People vs Patriarchy

17 May

“Some people won’t even acknowledge that patriarchy is poisonous and a danger to our society.” Lebogang Rasethaba.


On Wednesday 16 May I watched the screening of the South African documentary: People vs Patriarchy directed by Lebogang Rasethaba and produced by Jasmyn Asvat. After the screening I participated in a panel discussion led by Busi Gumede, who is a broadcaster, and host of ENCA: Backchat and the producer of ENCA Checkpoint. The rest of the panellists included: Lorato form Breaking Down borders, Lwazi Mthembu and Mama Yaa-Ashantawaa.

Background on People Vs Patriarchy.

People Vs Patriarchy is a directed by acclaimed South African documentary maker Lebogang Rasethaba and produced by Jasmyn Asvat. It is a 75-minute documentary that unpacks the various ways the system of patriarchy impacts the daily lives of South Africans on an intimate level. The documentary unpacks what patriarchy is and how it has locked itself onto the very heart of our society. Through frank and confrontational dialogue with young people from different walks of life, it looks into the mirror to find out why #MenAreTrash exploded onto social media this year, following the countless cases of femicide and abuse exposed by the media in the country.

Will boys always be boys?

Will women continue to help raise ‘trashy’ men?

The People vs Patriarchy “How we perceive our social and personal relationships across gender is important,” says producer Jasmyn Asvat. “All other questions to the type of society we create are underscored by our gender relations. This documentary aims to help us get to a place where we face some of the toughest questions around gender violence and how we appropriately respond to this epidemic.”

In The People vs Patriarchy, Lebogang interviews the likes of musician and Inxeba lead actor Nakhane Toure; transgender activist Glow Makatsi; 2017 Aspen New Voices Fellow Koketso Moeti; poet, activist and feminist Lebohang Masango; transmodel and artist Elle van der Burg; performance artist Desire Marea; and YouTube sensation Sibu Mpanza, among others. “There is no version of this where we come out as the good guys,“ says Lee Molefi at the end of the trailer. Watch it here:
“It’s been a complex film to make,” says Lebo. “On one hand, men need to get together and have conversations about dismantling patriarchy. But then on the other hand, there is the danger of centring yourself as a man in a way that undermines women. So it’s a lose-lose situation. It’s one of those rare films where there isn’t any personal glory or victory attached to the director; it’s about introducing a generation of minds to concepts that will free them from the binds we were raised with. It’s about starting a conversation.”

The panel discussion:

We looked at the reality of how African women are seen in and outside of Africa. My response to that is that in every sector, women are hardly seen and black women are not seen and when we are, we are seen to be loud, over emotional and irrational beings. That is a reality shown through the eyes of men and women. The questions arose about why we feel this way and it stems from the colonisation of our minds and how we need to consciously question what has been fed to us through generations of education and so called traditional practices. We need to create platforms and practices on how we start to unshackle those chains.

One of the questions posed was, ‘how do we feel about the women who are represented in parliament’. The whole panel burst into laughter, we all agreed that firstly, we are not taken seriously as if you look at the women who are supposed to represent women, do not have our interests at heart. A reference was made to how women in parliament respond when a women is killed by her abusive partner, the misinformed and unsympathetic approach and how the women are often blamed for being in such relationships is very evident. This ideology stems from being indoctrinated on how patriarchal systems are essential to our existence and well being. Then the second comment which I made, was the sad reality that we know our country do not take us serious, this is evident when we see who they put in misnsitererial positions. Reference was made to the Zuma trial and the lack of support from the women one who were in exile and how they sided with Zuma. The discussion also touched on the powerful and brave statements made by four young women who staged a protest against President Jacob Zuma at the IEC results, which were held in 2016.
The four powerful activists, all in their twenties, held up a piece of paper which had poignant statements written on them. One of the activists,Naledi Chirwa held a paper, on which was written “Khanga” while the president was speaking live on television after the declaration of the local government elections.
She and three others, who held up placards reading “I am one in 3” and “Remember Khwezi” and “10 years later”. Soon after the incident they were hustled out of the room by what is believed to be the president’s security detail.

I shared how I found the moment a glorious and courageous moment in history, watching how these young women stood with pride in front of the committee, I trembled with joy and frustration. as we know that Fezekile Kuzwayo (Kwezi) was not treated fairly and as a nation we failed her. I saluted the pride represented through these young women who stood in the face of patriarchy and pseudo democracy.

In closing we discussed that we need to keep our conversations going and create more and more safe spaces for women to share their experiences. Men need to start their conversation and understand the true meaning of patriarchy and acknowledge their privileged existence. Ultimately we need the acknowledgement of men and their conscious efforts to undo the wrongs that they have learnt and see and live from day to day.

I salute the team behind this powerful and scary documentary, you truly are the change that is needed the world.

The trailer for the dosumanatry for People vs Patrarchy can be found via:


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