Monday 25th April, 2005

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MAN-BASHING: The Myth — Part I

Sometimes a movie like Diary of a Mad Black Woman inspires such impassioned disparate views it’s hard to dismiss as “mere entertainment.”

“Go and see it!” a friend urged, her face slightly flushed. She’d been relating how a male she knew had spurned the film, labelling it “just man-bashing.”

Which was odd to hear; as a few days before I’d heard that another man had wept in the cinema during the film. Even more interesting is the fact that not only was the movie directed by a man, Darren Grant, it was written by a man, Tyler Perry, in adaptation of his stage play by the same name.

I saw Diary of a Mad Black Woman and was intrigued to realise that, besides two other characters, 35-year-old Tyler Perry himself played the role of Madea, the central character’s grandmother, and the “female” in the story who could most be described as absolutely intolerant of men and all things male, once they fail to come good.

What man, being aware of the fact that it was another man who penned this plot, would seriously try to call it man-bashing?

Men do not accuse other men of man-bashing; even when those other men are oppressing men, even when those other men are saying the vilest things about men of their own race (a fairly common occurrence among certain fellahs in Trinidad and Tobago), even when those other men are hitting them repeatedly about the head with a blunt object.

No. It’s only when women have something to say against anything vile and reprehensible some men may do that there are accusations of man-bashing. For who are we — “fairer sex equals weaker sex” to question, challenge, combat what our so-called “male betters” are doing?

There is, I say, no such thing as man-bashing.

There is speaking out with the truth, or saying things that are unjust. But bashing? Please! Mister, what do you know about bashing?

Let’s begin with the definition: bash: strike bluntly or heavily; attack hard and violently; damage or break by striking forcibly; collide with; a heavy blow. Pretty strong words.

So when you talk of man-bashing, baby, you are claiming a very big, very bad thing. So is there real bashing?

Revealing factual data to help inform people of their rights, recourses and resources is not bashing. Helping people become more knowledgeable and about others, themselves and issues in our society is not bashing.

Educating people so they can learn to make and have better lives is not bashing.

Defending the rights of the downtrodden, speaking up against iniquity, trying to create a level playing field for all people regardless of sex, race, class, religion, is not bashing.

Speaking the truth is not bashing!

And anyone who says truth is subjective speaks with a forked tongue. Opinion is subjective: like the opinion that deems women fighting for better lives for all sorts of people, but particularly women, man-bashers because they know and speak the truth.

Listen, saying “Men who want to rape women should not rape women,” is not bashing.

Saying, “One in two women will be raped in her lifetime,” is not bashing.

Saying, “All men are stinking, selfish, sex-driven pigs without sensitivity, soul or sense” (for all it’s seeming accuracy sometimes), IS bashing.

Still, it’s laughable to label that latter statement as bashing when we face daily reports of what real bashing embodies.

Whenever the loathsome or merely disrespectful aspects of some men’s actions and behaviour are highlighted, it’s strange that many men hear themselves being addressed along with said rotten apples.

Most men hear arguments posed against misconduct by those specifically doing wrong and they take it quite personally. They never stop to ask themselves why they take it so personally.

I know why. Because men are allowed—I dare say encouraged to bash: be it a wall, a woman’s face, another man.

They’re taught to be wildly in love with their ability to be “rough and tumble” physically, verbally, emotionally. Despite advances in subtlety and sensitivity made by the male species, a tender man is still regarded as not quite a man.

So bashing has become a way of life among men: more than 100 murders so far this year attests to that.

Boys are bred into a “bash unto them as/before they bash unto you” bent; then we wonder why violence among our nation’s male youth is abounding.

Until we are prepared to stop dismissing as “man-bashing” any charges voiced against transgressions perpetrated by too many men at too many levels of society, we will never cultivate a culture comprised of men who accept responsibility for their actions, and thereby possess the self-respect needed to make them positively contributing members of society.

Till then, real bashing—fights, stabbings, muggings, rapes, murders, kidnappings—will continue unrestrained.

Come good.

Tomorrow’s Brew:

The million man bash

©2003-2004 Trinidad Publishing Company Limited

Designed by: Randall Rajkumar-Maharaj · Updated daily by: Sheahan Farrell