January 6, 2021 at 10:18 am #3031Huong NguyenKeymaster
Name: Oluwaseyi Adebayo
Title: Male role in society
Stereotypes and culture that hurt males
i. What male stereotypes can you identify within your immediate community? Explain why you believe this are stereotypes?
According to the Oxford dictionary, a stereotype is defined as a conventional, formulaic, and often oversimplified or exaggerated conception, or image of a person. In Nigeria, one major exaggerated conception of a male is aggressive dominance, you are considered a simp if you are not aggressive and domineering. Aggression is considered a necessary expression of masculinity, much emphasis has also been placed on dominance. Men are expected to be natural-born leaders, while women are expected to be subordinates, or “helpers”.
In my community, another male stereotype is that all men cheat, none is faithful, as a man you are bound to be promiscuous, it is said to be “their nature”. A man should date multiple women to prove that he is masculine and to gain the respect of other men. Regardless of how successful a one woman one man relationship can be, society only recognizes him as a strong man if he is involved with multiple women to boast about his sexual prowess or even goes as far as marrying multiple of them to show that he can control them and fund them.
Men don’t cry, Men Shouldn’t show emotions except for anger, skincare isn’t manly, men don’t wear pink or get involved in certain professions or skillsets. All these I believe are stereotypes that to be abolished. A man is much more, he should be allowed to stay true to himself without being placed in a box. Guys can cry if they want to, that doesn’t make them weak. A truly strong person is someone who makes sure they don’t hurt the people who are weaker than them.
ii. What measures do you believe can be instituted in order to ensure that these stereotypes can be broken down?
Measures to break down this stereotypes
i. Awareness and Reorientation: A greater population of Nigerians are still oblivious to how harmful these stereotypes are to men and their effects on women and the community at large. Both men and women need to be taught in clusters on the importance of not setting unnecessary standards for men, also, gender roles to e abolished.
ii. Regulation of content of mainstream media and entertainers to reduce the promotion of unhealthy stereotypes. Filmmakers and book authors should also be encouraged to redefine the meaning of masculinity by breaking down these labels, stereotypes and should portray men differently.
iii. Destigmatization of mental health: These stereotypes have a harmful effect on males, they suffer from the weight of expectations placed on them by society, and when they are not allowed to feel and process their emotions or traumas, this becomes an underlying issue, in the long run, they become shaped by these traumas that even some are oblivious to, especially if they did not deal with childhood traumas the right way. Also, therapy sessions should be made readily available at mental health hospitals, it should also be affordable or free. They should be able to seek emotional guidance from certified psychologists as it is the best way of dealing with emotions and underlying trauma.
iv. Creation of indigenous mentorship and leadership programs: There’s a need for CSOs to emulate leadership programs such as the Kectil male promise leaders that help young boys and male leaders to break these boundaries set up by stereotypes and live as they choose without fear of labeling.
iii. How to change the points of view of older generations to see the harm that male stereotypes are having on the younger generations’ mental health? (less than 400 words)
To be honest, we can not 100% change the point of view of the older generations to see the dangers of these stereotypes. It is not unachievable but it will be tough because in Africa, Nigeria to be precise, the older generation assumes the positions of gods, the youths are taught to be submissive and do as directed without questioning otherwise it is deemed disrespectful. The older generation is not famous for having an open and honest conversation. These stereotypes they passed down to the younger generation did them dirty, and they are unaware of how stoic they have become, but education can break down every stereotype and practice no matter how ingrained it is/was.
Finding a common ground with the older generation is a necessary first step to changing their point of view, then being empathetic, respectful, and knowledgeable as an individual, extension worker, mental health advocate, or health practitioner is key in educating the older generations on the dangers of stereotypes on the youth mental health.
Healthy versus Toxic masculinity
i. Do you believe that toxic masculinity is still evident within today’s society? Please substantiate your answer?
Yes, I do believe toxic masculinity is still evident in today’s society. In the Nigerian setting, we see it every day. Men still believe that taking part in household chores and caring for their children is a woman’s job, a man shouldn’t be seen cooking or cleaning up after his children, it is deem degrading to the male status in the home and society at large and this attitude leads to more stress on the woman and leads to detachment of the man from his children. In the corporate world, we see some men talking down on their female colleague, just because she’s female, they automatically place boundaries on her achievement and doings, some find it difficult to obey their female boss, because a woman cannot dictate what they do or not, and these lead to strife and discord in the work environment.
Another evidence of toxic masculinity in today’s society is a high rate of gender-based violence. According to the Nigeria Demographic and Health Survey (2018), 31% of women aged 15-49 have experienced physical violence, and 9% have experienced sexual violence; 6% of women have experienced physical violence during pregnancy. ▪ Spousal violence: 36% of ever-married women have experienced spousal physical, sexual, or emotional violence. The prevalence of one or more of these forms of spousal violence was higher in 2018 than in 2008 (31%) and 2013 (25%). ▪ Injuries due to spousal violence: 29% of ever-married women who have experienced spousal physical or sexual violence have sustained injuries; 26% reported cuts, bruises, or aches, and 9% reported deep wounds and other serious injuries. ▪ Help-seeking: More than half of women (55%) who have experienced physical or sexual violence have never sought help to stop the violence; only 32% have sought, help, approximately the same percentage as in 2013 (31%). Women’s own families are the most common source of help.
With the rise of the pandemic, this percent has been said to be doubled. Men believe that being violent is prove that they are not weak but strong and in control.
With feminism on the rise, many men have become threatened by the need for equality and justice as a threat to their masculinity.
ii. Can toxic masculinity be unlearnt?
Change is a constant thing in life, nothing is permanent. Just as toxic masculinity was taught and ingrained in our culture, the same way it can be unlearned. Toxic masculinity needs to be replaced with healthy masculinity. People needs to be exposed to healthy masculinity for them to learn it. Unlearning toxic masculinity requires time, dedication, and guidance in learning the attributes of healthy masculinity. Education through conventional and unconventional means is advised.
iii. How, as a Kectil Colleague, would you go about shifting the narrative from toxic to healthy masculinity?
You can’t give what you don’t have, you can’t pour from an empty cup. As a Kectil colleague, I have gained knowledge concerning social issue, having conversations with colleagues from the different continent has given me insight into how masculinity is viewed in each country and actionable steps to tackle male toxicity. Starting from my male friends and family, I encourage them to speak up more concerning their struggles, to show emotions, seek help from mental health expert and also take the lead on such masculinity conversations as it will be well received by their male counterparts when they talk about it and promoting healthy masculinity. I am skilled in graphic design, with this skill, I would create infographics and design content that debunks male stereotypes and promotes healthy masculinity. I will also collaborate and provide this skill with any organization or individuals that are set on creating awareness and educating people on the male role in society and healthy masculinity.
iv. What do you believe the benefits of integrating a sense of healthy masculinity into a community are?
i. A better quality of life: Toxic masculinity capitalizes on violence, aggressiveness, and male dominance. Healthy masculinity will bring peace and harmony.
ii. A safe place for men: They can show emotions and not bottle up their feelings which leads to aggression.
iii. Reduction in the rate of suicide generally and among men in particular. Various data have shown that a larger percentage of men commit suicide in a year.
iv. A open-minded community: This will consist of individuals who are open-minded, accommodating, and respect people’s decision to live as they want. No more limitations on what skill should possess or not.
v. Drastic reduction in the rate of domestic and sexual violence.
V. How do you believe we can enhance healthy masculinity practices within our communities, especially in the context of lockdown and the pandemic?
The pandemic and the lockdown most especially was able to bring to light the effect of toxic masculinity and how deep it is in our society, this has led to awareness being raised about it and more awareness towards imbibing healthy masculinity practices in our societies.
In light of the Coronavirus, the world has adapted to the use of technology and social media. Digital platforms are being used to launch campaigns, webinars, educate people on healthy masculinity and an example of such is the Kectil male promise campaign. We could enhance healthy masculinity with time and technology.
How Males can use their innate skills to protect females and advance/improve society.
a. What natural abilities do you think men have to support females and transform the community?
First off, I do not think men have inborn(innate) skills to protect females, if not, the world would have been a safe place for women, rather, these skills can be cultivated. The obvious natural ability men have is their physicality, they tend to be physically stronger than women, besides this, men and women possess the same abilities.
For the advancement of the community, values like integrity, empathy, diligence, emotional intelligence, and confidence are basic and what makes men have the ability to support females. The “bro code” should be reevaluated, men should call out their friends on their wrongdoings e.g report a rapist, they should stand up against vices such as catcalling, slut-shaming, and sexual harassment.
They should protect women, either the ones they are familiar with or not, when they are faced with danger from fellow men, and no hope of help.
b. Comment on how males are using their natural abilities in your community
Several men in my community are using their values and abilities to support the community. Men have also been staying true to their emotions and choices of life, breaking free from male stereotypes. Standing up for themselves in cases where unreasonable demands are being placed in them, and looking out for both men and women. The rate at which toxic masculinity is still rising undermines the work of these men in my community.
C. The world has seen great milestones in the area of women empowerment. This came with a shift in roles among men and women. What impacts do you see women liberation movements have on males in your society?
Nigeria is a patriarchal country, women liberation movements are always met with bitterness and strife no matter how good the cause of the liberation movement is. An example is a women liberation movement here in Nigeria, FemCo (feminist coalition), which provides major support to the Nigerian youths during the #EndSars movement against police brutality in Nigeria, October 2020. After the protest stopped there were lots of backlashes, some men felt threatened as they tried to slander the feminists coalition and sabotaging their efforts as they saw their actions as a threat to their toxic masculinity. The Liberation movement of women has brought some form of intimidation to some men, who felt their masculinity and authority are being challenged. Nevertheless, there are still some positive impacts women liberation movement have on males;
i. Increased social awareness
Most men are oblivious of some of the male stereotypes or rather, they are indifferent to the effect of certain patriarchal beliefs. Some men are beginning to offer their support to the female liberation movement.
ii. Most men are more cautious when dealing with women, they know what is acceptable and what’s not.
iii. Men are embracing parts of themselves which have been suppressed. Men are also beginning to take part in the upbringing of their children, beyond financially.
D. Single out an outstanding young male in your country/ region who you believe is putting their abilities to good use. Write about what this person is doing (with facts) and why you chose them among the many (less than 300 words)
Folarin Falana, popularly known as falz. Falz is a trained lawyer by profession but he is also a musician by profession, he left working in a law firm to pursue a career in music. Falz is one musician that uses his songs to promote healthy masculinity, show that women are more than a sexual object in his videos, he uses his music to tackle social issues like sex work, police brutality, elitism, terrorism, kidnapping, internet fraud, profiling of youth, etc. He mostly receives backlash for some of this video, for example, “This is Nigeria”, he received threats from an extremist group in Nigeria, demanding that he should take down the video off the internet, which falz did not do. Despite pursuing his dream, falz does not hesitate to use his influence as a musician and trained lawyer to help our community. In May 2020, 5 immigration officers who were women, were suspended based on immorality, for participating in the #BopDaddyChallenge which was Initiated by falz for promotion of a new release, upon hearing of this news falz intervene, provided legal support, and these women were recalled.
Also, in the #Endsars protest that happened in October, the role of falz can not be overemphasized, apart from showing up on the protest ground and providing support, he also used his expertise as a lawyer by educating Nigerians about the constitution and law, he helped write a petition against the government demanding what the Nigerian youths want.
Furthermore, Falz father, Femi Falana, who is a renowned lawyer and human rights activist also provided support during the protest. This made me realize that healthy masculinity runs in his family, and he was taught well by his parents, breaking away from male stereotypes.
E. How do you think women and men can work together to develop the community they live in?
The strength of working together regardless of gender difference can be seen in Nigeria during the #EndSars protest, both the FemCo and Patriarchy FC (this representing both female and male respectively) coming together for a common cause which is ending police brutality.
Initiating a development in a community requires both male and female with a common interest to achieve a goal, once the common ground is established, there’s no limit to what they can achieve. Men and women can work together to develop their community by encouraging people to join in the conversation and stand up against harmful stereotypes that have a more negative impact than positive. Also by promoting equality, healthy masculinity, and leadership training for the males where can they unlearn seeing leadership as an authoritarian position but seeing it for what it truly is, that will be a change to my community.
F. What shape should an ideal women liberation movement in the contemporary world take Physical ability
The ideal women liberation movement in our contemporary world should be open-minded and inclusive of all gender, it should be open to working with men to achieve their goals as involving men is crucial, I believe their voice matters as well in this conversation, to bring the required change in time, and breaking down stereotypes and societal expectations of both make and females.
My Panel discussion consists of 5 male friends and family of mine, it was held via WhatsApp conference call.
I started by listing out the pledge and also telling them about the Kectil male promise campaign, which they all agreed was a good cause.
In the context of the lockdown, encouraging other males to take the Kectil male promise was approached with social media campaigns, and through word of mouth, campaigning to our immediate environment e.g our friends and family.
We all decided on ending the culture of male silence when it comes to rape, boys get raped too and are not encouraged to speak out against this abuse, silence is rooted in male stereotypes. Also, an addition to the pledge would be to call out, criticize, and get justice for inappropriate behavior rather than stand by and watch.
My panelist suggested that more organizations like STER (stand to end rape) should be created, and policies should be put in place to hold men accountable for their actions. They said the government has a crucial role in making the country one of the safe places for women to live in. One of my panelists cited an example of a woman who is a doctor and married to a reporter who abused her physically for 6years, till she came out to cry for help on social media, she was distraught, and wounds from the physically battering were still evident, the response of the Governor of a state (Benue state) in Nigeria was to reconcile her with her abuser, in the name of preserving the marriage institution instead of arraigning the husband to court for domestic violence.
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