#BTColumn – What it means to be a real man

by John Goddard

Men have been beaten in Barbados for several years now, and in some ways we deserve it because too many of us have not accepted our responsibilities as partners, fathers and citizens.

Of course, there have always been men who have strived to fulfill their obligations and behaved in a way that brought honor to themselves, their families and their society.

The lives of these men should be emulated and serve to inspire the growing number of young men who engage in negative behavior.

In this article, I wish to examine the issue of genuine masculinity, in the hope of correcting the mistaken notion of what a real man is. I start by defining what I consider to be a genuine man.

a) A genuine man recognizes the need for God, whatever he may be, and spends time worshiping him. He prays with and for his family and tries to set morally correct examples. Even if he is an atheist or an agnostic, he still has values ​​and a morality that he transmits to his children.

b) He values ​​education and training and works hard.

c) He respects his partner and children as well as all other people with whom he comes into contact, because he accepts that all people have inherent worth and dignity. He certainly isn’t abusing his partner or anyone else.

d) He sees sex as a gift from God and as a mutually satisfying experience between man and woman.

e) A genuine man contributes to the upliftment of his society and tries not to discredit himself, his family or his community.

f) He participates in democratic life by being an informed citizen; by jealously guarding the freedoms we enjoy and by exercising his right to vote.

g) He is of service to others through community organizations and in individual situations.

h) A real man does not get angry or shy away because women are progressing. On the contrary, he pursues his own career with vigor and does not feel inferior or superior to his women. In short, he has confidence in himself and can look anyone in the eye.

i) A genuine man asserts other men rather than ridiculing those who have lost their wives, girlfriends or have had a hard time.

Now I know these are tough criteria, but men have to strive for the ideal. Men in Barbados have historically come under attack for neglecting their families and spending excessive periods in rum shops, gambling and women. At least, however, men of my generation and before worked hard, were for the most part peaceful and did not seek alms.

Today an unacceptable number of men are on the streets wasting their lives on drugs and other destructive activities. Increasingly, boys fail miserably in school and are seen as unfit for work due to lack of skills or poor attitudes towards work. For the first time in our history, statistics show that more women than men work in Barbados and every day the media report gunshots and stabbings perpetrated by men on men and their wives. and girlfriends.

To be fair, the vast majority of men are still engaged in productive activity and are not prone to lawlessness. However, the number of deviants is increasing, which is of great concern. The question we must ask ourselves is, what factors have contributed to the current state of unrest? I start with the house. Raised primarily by their mothers, due to absent fathers, too many of our young males have been raised in dysfunctional homes where tired, disillusioned and frustrated mothers struggle to feed, clothe, educate and discipline them.

When I was growing up boys had the extended family of uncles, stepfathers and grandfathers to keep them in line. These efforts were supported by the teacher, the priest, the pastor and even the men of the village.

Our current generation of young people has only their mothers who, with the best will in the world, cannot teach boys to be real men. Many boys face abuse from mothers who hate children’s fathers and constantly tell boys that they will become like their “worthless fathers.”

I doubt that such mothers are aware of the negative impact their words can have on their sons. A few years ago, MESA reported that a survey of boys showed that 43% of them think their sisters are treated better than they are and that their mothers are violent.

The absence of fathers hurts everyone, but it can have a devastating effect on boys. I remember well teaching “To Kill a Mockingbird” to a fourth year of high school. We were discussing family relationships when I noticed many of the students were crying.

I asked if I had said something that hurt them. Their responses revealed that the vast majority of the class had no relationship with their fathers.

What I’m trying to make is that children are the product of their upbringing, and as Plastic Bag reminds us, “If you plant potatoes, you will harvest potatoes. That’s what we mean when they say you will reap whatever you sow ”. Adults have the power to influence children in a positive or negative way and should take this responsibility seriously.

Another key factor affecting men’s development is school. Having have only been exposed to a woman at home, boys find that, especially at the primary level, they are, in many cases, under the control of female principals and, most certainly, female teachers . So, up to the age of 11, some of our boys had their lives shaped by women. How can they learn what genuine masculinity is?

Even in high school, there is a good chance that they will be exposed to a disproportionate number of women. So they have to learn what it’s like to be a man of their peers, who don’t know each other; men from the village, unable to mold true masculinity, or television characters who may be marginalized in society.

In addition, the school system alienates many men who are excluded from education at an early age and who leave school without the tools necessary for paid employment and productive lives.

The common entrance examination, which many see as the fairest system for transferring children from primary to secondary school, is in fact a major cause of the problem of frustrated and delinquent men. How can we continue to support a system that assigns the best students to so-called prestigious schools and places the struggling majority in less regarded schools?

Do we not realize the damage done to the psyche of those students who are sent to schools that Barbadians consider to be “duncey” children’s institutions? No wonder these schools produce so many disillusioned and violent young people.

After leaving school, marginalized young people, who feel they have no interest in society, gravitate towards the blocks where they can, at least, feel appreciated. Their youthful energies are often funneled into destructive behavior.

While an increasing number of girls attend university, BCC, SJIT and other educational institutions, too many young men do not need to continue their formal education.

My English classes at BCC are usually 80% female. By the way, did you realize that traditionally male dominated fields like masonry, carpentry, tiling and plumbing are attracting more women but rapidly declining numbers of men?

The Church that previously influenced the development of Barbadians is now largely ignored. Most parents don’t bother to take or send their children to church. So where do they get their moral and spiritual training from? Parents do not insist that their offspring recite prayers, and certainly our young people do not listen to devotions on Q100 Where VOB 92.9. Many of our boys are growing up untouched by religion. Their world is focused on drugs, sex, and partying until they fall. More and more girls are going in a similar direction, so even though this article is about men, we have to note that our daughters are in crisis as well.

There has been a marked change in our value system; we no longer teach that “a little content is a big gain”, “honesty is the best policy” or “good manners make man”. In a materialistic society, only money matters and shortcuts to success are the norm.

Why sweat when young women (girls) can depend on “sugar daddies”, and their male counterparts can sell drugs, steal and, increasingly popular, sell themselves to men for money. In all cases, they are witnesses or hear corrupt practices by those in positions of power and authority.

Politicians have contributed to the collapse of discipline; they use young people at election time, attracting them to meetings by inviting calypsonians and dub artists to animate.

Virtually no effort is made to discuss the challenges of young people and there is no coherent plan by either of the two main parties to address the issues affecting young people in general and men in particular. .

Fewer and fewer men are voting, and they are not interested in politics or government. What they have is a begging mentality that encourages them to seek handouts rather than productive employment. And if the reports are to be believed, some are willing to sell their votes to the highest bidder. Genuine masculinity cannot be constructed in this way.

And what about the media? Globalized TV features images of men as thugs and drug dealers with powerful guns and enough money to buy anything, including pretty women. Our young men are drawn to such images.

Reverend Leslie Lett, writing in the Nation newspaper a few years ago, put it this way: “We are a drifting society and quickly becoming a people who know the dollar price of everything but the value of nothing. Success is judged by wealth or the promise of wealth. Should we be surprised, then, that our young men reject hard work that doesn’t bring the quick financial returns needed to live the glamorous life?

Where do we go from here? It is clear that solutions must be found and quickly. We urgently need to tackle the task of rescuing our young males as well as our females.

John Goddard, retired but still an educator.

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