call out for guest posts on the Shukumisa website to highlight the 16 Days Activism Against Gender Violence, my mouth volunteered before my head thought about it. As the deadline crept closer and closer and inspiration still failed to descend, I said to Damaria that my "problem" is that (thank heavens) I'm surrounded by wonderful men. How could I write about something I hadn't experienced? Damaria came back with an important statement. 'Write about your good men,' she said, 'to show that there are good men in this world. The 16 days is not about demonising men; it's about helping women.'

And so I wrote about the real men in my life. You can read the article by clicking HERE or reading it below:


Who are the most important men in a woman’s life? Father, lovers, husband and sons. No matter what the culture, in the best of myths, the males in the family stand ready to protect and guard the well-being of the female family members.

In reality, it happens too often that these same men are the ones who are the cause of violence against women.  It always shocks me when I read about the so-called “honour killings”, where men—in the sacred name of their God—are allowed to (let’s be brutally honest) legally murder their women for ridiculous reasons such as falling in love with a man of a different religion, or choosing to wear sexy clothes. What’s honourable about violence against women? Nothing!

I’ve been blessed with a life surrounded by men who truly know the meaning of honour.  Never have any of the men I love as family or friends lifted a hand in violence to me.

My husband is a highly intelligent and highly educated man. He is sensitive and caring, but strong and protective at the same time. There is a moment that stands out in my memory as being unforgettable; it forged my love for him in steel.

Left: My husband, Beric, preparing for SWC 2010

Recently married, my big mouth (again) got me into trouble. This time with a very large, very aggressive and very angry man in a bakkie. This Izuzu-man cut the corner, nearly taking me with him. Because I’ve never experienced violence from men, I felt safe enough to call him a few choice words…and then I got the fright of my life when he slammed on brakes, scrambled over the hood and made straight for me with fists waving.

And my husband, my cry-in-sad-movies husband who practically faints at the sight of blood, pushed me aside, stepped in between me and the oncoming maniac, looked a long way up at him and said “Leave my wife alone!” The man, as bullies tend to do when faced with a greater inner strength, slunk back to his vehicle, swearing fluently.

But, I can hear you say, the privilege of your husband’s education is what’s given him the edge. Poverty, lack of education and domestic violence are the breeding ground of gender violence.

Not so.

My father left school in Std 6. That was the year he finally stopped hiding in the cupboard his mother had shoved him and his siblings into to protect them from their violent, alcoholic father.  Eventually, my Dad could no longer bear to hear the sounds of domestic violence against his mother. He sprang out of the cupboard, overcame his drunken father and warned him never to raise a hand to any of them again. That was the same day he left school and went out to work so that his mother and siblings could have food to eat and money to finish their education.
Left: My Dad (IB Heinemann) in working gear, 1968

Without education for himself, my Dad’s life was physical. He was a brilliant sportsman and he gained respect as a rough, tough mining man, willing to lead the most dangerous rescue attempts or bring the gold up from the deepest, most difficult gullies.

Do you still say violence against women is bred in poverty and lack of education? How then do you explain that, in the eight-three years of his life, no matter how angry any of his womenfolk have made him (and, believe me, we’ve tested him many times, like when he caught me smoking…, uh, something that wasn’t quite legal) my Dad has never, and I mean never, raised a hand in anger towards any of us?

These men I am privileged to love have two things in common: faith and honour.  Their sacred gods take different shapes; my father is a traditional Christian, while my intellectual husband is a Gnostic. But their honour springs from the same inner strength, the kind that gives their womenfolk the freedom to be everything we can or want to be.

Now that’s what I call real men.

Not all women are as privileged or as blessed as I am. Every day, women from all religions and all walks of life are being subjected to horrifying acts of violence; sometimes in the name of religion; at other times, out of the sheer brutality of weak men who resort to violence to “prove” their masculinity.

I hope that the example of these two special men can inspire other men to rise above the need to use violence as a tool of oppression against women.  And I hope that women the world over come to know that we must not follow the example of weak men: violence is never an answer to violence; gentleness and love are the only legacies worth striving for.


Judy Croome is a writer based in Johannesburg.  Learn more about Judy at



Judith Mercado said...

I went over and read the article, and you are right. Education, socioeconomic class etc. have little to do with violence against women. I am not sure, though, what does. It seems to happen in the most unexpected places and with the most surprising individuals.

CA Heaven said...

I completely agree. I have hardly ever beaten anyone, at least not since 2nd grade in elementary school. We need to learn that violence is never the best way to deal with problems. I think the reason why some men choose violence is a mixture of cultural heritage, lack of education and personal experience (victims of violence in childhood become violent in adulthood)

Cold As Heaven

Marilyn Brant said...

Thanks for telling us about your article, Judy. I'm off to read it now...

Anita said...

Will read when kids are asleep...thanks for taking time to highlight this issue. You know I think you rock.

Nancy J. Parra said...

Hi Judy,

I agree you do rock! Thanks for posting your article and highlighting this important issue.

Happy Holidays~

septembermom said...

I'm excited to go and read your article now. I know it will be great!

Judy Croome | @judy_croome said...

JUDY: The only reason I can think of is that it’s the soul, the inner being, that lacks something, perhaps the capacity to love. And it’s not limited to men: there’s a frightening increase on female on male violence and abuse. Beric & his partners do pro bono work in Alex (a township close to us) and they are dealing more and more with domestic violence where the wife is the abuser.

COLD: You’re another one of the good men!Although with my Dad as an example (statistics show that his childhood experiences should have made him both violent and an alcoholic) I think the potential exists for men (and women) to transcend their personal history. (Another good man was an old school friend of mine who, like my Dad, came from a family background of violence and alcoholism) Like my Dad, he used sport and faith to overcome that background. Tragically, he was killed in October by a drunken driver.)

MARILYN: Thanks for your comment on the article! I am blessed with my men they’re awesome!

ANITA: You know I think you rock too! And when the kids are asleep you should be eating mint chocolates without fear of discovery…

NANCY: And I think you rock too, Nancy! Hope little pooch is staying warm in her chair! Have a great holiday season!

KELLY: Thanks for your comment on the Shukumisa site. Beric would blanche at being called a warrior, but you’re so right! Considering he’s a lover, not a fighter, it was an exceptionally brave act when he defended me against the crazy!!