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The Essence of Advocating for the Boy Child

By: Kawthar Abdulmojeed 

In a world inundated with societal expectations and norms, the concept of masculinity has long been rigid and unforgiving. Men are taught to be strong, stoic, and unyielding in the face of adversity. They are told to suppress their emotions, to “man up” even when they are hurting inside. However, this archetype of masculinity is not only detrimental to men themselves but also to society as a whole. It fosters a culture of emotional repression, leading to mental health issues, relationship struggles, and a lack of authentic human connection.

The advocacy for the boy child aims to dismantle these harmful stereotypes and redefine what it means to be a man in today’s world. It’s not about celebrating men’s tears or deriving pleasure from seeing men expressing their pain. Instead, it’s about recognizing the inherent humanity in men and allowing them the freedom to express their emotions without fear of judgment or ridicule.

Imagine a sapling struggling to grow in a cramped constricted environment. Its roots are tangled, its growth stunted by the confines of its surroundings. This is in likeness to the experience of many boys who are raised within the constraints of toxic masculinity. They are taught to suppress their emotions, to conform to rigid norms that limit their potential for growth and self-expression.

Now, picture a garden where each plant is allowed to flourish freely, where there are no restrictions on how tall they can grow or how brightly they can bloom. This represents the ideal environment for the boy child – one where they are encouraged to explore their emotions, develop empathy and compassion, and embrace vulnerability as a strength rather than a weakness.

Society often equates vulnerability with weakness, but in reality, it takes great courage to be vulnerable, to open oneself up to the possibility of pain and rejection. By allowing men to express their fears and insecurities, we are not making them weak. Instead, we are empowering them to confront their emotions head-on, cultivate emotional intelligence, and forge deeper connections with others.

By advocating for the boy child, we are not seeking to diminish the essence of masculinity, but rather to expand its definition to encompass a broader range of traits and characteristics. Strength can coexist with vulnerability; courage can manifest in tears as well as in triumph. It’s time to break free from the shackles of toxic masculinity and embrace a more inclusive and compassionate vision of manhood.

The advocacy for the boy child serves as a light, illuminating the overlooked and under-discussed aspects of male experiences. It strives to give voice to the boy child, shining a light on their struggles, triumphs, and unique essence often overshadowed by societal expectations. By engaging in open dialogue and meaningful conversations, this advocacy seeks to ensure that the boy child is not relegated to a mere afterthought in discussions surrounding gender equity and empowerment.

Central to this advocacy is the acknowledgment of the challenges faced by boys and young men in navigating the complexities of masculinity and societal pressures. It is about recognizing that while boys may not always vocalize their struggles, they are not immune to the impact of harmful gender norms and expectations. By acknowledging these challenges and celebrating the inherent worth and dignity of every boy child, we pave the way for a more inclusive and equitable society.

Moreover, it is imperative that men themselves actively participate in and support the advocacy for the boy child. Oftentimes, men are quick to champion the rights and empowerment of women, yet neglect to extend the same support to their fellow men. This disparity stems from the misconception that advocating for men’s issues somehow diminishes the progress made in advancing women’s rights. However, this could not be further from the truth.

Men should recognize that advocating for the boy child does no detract from efforts to support women; rather, it complements them by fostering a more holistic understanding of gender equity. Just as women’s empowerment benefits society as a whole, so too does the liberation of men from the constraints of toxic masculinity. By joining forces in the advocacy for the boy child, men can demonstrate solidarity and compassion for their fellow brothers, breaking down barriers and forging a path towards greater empathy, understanding, and equity for all.

Think of a mighty oak tree standing tall and proud in the forest. Its strength lies not only in its sturdy trunk and sprawling branches but also in its ability to bend with the wind, to weather the storms that rage around it. Similarly, true masculinity is not about rigid inflexibility, but rather about resilience and adaptability in the face of adversity.

To conclude, advocacy for the boy child is not about making men weak or deriving pleasure from their tears. It’s about promoting emotional authenticity, nurturing empathy and compassion, and empowering men to embrace vulnerability as a fundamental aspect of their humanity. Just as a garden flourishes when each plant is allowed to grow freely, so too will society thrive when men are liberated from the constraints of toxic masculinity and encouraged to express themselves fully and authentically.

Be a voice for the boys around you!

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Navigating Uncharted Waters: Advocacy and the Boy Child

By: Praise T. Oluwasina

Dearest Gentle Reader,

There is a saying that “Smooth seas do not make skillful sailors”, and neither is avoiding certain topics as a society builds a Better Man. Much like sailors navigating turbulent seas to refine their skills, young boys find themselves facing challenges seldom acknowledged or discussed.

The boy child faces unknown waters in the vast ocean of societal expectations, which call for fortitude, flexibility, and a strong sense of self. These difficulties are frequently accompanied by silent battles that go unnoticed, which leaves a gap where the weights placed on youthful shoulders are hidden behind a curtain of social silence. For young boys, society has imposed a complicated web of duties and expectations that define what it is to be a “real man.” These expectations, nevertheless, are rarely examined closely or honestly. The boy child carries a great deal of weight, but societal standards prevent boys from acknowledging their responsibilities.

It becomes clear as we embark on our investigation of these unexplored waters that understanding and empathy can only be fostered by deciphering the nuances of the boy child’s experience. It’s time to set out on a mission to reveal the unsaid battles, bring attention to the difficulties young boys encounter, and start a conversation that breaks the taboo around their particular issues.

The first unexplored topic is emotional suppression, which is like a wall of ice created against a boy child. It’s no secret that boys struggle with the pressure to maintain a stoic façade since they grow up in a society that discourages showing emotion. When emotional navigation is denied, mental health issues flourish and internal disputes go unresolved since the required support networks aren’t available. Because of these kinds of beliefs, boys are frequently dissuaded from expressing their vulnerability or seeking support for their mental health issues, even in the face of intense internal and external pressures. Many boys suffer in silence, unable to express their emotions or get the help they so desperately need, as a result of the stigma associated with mental health in men.

All of this has its roots in the idea of toxic masculinity, another uncharted water of society.  The idea of toxic masculinity hangs heavy over boy children, enforcing strict standards on what it means to be a “real man.” It is difficult for guys to rebel against these expectations since they impede their ability to grow personally and express themselves authentically. Because of this issue, males are put under pressure to fit into stereotypes, which impedes their ability to express themselves authentically and grow as individuals. For the boy youngster, escaping these expectations becomes a difficult undertaking.

In addition to impeding personal development and genuine self-expression, the pressures from society for boys to conform to conventional roles also play a major influence on the educational gaps that exist. Boy students face particular difficulties that are frequently disregarded in conversations as they strive for academic excellence. Gender prejudices greatly impact males’ performance, and the narrow conversation often reinforces the false notion that girls are the only ones who face scholastic difficulties. This discrepancy highlights the necessity of tackling gender-related concerns in the educational framework as a whole to promote a more welcoming and equal learning environment for all students.

The strain on boy representation, role models, and image among young boys is another silent struggle. Boys struggle with what society expects of them in terms of appearance. Body image problems and a skewed sense of self-worth are caused by the unrealistic body ideals that are promoted by the media. Being six feet tall, having a big chest, chiseled jars, and a six-pack is seen as a real man’s fantasy. Boys are isolated in their adolescent journey by these unsaid forces.

Not only that, but it’s well established that representation matters, particularly for young people. However, the boy child lacks strong role models that exhibit empathy, vulnerability, and healthy manifestations of masculinity. Instead, they are frequently exposed to media images of hyper-masculinity and toxic behavior. Boys are deprived of varied narratives to aspire to and this lack of representation perpetuates damaging stereotypes. In contrast to the prevalent emphasis on empowering girls, boys frequently receive little support and advocacy. Few initiatives target their particular difficulties, thus they lack a safety net to help them deal with the difficulties of growing up.

 

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This lack of discussion on the boy child’s troubles leaves a void where problems linger unaddressed. We must elevate these issues in the public conversation. Promoting the interests of boy children is not about downplaying the difficulties that girls encounter; rather, it is about calling for a more inclusive conversation that acknowledges and tackles the complex problems that impact both sexes.

 

Navigating the Path Forward

We must acknowledge the particular difficulties experienced by boy children and take appropriate measures to alleviate them as we navigate these unexplored waters. To start, this involves encouraging frank discussions about what it means to be a man, dispelling myths, and providing secure environments where boys can be themselves.

Education is essential to this path. We can enable the boy child to succeed academically and emotionally by supporting social and emotional development, offering mental health resources, and implementing inclusive curricula that accommodate a variety of learning styles. In addition, we need to push for laws and programs that put boys’ health first. Examples of these include fair access to mental health treatments, encouragement of boys to pursue higher education, and the fostering of healthy male role models in the media and society at large.

We open the door to a society that is kinder and more understanding when we recognize the unfamiliar seas that the boy child must go through. It’s time to break down the walls of silence and have candid discussions about the difficulties they encounter. We can only bring about a future where all children, regardless of gender, can flourish free from the constraints of society by raising awareness and advocating together. Let’s set a new direction and work toward a time when boys are encouraged, given authority, and given the freedom to realize their full potential.

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The Fate of the Boychild in the 21st Century

By: Abdulmojeed Kawthar

Image Credit: Boys Without Borders

In the 21st century, the fate of the boy child has undergone significant changes and challenges. While progress is being made in terms of gender equality and addressing gender stereotypes, there are still areas where boys face unique struggles.

A boy might grow up in a bustling urban neighborhood, come from a loving and supportive family that believes in gender equality, and be encouraged by his parents to pursue his interests, regardless of societal expectations. However, even in this progressive environment, a boy still encounters several hurdles.

In school, there’s a disparity in the treatment of boys and girls. While girls are applauded for excelling in academic subjects and extracurricular activities traditionally associated with boys, such as science or math, boys often face subtle pressure to conform to societal expectations of masculinity. A talented boy artist feels discouraged when his artwork does not receive the same attention as the girl’s work.

Despite a boy’s talent and passion for art, he notices that many of his male peers receive less recognition and encouragement for their artistic abilities compared to the girls. This discrepancy often leads boys to suppress their artistic interests, fearing that it might be seen as “unmanly” or not aligned with societal expectations.

Also, boys face pressure to adhere to traditional gender roles, which can limit their choices and opportunities. He observes that girls are increasingly encouraged to explore diverse career paths, including STEM fields, while boys are still expected to pursue careers in fields like engineering or computer science. This pressure can leave boys feeling trapped or unfulfilled if their interests lie elsewhere.

Furthermore, boys are often stigmatized for expressing emotions or seeking help with their mental health. Society tends to associate vulnerability and seeking support with weakness, leading boys to suppress their feelings or struggle silently. This can have detrimental effects on their emotional well-being and hinder their ability to form healthy relationships.

As the boy grows older, the impact of these challenges becomes more evident. Some boys succumb to societal pressure, conforming to narrow definitions of masculinity, which may manifest in aggressive behavior or a lack of emotional intelligence. Others struggle with mental health issues, unable to find the support they need due to the stigma surrounding male vulnerability.

To this end, it is important to support and encourage the boy child in breaking these barriers. Encourage him to express his emotions, explore his interests, and challenge societal norms.

Also, society needs to encourage positive male role models by highlighting and celebrating positive male role models who challenge stereotypes and promote gender equality. Boys need access to diverse role models who showcase the possibilities and successes beyond traditional gender roles. This can be achieved through media representation, community mentorship programs, and educational initiatives.

In conclusion, the fate of the boy child in the 21st century rests on society’s ability to recognize and address the unique struggles they face. By fostering an environment that promotes gender equality, encourages emotional expression, and embraces diverse interests and career paths, we can create a future where boys can thrive and fulfill their potential.

By implementing these measures, society can create an environment that empowers boys to embrace their individuality, pursue their passions, and contribute positively to their communities. It is only through collective effort and a commitment to gender equality that we can shape a future where boys thrive and fulfill their potential in the 21st century.

 

 

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The International Day of the Boychild: The Boy, His Troubles, and Our Initiative

By: Habeeb Abdul

Image credit: Boys Without Borders.

This year, 2023, will mark the sixth year since the celebration of the Boy Child began. To individuals across sociocultural spheres, an International Day of the Boy Child may appear another cross-continental oddity. To others, its observation is a cause to sigh in deep relief. But this will likely not be for the right reasons.

The participants on either side of the spectrum have unique backdrops to their perception. The former asks: “Who is the boy-child?” Or “Why is the boy a child?” For the latter, it is: “thank goodness they now know we are here, men should get some credit, too.”

These individual, yet connected ends, represent the different realms of opinion surrounding the upbringing of the male. The first category of people is not able to understand why the boy is really a child since his mere presence denotes a readiness for responsibility. Something that children are not known to bear. The second category understands that there is an innate neglect of the boy and desires a change, but in reality, does not grasp where, or in what place, that should happen. Thus, we have total ignorance on one hand, and awareness with a tinge of ignorance on the other hand. These two are what the article hopes to attend to today. While explaining the idea of the International Day of the Boy, insights are provided into prevailing trends that put the boy at risk.

A key idea which featured on Teelucksingh’s mind when he demanded a recognition of a World Day of the Boy was the attention which was distributed along gender lines. For him, in as much as the challenges of young girls should not be ignored, there was no reason whatsoever to overlook that of males. This part is itself a potent cause for controversy. What would likely dominate the minds of certain activists is the centuries-old image of distrust of the masculine folk. Without the mildest of considerations, views of the boy as a violent, unthinking individual dominate discussions, missing the underlying notion that this ideal in itself is a way to maintain social order.

As much as the beliefs of an uneven scale that is unfair to females may ring true, bringing up the opposite sex to spot the distant and remote causes of this is as much a step towards equality as it is a benefit to the men folk. Thus, celebrating an International Day of the Boychild streams beyond some masculine fanfare and affects the very core of sex-determined socioeconomic relations.

Moreover, another factor which governs the life of the boy-child is the penultimate word in the preceding paragraph: socioeconomic. This portmanteau of a social and economic concept is inarguably the centre-point of any boy’s development. Since the revered days of old, any ounce of regard given to a man in the social space is determined by the amount of economic weight that he can pull. This could also be vice versa, depending on the culture or the dynamics of the situation. In our modern world of evolving views, this idea still sticks. The boy, even when lucky to grow under a liberal parentage, still realises that the society around is only willing to ascribe worth by private industrial size. In other words, he is only as valuable as the appeal he has in the market. This pressure, simplified in phrases like ‘breadwinner of the family’, ‘man of the house’, and ‘defender of his neighbourhood’, causes a strain, that one can even say, disrupts the enjoyment of life. His whole pursuit thus revolves around a desire to cross these milestones. The problem, however, is the effect of failure. And another problem from that effect, is that failure does not even have to mean that he has tried, it comes as a feeling on its own, a thought that he tarries below standard, helped along by certain depressing comments from the community. In poor areas, this is even worse.

In a bid to at least make ends meet, boys are more often than not the main propellers of criminality. Substance abuse, rape, robbery and other illicit activities give rise to far worse than the idea of survival. The resulting wreck thus becomes a burden to society, one that we would all be eager to put away.

Following the above, another idea to consider is that of male vulnerability. Due to traditional expectations which view the boy as a reservoir of emotional strength, it is often difficult to believe that the words, ‘male’ and ‘tears’, can coexist in the same sentence. A relatable instance of this would be a funeral or any sombre gathering of kinfolk, where males are the least expected to shed tears. In Yoruba settings, to which the author belongs, okùnrín ee ké, the male doesn’t cry, is a statement that rings frequently and in distinct tones. Another example is the sharo culture of the Fulani, where the man proves his strength under severe flogging. When a man caves in to tears, he is deemed weak and even unworthy of manhood. These cultures only serve to perpetuate depression and a refusal to get treatment even with obvious symptoms. It also makes it difficult for men to confide in anyone, especially people of their own sex.

The climax of these all is the potential to commit suicide. Men have been cited by the WHO as more likely to commit suicide than their female counterparts. In many respects, a result of sociocultural conditioning. The International Day of the Boychild is therefore an avenue to shed light on these issues and help the boy develop along lines which are best for him.

It is also upon this premise that Boys Without Borders, an organization committed to boy-child development, was founded. Since its establishment in 2020, Boys Without Borders has sought to be a leading voice in debunking farce surrounding the boy while pushing for a recognition of his humanity. Contrary to what the name may imply, it incorporates girls who are equally passionate about the initiative’s goals.

Thus, we will be celebrating the International Day of the Boy this with a school event, bringing our volunteers and invited guest speakers with a wealth of experience to address boys on salient issues. The goal is to raise the boys’ awareness and in our little way through the school visit and assist them to be better individuals in society through the symposium. Remember that helping boys develop into functional men has as much to do with providing an enabling and understanding environment, as with reaching out to boys. The International Day of the Boychild is a day we look forward to and are happy about at Boys Without Borders.

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Na we dey run Streetz: The Boychild and the Street

By Olamilekan Mashika

Image Credit: Jeff Ackley/Unsplash

As a boy who grew up in Mushin, Lagos, I am probably used to the street than most people, since Mushin is, in fact, streets. On one side are boys of variety of age drinking, smoking and chatting generally about women, and on the other side are boys and men of different age also drinking and rolling dice, drinking and smoking while turning out their entire savings to bet on rolling the highest figure. On another side are men of higher age grade at a spot drinking away and making mockery of everything and anything and discussing about the woman next street they had the previous night. Then there is on the last side another set of young men who simply want to leave themselves shirtless, not particularly drinking and sparsely smoking but running a pass at passer-by and catcalling ladies, whilst still doing recollection tale if they have had any of the passing ladies before or not. Also, on the last far corner are some boys preparing to go off to the nearest club house to enter the VIP lounge since they had just gotten thousands of dollars, which equals millions of naira, from an unwillingly willing foreigner the previous day.

In most cases when people hear ‘streets’, what pricks their subconscious is a group or groups of boys or in fact adult males who are gathered at a place and simply having the fun of life. Not that it is bad to have fun, but the where matters. The society is conditioned to see a boy on the street as normality regardless of his age. To them, he is simply on the road to becoming a man. This singular thought has constituted one of the reasons why not much attention is paid to the phenomenon. To people, “boys will be boys”. However, there is a problem.

In the exposure to the street, the boy is exposed to certain things at his age which he should not be exposed to. In formative years, a boy is supposed to be loved and cared for while close attention is paid to his wellbeing so that he can grow up to be the best that he can. However, because of the psychological conditioning that there is nothing bad in seeing a boy on the streets with his supposed peers and fellow ‘men’, the parents, guardian and any care giver simply sees nothing wrong with his finding a sense of belonging and purpose on the street. People simply ignore his change in behaviour as a sign of maturity: his one day tantrum after he was called out for not doing the right. His change in voice, his repeated usage of curse words, his penchant for drinking and smoking, his quick aggressive behaviour and many others were simply ignored and counted as the stage every adult male would go through unbeknownst to many that it is simply the streets getting to him.

There are many faces to which vices would reign supreme at a point or two when there would be a complete turnaround. But because people have misunderstand what street smartness is and have made a pass for a young boy who is not even of drinking age to drink as a sign of quick maturity, the society has endorsed the lifestyle of the boy and he is more attracted to the life of independence he has found on the street. And so the life harmonises with the boy’s life expectations and he is stuck to it.

The street, no doubt, births influences in the boy’s life. His life becomes the expectations of others and he runs to achieve what his peers are achieving.

What are these influences and how do they affect the boy child?

Peer pressure:

This perhaps is the most overarching of all influences. It is from peer pressure that every other influence is most likely birthed. In fact, one of the major reasons for which the boy child ventures into the street is peer pressure. Seeing what the other person does and then going into doing them just because he wants to be like that person. For peer pressure, at the point of getting into the street life, it becomes even greater. The boy drinks because his street friends, who are equally not of drinking age, drink; he smokes because he has seen many people on the street smoking and no one bats an eye to it. The boy does drugs because no one really cared what he does. All of these are influences of peer pressure which continues to seep deep into our society and makes the street a harsher place for a growing boy child to live in.

The environment of the street, at the point of his entering into adulthood, becomes too familiar and all he has now is the life he has been exposed to on the street. Due to this, he continues to replicate what he has learned or has been influenced to do and continues to do that.

Ritualism/yahoo enterprise:

The sub heading was deliberate. At this point in our country, getting involved in internet fraudulent activities is almost seen as a legal business. People troop around proud of themselves, of their achievement in what they do. Perhaps readers might be unfamiliar, but for a person that grew up in a place deeply associated with the street, it is very obvious. Boys will troop around, or hang at a particular spot, to brag about the amount of dollars they have made in the past week by being smart. In fact, they compare their wealth and size how big they are in the game: the game being yahoo. For those who are not satisfied with what they are making, or are not making at all, they go in search of more. When they do this, ritualism sets in. Then the problems of the society triple. At this point, they become problems to the society rather than assets.

Violence:

There is a certain synonymy of ‘streetness’ with bashing of heads, or breaking of bottles, or stabbing with knives or ultimately using guns as the ultimate weapon. The factors that contribute to these gory lists are not farfetched. The society knows them, we simply just look away. We are conditioned to see boys who are violent as normality. This is not even peculiar to Nigeria alone.

In movies, since we can accept that movies are to a certain extent a depiction of reality especially when this is a recurring depiction, we see boys on the street engage in violent activities. People have seen them as a necessity of the society and thus, they are conditioned to having them there. Boys stay on the street, serve on the streets, die on the streets and no one really bats an eye. It is normality.

But, should we be accustomed to such?

Because the society is so accustomed to seeing the boy child on the street, the street becomes the home of the boy. He luxuriates in the power it gives him and the shelter he gets. He gets a sense of camaraderie and continues to lust after its gnashing jaws.

However, one thing we need to realize is that for a society to be sane, and fully productive, there is the need to have functional men, myriad of functional men. This cannot materialise if we continue to have boys on the street engage in violence, cult clashes, internet fraudulent activities and being exposed to excessive peer pressure. There is the need for the society to recognize few things that might dissociate the boychild from the street and make him want more for his life than merely being encumbered with the quasi top of the ladder feeling that comes with the street.

So, what do we do as a society?

There is the need to recognize that the boy child equally needs more attention just as the girl child. In the formative years of humans, what they are exposed to is what becomes their culture and normality. We, as a society needs to ensure that the boy child does not see life on the street as better than any other life. It would seem that boys have had this notion growing up; however, due to the fact that the society has looked away on this, nothing good comes out of the Nazareth of the world’s society. It is therefore important to pay more attention. Watch what your boy does and who he follows, who acts as his role model and who he looks up to: is it a brother in the hood who is a known alcoholic or a guy man who is a known internet fraudster? Taking note of these at the early stage will ensure that the boy is snatch from the jaws of the street at the early stage.

We need to understand that some things that pass as normality should not even be seen in a society that wants to be productive. Glorifying internet fraudulent activities in our conversation has gone a long way in ensuring that boys are drawn to the street as that is where they can get quick connection to those who will show them the way. As a society, with the raging burns of capitalism, we have placed those who have at the very top of the society and see them as supreme regardless of how that supremacy comes by: this is why a musician will sing praises for yahoo boys and no one would care. We fail to realize that little by little this mentality, this flow of perverse thoughts, seeps into the brain of boys, or even young men generally and they take to the street to find their own mentor who will guide them to joining those at the top of the society. Whether successful or not, they become encumbered with what the street has to offer.

Another is eliminating peer pressure. This can be achieved with basic steps that have existed over the years on how to eliminate peer pressure. As has been established, peer pressure is the greatest weapon for recruiting boys onto the street, but if attention is paid to boys at their formative age and we ensure that they are taught to toe the right path, then the society as a whole is on the path to raising functional men.

Making boys employable is another way to consider. Boys, who go on the street, have been made to think that they can’t do much with their lives since they do not have the necessary skills to outshine their peers in the world. Being not easily employable is what they carry on themselves and they think that the street is the only place their qualification is needed and accepted. However, if there are more NGOs, just like Chessinslums who give boys necessary employability and life skills to succeed in life, then much more boys can be got off the streets pronto.

Finally, it will be a fool’s errand to attempt to exhaust every issue on street phenomenon and the boy child, however, this article has served as a call to action to parents, guardians, government agencies, and non-governmental organisations to step up towards looking at the street phenomenon, what it is and how can we get our boys off the street? This, in itself is a key and giant step towards raising functional men.

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Boys’ Trybe in a Flash.

Last year, our major project was called Boys Trybe. Many saw the contents and wondered what it was about. Many, indeed, know what the project is about because we had explained what it would be about. Simply put, the idea of Boys Trybe came from the perspective of a community coming together in a round table discussion to raise functional men. Like it is generally said, “it takes the community to raise a boy child”. There is no iota of doubt that functional men would ensure the ideal society everyone would want to live in. There would be very low statistics of social vices and to an extent the society would witness a state of equivocal normalcy. This is not saying boys are the trouble makers, No. This is simply pointing that if the society have boys, who grow up to be men, and contribute positively to the society, then there definitely would be positive changes in such society. The topics of boys Trybe were varied. They encompassed thematic issues hanging around the boychild. The project was geared towards explaining to young boys, teenagers, young adults and even men on issues the face on a daily basis. Issues which psychologically, there is a response they pick up when faced with as a result of societal direction, however, the contents served as a form of guidance in building the male gender up to becoming the best version of himself.

In this essay the contents of each month of the Boy’s Trybe will be summarised, allowing the readers to read all the information at a go. Let’s see this as a bonus to the community raising of functional men.

February – Drug Addiction.

The first publication of the year was lunched with the topic drug addiction. We learnt that drugs are substances that have the power to change how the body works. They can be utilized medically, such as in the treatment of illnesses or the alleviation of pain, but they can also be abused and become addictive when used recreationally.

Drugs used to treat particular medical issues are known as prescription drugs since they can only be obtained with a doctor’s prescription. Without prescription, over-that-counter medications can be acquired and are often used to treat minor illnesses like headaches.

The use of drugs in a way that is damaging to oneself or others is referred to as abusing drugs.  This may involve using drugs in excess, using them for nonmedical reasons, utilizing them in an unsafe or dangerous way, or using medications that are illegal or that the user has not been prescribed. Abuse of drugs can have detrimental effect on one’s physical and mental health as well as their relationships, finances, and legal status.

The following are a few effects of drug abuse:

Drug usage can result in a variety of physical health issues, such as liver damage, lung issues, heart issue, and overdose.

  • Mental health issues: Substance misuse can lead to or aggravate mental health issues like psychosis, depression, and anxiety.
  • Relationship issues: Abusing drugs can cause social isolation and disrupt relationships with friends and family.
  • Financial concerns: Drug misuse can cause financial troubles because of the high expense of drug acquisition as well as potential legal or health consequences.
  • Legal issues: Abusing drugs can lead to legal issues, such as being arrested and imprisoned for possessing or distributing illegal substances.

How and where to stop drug misuse and assist drug addicts

Drug misuse prevention and addiction treatment can be difficult and diverse processes. Here are some tactics that might work:

  • Education can assist prevent drug usage by giving people accurate information about the dangers and effects of drug use.This can be accomplished through communitybased projects, public health campaigns, and educational programs.
  • Drug misuse prevention programs: These initiatives can assist in giving participants the tools they need to fend off peer pressure and steer clear of drugs.
  • Counseling, support groups, and other forms of therapy could be included.

March – Sexual Abuse.

This month we explore the topic of Sexual Abuse as related to the male gender.

Sexual abuse is an unwanted sexual act that occurs when the perpetrator forces the victim or takes advantage of the victim’s vulnerability. This does not always have to be a physical activity involving private parts. It could include other things like the exposure of nakedness by an older person to a minor, fondling a minor’s private parts, asking a minor to fondle another’s private parts, forcing a minor to masturbate, and masturbating in front of a minor. If you have been sexually abused in any way, speak up. Do not be ashamed.

The phases of sexual abuse occur consequently, and failure to stop a phase leads to another. The phases are:

  1. Subjection.
  2. Episodes/ Sexual abuse.
  3. Concealment/ Secrecy.
  4. Acceptance of the abuse.
  5. Continuity of the abuse.

Even though it might not be easy, especially for boys, to report sexual abuse cases, it is very important for us to encourage the reporting abuse cases. One of the risks of sexual abuse is STI, so if an abused boy quickly reports a case of sexual abuse, medical tests will be taken to make sure he is not infected. If, however, the boy is infected, he will be able to get help and medical treatment as soon as possible. An added advantage of reporting is it stops the continuity of the abuse. It is important to report. One should also encourage others to report cases of sexual abuse.

Not all abused patients report abuse immediately. This, though, does not mean that when a child or a person takes his time before reporting abuse, he is fabricating. Even though the National Children’s Advocacy Centre believes that children customarily tell someone if they’ve been sexually abused, it is just a myth. Research shows that a majority of children either delay or never disclose their sexual abuse to anyone.

Knowing sexual abuse signs:

If a lady invites a young guy to her room to play with his private parts, it is sexual abuse, regardless of whether the boy enjoys it. Guys can be sexually abused in every way possible. Should be not all sexual abuses are forced, making a person go against his will through a threat of fear also counts as abuse. If a minor is involved, it is sexual abuse, because a minor cannot give consent. There might be consequences of abuse, and one is advised and encouraged to tell their parent or guardian, and maybe also see a therapist. Sexual abuse is real for boys.

Myth on boy child sexual abuse:

Because a boy child has been sexually abused does not mean that he will sexually abuse others. It is a dangerous thing to believe otherwise, because it sometimes creates a fear in men and boys of becoming abusers, Sadly, guys who are victims of sexual abuse are eventually seen as perpetrators, rather than actual victims that might need help and support. Another myth is that boys can’t be abused. The society has been wired to unconditionally think that it is impossible for men to be sexually abuse, and that they enjoyed the sex. This is false. Abuse of the male gender is as brutal as an sexual abuse. Even though men are physically stronger than women, they can be sexually abused. Physical force and/or coercion is not the only way one can be sexually abused.

July – Masculinity.

In our publications this month, we explored the concept of masculinity, it was discussed that there are generally accepted or recognized expectations around masculinity. Individual Society sets standards different from other societies. It might be viewed as expressions of manliness through healthy means in one society and toxicity in another. The toxic means of expressing masculinity which is an overbearing trait to prove masculinity was highlighted which Include:

  • Being excessively controlling
  • Trying to assert dominance through force
  • Disregarding the opposite sex as weak
  • Being sexually aggressive

While all of these traits have a way they can be expressed in a healthy way including:

  • Open communication
  • Empathy
  • Care
  • Compassion
  • Respect and another socially acceptable trait that is needed to transform this Society into a gender-fair one.

It was also noted that the following activities don’t make you less of a man and don’t take away from your masculinity and as a man, you don’t have to live by the definition of Society. These misconceptions include:

  • Showing emotion and Vulnerability
  • Crying
  • Liking color pink
  • Being a caregiver to those around you
  • Interested in traditionally feminine activities
  • Seeking counseling for mental health issues.

We can have a society where men are encouraged to speak up and express their emotions and are listened to without taking away from their manliness. Although being a man can be a sense of adventure or a taste of challenges, it’s never about violence or self-isolation.

August – Respecting the female Gender.

The August edition spoke about male who disrespect the female gender all in the name of being a better male.

This month publication set to put the record straight on who a proper man is and how he should behave. This publication redefines the misconception of what a simp man is.

It was flat out started that the best measure to be a better male is to respect the female gender in his decency and respect giving to them (female gender)

This publication reaffirms the fact that both gender is just as knowledgeable as each other, thus respect is proper traits. This publication made it known that women are not subservient to male. The fact that they do this jobs most time did not make it their problem. Instead they should be respected for it and appreciated.

The jobs can actually be shared between male and female. Lastly, in no matter situation we male find the female gender, we should respect the women apart from the fact that they deserve it, it is just a basic human decency every human should enjoy.

November – Bullying.

The Boy’s Trybe for November took us through the subject of bullying for the male child and his relationships. One thing to note is bullying can occur in a variety of ways, but bantering in male relationships is one of its subtler manifestations. Let’s define bullying as “repeated activities to make someone’s life intolerable.”

Given that respecting people’s limits is what separates bullying from assault, it is important to hold off on making any comments if someone has already voiced worry about them. You can also be nicer with your words when you make assumptions about someone because we often speak without having enough knowledge about them. Last but not least, having authority does not give us the right to treat people badly; respect is earned and based on reciprocity.

Bullying, however subtle it may be, would be eliminated if there was a feeling of mutual respect.

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A banner talking about boy child sexual abuseBreaking Borders

Boy Child Sexual Abuse: Fact or Myth?

Image Credit: Boys Without Borders/Ire Ajewole.

Primarily, sexual abuse revolves around the use of force, threats, and lack of consent. It is the subjection of an individual to sexual activity to which they did not agree. It can also be referred to as molestation. The Cambridge English Dictionary defines sexual abuse as the act of making a person take part in sexual activities, against their wishes, or without their agreement. Legally, sexual abuse is punishable by severe penal sentences.

Unfortunately, while many are frequently exposed to sexual abuse, few are able to identify it for what it truly is. Abusive actions could even be normalized in some cases, making it difficult to reprehend it socially. Below are some examples of sexual abuse.

  • Sex trafficking
  • Unwanted kissing or touching
  • Rape or attempted rape
  • Knowingly touching an ignorant person
  • Making sexual jokes and catcalling
  • Stalking and taking unwarranted pictures for the sake of sexual satisfaction
  • Exposure of the parent’s body to the child

Types of Sexual Abuse

Sexual abuse is further categorized into five major types, depending on its nature. They are the following:

Verbal sexual abuse:

This is the use of words to express sexual content. For instance, joking about physical characteristics in a sexual manner.

Covert sexual abuse:

The perpetrator tries to get sexual satisfaction from the victim without their knowledge. An example of this is a photograph of a person, taken with or without their knowledge, but used for the fulfillment of sexual desire.

Visual sexual abuse:

This happens when someone is visually exposed to unwanted sexual content.

Physical sexual abuse:

Everything sexual that has to do with physical contact, like kissing, that is done without consent falls under this category.

Ritualistic sexual abuse:

This is sexual abuse blended with some form of spirituality or ritual. The perpetrators encourage or justify their actions as acts of penitence or reverence. For instance, a pastor may propose intercourse with a member of their congregation under the guise of divinity.

The Gendered Nature of Sexual Abuse

Traditionally, females are seen as the only gender that can be abused. They are tagged as natural victims and are, as such, offered the heaviest security. But while it is necessary to prevent attacks on the bodily autonomy of the opposite sex, it is equally important to guarantee the same for the boy-child. The perception of males as biologically better at fending for themselves makes it difficult to imagine them as vulnerable ones.

To complicate matters, men are seen as sexually driven creatures, incapable of resisting intercourse. These imply that drawing attention to male sexual abuse is a multi-pronged battle. On the one hand, males are strong and on the other, they love sex anyway.

It is therefore unsurprising to witness doubts on the possibility of male rape. The consequences are damaging. Men who have been abused may develop an unusual compulsion to seek sexual pleasure, even through unhealthy methods. The trauma may also prevent them from expressing themselves sexually, harming their psychological well-being as a result. These narratives are often muted as, when told, society dismisses them as farcical. Males who decide to call out their abusers are perceived as weak and unmanly.

In social circles, they are deemed as exceptions to the norm and will likely suffer ridicule for despising an early break into copulation. Therefore, to shield abused males from the injustices visited on them, we must ensure that they are provided the safety nets afforded their female counterparts.

Boy Child Sexual Abuse: Delving In

In deciding whether male sexual abuse is a fact or a myth, it is crucial to consider available data. According to 1in6.org, a national study of U.S. adults in 1990 revealed that 16% of men had been sexually abused before the age of 18. Another study of male university students in 1996 in the Boston area showed that 18% of men were sexually abused before 16. These data suggest that male sexual abuse is not a new phenomenon and has in fact existed for a long period.

This is corroborated by a 1998 review of existing research on sexual abuse against young males. It concluded that the problems are “common, under-reported, under-recognized, and under-treated.” The data trail continues with a study of U.S. adults in 2003 reporting that 14.2% of men had been sexually abused before 18, and a  2005 study by the U.S. Centre for Disease Control stating that 16% of males had been abused by the same age.

Interestingly, a survey by the Indian government in 2007 suggests a mix in the gender of perpetrators and a seeming prevalence of male victims. Its results showed that of the children who had experienced severe sexual abuse, including sodomy, 57.3% were boys. More recently, the Delhi-based Centre for Civil Society found that approximately 18% of Indian adult men surveyed reported being coerced or forced to engage in conjugal relations. Of that number, 16% claimed a female perpetrator while the remaining 2% claimed a male perpetrator.

Similarly, data from the US Centre for Disease Control showed that 13.5 percent of abused males claimed that the perpetrators were female. It would also seem that males are often targeted at very young ages. Reports by The Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that 1 in 4 male rape victims experienced it for the first time between 11-17 years. For other victims, it occurred before age 10.

Boy Child Sexual Abuse: What Are the Effects on Mental Health?

Sexual abuse breeds negative effects on the mental health of victims. According to RAINN, male victims may experience effects such as anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, flashbacks, and eating disorders.

They may also develop the habit of avoiding people or places that remind them of the assault or abuse. They develop a fear of the worst and carry a sense of a shortened future. The victims may feel less masculine or that they no longer have control over their own body. Their experience of an erection or ejaculation may also result in self-blame as they feel they did little to stop the assault. Furthermore, there is a tendency to isolate and withdraw from friendships. They are haunted by the fear of disbelief should their encounter be disclosed to friends or family members.

How Males Can Protect Themselves from Sexual Abuse

Awareness is critical to protection. The boy-child should remain constantly aware of his environment and should be knowledgeable of places he needs to avoid. When suspicious, he should politely reject invites to suspicious events and locations. Necessary information should be passed by the boy-child on his whereabouts and future locations.

If possible, he should also find trusted friends or guardians to which he can open up. This eases the process of disclosure. When confronted by generous strangers, he should be careful to decline their gifts and notify parents or guardians of their advances. An enabling environment must exist for this to happen.

The Roles of Individuals, Family, Organisations, and Government Agencies

Individuals, families, organisations, and government agencies should be ready to listen to victims, suggest solutions and provide assistance. Also, sensitisation should be done at various levels to ensure appropriate knowledge is passed to the boy-child regarding sexual abuse, its effects, and prevention mechanisms.

Sexual abuse of the male child shouldn’t be treated lightly. As a society, we must ensure that the needs of one are not attended to at the expense of the other. Both must be taken seriously.

 

 

 

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Two women leaders proving there's no relationship between leadership and gender.Breaking Borders

Leadership and Gender: Society, Stereotypes and the Way Forward

By: Solomon Idowu

Image Credit: Boys Without Borders/Ire Ajewole.

As a boy or man, have you ever had situations where you are uncomfortable with a female being your leader? Or have you ever experienced scenarios where females are told to respect their male counterparts for the mere fact that they are male? Or that a woman should listen to a man because she belongs to the kitchen, the other room or other domestic spheres?

Most individuals will relate with at least one of these or more, and it goes to show that in society today, we still have the problem where individuals are accorded respect and have their leadership effectiveness measured based on their genders. It extends the belief that women are not capable of leadership because well; they are women. This belief ignores the fact that leadership is a skill based on qualities individuals can cultivate and is totally independent of gender. While this may not be an issue that is generally widespread, especially in the more developed segments of our own society, it is an issue that occurs far more than you’d like to think.

Image showing societal perceptions about leadership and gender
Image Credit: Eketi Edima Ette on Facebook.

Over this past week, this image above sparked conversations amongst myself and some friends and in discussion, I realized in society today we still have an issue with female leadership. From the scenarios painted in the post above, it’s clear that they saw these mothers as inferior and under their sons in their homes, simply because they are women and the sons are boys. This may be on the extreme end of the spectrum, but this is something that is mirrored in less intense ways in society today.

Multifaceted factors of stereotypes, beliefs, and perceptions influence happenings like these. There are stereotypes positing that men are natural leaders because they are men and women are to play second fiddle. Beliefs that men are to be leaders and women, followers, resigned to handling domestic tasks. Perceptions that society exposes both men and women to throughout their lives that have big influences on how leadership plays out.

How Do Biases Relating to Gender and Leadership Play Out?

Some areas we see these multifaceted factors play out their influence in daily life include: the home, corporate settings, politics, and even general interpersonal relationships to name a few. Here, men are put on a pedestal, believed to be better at leadership, and accorded more respect because of their gender. We see instances where women in positions of leadership are not accorded the same level of respect that will go to their male counterparts because of their gender. Instances where women are not even opportune to get to positions of leadership because of these stereotypes, beliefs and perceptions.

Just like we have in the stories the Facebook post above referenced, in the home, we have cases where parents put males females for leadership roles and benefits. Cases where younger male children are regarded over their older female siblings because of their gender –“Toun why are you sitting in the front seat? It’s your younger brother that should be there, he’s the boy”. We also have cases where the opinions of females are not taken as important as their male counterparts–“This is a serious conversation woman, it is meant for the men alone”.

These factors also have effects in schools. To name a specific example, I recall primary and secondary experiences growing up where we’d have male class captains and females chosen as assistants, where the position of the head boy holds far more weight than that of the head girl.

As for the corporate world, women have challenges as leaders with some men not been comfortable with female bosses.–“How woman go dey command me like that” “She’s a woman, I doubt she will be able to handle that kind of responsibility, let’s give it to the man instead.”

In politics and the government these factors are also very much influential. In Nigeria, according to UN Stats, women occupy only about 6.7% percent in elective and appointive positions and these positions are oftentimes deputizing roles. For more specific context, only 5% of members of the House of Representatives are women. Individuals are not yet entirely comfortable voting women into political posts and you’d hear statements like “I can’t vote for her, she’s a woman.”

What Influences the Multifaceted Factors that Link Leadership and Gender?

These multifaceted factors of stereotypes, beliefs, and perceptions themselves take root in various influences. For one, there are traditional and religious views that individuals have used as extreme justifications for these multifaceted factors. For example, society takes out-of-context stories and verses that promote male leadership and totally ignores cases of amazing women leaders like Moremi in Yoruba traditional culture or Queen Amina in Hausa culture. These people use religious statements such as “the man is the head of the home” to establish absolute, definite, and total male control and dominance. This diminishes the contribution of women leadership and helps these multifaceted factors grow deep roots.

On another hand, we have societal socialization and this also goes a long way in developing and solidifying these factors. Boys and girls grow up influenced by what they see and observe around them. Individuals today hold the views they do in no small part due to the socialization in their societies. We play into these factors without even realizing it. Society influences how individuals define roles and expectations for men and women. Certain roles, activities, and responsibilities are for particular genders. This, in turn, affects how individuals define leadership roles and the people who occupy them. Growing up, boys witness things in their society that diminish female contributions to leadership and imbibe these as worldviews.

This then naturally reinforces itself time and time again and inevitably sets a “standard”. It further creates stereotypes, beliefs, and perceptions that are not necessarily true. Girls influenced by their environment might not see the need to go for leadership as it goes against the “norm”. Boys socialized into this worldview will have difficulty with women in positions of leadership around them as they grow.

How Does this Relate to the Boy Child?

Boys Without Borders is for the boy child, so why are we covering a topic that resonates more with women? Well, we are on the quest to raise functional men for a balanced society. Thus, we cannot have either of that if we have boys and men that hold incorrect worldviews toward female leadership. Boys and men are about half of the world’s population. Hence, it’s important they hold proper worldviews to shape society to be a better place. In essence, boys and men have to hold the right beliefs to have a functional and balanced society. 

What We Can Do to Combat Societal Perceptions of Leadership Roles and Gender Qualification

First, we have to change things in the home as it is the primary hub of socialization. We have to treat and raise boys and girls as the equals that they are. Society needs to stop treating boys as superior to their female siblings simply because they are boys. Furthermore, we should make boys understand that they are equal and not superior to girls. We should raise boys to realize that home-care responsibilities are not beneath them and restricted to the female gender. Also, society needs to desist from encouraging situations like those we saw in the Facebook post in any form.

In the home and in schools, it’s important to expose girls to opportunities to cultivate leadership skills. We should raise our girls with the mindset that leadership is not beyond them. We should also teach them that they have the same rights their male counterparts have to develop leadership skills.

Men also have to develop a healthier perspective toward female leadership. This is because today’s men will very much influence the next generations of men. Men in society are the first role models to young boys. Thus, it’s crucial for men to have healthy perspectives they will pass on to the younger ones.

As a society, we have to accept that differences in leadership styles don’t automatically affect one’s leadership capability. Both men and women, boys and girls can develop the necessary skills to make them quality leaders. We all should make conscious efforts to do away with these factors and the biases they influence.

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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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