WITH intimate partner violence being a harsh part of the reality of several Caribbean countries, including Jamaica, an advocate is opining that a crucial part of the problem is that some men are not socialised to “view women as human beings”.
“[They are] objects to be had,” opined Steffon Campbell, communication specialist and podcast host.
He was contributing to a conversation about relationships between men and women entitled 'Mars Meets Venus: Cracking the Man Code and the Woman Code'. The conversation was one of the virtual therapeutic dialogues that have been held so far in the weekly JN Circle Thrive Together Life Class, organised by The Jamaica National Group. The discussions are powered by Zoom, and streamed on JN Group's Facebook page.
“'This person who I own has rejected me…This person is not supposed to have a mind of her own. She is not supposed to be strong enough to leave me. That does not make any sense',” Campbell said, as he mulled over some of the considerations that may go through some men's minds as they deal with rejection from women.
And not only do some men view women as objects who have no right to reject them, he argued, for some, a woman's rejection is an injurious blow to their machismo.
“A lot of our masculinities are defined by how many women [we have],” he posited. “If I lose women, or if I lose this woman, then it's a validation of not being man enough.”
He further reasoned that the importance some men attach to maintaining their masculinity is so great that they may choose death over injury to their egos.
“Some people wonder, why is it easier for a man to die by suicide? It's not that it's easier, it's just that at the time, at the moment, it's a much better solution than the alternative — not being a man!” said Campbell, who is also researching male suicide in completion of his doctoral studies.
He continued: “So not being alive, ironically, is better than not being a man, because this (bruised male ego) is what you have to live with.”
Supporting his points, clinical psychologist and sex expert Dr Karen Carpenter explained that one of the existing inequities in society is that men's masculinities are judged by others.
“So when a woman leaves him, he fears as well how others will view him. 'What kind of man are you?' is the question a man is constantly asking himself. When a man leaves a woman she goes to her girlfriends and mother and says, 'He was never a good man anyway',” Dr Carpenter explained.
Campbell said there is a need for society to provide men with the freedom to deal with these issues of masculinity, positing that some men may be murdering women because it may be the only way to bring attention to their pain, although he cautioned that such reasoning has absolutely no justification.
“These are very, very real possibilities and we can't overlook or shun it,” he said.
“They are terrifying, but there needs to be spaces like this to learn the truth,” he maintained.
Dr Carpenter said it is important for society to pursue gender equity, in order to achieve harmony between the sexes, noting that there are social benefits to be derived from achieving parity. Using the example of Denmark, which is currently considered the second happiest country in the world, according to the United Nations, she noted that there is a relationship between its perceived happiness and its high levels of gender equity.
“In the societies where there is more gender equity there is greater happiness,” she affirmed.
However, she underscored that people need to learn how to deal with rejection. She noted that, generally in society, people are not taught how to accept rejection and often they interpret it as a personal character flaw.
“We have to learn, both for men and for women, that everybody has a right of refusal. If you come to JN and you want to open an account and they say 'I'm sorry, you can't get a mortgage; you can't do this because you need A, B or C', you don't throw a tantrum on the floor and you don't threaten the agent who is speaking to you; and you don't stalk them and do all the things you think you have a right to do in relationships,” she underscored.
“You have to learn that everybody has a right to say no. We are not everybody's cup of tea. There are seven billion people on the planet — you'll find someone else,” Dr Carpenter insisted.