• January 6, 2021 at 10:47 am #3039
    Huong Nguyen

    1. Stereotypes and cultures that hurt males
    a. There are many male stereotypes in my community, many of which stem from our ancestors who had certain ideas of what it meant to be a man. In our African culture men had many still have the final say in the home and society. Men were listened to and in community or village meetings only they would have a voice, women would not contribute or even be present in those meetings.

    These are the few stereotypes.
    • Men do not cry.
    • Men are stronger than women.
    • Men do not cook, clean or wash.
    • Men do not talk or seek help for emotional issues.
    • Men will be men (excusing bad behavior)

    These are stereotypes because they are not particularly correct but have been made to seem like the only way of life, it limits ones thinking and causes dogmas to prevail. That could never be a healthy way of life as there is more to life than just one way of doing things. Humans were made to critically reason and evolve which is something male stereotypes will not encourage. It is only limited to what we have always known, be it right or wrong the tradition continues.

    b. All these stereotypes could be broken and make room for a healthier society by us individuals taking it upon ourselves to educate ourselves and our loved ones around us. We should start with the young boys in teaching them the importance of thinking for themselves and not just flowing with whatever teachings they found. Encouraging critical reasoning from a very young age and not shying away from the responsibility we have to answer all the questions the young children have about what it means to be a man in our world today.

    It is important to remember that they are boys today but will be men in the future, what kind of men are we raising if we teach them that they are always right, or they know what a woman needs she cannot decide herself what she needs. Men who believe they are stronger and superior to women in every way possible feel attacked when there is a woman who is stronger than they are, be it mentally or physically and even financially. They feel like they should protect themselves, making many to become very angry and potential abusers, yet if we all believe we could learn something from each other and help each other grow, protect each other, teach each other (men and women) how to be financially free, no one would feel attacked or get the urge to defend themselves because we see each other as human beings before labeling each other with stereotypes.
    We should start with young children; in Africa we have a saying that says “sigoqwa sisemanzi” which translates to values are instilled at a young age. Whatever you feed the brain of a child will stick with them for a long time. Imagine a world in which we teach our children healthy masculinity , there will be less rape cases, less women who are abused, less number of men who commit suicide. Healthy masculinity is not only going to benefit the women and children, but it will greatly help the men to be better with their emotional health, making us less angry less depressed and more in touch with our family’s needs. Men who will know a woman is not a possession but a human like they are.

    c. In as much as the problem could be alleviated by teaching the young boys healthy masculinity, the older generation that have those strong deep rooted beliefs in how a man is superior than a woman also need the same love and care and patience when being taught healthy masculinity. It will not be an easy journey because to decondition the mind from the teachings that it has been acquiring since it could grasp and process is way more complex than teaching a child with an open mind. Nevertheless, it should be done because many women are dying now and not in the future, so dealing with the now would help the older generation to heal previous traumas which will make them to treat themselves and the people around them with compassion and have empathy. Men are more prone to fights than talking about whatever is bothering them than women, but talking helps because you will communicate your feelings and accept that you are hurt and not run away from the situation. That will make us less angry and prone to self-love, which is a very healthy practice for men as we will see the need to be kind and gentle with all we touch.

    Teaching men how to share their sorrow or problems in general will help us to realize the goodness and relief that comes with therapy, as much as it does not take the pain away or heal immediately it will help us not to bottle up anger because you have let someone else into your safe space. Less anger in men means less fights, less women abuse and early death. Bottling up anger is a health hazard, not only does it cause violent or suicidal thoughts, but many ailments such as hyper tension, stroke or depression.

    Men also need to be able to learn that our abilities or rather as human beings we have limitations, you cannot have it all and because we have limitations we should be able to be critical thinkers and not stick to one way of thinking because what works for me might not work for the next man. Men should be taught to think independently and do what works for them and to keep the people around them happy and safe.

    2. Healthy versus toxic masculinity
    a. masculinity is still very evident in our communities and society because there are men who still believe they are better than women, one sign of a strong independent woman their egos become bruised and their defensive self will come into play. When you are unhappy as an individual you project it to everyone you interact with and that makes you to lose people who care and love you because you are evidently an angry person who has little to no kindness or compassion.

    Many men seem to believe that being a man means you are always alone and unapproachable or even feared, yet that only limits your growth as a person. We are all in this world to coexist and to learn from each other. Toxic masculinity says “I will not learn anything from a woman or a child”, yet there are so many valuable lessons you can learn from a child. It is very profitable to open your mind as a man that way you are able to love yourself genuinely and only then will you exude love to the next person, because you can only give out what you have inside.

    Toxic masculinity is still very prevalent in our society because the number of depressed men who commit suicide is still rising and even with that being the case you will still get man who encourage each other or even worse their sons not to cry or not to behave “like a sissy” when other men are trying to open up about the issues they are struggling with.

    b. All bad behaviors can be unlearnt. Deconditioning the mind is one of the most challenging hurdles a person or therapist could ever attempt. Removing all the teachings from an adult who was taught and strongly believes what they were taught, most of the times they do not believe there is another way to go about anything, only what they were taught is the right thing to do. That is a tough challenge to take up but it is very necessary.

    A man who was taught to never behave like a woman will definitely treat women with condescension because you believe being a woman is a terrible quality to possess, the whole woman is inferior and borderline unnecessary to humanity except to be used as a possession as and when the man pleases. How do we them work on such issues without bruising egos even more.

    c. As men we need to understand that when we see a problem we ask ourselves first what we did to contribute to the issue or how we can solve it or what part did we play in solving the issue. That will keep us on our toes and ready to help in any way possible. We should help each other as men to do the right thing so that, seeing a fellow man doing wrong should push you to act with love and compassion to help your fellow brother. Group therapies in communities will come in handy in men being able to gather and discuss, also learning to keep whatever is discussed to our-selves and not share with parties that are not concerned.

    Protecting all we share with a high level of secrecy will help more men to be able to confide in group sessions or even individually. Teaching each other as men will help us to correct each other freely and in turn form a brotherhood that will last a long time, such therapy will aid in healing and restoration. Many men know when they are doing the wrong thing; but because of what they were taught they decide to ignore their conscience and do what they feel is right at the moment knowing very well that they will get the support from the society because “men will be men”, such men need healing and restoration. Healing includes, acknowledging your mistakes or bad behaviors, forgiving yourself for all the pain you caused others or yourself and also asking for forgiveness and accepting if they accept your apology or not without your ego being bruised. All bad habits can be dropped and a new page is opened. I would definitely play a part in changing toxic masculinity to healthy masculinity.

    d. There are great benefits to integrating healthy masculinity in our communities, as men we will learn to be kind and gentle thus showing care and love and exuding it onto everything we touch. If you have healthy masculinity you are able to teach your own children all they need to know about who they are and how to survive this world. Toxic masculinity does not allow men to parent their children but leaves everything to the mother or the world to parent, but I believe there is nothing greater than parenting and teaching your children yourself knowing you have done your best with the purest of intentions, the same cannot be said about a person on the streets who gave advice to your offspring, you just are never sure if they are giving advice out of love or jealousy.

    e. During lockdown so many things went wrong for many households because there was very little peace in the home. As men we could start group therapy sessions where we come and offload our issues that we are facing, all the things that make us angry and those that made us happy. Talking to other people who have similar issues like you do helps one to see that they are not alone. In a family setup finding family friendly hobbies or activities will help in practicing and maintaining healthy masculinity. A father will get to spend quality time with his children, and family without the excuse of going to work or being too busy. This could be a very positive time for many families if it is used to build all the broken bridges in their relationships.

    Also family support to those affected by this pandemic as many men lost their jobs and are barely surviving, some men will go through verbal abuse for not being able to provide for the family as they were doing before, if family support is not as strong then the therapy group sessions then come in to help with bottling anger. Also depending on your beliefs it helps to seek a higher power be it through payer or meditation and yoga, which are things that are mostly done by women but can be very beneficial to men.
    Treat yourself to a spa day filled with relaxation and calmness, you could go with your family or even alone, showing yourself so love will go a long way in keeping you gentle and kind because you know all things deserve love.

    3. How males can use their innate skills to protect females and advance/ improve society
    a. Men’s natural abilities to support women could be in creative work, or taking initiative in protecting the community through neighborhood watches or even having farm work to help the kids learn how to survive without formal work, also learning how to nurture plants which will teach gentleness and care.

    b. Men in my community have a neighborhood watch that ensure some level of safety in the community, there is also a community garden which helps to teach our children life skills that they will in turn transfer the skills to their day to day living with others. There is also a community center that will has arts and craft and a gym once a week, this will help to keep children focused on better things than staying on the streets.

    c. Women’s liberation movement has had great results for women all over the world, as it helped the women to be seen as fellow human beings with equal rights. Women nowadays do not necessarily have to sit and wait for the man to provide, they get up and do it all on their own. Mothers who have been abandoned by the father of their children now do not really have to struggle because they know they can sue, or work towards getting the financial freedom for their children. Men do not really have that much control over what a woman should be or does. Most men are having a hard time accepting that women are much more independent and do not really need them for anything, they are able to do it all on their own. Men may feel threatened by that as they do not know what their duty in the home or society is anymore, they seem to be struggling with fitting in that in turn makes many to be depressed or become violent to women. There seems to be an increase in gender based violence, rape cases have increased, women being harassed or unfair treatment at work. All these seem to stem from men who feel insecure and unsure of their place in society or in family setups. Men feel like they are being stripped of their dignity or pride, as it was seemingly based on degrading the woman. Some knew exactly what they were doing while others were the result of their upbringing and the people surrounding them. So with a woman earning more money than a man earns they have nothing to really degrade or demand respect from. Men will either try and limit what the woman can do forcefully, or in a family set up the man tells the wife that she does not have to work but instead get everything from him. That is how they regain or at least feel like they have control over a situation or someone because they know without their money or permission the woman is limited to just only becoming a housewife. Although some men are doing their best to embrace healthy masculinity and they help fellow men who are struggling in that department, we still have a long way to go as men to make our world a better place for women and children.

    d. One outstanding male in my country is 26-year-old entrepreneur Paul Mandlenkosi Makaya, founder and CEO of Bergast house, a digital solutions company that offers strategy, public relations, digital and design services. His aim is to influence the integration of public relations and technology in a way that will influence the whole continent of Africa and put Zimbabwe on the map. He is also the founder of the Zimbabwe National Youth Awards, an annual event that seeks to identify, celebrate and award outstanding Zimbabwean youth in all sectors of the economy. Beyond just identifying and awarding the youth, he goes further to develop their talents and skillsets in order to even increase the impact of their influence. For his exploits, he has enjoyed a few accolades which include being listed in Zimbabwe’s Gumiguru 40 under 30 list of emerging Zimbabwean leaders in 2019. In the same year, he was selected to be the vice curator of the world economic forum’s global shapers Harare club. Perhaps his greatest recognition so far came earlier this year when he appeared in the prestigious Forbes Africa 30 under 30 list. Paul is also involved with many organizations that advocate for women emancipation and has done marketing campaigns against gender based violence.

    e. Women and men could work together to develop the community in many ways these include raising better men and women through programs designed for the young children within the community, these will help teach the children and give them a platform to ask questions. The men could have group therapy sessions where they discuss how to practice healthy masculinity which will in turn help men to see women as equals and worthy of love and to be heard instead of seeing a threat. Women should also have group meetings where they are taught empowerment, and how to handle it. Some men do not have jobs or are struggling to survive, women may add on to the depression by verbally abusing men. Men should also understand that women have very meaningful contributions they are not only good for “kitchen and household duties”.

    f. Women should be able to grasp how strong and powerful they are, they should be encouraged to do it all and prosper just like men have been encouraged to. It should start from a young age teaching the girl child that they are capable of doing everything a boy can do and also that boys can do all things that were just labeled as “girly”. Teaching financial literacy to girls is also very important as it will ensure that the girl child will be financially free and able to stand alone without the help of a man. Teaching women how to invest, teaching women to go for exactly what they want especially in work environments, men always seem to get exactly what they want because they do not settle, they negotiate and aim high, women liberation movement should keep teaching girls all the freedoms and how they can be attained.

    4. Male roles in society panel discussion
    a. The panel agreed with the pledge. The general consensus was that every male should be made to take the pledge so as to eliminate abuse of women and babies. One panelist even mentioned that it must be made so viral that it appears on billboards, newspapers, magazines, social media and online platforms, news and radio stations all around the world.

    b. The best way to start is holding seminars at schools, especially boys only schools because the learners can easily manipulate each other into believing that abusing a female is alright. After that, you can actually use those students who took the pledge to also influence other people to do the same.

    c. We believe a few additions would make the pledge more focused and broad, covering a broader aspect of male roles and involvement in protecting females and children. The following is a list of what we felt needs to be added:
    i. I promise to act immediately and decisively against any form of women abuse and teach those under my care values of human dignity.
    ii. I promise to take some time and teach small boys values about caring for women and protecting them so when they grow up they will refrain from such

    d. The steps that need to be taken in order to help other females that find themselves in risky situations are as follows:
    i. Create support groups for both males and females so that they can anonymously report and get help
    ii. Have “houses of refuge” where such victims can find help and also refuge, because what prevents females from reporting at times is knowing they may not have anywhere to go or anyone to fend for them should the perpetrator get arrested.
    iii. Create a whistle blower program where men play an active role in recognizing such toxic situations, blowing the whistle on them, and then come together to help each other and avoid repeats of such occurrences in the future.

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