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Men, I hope you allow yourself be human.

Today, the 19th of November, is International Men’s Day.

For some reason, a particular memory comes to mind while writing this. I was in JSS1, and I had gone to put a call through to my dad in what was the school’s call center. On ending that call, a swarm of seniors surrounded me and went on with; “Oh, you have a boyfriend and you’re just in JSS1,” “Can you imagine this small girl?” It took me a second but the web of confusion cleared and I realized it was because of the tone of my conversation and the fact that I said “I love you” at the end of the call.

I had in fact been on the phone with my dad, but it took calling him back for them to believe me.

As a child, I thought my father was human, in his expressions of love, pain and everything in between. Not perfect; human.

It has been interesting to watch the reactions of a lot of men to the wave in our society; one where women are more comfortable with their voices and more determined to build lives that take into account their own dreams, purpose and aspirations.

Words like opinionated have taken on a less empowering meaning and outspoken is synonymous with being a noisemaker – because the status quo is being challenged and normal is taking on a new hue.

I remember when I was about 9 years old, this boy in my Arabic school had asked me out. He couldn’t have been more than 12. I told him off and he proceeded to say he would arrange his friends to beat me on my way from school. Even at that age, he somehow felt entitled to my ‘yes’, something he had no right to.

Our society has conditioned us, men and women, to think in certain ways, uphold certain things as normal and others as abnormal. I cannot fault today’s man for that. What I can, and do fault him for, is the unwillingness to relearn, to take off the garb of yesterday and “this is how it has always been done” and adorn the attire of “this is how it can be done”.

According to Mental Health America, over 6 million men suffer from depression per year and men are more likely to report fatigue, irritability, loss of interest in work or hobbies, rather than feelings of sadness or worthlessness. Male suicide has been on the rise since 2000. Suicide is the 7th leading cause of death among males, accounting for 2.2% of all male deaths in 2011. Approximately 1 in 5 men develop alcohol dependency during their lives.

Statistics from the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, NCADV, show that 1 in 4 men have been victims of some form of physical violence by an intimate partner within their lifetime while 1 in 7 men have been victims of severe physical violence by an intimate partner in their lifetime.

But men rarely speak about these things. Why? Because they are MEN. And apparently, showing any form of weakness affects the muscle mass in a person’s body and make them appear less manly. Okay, not really. But men keep all these things locked in some dark, dank space inside of them until it festers, begins to ooze and affect their mental health and productivity, all the while expecting that others owe them respect for being men, because “you people don’t know all the things we have to deal with”.

Today, it is my hope;

  • That you will be willing to unlearn and relearn.

We are all a product of our society. That is true. But it can only be a crutch for so long. Eventually, we have to take responsibility for the beliefs we hold dear and the actions and inaction they trigger.

Women speaking up more for themselves does not in any way stifle the rights that men have to speak. I truly hope that you’ll take the first step towards shedding off limiting beliefs and to question the things you already have set in stone about your place in the world and that of others’.

We will probably never agree on everything, but we will move forward in our collective awareness.

  • That you will allow yourself be human.

You do not have to be strong all the time. You do not have to have the rest of your life figured out all at once. We don’t. Why do you place that extra burden on yourself? Because you see; the thing with a ticking bomb of disillusionment is that it will eventually blow itself, and others, away.

  • That you will seek help when you need it.

It must be exhausting, constantly operating under the belief that you must always be self-sufficient and never ask for help.

Please seek help when you need it, for the sake of your physical and mental health. And accept help when you’re offered.

We owe the next generation, of girls and boys, a mind that is more expanded and a society that does not depend on “this is our culture” when questions are raised.

 

 

 

I create worlds with words. I think the universe is a canvass, and I want to paint it with the color of my dreams.

35 Comments

  • Yemsss

    I truly admire the tone of the message and do hope that the message embedded in this write up resonates with the persons that need it.

  • Feranmi

    Very nicely written. Toxic culture should definitely be ended.
    I learnt a thing or two myself, even though addressed to the men. 😁

  • Chinasa

    Indeed the urgent need to Unlearn and Relearn And Speak up when “down” or “under” cannot be overemphasized.
    Thumbs up Tawa.

  • Adebola Aduwo

    This is a refreshing piece, Tawa. I’m not comfortable with the pressure society puts on men. I hope we see changes someday.

    • Jade

      It’s too much pressure, and on humans too. Haba!

      As long as we don’t get comfortable with the status quo, I really think we will.

  • Geoffrey Netochukwu

    This touched me deeply and got me thinking about reviewing some of my beliefs. We develop daily and not in a day. Thanks for your merit thoughts laid in words. May the world be kind to you.

  • Tomisin

    I needed to read this. I’m just fresh out of service and the bars are already set. I can tell you it’s mentally and emotionally exhausting. And talking about seeking for help. Where do I seek help from when you are the one supposed to be providing the help. I guess it’s the burden we have been cursed with.
    Thank you.

    • Jade

      I’m sorry to hear that.

      After service period can come with some confusion and fear and I hope you’ll allow yourself work through them and not think you always have to be strong.

      You have not been cursed with it. I understand that it appears more comfortable to continue with the way things are, but we ALWAYS have to consider our mental and emotional health.

      Please speak to someone. I’m rooting for you.

  • Adesewa

    A Beautiful write up Tawakalt, I love it. It not about how it has been done it should be about how we can do it better. Cheers to changing status quo

  • Comyx+

    This is very beautifully written Jade…and the tone is pitch perfect; and I have learnt that men (and women..) are human first and shouldn’t be discouraged from expressing their humanity in anyway.
    Growing up, we would always hear statements like ‘you’re a boy, you shouldn’t cry’. Personally, I always thought boys were incapable of feeling physical pain, just because of their gender.
    Thank you for encouraging us to challenge status quo… we are a team, boys..girls, so a fight for one is a fight for all…

    • Jade

      This system messes with us all, doesn’t it?

      And it would make the walk faster if we all just truly realized that “a fight for one is a fight for all”, because it is.

      Thank you!

  • Sam

    Firstly I would like to say that this is quite a stimulating write up. And it deserves to b taken seriously too. Now, This is Africa, where tradition trumps every other thing… Where fathers would not even consider apologising to their kids, even when they Re clearly in the wrong…. U would instead hear lines like “I am the head of this house”, so I can’t apologize to my kid…besides he/she is just a kid…. Secondly, I didn’t evn know that the men folk were faced with this much violence (something our society would rather stereotypically associate with the women) too…. It’s even more surprising that they say absolutely nothing about it…. They”man up”, cos they are “men”…. This goes to show that we are faced with some common issues regardless of whether you are a man or woman. I think the men of today should borrow a leaf from their female counterparts and be ready to speak out about it. I feel more can be done here. Women today have all sorts of bodies, institutions, NGOs and agencies to cater for these kinds of “contingencies” (i.e, violence). How many such bodies out there are focused on the men folk? On a lighter note, who would you complain to as a man? Another man? And tell him what? That your girlfriend beats you up for breakfast?

    • Jade

      Thank you, Sam.

      I would say this is Africa, where change has spread before and where it can continue to if we decide we want to make it happen.

      That it has been done a certain way does not mean it should only ever be done that way, and if we know better, the onus lies on us to do better so that the generations after us do not say “this is Africa” in a way that means they should take things as they come.

      I have always been vocal with my opinion that men need to speak up and be at the fore of issues that affect them so that we can begin to work towards a new way together. Men are human beings too, aren’t they? Everyone – men and women – should have a safe place where they are allowed to just BE. It is important that we redefine what it means to be strong.

  • Ayodeji

    Nice piece, thank you very much. Men do need to change. I feel like a lot of young guys put so much pressure on themselves which may affect us negatively on the medium to long term.

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