Before he was a rapist, woman beater, misogynist, patriarchy maniac, and the thing that keeps you awake at night, he was an innocent child. Born with no hate or disregard for women. There is no way he brought such evil from heaven. What happened?
He was neglected and uneducated. Neglected by his parents, uncles, church, aunties and all the good institutions of the society responsible for nurturing him. They tell him to go find his way because he is a man.
I never paid much or any attention to the international day of the girl child until last year. Women have had enough and were making a lot of justified noise on sexual abuse, domestic violence, and gender inequality.
Browsing through some posts on social media dedicated to the girl child last October a thought came to my mind: “is there a day to celebrate the boy child?”
I curiously googled “international day of the boy child” and what I found was shocking. It did not exist.
This revelation confirmed something I have always believed—the boy child is often neglected. Anthony Joshua’s interview with GQ magazine was further confirmation. The heavyweight champion and father of one was asked if he is strict with his son and here is his reply:
“I don’t think I’m that strict with Joseph, I don’t know why. But with my niece I’m strict. I think it is because she is older, but also, he’s a boy – he’s going to be a man’s man, he’ll want to spread his wings, be a Jack-the-lad, build his character. But I am sure there are things I will be strict about. But with my niece, there is none of that Jack-the-lad nonsense for her! My view is you have to be a good woman, respectful, one day you will be someone’s wife, you have to learn family morals… what it is to be a good woman.”
Let’s the leave the boy child, he will figure it out but the let us prepare the girl child, she is going to be a wife tomorrow.
There is a reason one gender is devilish (a female friend once referred to me as devilish) and the other is angelic. We give one gender direction, guide and show them the path on this life journey, the other–the male gender–is left to find himself without a compass.
No one prepares the boy child for adulthood or marriage. There is this naïve and dangerous belief that he is a man and will “build his character.”
How many men can say their dad, mom, aunty, or uncle sat them down and discussed how to become a better husband or an adult when they were kids, teenagers, or young adults? Do you see boy child empowerment schemes around?
How many guys were told, “if any aunty touches your lap or private part, tell me or your dad?”
Such conversations were for the ears of the girl child only. So, we grew up appreciating sexual assault from older women or girls around us. We even bragged about it to our peers, it was an achievement that aunty Funmi touched your penis and bought you a biscuit. We carry this mentality into adulthood and expect women to appreciate our unwanted touches and be grateful for it.
That is why comments like “she like am, she just dey pretend” and “why she come cum, shebi she say them rape am” are common in rape discussions.
I’m relearning dealing with girls. Consent is a big deal for me now. I say things like “I want to kiss you” and “can I kiss you” before attempting to kiss. The feeling is weird, I won’t lie. Sometimes it makes me feel weak or “unmanly.”
As a teen, I believed asking for permission before you touch a girl meant you were a sucker or weaker guy. Girls want spontaneity, give them that. Once a girl acts in a certain way or is nice to you that means she likes you. You don’t need her permission after that, just go ahead. This was the idea I had.
No one told me otherwise, not my dad, mum, or the old folks around me. We do not discuss stuff like that and it is the same for most of the guys around me.
Another dangerous outcome of neglecting the boy child is the ego he carries as an adult man. Unlike the girl child, he grew up doing everything for himself. So, who are you to demand equality? You were helped with your teenage demons while he was told to deal with them like a man even though he was 15. There is no way he can see you as his equal.
The best way to tackle a prevalent societal problem such as this is to prevent it from happening. If we want the girl child of today to not suffer everything the current adult women are suffering: sexual assaults, domestic violence, and pay inequality, we need to pay attention to the boy child.
Educate him on becoming a man and a husband. Tell him chores like washing plates and cooking food are not for his sisters alone.
Tell him being a boss does not mean
he can touch the secretary’s butt for fun. Educate him on consent.
Tell him a lady’s insults or ‘disrespect’ does not warrant him hitting her. Help him deal with his issues, he is a child, not an adult. Do not instill toxic masculinity by telling him “be a man” at 15.
If we–both men and women–can do this for the boy child, we will create a beautiful world for the adult woman. A world in which we do not limit her to the kitchen and the other room.
A world in which her strengths are not feared by men but welcomed. I’m thinking Wakanda.
Author: Daniel Okechukwu
Daniel is a freelance writer (for hire) for B2B companies and start-ups. He is a male feminist and that is not a weird thing. You can reach him via Twitter and Facebook.