Dealing with the anger in men
The testimonies heard from young men at last Thursday’s forum that focused on the role of males in eliminating violence against women and girls have reinforced the need for continuous intervention to counter social norms relating to gender.
We are told that some people in the audience listened in shock as one young man shared that he is respected and admired because he is “evil”. He assured the audience that he knows the difference between good and bad, but he prefers to be bad because it gets him “more respect… more honour” and women are drawn to him as they tell him that being “evil” makes him “hard core”.
Unfortunately, that kind of thinking is not new, and while it is more common within economically depressed communities it can be found across all social classes.
According to this young man, his iniquitous nature has its genesis in an experience he had with his mother when he was a child. He had attended a party in his neighbourhood without her consent and on his return home she greeted him with a cup of hot water to the face.
He said that while he still loves his mother and would defend her to this day, he didn’t deserve that treatment. For him, parents have a great role in influencing how their children think and behave. He is, of course, correct as each day we see myriad examples of poor parenting, particularly among schoolchildren who, empowered by access to technology, post everything on social media platforms.
But even as we point to that, we must acknowledge that there exists many model parents who, despite their best efforts, are unable to steer their children on a good path.
Another man who spoke at the forum revealed that he had served a prison term for killing a woman, but the anger which still resides in him has placed him on the verge of committing another murder.
That he appealed for help to deal with his anger is encouraging. So too is the fact that both men were thankful for the forum, staged by the United Nations Women Multi-Country Office â€“ Caribbean with support from the Bureau of Gender Affairs’s Men’s Unit in the Ministry of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sports.
We note the appeal by motivational speaker Mr Kevin Wallen for an outlet for men to express themselves. Mr Wallen mentioned that he has worked in the prisons for many years and found that a lot of men have “a level of anger inside them and there is no place to put it. There is nowhere to express it”.
However, we have seen, over many years, a number of programmes designed to assist men. They range from masculinity and gender-sensitisation workshops to empowerment and self-development fora.
We recall a series of such workshops held islandwide between 2010 and 2011 by the Bureau of Gender Affairs’ Men’s Desk with support from the Social Development Commission. Our recollection is that those workshops enjoyed relative success and, we expect, had significant impact. Pity they were not sustained.
Similar efforts have been made for young women who, apart from being socialised to be subservient, often are the victims of gender bias and domestic violence.
There can’t be too many of these programmes that are properly resourced because the problem of poor socialisation runs deep and will not easily be uprooted.
Clearly, we have a lot of work to do.