Manspeak– International Men’s Day platform highlights major issues
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.
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