It is no algebra to recognize feminists in Kenyan parlance. They’re as conspicuous as a fly on a wedding cake. Most of them are spinsters, single mothers, pseudo-intellectuals cloaked in hypocrisy with venomous loathe for masculinity and often ooze the stench of victimhood.
One of them has suddenly developed a soft spot for men for survival amidst the biting fangs of the Wuhan pathogen. A woman who has spent her career setting men up through her show ‘busted’ and throwing snide at men has suddenly morphed into some shrink and Mother Teresa. For Sh5k, men get to unburden their hearts to a ‘milf’ whose only remnants of reputation she managed to salvage was writing a book on love.
There is no gainsaying that men are a burdened lot who also do not subscribe to the dictum, ‘a problem shared is a problem halved.’ Indeed, unlike women who vent, rant and cry for catharsis, men bear their challenges and suffering with a burdening and unhealthy stoicism.
In stark contrast to the traditional man, the modern man grapples for a minute before he can find his place in the world and before he even comprehends the sense of what it means to be a man in the contemporary society, responsibilities set in.
What we now have are men with deep-seated frustrations but who trudge on in the journey of life with a straight face in spite of many challenges. Even among themselves, when one asks the other “what’s going’ on,” the other always responds, “great,” “fantastic,” or “I’m good,” and then they move on to their favourite topics: sports, politics, cars, work and other “safe” subjects. They hardly share their insecurities.
Much too often, African men are advised to “man up” to personal problems. “Handle your business,” they are told. This communicates two unhealthy messages. First, it says, “I cannot help you.” Second, it recommends using individual problem-solving strategies without seeking the help of others.
In fact, it is this lack of comprehension of the fundamental and underlying issues that has led to angry outbursts and a deep sense of victimization. Men have been caught in this contest of pain devoid of compassion, love, dignity and respect.
They are battling influence of inherited hurts stemming from households where mothers were oppressed and abused and fathers denigrated and broken. They project this suffering in new relationships, holding onto unrealistic expectations and perpetuate the same negativity they experienced growing up. No one taught them how to heal.
Two, gender relationships have evolved over the decades into a supremacy battle. The women that men are relating with now are not the subservient and submissive women that they saw in their mothers. Men are having challenges relating with the modern empowered woman and this bothers them because they don’t know where they fit into the equation. Feminists have weaponized empowerment and now girls are celebrated for achievement and the boys castigated as beneficiaries of privilege. Consequently, this has forced men to feel the strength of a woman will be used against him to his own detriment.
Neither I nor men (I believe so) are against women empowerment because, if anything, it is a simple human rights issue. The systemic oppression of women is historical. What men are fighting against, is not the empowerment of women but the new order of masculinity that screws them from both ends.
A man is straight-jacketed from birth into the role of provider and protector. The identity of the man is tied to having gainful employment. A man without a job or a means to earn a living has no status. The man’s secondary identity is also married to his ability to provide for a woman and by extension a family as a measure of respect in society.
Respect is linked to a job they do not have. They are humiliated as lousy lovers and judged for not living up to some Westernized chivalry standards. When they are abused, society calls them weak. When they err, they are called trash, when they’re strong, they are called chauvinist, when they submit, they are sissies.
The word ‘male privilege’ is a trap. Men also suffer from exploitative gender roles and sexism. He wallows in self-loathe for not meeting the expectations set by a society that has failed to give him the tools to be better. He cannot complain too loudly because come on, ‘you are an effing man!’
Thus, there is no gainsaying that Men, or ‘boy child’ as the term has been mainstreamed and the issues they face are too deep for the comprehension of someone who has never raised one, been married to one and whose only ties to masculinity is a delusional, drunkard of a brother turned pseudo-political analyst.
I believe that men need to talk, release stress, and discuss ways of sorting out their lives and becoming better men who set the pace in all spheres of life. They need to retrace their steps and regain their foothold in society. Men are stranded and need to be retooled for the modern world.
Men also need respect and authority, to be king at home — without these, men feel useless. And of course, men hate to be belittled, especially by women. Society needs to be imbued with a generation of better and more balanced men.
Women need to learn the art of creating a proper environment and to set the mood for their men to talk. Men need encouragement, direction, purpose, clarity, and ideologies on what it means to be a man. This is what today’s man lacks. And the panacea for these can definitely NOT, even subtly be men paying Sh5k –which also locks out struggling men-to vent to a privileged feminist who only vaunts having worked on Radio. Shun her and her ‘business’ with the contempt she warrants! And let men and women of repute and intellect rise and raise tangible platforms for men to exhale!