Male ap­a­thy needs re­vers­ing to cor­rect a wrong in so­ci­ety

The Star Early Edition - - LETTERS - Nathaniel Lee

THERE is an in­sid­i­ous trend creep­ing into our so­ci­ety and it threat­ens our na­tion­hood if not con­fronted head-on.

In days gone by our so­ci­eties were un­der the grip of pa­tri­archy, which to an ex­tent as­signed women the sta­tus of per­pet­ual mi­nors.

This led to fierce re­sis­tance from fem­i­nist group­ings and other pro­gres­sive for­ma­tions which cam­paigned for the equal­i­sa­tion of rights and op­por­tu­ni­ties for women.

What is shock­ing to ob­serve cur­rently is that the de­feat of pa­tri­archy has brought in its wake the con­stant ab­di­ca­tion of re­spon­si­bil­ity by men in what can only be termed male ap­a­thy. This male ap­a­thy is ev­i­dent from the dif­fer­ent agents of so­cial­i­sa­tion start­ing out with the fam­ily.

It has be­come the norm rather than the ex­cep­tion to have chil­dren raised by the mother only in the ab­sence of the fa­ther. The ab­sence of the fa­ther fig­ure robs chil­dren of a bal­anced up­bring­ing by two par­ents in a lov­ing re­la­tion­ship. Their sense of nor­mal gen­der re­la­tions are there­fore skewed from the out­set. Grow­ing up with­out a fa­ther also harms the chil­dren’s per­cep­tions of gen­der roles.

A di­min­ished view of males is likely to take root in chil­dren with­out the ex­pe­ri­ence of a lov­ing fa­ther. This neg­a­tive view might be ex­tended to all men with­out ex­cep­tion.

It is there­fore clear that it is more de­sir­able for chil­dren to be raised by both par­ents for them to ex­pe­ri­ence the full joys of a lov­ing home com­pris­ing both the fa­ther and a mother. Sig­mund Freud em­pha­sised this need for a fa­ther by stat­ing that “I can­not think of any need in child­hood as strong as the need for a fa­ther’s pro­tec­tion”. With­out this pro­tec­tion, our chil­dren are bound to re­main vul­ner­a­ble in the face of the myr­iad chal­lenges in­her­ent within our so­ci­eties.

Un­for­tu­nately, this male ap­a­thy is not only con­fined to the home. Look­ing at the next im­por­tant agent of the so­cial­i­sa­tion of chil­dren, the school, it also be­comes ev­i­dent that even here the min­imi­sa­tion of the male species con­tin­ues un­abated.

The dom­i­nance of girls over boys be­comes par­tic­u­larly ev­i­dent dur­ing the re­lease of the much-vaunted ma­tric re­sults.

The num­ber of girls ex­celling in their stud­ies al­most in­vari­ably ex­ceeds that of boys over the years. It would be in­ter­est­ing if re­search could be con­ducted in this re­gard, but at face value it seems the trend of the dom­i­nance of girls in the aca­demic stakes is at present a re­al­ity.

It does not end there, the pat­terns of ex­tra-cur­ric­u­lar par­tic­i­pa­tion are al­ways skewed in favour of girls. Stu­dent lead­er­ship seems to have be­come the do­main of girls, with a sprin­kling of boys fill­ing in here and there. Noth­ing wrong with girls dis­play­ing as­sertive­ness, but with the threat of the com­plete with­drawal of boys from pre­dom­i­nance, one wonders what the fu­ture holds. Par­tic­i­pa­tion in cul­tural and sport­ing ac­tiv­i­ties also points to the pre­dom­i­nance of fe­males.

Churches are also not spared when it comes to the pre­dom­i­nance by women and ap­a­thy by men. Tra­di­tion­ally, churches were sites where pa­tri­archy was at its high­est.

There was a time when women were not even sup­posed to stand in front of a con­gre­ga­tion. One is not nec­es­sar­ily nos­tal­gic for those days when stat­ing the ob­vi­ous that women pre­dom­i­nate in most churches with the ex­cep­tion of hard­core tra­di­tional churches.

It is most wor­ri­some that men in gen­eral have be­come timid and non-par­tic­i­pa­tory but still dom­i­nate bad news.

It has be­come a com­mon oc­cur­rence for men to be caught on the wrong side of the law for mostly crimes against women.

The trend of male ap­a­thy needs to be re­versed, not through a re­turn to pa­tri­archy but through a joint ef­fort to cor­rect what is wrong in our so­ci­ety. APJ Kalam gave ad­vice in this re­gard by stat­ing: “If a coun­try is to be cor­rup­tion-free and be­come a na­tion of beau­ti­ful minds, I strongly feel there are three key so­ci­etal mem­bers who can make a dif­fer­ence. They are the fa­ther, the mother and the teacher.”

This is an in­vi­ta­tion to all fa­thers to come and join the party. Not only join, but to as­sume the lead.

Men con­stantly ab­di­cate their re­spon­si­bil­i­ties

Klip­spruit

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