Joy Bathram – Nigeria

  • December 13, 2020 at 4:14 pm #2997
    Daniel Ochieng
    Keymaster

    1. Stereotypes and Cultures that hurt males
    A. My immediate community is Jambutu situated in Yola, the capital of Adamawa state in northeastern Nigeria. Due to the heavy influence of the traditional and religious beliefs, the stereotypes common here include; Men should always lead.
    Men have to be rich, evidenced by status symbols.
    Men do not perform chores.
    Men do not express love.
    Time and time again I have seen this belief system be the decider in crucial decisions made by men in my community, family life, conversations with my peers and older ones. A few times I have also discovered a few break free and express themselves in a manner honouring their individuality, causing positive change in my society. And even on the global scale, I have observed that the most successful males (example Ex President Obama) are the ones true to themselves, stereotype regardless. The ones who express themselves in a way that prove those stereotypes toxic.

    B. A good number of measures I believe could be instituted for the end goal of breaking these stereotypes, the first being adding emotional intelligence to the curriculum of schools as early as the nursery school to secondary school, this would empower our males to express their emotions in a way healthy to them and others ultimately producing confident males willing to live out of the mould of stereotypes. Another is the regulation of the mainstream media and companies by national regulatory bodies from producing content (example adverts) that promote these unhealthy stereotypes. And finally, endorsing and creating more mentorship and leadership programs such as the Kectil male promise leaders that help young impressionable boys and young male leaders respectively to live beyond these stereotypes while doubling as agents for change.

    C. Empathy I believe is a truly powerful tool underutilised in communication. In changing the points of views of the older generation communication is key. Meeting the older generation from a place where we show we respect and understand it was love that caused them to pass down those stereotypes would give us their hearts and ears. Having a no holds barred conversation about our realities and how these male stereotypes have harmed us taking a toll on our mental health both male and female alike would help them change their points of view, also launching youth-led social media campaigns and mainstream media campaigns would take this message to a wider audience. Furthermore, with the help of knowledgeable and empathic health practitioners, teachers and social workers backed with facts and figures form by being directly involved with younger people, a form of sensitization on the dangers of male stereotypes on mental health could be carried out for the older generation.

    2. Healthy versus Toxic masculinity
    A. Yes, I do believe toxic masculinity is still evident in today’s society and perhaps the most glaring proofs it is first the ongoing fight against gender-based violence of which toxic masculinity is a major cause of( a 2013 WHO reports states how 1 in every 3 women is affected by the effects of toxic masculinity; Sexually transmitted diseases and infections, problems with mental health and violence). Second, globally suicide rates for men being twice as high as female’s(our world in data). In my locality, the fact End SARS protests are on and Boko haram exists proves toxic masculinity is still evident and promoted, on the side of end SARS the fight against toxic masculinity and stereotypes while Boko Haram perpetrate violence against citizens irrespective of class and religion.

    B. Toxic masculinity Is made up of a system of beliefs, and beliefs could be changed. The most amazingly beautiful thing? It takes most times only the striking of a conversation and kindness of another to catalyse the chain reaction that is changing. Those two inherently at first contact with many people point out the cracks in toxic masculinity and overtime if the necessary systems are put in place they get answers and subsequently learn to promote and practice healthy masculinity.

    C. First by promoting and educating males around me about the Kectil male promise leaders pledge. Other ways I could shift the narrative is using whatever platform I have to promote healthy masculinity. This is a big part of a community dedicated to mental health I lead. By running specific infographics created to inform both young males and females there is such a thing called healthy masculinity and holding webinars on the subject I find the narrative changing for good through little steps. Also being the change I want to see; by using my choice of words wisely while with males around so I do no alienate them further to toxic masculinity and finally encouraging and holding interactive sessions about the realities surrounding toxic masculinity and the effects it has on us individually and as a whole.

    D. A community that has healthy masculinity would benefit by first being a very peaceful one as anger, the result of pent up emotion in males living with toxic masculinity would not be there, enjoying overall lower crime rates because males are not pressured by stereotypes to live above their means or act out in order to release the pressure they feel. Also the community would experience a system with greater equality and greatly reduced gender-based violence alongside increased economic and technological stability and advancement respectively, because males would not feel threatened by competent females.

    E. The lockdown and the pandemic gifted us alongside the perceived challenges the opportunity to self evaluate, many males have realised toxic masculinity or experienced it and are interested in changing for the better! In this context, the use of technology and social media to launch campaigns promoting the subject is instrumental even more so, what better time to highlight and enhance healthy masculinity than the ongoing 16 days of activism in honour of gender-based violence, by leveraging the TTS(time, technology and social media) we could enhance healthy masculinity with high success rate because many youths actively use the aforementioned TTS.

    3. How Males can use their innate skills to protect females and advance/improve society
    A. I do not believe men have natural abilities particular to them rather than gender I believe individual personality and values is what makes men have the ability to support females and transform the community. Individual personal values like integrity, diligence, confidence, creativity, hardwork and many more positive values are what help support women and bring positive change to the community.

    B. Quite a number of men in my community are using their personal difference and values to build their character while remaining agents for change. They have managed to do this by staying true to their passions and dreams regardless of the stereotypes enforced on them by the society. For many though the case is not quite the same for one that uses his personal difference and value for good many others as a result of herd behaviour through the effects of toxic masculinity do not help the community in a positive manner and the proof of this is boko haram and violent fulani herdsmen.
    C. In my clime it is quite rare to see women liberation movements affect the general populace, males specifically. But this changed a few months back when heated debates on social media caused the birth of what is known as the “feminist coalition”. At its inception, it seemed to be formed for banter but when #EndSARS started to trend, the women who made the feminist coalition community picked up the gauntlet and actively help solve onsite and offsite protest-related problems such as unwarranted arrests and detention, injuries, logistics and over time had an ingenious active helpline( something very rare in my country ). They did all this through a very organised network of volunteers. This impacted many men differently, for some it birthed greater respect and acknowledgement that if capable women got positions of leadership they would lead exceptionally so. This category of inspired men in their environs mirrored the actions of the feminist coalition and all together are still gradually achieving the goal of ending police brutality. In another category of men it was obvious they felt threatened as they showed by trying to slander the feminists coalition and sabotaging their efforts as they saw their actions as a threat to their masculinity. A true example of toxic masculinity.
    D. One from a good number of outstanding males in my country is Mr John Obidi, a young thought leader, entrepreneur, speaker and founder of Headstart Africa. He leads Headstart Africa a community of over 140,000 young thought leaders from Africa on Facebook created to empower youths with information that guarantees growth in career and business. It also features summits and events where established and successful persons from different fields of interest hold workshops and trainings for the youths. All this geared at empowering the African youth to be able to break from the limitations and stereotype of the “third world” . I chose Mr John Obidi because he has a proven track record of excellence in leadership, commitment to sharing knowledge and breaking the status quo as shown by his award from the future awards and presence in Avance media’s top 100 most influential young Africans list.
    E. Men and women can work together to develop their community by first stopping and standing up against harmful stereotypes that cause more harm than do any good, this is key to peacebuilding. Also by encouraging and championing equality the best leaders for communities could be allowed to lead, furthermore learning to pay the opportunity of leadership forward while mentoring the ones coming behind are all key to foster unity in achieving the goal of development of communities.

    F. The ideal women liberation movement in our contemporary world would be one combining movements on social media platforms and movements in key stakeholder offices and meetings. It would be young people both male and female fighting for the equality of women by not just marching on the streets but being part of the Kectil generation and showing up every day in all capacities available to them as people with character championing the equality women deserve.

    PANEL DISCUSSION

    My panel was made of all-male young leaders in different spheres. On if they agreed with the pledge; everyone did but Jonah was of the opinion that the first outline in the pledge should be more carefully worded as to an average man it would seem he was already placed in a bad light, therefore making him defensive. Sharing how they each would encourage males to take the Kectil male promise pledge and join the 2000 male promise campaign, my panellist shared the need to target people on the streets as most see toxic masculinity as part of bravery and the makings of a man. In detail; meeting the influential leaders of the communities and then selling the idea of the pledge after which a meeting with the real target audience that is the street people could be planned and education on what the Kectil pledge means and models shared. The campaign could be taken a step further by printing posters and placing strategically throughout the community. When asked what they would like to add to the pledge my panellists championed focusing on the root of the problem and not on the effects of the problem of toxic masculinity
    The root centred pledge suggestions included “I would stay away from pornography and all that entices my sexual urge in a way not honourable to myself and a female” “I will treat every female as I would my sister”. For the final question the steps my panellist proffered were; females demand the male be held accountable for his actions; make use of pepper spray and call the nearest police station.

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