Our Impacts

Loyola College Outreach

Pictures from our visit to Loyola College, Ibadan on Friday, 14th of May 2021, in commemoration of the International Day of the Boy-Child. Here, we spoke to the boys on varying topics ranging from Peculiarities of the Male Gender, Respect for Women, Sexual Education.

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feminism and the boy childBreaking Borders

Where Feminism Meets The Boy Child: The Humane Approach

By: Ìbùkúnolúwa Dàda

Image Credit: UNESCO

As a child, my mum treated us so well that I thought girls were saints and the holiest beings after angels. I even wanted to be one until a girl stole my money in primary school, followed by a series of other terrible things from the same sex (I did terrible things too). Regardless of these, I still like the girl-child but I do not want to be one anymore. And this is only because I am terrified of the pain that comes with menstruation and childbirth. That’s all. Just the biology. Hence, my opinion is that there is nothing wrong with masculinity, femininity, or humanity but how generations have cultured the sexes and stereotyped them with roles and acceptable vices.

We must understand that these stereotypes are so ingrained into our society that even the Oxford dictionary puts ‘similar words’ to masculinity to include ruggedness, strength, virility, vigor, muscularity, toughness, and robustness; and we all know words that are attributed to females–yeah, pretty much the opposite. Growing, I had issues with this disparity and didn’t know there was a word for it until I heard Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s cut it in Beyoncé’s Flawless, and I became a feminist.

As a feminist and a boy-child, here are some ways the cause meets the boy-child.

The Hard Guy and The Radical Feminist

The hard guy is that person that has been cultured by generations of norms that the boy-child is meant to be emotionless, tough, carry the socioeconomic weight of his family, society, and country alone if possible; nature has ordained him to be the ruler of every environment and all females and “effeminate” men must bow before him.

On the other hand, the radical feminist believes that the boy-child is responsible for all the oppression women go through and that he basks in his male privilege. They believe–like I did as a child– that all women are saints; the boy-child has something inherently wrong with him and his ‘toxic’ masculinity which inevitably turns him into a hard guy, and that he needs transformation.

This is where the line begins to blur, good intentions begin to fade, and you have people tweeting statements like the one in the screenshot below.

This sect of people consists of misandrists who have most likely met a lot of misogynists who carry the ‘toxic’ usually thrown behind ‘masculinity’. It is sad that misandrists are mostly confused as feminists. And though some radical feminists can turn this misandry- blue-litmus-paper red, other feminists have issues with the radical feminist theories, noting that they are anti-male.

The Psychoanalytic Feminists and the Damned Boy-Child

Patriarchy is not a blessing to the boy child as some many like to think and the Psychoanalytic feminists while trying explain this, damns the boy-child. They believe that the boy-child is broken by the patriarchal system which puts his upbringing in the care of his mother and later takes him away to become the hegemonic leader destined for his sex. This transition, they believe, unconsciously affects the boy-child and makes him see the girl (his mother) as no more than a love object for nurture. An example of this is the way wives are seen as properties in the Yoruba culture and you find males formed in the heat of the societal pressure on masculinity view their girlfriends, and even wives, the same way.

This kind of warped ideology is enshrined in this statement I came across while researching:

“Tragically, Manhood in the Making ends up telling men that what they have to offer the world is not their loving presence in the lives of their families and larger community but their deaths on a battlefield-be it military or economic”

This is what patriarchy tells the boy child.  However, some feminists disagree with psychoanalytic feminists making the boy-child the victim in their approach.

Multidimensional Feminists

This set looks at feminism in tandem with the boy child through the lenses of class and race. In addition to fighting for the equality of the sexes, they fight for males in marginalised races, sexualities and other identities. They believe these men are unable to attain their full masculine potential due to their environment.

Liberal Feminists and The Simp-Sins

Unlike the radicals and psychoanalysts, the liberal feminists do not believe there is an inherent problem with the boy child. Liberal feminists recognize the harms of patriarchy and how it affects the girl- and boy-child. They believe that solution is creating a more egalitarian society and push for changes in laws, childhood education, the media, government, and every other area that would help achieve equality. Their approach is that we–boys and girls–can learn and unlearn to make societal structures better for all genders.

And this is where the Simp-Sins come in. It is a term I coined for the “hard guy” cohort that condemns the boy-child that believes in a ‘ridiculous thing’ as equality with the girl child, or being emotionally available to their loved ones. Attributes that really sound like being human to me. However, please note, this is no excuse to be an actual ‘Simp’ that grins in a commensalistic or parasitic relationship (of any kind)

chart to prove points on feminism and the boy child
Masculinity and Feminine traits cultured by the society (source: Hofstede (2001), Culture’s Consequences, 2nd ed.  p 297)

Post-Modern & Post cultural Feminists and The Effeminate Boy-child

Have you ever thought that a boy-child could be feminine, the girl-child masculine or either sex having a blend of the two qualities? Maybe? You might just be a Post modern/Post Cultural feminist. These people believe that the problem with patriarchy stems from ascribing masculinity solely to the boy-child and feminity to the girl-child. And, since the qualities ascribed to masculinity and feminity are not mutually exclusive to the sexes, therefore, humans carry the androgyny adjective (which is a combination of masculinity and feminity). This means that a boy-child can be more ‘feminine than the girl child, and the girl child more ‘masculine’ than the former.

And this brings us to the “effeminate” boy-child. Because he is more in tune with his feminity, he is given this tag that is meant to emasculate him. He is sidelined because he likes pink, prefers to hug his friends (female and male), wears make-up, or is more emotionally intelligent–a trait has become a must-have for any leader. It can then be baffling why the society cultures the hard-guy, who is destined to be a leader, to not have this trait.

Conclusion

Back to my childhood story, I realised that I never wanted to be a girl; I just wanted to exude the qualities that are attributed to the girl-child. And I do not need to be in a female body to do that because all of the qualities ascribed to feminism and masculinity are that of a human. Therefore, I enjoin us to be human and push for a more egalitarian society. Because it is only then that the boy-child, girl-child, and the society will be truly functional.

 

References

Brown, A. M., & Ismail, K. J. (2019). Feminist Theorizing of Men and Masculinity: Applying Feminist Perspectives to Advance College Men and Masculinities PraxisOnline Submission42(1), 17-35.

Gardiner, J. K. (2005). Men, masculinities, and feminist theory. In M. S. Kimmel, J. Hearn, & R. W. Connell (Eds.), Handbook of studies on men and masculinities (pp. 35-50). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

Gilmore, D. D. (1990).Manhood in the making: Cultural concepts of masculinity. Yale University Press.

Gibson, J. W. (1991). Feminist ideas about masculinity.

Mann, S. A., & Patterson, A. S. (Eds.). (2016). Reading feminist theory: From modernity to postmodernity. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

Pease, B. (2000) Recreating men: Postmodern masculinity politics. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

https://hbr.org/2015/04/how-emotional-intelligence-became-a-key-leadership-skill

https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbescoachescouncil/2019/10/09/are-men-and-women-equally-emotionally-intelligent/?sh=43ed50d07939

http://www.thefamuanonline.com/2022/02/14/feminine-men-face-hurdles/

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Two boys looking at the camera depicting deprived vulnerability in menBreaking Borders

Negative Masculine Ideals: Deprived Vulnerability in Boys and Men

By: Amifel Eribo.

Image Credit: Unsplash/Bill Wegener

Boys get a large percentage of the codes of conduct they follow regarding how to be a boy or a man from the experiences and instructions they garner from the men in their lives. Of course, this socialization or education of masculine ideals starts at a young age for them, where just anything can stick and persist.

Now, with the same cycle of societal norms and standards of masculinity being passed down, most times, boys have no choice but to inherit these norms and ideals, whether positive or negative, especially the negative masculine ideals.

Unfortunately, one of such negative masculine ideals which aims to uphold patriarchal codes is a type that requires boys and men to achieve dominant and non-emotional behaviours, hence the emergence of the concept of deprivation of vulnerability in boys and men.

You see, the term vulnerability in this context means the ability to choose to not hide your emotions or desires from others consciously. It simply describes the capacity to freely express your thoughts, feelings, desires, and opinions regardless of what others might think of you. It’s those moments when you could have said what was really on your mind, moments when you could have asked for that aid, moments when he could have let it all out, yes, even those tears, moments when you would have simply been, well, human.

But unfortunately, time and time again, boys are raised to think differently, raised to normalize masking their emotions, raised to normalize masking it all.

But how did we get here and how has this deprived vulnerability in boys and men become the norm?

The answer is simple; societal pressures spotlighting negative masculine ideals.

I mean, you must have probably heard these phrases, “Be a man!”, “Omo, you be woman?”, “You’re such a girl!” or similar ones countless times being used in an almost disruptive attempt at motivating boys or men. And what do these boys or men do next? You find them trying to “man-up” or hold themselves back from displaying emotions other than anger, happiness or any other of the limited number of feelings boys and men are raised to see as “acceptable.”

Now, are there of effects deprived vulnerability in boys and men?

Truth be told, boys and men are more sensitive that we realize, but when we deprive them of a chance to feel the things that they actually feel, there’s bound to adverse effects leading to things like the following:

Disrupted communication

Emotional suppression especially in boys and men, only stands to prevent clear communication between them and the people in their lives and this lack of communication only makes it difficult when it comes to working through conflict.

Picture this: Someone’s action upsets you as a boy, you choose not to work through it. The same issue festers. You become angry and resentful, feelings that start to trigger conflict. And now, to avoid such conflicts you start avoiding the people who provoked those emotions, leading to loss of valuable relationship.  Great end, right? Of course not!

Emotional suppression can even become so much of a habit that it begins to happen unconsciously, till the point where you lose touch with your own feelings.

Mental illness

Suppressing emotions can lead to depression and anxiety, but for men especially, it can also increase their risk of suicide. Men are much more likely to commit suicide than women. For men, being told to “man up” or “act like a man” is something they learn in childhood, and it stays with them into adulthood. Over time, men get really good at turning off their emotions or coping with their feelings in a way that is more acceptable for males. This then creates a cycle of toxic masculinity, which can be hard to break once it becomes a habit.

Festered addiction

Sometimes young boys and men fall victim of various substance addiction due to traumatic pasts or painful emotions that they had failed to process. When boys or men hold back on expressing these emotions, it only increases the tendencies to continue to mask their issues with addiction.

Is there hope for the end of the cycle of deprived vulnerability in boys and men?

Yes! On one hand, we all as a society need to give our boys and men a chance at their own vulnerability. We need to be ready to change the negative masculine ideal narratives, to do things differently and help our present and future boys and men be better.

On the other hand, for our boys and men who are already deprived of vulnerability, they need to be encouraged to learn how to become vulnerable and allow themselves to express their emotions freely. However, this is easier said than done, as it can be difficult for boys and men to feel comfortable showing their emotions, especially if they’ve been hiding them all their life.

But hey, there are a few things they could try:

Practicing mindfulness

This involves boys learning to sit with their emotions, thus allowing them to fully experience and understand them. They don’t need to shy away from them. Let them recognize the way they’re feeling, and try to figure out what’s making them feel that way. This way, they get a deeper understanding of the situation, which further helps them explore potential solutions.

Engaging in therapeutic hobbies

Boys and men could try engaging in hobbies that allow them reflect on their feelings. This is a great way to tap into their emotions. It could be through activities like exercising, art, music. As long as it’s positive and it works for them, let them.

Seeking therapy

Yes, therapy! Therapy is one of the best ways boys and men can learn to open up about their feelings. Therapy is a safe space for boys and men to be vulnerable without judgment from anyone else. It can help them learn how to feel their feelings and cope with their emotions in a more healthy and productive way.

In conclusion, we must never forget that a massive part of what makes us human is our vulnerability, our ability to feel our feelings and process our emotions, emotions that are part of our life experiences, which when disregarded can ultimately invalidate our identity and sense of self.

So, instead of clamouring that our boys and men be REAL MEN, let’s first allow them be HUMAN.

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Image showing how societal pressure affects the boy childBreaking Borders

How Societal Pressure Affects the Boy Child and the Need to Act Now

By: Theophilus ‘Femi Alawonde.

Image Credit: 123RF.com

Some days ago, a video made the rounds on the Nigerian version of the internet. It was that of a girl – unseen to viewers – who made a show of comparing and contrasting two parking lots at a tertiary institution. The one, allotted to the students, the other, to the lecturers.

This girl ridiculed the sort of cars that the lecturers own, and showered praises on the students for the sort of exotic cars they own, while subtly giving glory to the illegal activities these boys supposedly engage in – activities that we have come to categorize under the common noun, Yahoo Yahoo, or Yahoo for short.

The video has since sparked several reactions and gained enough traction that a major national media house reported it as a video news story. I have read comments and takes on the video, and there’s one takeaway: the different perspectives of our current social situation that single, random video has brought to light. Let’s go back in time…

We Should All Be Yahoo Boys

“We Should All Be Yahoo Boys”. That’s the title of an article I wrote about 4 or 5 years ago. I was prompted to write it when I found out that yet another friend of mine had given in to the pressure of internet fraud.

When I shared the link on my Facebook wall, I got a message from a friend who subtly probed further into what prompted me to write the piece. Apparently, she had fears that I was on the verge of falling into the fraudulent precipice and wanted to give me all the motivation she could for me to hold on to what is true and legitimate.

Between then and now, the rate at which the Nigerian youth are engaging in internet fraud menace has skyrocketed. While I don’t have any statistically proven way of measuring, I gauge by the number of victims I knew then, and how that figure has more than quadrupled.

And now, back to our unseen friend in the now-viral video. Her action shows how there has been a negative seismic shift in the value system of our society. The value system keeps getting more corrupt by the day, and at the receiving end of the moral decadence and its poison are boys that don’t know they’re victims.

Mounting pressure on them to venture into these fraudulent activities are social and societal elements – insatiable family members, girlfriends, the patriarchal system of our society, and peer pressure.

These boys risk jail time, fall victim to an untimely death, lose family members, or run mad, while continually living with a hollowness that ill-gotten wealth cannot bring – the hollowness created by a lack of fulfillment and a sense of purpose.

How Societal Pressure Affects the Boy Child: Girlfriends, Potential Girlfriends, or Girls in General

Like the girl who was quick to ridicule men who bought cars through honest labour, there are several girls out there who would quickly ridicule any boy or young man that would choose honest labour over the ill-gotten wealth of Yahoo.

Social media platforms are rife with such scenarios in pictures, videos, and leaked chats. And what do we do? We laugh them off, criticize them a little, and internalize them. Of course, some would say, “many of those leaked chats are doctored and fake.” Fake or not, they’re having the same effects – it goes beyond the action, it’s about the perception. Perceptions birth norms, and norms would live years and centuries after actions have been forgotten.

How Societal Pressure Affects the Boy Child: The Family and Pressure-conditioned Upbringing

Of the several comments I read on the ridiculing video is own where the author lambasted the girl. Beyond that, he said any man who has responsibilities to cater to – a family – has no need competing with boys on who rides a better car or owns a finer house.

A laudable criticism of the girl. However, the issues burn deeper than that. First, there is the generalization that those cars are owned by male lecturers – also implied by the girl in her video. Second, is the patriarchal nature of our society – as supported by the religions that have taken dominance. In our society, catering to the needs of the family is the responsibility of the man, and if a man has a woman who contributes – equally or fractionally – to catering to the family’s finance-related needs, he should count himself lucky.

This is the view shared by Reno Omokri, a Nigerian with hundreds of thousands of followers. That view mirrors the views of many a Nigerian. The thing is, there is the pressure back home on the male child. The pressure that he has watched on the shoulders of his father as he went out of the door each day and returned creased with his worries.

These are the qualities we have often celebrated in the typical Nigerian father – not that expressive, but he goes outside that door every day, returns, and puts food on the table, even if he’s almost bent double by his worries and labours.

There is the need to change orientations – right from the family unit – that a family is built by equal or commensurate inputs of every member of that family, especially the adults that decided to enter into a marriage and raise a family. There is the need to make children know – from the outset – that bearing the family’s responsibilities and catering to its financial needs are not the birthright of the male child.

That is in not to say irresponsibility among men should be supported. However, there is the need to lessen the pressure of “I need to make money for my family”. “I need to make money to start a family”, and other family-induced financial pressure on the male child. That way, boys will not be conditioned to hustle by all means – legal or illegal – to make money.

The Eternally Boiling Pressure Pot of Social Media

The pressure to make money through whatever means possible is everywhere on social media – Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, Facebook, WhatsApp, you name it. Broke-shaming is indeed a thing – one that people on social media shamelessly engage in. They are quick to score cheap points at the financial stability, or otherwise, of their targets. Yahoo boys “living the life” flood the timeline with several images. Trips and vacations are thrown everywhere, and the sea of algorithms always finds a way to sweep it to your timeline.

Day by day, we are all internalising these things, and by so doing, they become a part of our societal norms. Of course, not everyone will fall. However, so many have fallen.

It’s a mutating menace, an army of cankerworms eating into the moral fibres of our society. It is devilish; it is spreading like cancer. The tripod is tilted, and boy children keep falling outside of the societal cauldron and into the abyss of irredemption.

Things must be done! Some things are being done. Look back to when you were growing up… If you turned out well today, would you have ever imagined you would turn out well, 5 or 10 years ago?

I would most likely have not. I had my share of fishing from the sea of societal vices – bent double under the weight of a multi-faceted pressure. My parents’ purses and pockets suffered from my malignant spirit of theft. I mastered the art of lying to cover my tracks. I was robbing myself much more than I was robbing them…

Till one day when I just thought to stop. No more, no less. And I stopped. I have hardly ever mustered as much self-will as that since then. But, it is rare to see someone who would be buried deep in a vicious act and then choose to stop of their own volition.

Very rare. And that’s why you and I must do what we can to reach those boys. If we do not reach them, think of how many would never muster enough courage to stop – how many would degenerate into worse acts… How many would become the men we never want our family members around.

Let me tell you this: when we go out on our school outreaches at Boys Without Borders, you can always see the 1, 2, 5, 10 boys who are raptly listening to you. Your words striking some chords in their heart. Those words, we may never know how big a tree they would blossom into. But there is assurance that they are listening, they understand, and they would remember that they were told with love, care, and passion.

But how many boys can we reach? Few, single-handedly. Much more, unitedly. You don’t have to belong to an NGO to make some impacts. You see boys every day. You know what some of them engage in. You know what you engaged in, how it turned out to be… Stories stay longer, let your stories inspire some boys to change. Let our societal perceptions begin to witness a positive turnaround – especially for the younger generation.

If we can’t bring back many of the men we’ve lost to vices, we can protect the boys we currently know from falling into the abyss of irredemption.

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Boys Without Borders celebrating 2 years of boychild advocacyFeatures

Celebrating Our 2 Years of Boy Child Advocacy: Of Our Volunteers and What We Stand For

One thing we can take from so many readings, especially those that aim to preach of a world that is in itself unfair, is that life is not particularly fair to anyone. Whether we want to take different phenomena into reality, the truth still remains that there will always be mishaps along the way. However, in this world that has so much been tagged as unfair, we, as humans, can strive to do things that would make us come close to the reality of perfection, balance, sanity, and equality.

It is this quest to bring about an active change in society, one which can pride itself on the fact that the humans that live within it, are part of the keepers of sanity and peace, that Boys Without Borders (BWB) has set out achieve. The Organisation has identified boys, their orientation, sensitisation, education, and advocacy as key ingredients in achieving a perfectly balanced society that is free of many mishaps.

The goal of raising functional men is one that BWB is committed to achieving. This is carried out without any prejudice towards the female gender. In fact, BWB is not an organisation set out to rival any female-oriented organisation. We rather aim to put the spotlight on the boys whilst claiming that though the issues raised concerning girl-child are valid, those of the boy-child are neglected and deserve to be under the perusing eyes of the society, with solutions preferred, In summary, the plights of the boy-child are very much valid, and ours is a boy child advocacy group dedicated to raising societal awareness about those plights.

For two years, BWB continued steadfastly in its aims and objectives of boy child advocacy via community outreaches, school outreaches (where boys themselves are spoken to), the organisation of public symposiums, the printing of educative pamphlets, the releasing of bi-weekly article publications called Breaking Borders, Letters to the Boy child, and Boys’ Trybe (nuggets that are uploaded on our socials). Also, there is the Boy’s Trybe HQ, an online community where gender-based trendy issues are discussed.

Having done all these, it feels just like yesterday, the stern realisation that the dust of time whizz past just after every sunrise hits everyone. Indeed, the joyous realisation that this great organisation is now in her second year of striving to achieve its goals dawns on us.

To commemorate our second year anniversary, we decided to ask our volunteers to talk about their view of the Organisation, the exciting times, their challenges, and how impactful Boys Without Borders has been as a boy child advocacy group. They have quite a lot to say.

Something About Our Founders

“I remember the words of my friend and co-founder of this organization, Solomon, when he reached out to me about joining the organization. He said, “You remember what we both discussed about the need to form a boy child advocacy organization to build a good society and thus, a better Nigeria? Bro, I believe joining Boys Without Borders will be a good step towards achieving the goal.”

The joy of contributing to building a positive society, particularly from the boy child angle, has been my driving force when undertaking any task as a member of the organization. Honestly, it has been a wonderful experience so far, having to meet and work with people I have no prior relationship with; the team vs team banters, and so on. Also, I’ve got to learn practical things that I can employ when raising a boy child in the future. I pray BWB grows stronger and better.”

(Oloruntoke Opeyemi, Assistant Team Lead, Logistics Team)

“It’s amazing how far BWB has come as an organization committed to boy child advocacy. In the words of Solomon, one of the Co-Founders, we’re making impacts, outreach by outreach, school by school, boy by boy. Being a member of BWB has helped me channel my being and resources into contributing to social good. I love how we maintain a formidable spirit online and offline. As the organization starts its 3rd journey, I hope that we have enough resources and opportunities to tap into to help us reach the heights we want to reach and make impacts as much as we would love to. Happy Birthday, BWB!”

(Theophilus Alawonde, Content Development Team)

Starting Like it is Nothing But Realising the Vision

“It’s been a beautiful journey. I started like it was no big deal. I mean, I just wanted to volunteer, and that was it. But then, after going through the Content Guidelines, I realised it was more than just volunteering but about impacting lives. I realized after my first school visitation here that the boys seemed really excited to have people come to talk to them. What we do is uncommon. I have learned, unlearned, and relearned in this journey. I wish BWB many more years to come. I love this family.”

(Adewusi Esther, Team Lead, Feedback Team)

“I never really thought I’d be this committed to the goals of the organisation as I am now. I joined because I just had always thought I will volunteer in some organisation in my undergraduate days and I wanted to build my résumé. However, upon being a member of the organisation, I realised that BWB is the Organisation that this society needs.

Growing up on the streets of Mushin, many things that society has normalised as being part of the process of simply being boys are things that harm the boy-child.

These are things that BWB has made me see. A few months ago, when I got home, a brother told me he saw my status and my posts on BWB and quizzed me if indeed boys can be raped. I said yes, and this sparked a deep conversation among the adults in my house that day. That was when I knew that truly, our work is valid at BWB. I am proud of every day that I see I am a member of this Organisation. Love, from the Agbero Team. Lol!”

(Olamilekan Mashika, Team Lead, Content Development Team)

Loving What We Do at Boys Without Borders

“It’s been a beautiful experience overall and I’m grateful for the opportunity to impact. The most exciting moments are the school visitations. I have had the opportunity to attend two, and they were fulfilling. I love what we do and I’m proud to be here, giving the boy child a voice. A challenging moment will be leading the IDBC team. Asking myself the question, “am I making sense”?… I wish BWB more impactful years and I see us going global with more solid structures.”

(Abdulmojeed Kawthar, Content Development Team)

“It’s been a really great journey for me. I’ve met some amazing people through BWB, I’m really grateful for that. BWB makes me feel good about myself for being part of this greatness. I hope the organization gets stronger and better. I’ve only been to two outreaches and I can’t even choose which excited me more, loved every moment so much.”

(Olajide Amudat, Team Lead, Finance Team)

“My experience as a member of Boys Without Borders has been nothing short of amazing! I particularly enjoyed the IDBC2022 Public Symposium on Redefining the Narrative of the Boy child, which is quite pivotal in our modern society. It has really been an impactful experience joining BWB. We keep breaking borders!”

(Dele Olátúnjí, Feedback Team)

Joy and Fulfillment

“It’s been quite lovely, to say the least. Now that’s not to liken every day as a member of BWB to a party or anything like that, but rather to highlight just how fulfilling and exciting it is to be a part of something you genuinely believe in. The thought of us making a difference is one that puts a smile on my face. It has been reasonably challenging, but that’s to be expected of anything truly worthwhile. Here’s to more amazing years at BWB. May it only get better from here on out.”

(Jucal Adedokun, Assistant Team Lead, Content Development Team)

“It’s been wonderful! I really enjoyed all the times that we had physical gatherings; every time we visited schools. I’ve also learnt about the realities of neglecting the boy child.”

(Àjàyí Deborah, Feedback Team)

Best Decisions Made

“Being a member of BWB has been one of the best things that ever happened to me in the University of Ibadan. Though, I have not really been participating in the reaching out exercises, but the pictures and feedback I’ve been receiving are quite wonderful. So far so good, I haven’t experienced any challenges. As for the impacts, I have been working really well with the Feedback Team. I have helped in writing different questionnaires for the team.”

(Ogunkanmbi Oluwatobi, Feedback Team)

“Joining BWB last year is one of the best decisions I made. I have learnt teamwork, accountability, selflessness,, and responsibility. My major challenge is not being able to attend some of the events planned, but I hope that will change this new year. As BWB turns 2, I wish all of us a wonderful celebration and more progress and impact in the society. Up and up we go!”

– (Edet Blessing, Feedback Team)

Now that all has been said, we still remain unwavering in our boy child advocacy mission – a quest to raise functional men and have a society that is balanced. A society that is proud of itself, a society free of gender-based prejudices and the stains of the repeating trendy news on social media. We will remain committed to ensuring that the community is part of the process of raising boys into functional men who are useful to society. For us, boy child advocacy is a necessity.

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Breaking Borders

Debunking Myths and Stereotypes around the Boy Child

By: Abdulmojeed Kawthar and John Jolaoso.

“Cry all you want; it’s not like I care!”

“Oh no! Don’t cry. You know I don’t like seeing you cry. What exactly do you say you want?”

These are usually the scenarios in my home as I have two older brothers. Although these two sentences portray different personalities and can be interpreted differently, one being sensitive and the other insensitive, they are expressed by two persons of the same sex — boys.

Why then do we set the same standard for every boy when it’s clear that personalities aren’t divided along gender lines? Gender stereotypes about the boy child are increasingly becoming unbearable. There is little to nothing that has been done to make boys realize they have a certain full choice outside what the society stereotypically expects boys to be.

“(Eye roll)”

“He is even a boy! (Hisses)”

“Why would you raise your expectations of him?”

“A boy will always be a boy.”

“I’m not surprised; he’s of the nine-bone gender,”

“Sorry, you are stuck with one of the enemies.”

Sentences like these are what the society has made of who the boy child is. The boy child seeks to be perfect (to be what the society expects of him) and his imperfection is capitalized and attributed to his having “nine bones” (a belief that the male has nine bones and female has seven bones) in place of the human attribute (ability to err). Boys’ choices are determined by their gender and thus, the society has the same view of all boys.  They are dying for information to define and redefine their narratives.

Today being the International Day of the Boy-Child, we would like to debunk some myths created around boys. This article seeks to expose some of the myths which have existed since time immemorial for what they are — false and misleading.

Myth 1: Boys don’t cry.

People cry for various reasons; when they are hurt, sad, happy, and so many other reasons. By biological design, we all have the gland to make tears, so why then should we say boys don’t cry when they have what it takes to cry?

Crying is not a sign of weakness, we’ve had great men in history cry. There are numerous examples out there, like that of President Barrack Obama, President of the United States of America, one of the most powerful states in the world who without shame let tears roll down his cheeks. Great and wealthy actors like Will Smith. Great footballers like Ronaldo, and Bruno Fernandez. Great comedians like Steve Harvey, Kevin Hart. One of the greatest boxers in the world in Floyd Mayweather. Great musicians like Chris Brown, Michael Jackson and so much more. These men have cried and till today they are still referred to as great men.

Why should a boy not cry if he lost a dear friend? Why should a boy not cry if he was involved in an accident? Why should a boy not cry if he wants to express how he feels? Emotions are part of us and it is okay for a boy to cry. It doesn’t make him any less. We should avoid sentences like “man up”, “don’t cry like a girl”, “don’t be weak” as they damage the proper mental functioning of the boy child, forcing him to hide his feelings and suppress the emotions that ought to exhale pain out properly.

This is not suggesting weeping uncontrollably at every moment, but that boys and men should be able to cry at appropriate moments without negative reactions from society. Let’s work towards a world where crying is accepted as a reaction as normal as laughing, a world where boys and men can cry without being made to feel weak.

Myth 2: Domestic Chores are not for Boys.

If he can stain the clothes why can’t he take the stains off? If he can make the whole place dirty, why can’t he tidy it up? If he needs to eat, why can’t he cook? I mean it’s important to know that as long as he has what a girl uses to do chores, he has to be able to do them. It is that simple because it is a survival skill.According to nparent.com, neither males nor females are born with a genetic predisposition to wash the dishes or do the laundry. So why should one gender be picked over the other to do these chores, by us, by society?

Gender stereotyping is a dangerous thing as it places pre-determined notions and ideas firmly in the heads of boys and girls. And when they grow up, it may limit their ability to develop their skills, pursue their dreams, and make choices about their life plans. We all want our kids to grow up to be responsible adults.

When we refuse to, or neglect giving our boys household chores, it teaches them they can get away with making a mess and worse, that others will clean up after them.  Teaching your son something as simple as the fact that he needs to clean up his toys at the end of the day, means that someday when your boy is on his own in the outside world, he won’t shirk away from duties, however big or small they are.

Myth 3: Boys enjoy Sexual Abuse.

Boys do not enjoy Sexual Abuse. The pain and emotional hurt girls go through when abused, boys go through them as well. They don’t derive pleasure in sexual abuse. You can’t abuse a child and expect him to enjoy it. The act and its aftermath affects the child physically and mentally, it is a scar that won’t heal so easily.

According to Rainn.org, the following includes some of the common experiences shared by men and boys who have survived sexual assault.

  • Anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, flashbacks, and eating disorders.
  • Concerns or questions about sexual orientation.
  • Feeling like “less of a man” or that you no longer have control over your own body.
  • Sense of blame or shame over not being able to stop the assault or abuse, especially if you experienced an erection or ejaculation.
  • Withdrawal from relationships or friendships and an increased sense of isolation.
  • Worrying about disclosing for fear of judgment or disbelief.

We as society should stop recycling the misconception that men and boys cannot be sexually abused. We should rather take the necessary actions to help abused boys and men heal.

Myth 4: Boys will always be boys

This phrase originates from a Latin proverb: children are children and will do childish things. Children of course do childish things to some degree of expectation. However, over the years, the phrase has morphed into glib ways to excuse the action and attitudes of the boy child and men of all ages. It is also used to explain away important discussions like sexual assault and allegations. It makes the boy child looks irredeemable. It doesn’t hold each boy child responsible for their choices but rather infers all males are pre-programmed to act in such a way. This phrase also promotes gender stereotypes.

The fact is not all boys are insensitive, not all boys like getting dirty, and not all boys are rowdy.

So, instead of saying Boys will always be boys, like one of our speakers at our first IDBC Symposium said “Boys won’t be boys, boys will be who we teach them to be“.

Myth 5Boys are “naturally” violent.

Masculinity is often associated with violence. This doesn’t mean that there is a “natural” link between men and violence. Have we ever paused to think about the fact that society defines and sees the boy child as being violent makes him violent?

Society expects the boy child to occupy a great deal of space and to act with active and aggressive masculinity. Boys are expected to adopt heroin masculinity. Boys who become a victim of violence or bullying are considered to be unfulfilled or hail deviant masculinity. It is important to note that not all men are “rough and tough”, there are sensitive men too. Every individual deserves to live in a manner that is authentic to their way of experiencing the world.

In conclusion, as it is the International Day of the Boy child today, it is important you know that these phrases set a standard for what male behavior should be. Instead of the truth that men are individuals with unique personalities, it promotes the idea that anyone who doesn’t live up to this arbitrary definition of masculinity is abnormal. It attempts to put a neat bow of oversimplification on individual behavior, and it’s time we stop saying them, and more importantly, stop believing them!

Happy International Day of the Boy-Child.

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Breaking Borders

Demystifying Sexual Abuse against Boys and Men

By: Oluwasegun Adegoke.

Image Credit: OpenGlobalRights

The recurring tales (disturbing, by the way), on sexual abuse or any form of sexual harassment over the years have always predominately featured females narrating the gruesome occurrence. This raises a few eyebrows if, and truly if, men are just monster, who cannot help but sexually abuse the opposite gender or that the tales are never complete. This article does not seek to undermine the cruelty associated with sexual abuse towards the female gender, nor does it aim to alleviate the blames on sexual abusers. Rather, it seeks to expound on a topical issue, which seems to have been thrown in the bin for a very long time. In this article, the sexual abuse against young boys and even older men will be brought into spotlight.

We can’t solve the problem of sexual violence against girls and women without also addressing sexual violence against men and boys. The myth that boys are advantaged and girls are disadvantaged simply isn’t true. Most researches suggests that 10 to 20 per cent of all males will experience some form of sexual abuse or sexual assault at some point in their lives. That connotes thousands of boys and men being abused each year. Male sexual abuse, more often than not, has always been shrouded in secrecy and stigma. It has always been portrayed that males cannot be sexually abused and that if it occurs, the male was just not “manly” or “macho” enough to prevent the occurrence. This, among other factors, is the reason why males don’t speak out concerning sexual assault and sexual abuse they might have suffered.

Our culture values invulnerability and denial of pain as essential qualities of “manliness.” Our law enforcement and justice systems often fail to handle sexual crimes committed against men efficiently. Male survivors lack the required recovery and support system needed and due to the following reasons, males are often a forgotten category of victims.

Sadly, most guys who experience sexual abuse choose never to disclose it, even to people they know and can trust. They fear being disbelieved, made jest of, shamed, accused of being weak, ignored or, in the case of heterosexual men, being perceived as gay, and as a result they live with the harrowing experiences in silence and loneliness.

Here are some shocking statistics surrounding male sexual abuse:

  • More than half of all reported sexual assaults take place in the survivor’s own home, or within 1.6 kilometres of it. Another 20% happen in the home of a friend, neighbor or relative.
  • Adolescents are often targeted for male sexual abuse.
  • Men are the perpetrators in the large majority of sexual abuse and sexual assault cases involving male victims.
  • Despite popular belief, most male perpetrators identify themselves as heterosexual, and they often have consensual sexual relationships with women.
  • The report rate for male victims is even lower than the already-low rate for females.
  • The biggest reason for not reporting male sexual assault: fear of being perceived as homosexual.

The myths of sexual abuse

Myths surrounding sexual abuse are purely false beliefs and misconceptions, which tend to minimize the seriousness of the offender’s crime and the extent of damage caused by the vile act. The widely populated myth that “guys can’t be sexually abuse” is a big fallacy! Guys can be and are sexually abused everyday. It can happen to any guy regardless of age, physical appearance, sexual orientation, race, culture or strength. It is not unusual for guys to be shocked or stupefied when this happens because they are most times never prepared for it.

Another myth surrounding male sexual abuse is that guys who experience sexual abuse at childhood will grow up to become abusers themselves. This is quite false because majority of those who perpetrate the crime of sexual abuse and assault, according to statistics, are victims of physical or emotional abuse or witnesses of domestic violence while they were young. Although premature sexual experiences often cause profound emotional damage to boys, most male survivors don’t repeat the abuses that happened to them.

Another widespread myth about male sexual abuse is that they cannot be sexually abused by females. A 2018 survey of 1,200 adults found that 1 in 3 would not quite believe a man who said he was raped by a woman and 1 in 4 believed men enjoy being raped by a woman. There’s a belief that men cannot be raped be­cause women aren’t strong enough to physically force them, and a convic­tion that straight men want sex so much and so consistently that they just aren’t that bothered by a woman who refuses to listen when he says no.

These ideas are embedded in our institutions, including media, health, and law. It wasn’t until 2012 that the FBI recognized that men could be raped. Until then, the bureau defined rape as “the carnal knowledge of a female, forcibly and against her will.” Now it uses gender-neutral terms; rape is defined as “the penetration, no matter how slight, of the vagina or anus with any body part or object, or oral penetration by a sex organ of another person, without the consent of the victim.”

The true reality is that, women can and do sexually abuse and assault men, but it is just not always reported by the survivor. The crime soars higher if you include emotional blackmail as a way of getting a guy to submit to sexual assault. It’s also not uncommon for males to experience involuntary erections during a sexual abuse. It doesn’t also have to involve penile penetration, sex toys and foreign objects can be used.

In addition, a myth which causes a major issue of guilt and bewilderment is that getting an erection or ejaculating during a sexual abuse means the survivor “really wanted it” or even consented. The truth is having an erection or ejaculation is a normal, involuntary physiological response, and does not imply arousal or consent. Physical stimulation can cause an erection whether the recipient wants it to happen or not. Pressure in the prostate gland can cause the same reaction. A male survivor may feel confused and ashamed about his physiological response to the abuse and therefore may choose not to report it.

Also, the statement which suggests that if the perpetrator is a woman, a boy or teenager should consider himself to have been “initiated” into the exciting world of sex is totally wrong! No matter who provokes it, be it a relative, friend, colleague at work, teacher or boss, that kind of sexual experience is all about control and domination, not gratification and pleasure. It is a traumatic experience for the victim and leads to other major psychological problems.

Finally, the belief that males who are sexually abused don’t suffer as much as females who are abused because they don’t face the risk of pregnancy is wholly flawed. Statistically, male survivors are at higher risk of committing suicide. And while they don’t become pregnant, male survivors of anal rape are at a high risk of internal damage, which leads to a greater possibility of HIV infection.

What are the symptoms of sexual abuse?

Anyone who has been sexually abused or assaulted suffers harrowing experiences and emotional pain. Sexual abuse and sexual assault affects guys in many of the same ways it affects women. Anger, anxiety, sadness, confusion, fear, flashbacks, numbness, self-blame, guilt, helplessness, hopelessness, suicidal feelings, shame and sexual dysfunction are all common reactions of survivors.

Like women, men who experience sexual abuse may suffer from depression, post-traumatic stress disorder and other emotional problems. But because guys generally have different life experiences than women, their emotional symptoms can differ from women.

A call to action

For now, many men still see reasons to keep their stories to themselves, which should not be so. They fear they won’t be believed or taken serious or be regarded as complicit. Men who report cases of their sexual abuse just want to be reassured that they are unconditionally loved, believed and that it was never their fault.

The society needs to wake up to the reality that sexual abuse and assault is not restricted to just the female gender and also learn to deal with the truth that male can be victims too, not just perpetrators. For if we fail to recognize and address sexual violence against boys, we may also be stirring up violence against women. Although most abused males do not resort to violence, criminality or delinquency, they are still at a greater risk of harming others.

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Breaking Borders

Peer Pressure and its often overlooked Insidious Nature.

By: Adefokun Jucal.

Image Credit: Pinterest.

The Insidious Nature of Peer Pressure.

Peer pressure is a common topic of discussion. It has been the subject of many talks and seminars, so much that the average person has probably heard the term repeatedly, even if they don’t understand it. It plays an important role in the growth of a boy-child, especially at teenage age. Today, save its definition, we will not be rehashing the typical talking points on peer pressure. We will instead consider an often overlooked aspect of peer pressure — its subtle and consequently insidious nature. And while peer pressure can be either negative or positive, we will focus on its negative forms in this article. That said, let us consider what peer pressure is.

What is peer pressure?

In a September 2020 article published on choosingtherapy.com, peer pressure is said to be the process by which individuals within the same group influence others in the group to engage in a behavior or activity that they may not otherwise engage in. A peer can be any individual who belongs to the same social groups or circles as you and has some type of influence over you. Having said that, a good number of people are familiar with obvious forms of peer pressure, but they are often unaware or fail to pay attention to its subtle forms. Such forms of peer pressure can be rather insidious in their execution.

Before we continue though, we must answer a vital question, and that is “What does it means for a thing to be insidious?” According to the Cambridge Dictionary, the term insidious refers to something unpleasant or dangerous which gradually and secretly causes harm. From this, we can infer that for a thing to be insidious, it has to be gradual, difficult to discover, and have very harmful effects. With this important question answered, let us now proceed to consider these subtle forms of peer pressure.

Subtle Forms of Peer Pressure

Subtle forms of peer pressure simply entail unspoken and indirect forms of pressure from one’s peers. It doesn’t involve direct forms of pressure such as persuasion, shaming or mockery. As an example, a boy might be exposed to the actions and habits of his peers, and is left to decide whether or not to emulate them. Take for example that in a hood where there are boys of the same age group, and a good number of them take alcohol. Without any direct form of persuasion to one another, boys in that group are bound to want to emulate what the other persons do lest they are left out. It is often not easy to not emulate, as it would invariably make them the “odd one out”. It is important to mention that such actions and/or habits could include fashion choices, personal interactions, drinking habits, and even things as seemingly trivial as speech patterns. Let’s take when the “Balenciaga” sweaters were in vogue as an example. Many just bought it simply because their friends did.

These forms of peer pressure are quite insidious due to their ability to escape the notice of practically everyone who does not actively watch out for them. Sadly, this means that their harmful effects may not be noticed until the damage is done, as has been revealed with the alcohol intake example above.

At this juncture, we have been able to establish the existence of subtle forms of peer pressure, and their insidious nature. It is therefore necessary to also consider how these subtle forms of peer pressure can be combated, and overcome.

How to Combat Subtle Peer Pressure

It’s important to prepare for dealing with peer pressure. Being able to spot signs of peer pressure will also help prevent boys generally from being caught unawares. Some strategies that may be useful in combating subtle forms of peer pressure might include the following.

  • Remaining conscious: It is important boys are taught to be aware of influences around them such as social media, the opinions of friends and even family members. Being conscious also entails continually being on the lookout for subtle forms of pressure from their peers.
  • Planning ahead: Boys should be encouraged to think about the things they might be subtly pressured to do that they don’t want to. Plan ahead for ways to deal with the pressure. It would also be beneficial to think of how they might leave a situation if it becomes uncomfortable.
  • Building friendships with the right people: Cultivating friendships with individuals who share their values is vital as they would be less likely to pressure them whether overtly or covertly into doing things they do not want to do.

It is important to state that while peer pressure can be a problem, it isn’t always a bad thing. Positive peer pressure can be a valuable part of learning how to socialize and even growing as a person, and that is something building friendships with the right people can help boys achieve.

I shall end this with a few parting words. While it might seem difficult to navigate all the instances of peer pressure, it is not impossible. As stated in this article, boys should be taught to have to remain attentive, plan ahead and be intentional about whom they associate with.

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Secondary school boys carrying a banner asking what boy child advocacy is.Breaking Borders

What Is Boy Child Advocacy: A Necessity or an Unnecessary Show?

By: Oluwasina Praise

Image Credit: Ray’s Photography (For Boys Without Borders)

Sometime in January this year, I had a conversation with a senior colleague who made me realize that the world, as it is, is unfair towards the female gender, hence the existence of a patriarchal society. “Therefore, fighting for the side the society would always support in the blink of an eye is not effecting change but adding to the problem of this world,” he said.

These words tapped into my soul and made me question all my supposedly good thoughts. However, a deeper dive into his words made me realize that he had no clue about the goals of boy child advocacy which made him fearful of it. Thus, this essay addresses his fears and other related ones by asking some fundamental questions.

Who is a Boy Child?

According to Dictionary.com, a boy child is any random male child, from birth to full growth, especially one less than 18 years of age. To further define who a boy is, social convention states that we have seen certain characteristics to differentiate a boy child. Among many of these characteristics are:

  • the ability to always take the leadership role and be proactive
  • the ability to take responsibility at all times and manage pressure
  • being decisive, resilient and strong, etc.

All these have formed what and who a boy child should be over the years, without room for him to be his own person. These, in simple terms, are called stereotypes. Some may say the identity of the boy child has been lost because convention has become the pillar that decides who a boy child is, based on the characteristics and attributes they allotted him. It is these societal narratives on the boy-child, which sometimes, are not beneficial to the child, or even harm his growth, that advocacy sets to change.

What is Boy Child Advocacy? 

In the world that we live in, advocacy is not a new concept. As known, advocacy is as any action that speaks in favour of, recommends, argues for a cause supports, or pleads on behalf of others.

A boy child advocacy initiative is a social programme aimed at grooming boys for purposeful living. It intends to raise passionate leaders and advocates who are willing to help boys achieve their potential. The advocacy seeks to deconstruct the stereotypical view of society and fix the so-called broken boy child. Also, the advocacy provides education to the boy child on issues such as sexual education, moral education, and the menace of sexual abuse. Most importantly, boy child advocacy provides therapists or counsellors who help the boy child in facing his day-to-day activities. Another aim of advocacy is to assist boys in making choices that improve their skills in relating with the opposite sex. This helps to promote social equality.

What is the Importance of Boy Child Advocacy?

Conventions have highlighted who and what a perfect man should be but issues like mental health, male rape, and insecurity issues don’t fall within that radar. Thus, any boy who exhibits these features is considered less than a man. However, advocacy aims to challenge certain stereotypes which perpetuate and heighten unfair behavior towards the boy child. This advocacy models boys to be change agents.

Boy child advocacy also seeks to address the society’s unspoken topics about the boy child. Take for instance rape. Men who experience sexual assault face severe stigma as culture promotes a stereotype that men always want sex. Many people believe men cannot possibly be victims of rape simply because they believe men benefit from it more.

When men report sexual assault, they often face doubt and ridicule. Others may blame the abuse on the man’s weakness or alleged homosexuality. Victim-blaming is especially likely when a man accuses a woman of sexual abuse. Due to this stigma, male survivors can be reluctant to label their experiences as rape or abuse. Some may not mention the event at all. However, reluctance to disclose prevents men from getting the needed treatment. Without professional help, some men resort to substance abuse or self-harm as coping mechanisms. These lead to mental health instability, another unspoken issue.

With this knowledge, advocacy provides an atmosphere free from the societal judgment and addresses these issues head on. It provides counsellors, therapists, and other professionals who help the boy-child overcome his mental health problems. They also publicly address the issue of rape, stating that males can be victims too. In this way, advocacy redefines the mind of the populace and helps lawmakers to maintain open minds when legislating on rape.

Until we begin to address these key issues — the fact that men get scared and cry, gender stereotypes, roles and equality — then having functional men will be nothing but a myth.

Finally, What have I Learned from the Conversation?

I have come to know that the world has double standards and though it sometimes favours males, there are still thousands of ways the boy child suffers in silence. Advocacy programmes for girl was to shed light on injustices that had been stopped to promote gender equality but boy child advocacy hasn’t received wide acceptance. A 2014 survey on violence against children showed that 25% of females and 11% of males are violated in childhood.

This goes to show that the boy also experiences abuse and the reason the abuse does not gain prominence is that boys, like men, are seen by society as the stronger sex, compared to women. While the problems faced by girls have occupied the front burner, those of the male child have been overlooked and unrecognized.  Little wonder why UNICEF in its 2015 report also stated that one in 10 boys in Nigeria has experienced sexual abuse. Somehow, the boy’s cases vanish under the radar.

Due to this, he ends up in trauma, depression, drug abuse, suicidal thoughts and always has tendencies for violence. However, boy child advocacy has come preaching the good news of the magnificence of the boy child. It illuminates the true path for boys but many of us, because of the world’s double standards, still fear that this kind of advocacy is uncalled for.

Well, in the words of Mary Harris Jones, “reformation, like education, is a journey, not a destination”. I have given a head start in this journey like many other advocacy programmes and my passion is to see change effected in the life of the boy child. With this, he would be strengthened and raised into a functional man, one capable of effecting real change in society.

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Breaking Borders

Deconstructing and Reassessing Educational Issues Confronting the Boychild

By: Emmanuel Olaoluwa.

Image Credit: Ray’s Photography (For Boys Without Borders)

Much, if not all, of the world’s focus on tackling the problematic educational exclusion has been emphatically structured solely around the girl-child, to the neglect of her male counterpart. By educational exclusion, I technically refer to the rampant, perhaps most prominent, challenge of education in the Nigerian sociospace in the past more-than-a-few years i.e. being a dropout.

It is the girl-child, often seen as ‘the weaker vessel’ and ‘God’s most dainty creature’, who naturally provokes a readymade societal sympathy and thus gets the quicker, also the most profound emotional, psychological as well as physical and financial remedial measures to help embattle and reform the ailing parts of her life. The girl-child has the world at her feet and the world, in return, at her beck and call.

This is not the case for the boy-child. He has been left to figure his own issues out, and act as a man whenever necessary. This explains the reason for the fact that much of the organisations that inhabit the humanitarian world are fixated singularly on the needs of the girl, with only a few conjoining the concerns of children irrespective of gender albeit far fewer are those organisations who centralise their raison dêtre around the needs of the boy-child. A lamentable situation!

Perhaps something is athwart in the world’s psyche? Or perhaps the boy-child needs less of our devoted attention and care while the girl-child continuously luxuriates in surfeit excesses of affection? And, more importantly, what causative factors engender the polarised treatment of both genders particularly as regards the problematic of educational exclusion? And what factors can possibly settle the score? What are the feasible panacea to this long night of misery for the boy-child? Let’s see as follows.

It must first be noted that the exclusion or the marginalisation of the boy-child largely stems from a place of stereotype and misconception. It is still surprising that in this twenty-first century, there are more than a handful of people who maintain that man (across all age levels) must brave any challenging circumstances he is embroiled in.

To such people, the male and, in this case, the boy-child, is the hero who must act with intrepidity without waiting for an intervening Deux ex Machina. He must hold his problem by the scruff of the neck, subdue it like the stronger gender that he is made of and emerge, like a shirtless Indian hero, from a cloud of smoke, unscathed and in style. Okay, too much details there.

Walk down the streets and you see people with disproving stereotypes on feminine heroism. One of such disclamation is the case of the legendary Moremi. To them, such tales of feminine bravado was purely the invention of our forefathers told derisively under moonlight. Women are not as strong to even hurt a fly (don’t you see how they scamper about in fear when they see cockroaches and rats?) let alone take on the Herculean task of annihilating scores of historical supervillains, so they’d say.

This lee to many organisations not minding the plights of the boy-child, since by their natural abilities, they are strong enough to be welcomed in the tales of male heroism without any disclamation. It is this same stereotype that extends into the outlook on educational exclusion.

True, more than a few boys have been beneficiaries of NGO programmes and pro-human agencies. They have been rescued from their displacement from class (caused by whatever factor may be) and have been reintegrated into the world of academia which is the bedrock of every sane society. It must be admitted, however, that the lens of attention is more directed towards the girl-child.

The boy, like the Indian hero, is often put to challenge and wrestle his way out of misery. Unfortunately, he does not always succeed. And the attestation to this unsuccessful endeavour are evidenced in the various street louts, the cybercriminals inter alia, that increasingly people human population.

So few wriggle their way through the conundrum, most end up in the categories hitherto listed and some who are intent on living a ‘normal’ life learn works like barbing, carpentry, farming (for people) – all of them dead-ends at the end of the day.

Let’s take a cursory look at the myriad of scholarships out there. There are scholarships that are beneficial to everyone regardless of the gender, and there are those meant solely for the female gender. There are not those solely for the male gender, or very few of them. In the world that attempts everything within it’s powers to preach equality, such occurrences makes for a derisiveness of the claim for equality. The world, in a valid and valiant effort to be equal, has left a humongous hole in the care for the boy-child.

Many more reasons abound for the marginalisation of the boy-child in regaining their educational momentum once astray. But like the stereotype, these reasons are mainly the faults of society. And the sure-fire recourse, having known the source from which this issue springs, is for the society to rethink and readdress itself. To do this, organisations mainly in advocacy for the boy-child need to reintensify their efforts and embark on large-scale campaigns, demythologizing conceptions of the male and the boy-child and constitutionally stronger.

He must be seen and treated at par with the female. Individual efforts do not take the backstage. A conflicted mind should acquaint him or herself with proper literature that preach the gospel of gender equilibrium. Also, as informed individuals, we should participate more in the illuminating quest of restructuring societal thinking. Through this coalition individual and group effort, sheer and consistent as they must be, the world will definitely be a better place.

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