by Judy M McCutcheon
Happy second month of the new decade. We are in the month of love, and I hope you’ve decided that the first person you need to give love to is you.
I am in love with the idea of love, I am in love with love, and most recently, I am totally in love with me. I’ve found that being in love with me is the only way I could truly give love – so, go give yourself a strong dose of loving. Today I want to talk about our boys, our brothers, our fathers, our uncles, our nephews. A friend of mine went to a function, and when I asked him how it was, his response was “ah whole set of man-less women,” I laughed, but it got me thinking. A few weeks later, I went to a function and as I looked around, there were so many women by themselves, including me, that I had to wonder where have all our men gone.
When we look at the domestic violence statistics, while there are female perpetrators, most of them are males, and this is a pause for great concern. Every time I see an article about domestic abuse, and I read the comments; I am always genuinely shocked at some of the comments about how the offender should be treated. Most of these comments come from women, which is understandable. But the question I ask myself is, what is our role as females in creating this epidemic? As I believe we contribute a whole lot to this issue because we aid and abet certain behaviours.
Today I watched a little boy of about six years old playing with his older sister; he started shouting at her and couldn’t understand why because they appeared to be playing harmlessly. So, why was he shouting? When I had a chance to talk with them, I asked him about his shouting at her, and he said he wasn’t, he was playing. I took the time to explain to him in as simple terms as possible, why shouting at his sister or any other little girl for that matter was unacceptable. But what happens when we let things like this go unchecked? I am number 8 out of 10 children and the last girl. When I was growing up, my three oldest brothers would come around in the evenings to ensure that the girls were inside, while the boys were allowed to stay out much later. It was then and it is now that boys are always held to a lower standard. As no decent young lady would be out after a certain hour, that’s reserved for girls of a certain repute. We could always find ways to justify our boy’s behaviour but hold fast to teaching our girls to keep themselves chaste for their husbands. We seem to have this crazy notion that raising girls comes with all sorts of challenges. What if they got pregnant? Such shame and scandal in the family. It’s never about the girl is it? We teach our boys to protect their sisters at all costs, but what about girls who are not their sisters, or women who are not their family members? Our societies are rife with such double standards.
When our boys cry, we rebuke them and tell them foolishness, such as men don’t cry. What’s wrong with crying, is it an activity reserved only for girls? We must teach our boys that they have emotions and that it’s okay to cry. It’s okay to cry and feel sad when their girlfriends leave them. We need to give them a healthy outlet for their emotions. We need to teach them that it’s okay to walk away. We must raise them to recognise and embrace their emotions because if we don’t, those same girls that we are trying hard to protect will end up on the other end of a fist, or worst. I know this young guy, who is constantly put down by his mother, he’s continuously compared to his sister and other kids, it’s as if he could never do anything right in her eyes. My friend always maintains that our Caribbean men are abused, and it starts with their mothers. This is not a generalised statement, but from my observations, there is some truth in that statement. We complain that our men are womanisers and it seems acceptable because they are, well, just men. But how did we raise them, did we raise them with integrity and honour? If we accept these behaviours as “man” behaviour, then we have lost all rights to complain because we are enablers of the behaviour.
Just as we are raising our daughters to be responsible and pure and uncorrupted, we need to raise our sons to be just as responsible. We need to raise them to understand that no means no, we need to teach them to channel their emotions positively. We need to raise them to understand that under no circumstance is it okay to hit, punch, or beat a woman. It is our responsibility as mothers, aunts, sisters, fathers, uncles, and brothers to ensure that our boys are raised and not just allowed to grow. Do you love your daughters? How much? Think about it, because if you do you, you will raise your boys to be kind, gentle, compassionate, and in touch with their feelings. Don’t allow our boys to stumble into manhood, feeling lost, and not knowing what to do and how best to do it. Let us raise the kind of boys that we would want to call our sons-in-law.
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Judy McCutcheon is a partner in the firm Go Blue Inc, a Human Development Company. www.goblueinc.net