Manspeak– In­ter­na­tional Men’s Day plat­form high­lights ma­jor is­sues

The Star (St. Lucia) - - LOCAL -

There are many myths about men and their emo­tions, most spell­bind­ing of them all is that men don’t cry and are surely sissies if they do.

Some ex­perts say that after decades of be­ing so­cial­ized to sup­press emo­tions and not cry or not be as ex­pres­sive as the fe­male gen­der, they (men) have come to the point where it is near im­pos­si­ble to muster a lit­tle mist­ing of the eyes.

The more sup­pos­edly stoic, strong and emotionally in­dif­fer­ent men­folk are, the less they are ex­pected to voice their own griev­ances, pain and suf­fer­ing – emo­tional or phys­i­cal. So­ci­ety de­mands that males choke it all down even though over time they be­come rigged up, angry walk­ing time bombs or mu­tate into some­thing only pure hope­less­ness, emo­tional con­sti­pa­tion, frus­tra­tion and stress can cre­ate; thus be­com­ing their own worst en­e­mies.

Im­por­tantly new, en­light­en­ing re­search has re­vealed that a man’s ex­pe­ri­ences in life are as com­plex as a woman’s. Although emo­tions have long been con­sid­ered a fe­male trade­mark, men re­port feel­ings as of­ten as women and de­scribe their ex­pe­ri­ences of emo­tion sim­i­larly. In an anal­y­sis of the emo­tional in­tel­li­gence of 500,000 adults, men rated just as high in emo­tional aware­ness. In stud­ies of mar­ried cou­ples, hus­bands proved as at­tuned to their mates’ stress lev­els as wives and just as ca­pa­ble of of­fer­ing support.

Re­cently a few good men came for­ward to speak up on is­sues af­fect­ing men in the so­ci­ety on be­half of the Saint Lu­cia Cri­sis Cen­tre who un­der­took this ven­ture in ob­ser­vance of In­ter­na­tional Men’s Day which was cel­e­brated on Wed­nes­day. One of the com­men­ta­tors on the predica­ment of men, economist Dr. Thomas Sa­muel ob­served that “men are typ­i­cally stereo– typed as not be­ing on a par with their emo­tional in­tel­li­gence”. This is an er­ro­neous per­cep­tion he con­tends, that is based on the propen­sity of the sexes to process emo­tions dif­fer­ently. In ef­fect he noted there are still many stereo­types, which mis­in­form the wider so­ci­etal con­struct sur­round­ing men. Thomas is sup­ported in his views by psy­chol­o­gist Josh Cole­man PhD who says in his book ‘The Lazy Hus­band’ that “Emo­tions live in the back­ground of a man’s life and the fore­ground of a woman’s”.

Nev­er­the­less the ques­tion re­mains that if men don’t ‘cry’ but per­sist in be­ing stoic and silent suf­fer­ers, isn’t the in­trin­sic mes­sage be­ing trans­mit­ted that all is well with them, and there­fore gov­ern­ments and non– gov­ern­men­tal or­ga­ni­za­tions would ob­vi­ously pro­ceed to in­crease their con­cen­tra­tion on cur­ing the plight of women and chil­dren, whose con­cerns are far more vo­cif­er­ously regis­tered?

What about men’s is­sues and the me­dia? After all that has been said about the me­dia’s por­trayal of women as sex ob­jects and house­wives, gov­ern­ment se­na­tor Stephen King in com­ment­ing on men’s is­sues dropped a bomb­shell that will at the least force new think­ing. Dr. King sur­mises that the me­dia has brought some dis­credit to the im­age of males as well, hav­ing made a very glar­ing swing from em­pha­siz­ing hero­ism to vil­lain­ism in parts of its con­tent in­clud­ing news. “As a lit­tle boy I wanted to be­come a po­lice­man,” re­called Dr. King. “If we por­tray them as the bad guys, how many lit­tle boys now, will want to grow up to be po­lice­men and fire­men?” His anal­ogy ap­pears to be suit­ably re­flec­tive of the gross de­gen­er­a­tion of val­ues that has held the so­ci­ety hostage while a more in­sid­i­ous cel­e­bra­tion of the Thug Life has crept in, in­duc­ing ris­ing hin­drances to the progress of young males in par­tic­u­lar.

And so what is the mea­sure of a man and how is his man­hood proven? For­mer Act­ing Di­rec­tor of the Borde­lais Cor­rec­tional Fa­cil­ity Gus Small also re­cently lamented that in our so­ci­ety, the one time prized im­age of the God fear­ing, hard­work­ing, de­voted hus­band and loving fa­ther has been ridiculed and is almost ob­so­lete. In­stead warped views ex­ist that man’s dom­i­nance and strength should be ex­pressed in se­rial sex­ual en­coun­ters and sex­ual prow­ess – spread­ing his seeds, how much money a man has or his amassed wealth, high rates of al­co­hol con­sump­tion and even in vi­o­lent acts.

Is that suite of volatile be­liefs why so many males (614) are now wards of the Borde­lais Cor­rec­tional Fa­cil­ity? While it is also very likely that even more of them have is­sues pend­ing in the crim­i­nal jus­tice sys­tem.

On the sub­ject of Men and Ed­u­ca­tion, economist Dr. Thomas Sa­muel re­marked that in the main, Ed­u­ca­tion is ap­par­ently not as­so­ci­ated with mas­culin­ity. “I have taught ter­tiary cour­ses where it is an all-fe­male class or if not, there are just one or two males”. The statis­tics tell us that 65 per cent of Caribbean fe­males take ad­van­tage of op­por­tu­ni­ties for higher ed­u­ca­tion as op­posed to 35 per cent of males. There are also more cases of un­der– achiev­ing male stu­dents and higher num­bers of school drop–outs among males. The corol­lary to this is that fe­males emerg­ing from the ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem are more equipped, em­ploy­able and more pre­pared to suc­ceed than males, who by im­pli­ca­tion, may be doomed to strug­gle to land en­try level jobs.

And even­tu­ally we are posed with a co­nun­drum. To sum up only in part, the pos­si­ble rea­sons for the un­der–ad­dressed is­sues of men, it ap­pears to me­dia guru Jerry George that in as much as men have held the reins of lead­er­ship over many decades in cov­eted po­si­tions, pre­cious lit­tle has been achieved as it re­lates to ad­dress­ing their own burn­ing is­sues.

---(C.A.M.)

One of the com­men­ta­tors on the predica­ment of men,

economist Dr. Thomas Sa­muel ob­serves: men are typ­i­cally stereo–typed as not be­ing on a par with their

emo­tional in­tel­li­gence.

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