Flyer for story of a boy sexually molested by a womanBOYS TALK ABOUT IT 4.0

“To date, I Didn’t Tell Anyone About It” — Anonymous 005

I had my little experience of sexual abuse when I was growing up. I hope my story will inspire someone. Well, it all started when I was a little boy. I was molested by both male and female. First, it was a female.

She was our family friend. When I was a boy, she would carry me to her room, and start to rub my tiny penis on her vagina.

Well, she thought I wouldn’t know, but she forgot that as a kid, my mind and brain were so sharp to retain things. To date, I didn’t tell anyone about it. If not now that I am telling you.

I wonder why she engaged in such an act with me. She used to be a very beautiful young lady then, she could have gotten any man of her choice. Why little me?

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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.

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.