Helen Zille centre of ‘Men Are Trash’ Twitter debate with ‘Not All Men’ defence

Cape Town – Helen Zille started trending on Twitter on Women’s Day, for her remarks on a thread which seemed to shed light on some of the challenges women face, and why people often say that "Men Are Trash".

Zille did not appreciate the thread’s take and retorted by saying that the remarks were not fair as it puts an unfair label on men as a whole. 

Her remarks did not go over well given that it comes on Women’s Day, which is meant to commemorate the day where over 20 000 women marched to the Union Buildings in Pretoria in 1956 to end to pass laws which sought to control the movement of black women around the country.

They day is also meant as celebration of women and their contributions to our society.

Many felt that Zille’s remarks were deaf to the legitimate struggles and tribulations women experience in the country, as it doesn’t help move the conversation forwards and appears reactive.

Here is the the full conversation:

ScreenShot219 8 9at14.56.18 - Helen Zille centre of 'Men Are Trash' Twitter debate with 'Not All Men' defence
ScreenShot219 8 9at14.56.31 - Helen Zille centre of 'Men Are Trash' Twitter debate with 'Not All Men' defence
ScreenShot219 8 9at14.57.1 - Helen Zille centre of 'Men Are Trash' Twitter debate with 'Not All Men' defence

Previously, IOL shared an opinion piece by Rebecca Helman and Kopano Ratele, which shed light on the #MenAreTrash subject. Helman is a researcher at Unisa’s Institute for Social and Health Sciences, and Kopano Ratele, is professor in the Institute of Social and Health Sciences at Unisa.

What they explained in their "#DontLookAway: What men can learn from campaigns like #MeToo and #MenAreTrash" piece was:

A lot of people who have been sexually violated struggle with speaking out or even disclosing to those close to them because of feelings of shame.

We see campaigns such as #MeToo and #MenAreTrash as attempts to disrupt and redirect the shame of sexual violence. 

Similarly #MenAreTrash, which called out problematic masculinity, gained increasing online popularity in South Africa in 2016 and 2017.

While these campaigns are ostensibly about encouraging the voicing of sexual trauma and challenging the acceptability of men’s violence, they are also about shifting the shame from the survivors to the perpetrators.


Many men have responded to these campaigns with anger and denial. 

They claim that they are not trash and that they have never sexually violated anybody. 

What anger, denial and other negative responses inhibit is an empathetic engagement with the shame-inducing and humiliation that men’s violence, abuse and sexual harassment are intended to produce.

There are at least two consequences of this refusal to engage.

Firstly, by refusing to engage with the experiences being presented by campaigns against sexual violence, men deny survivors the ability to transfer their shame to where it properly belongs: to the violators.

Secondly, men’s refusal to empathise with survivors prevents them, as men, from expressing their own traumas.

Twitter weighed in on the matter, and shared some of their comments:

Cape Argus

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