May 10, 2010

Grow Up Men!

(Don’t worry guys, the women will have their “Grow Up!” message essay and I will be just as, or even more hard on them. I promise)

One of the fastest ways to turn a Caribbean man off is to say you are a feminist. Just in case you did not know, feminism is like a cuss word in the Caribbean. Why?

Ole Time Gender Relations Boost A Wounded Self-Esteem

For the “white-man”, feminism was a luxury that could be partially entertained. Society allowed him to have all this fabulous self-esteem just as a result of being born white and male, so he had more than a little left over to spare. Even if he was poor, even if he was a complete dumbass, he was still “better than” those negroes, Orientals, coolies, Indian savages. So when his little lady wanted a little more freedom, although there was resistance by many fractions, there was also more of a “let’s humour her” approach.

It was almost like an amused trial, just to prove how ridiculous it was. Yet this condescending first opening was how many women got their foot in the door. Allowing a “few truly exceptional” stubborn women a chance was akin to allowing a few “truly exceptional negroes” a chance which was all well and good if their numbers stayed small. It only became a problem when increasing numbers started demanding “a chance”. Then as quickly as it was extended, the male status quo sought to take it back and today you will find that male racists also tend to be guaranteed chauvinists. The extreme right and religious conservative establishment is and has always been very restrictive of women.

What does this have to do with Caribbean men and feminism?

Understand that in our post-colonial societies black men were not even allowed to feel equal as human beings let alone men. Therefore feminism was not a luxury black men could entertain alongside civil rights. Many black women put their dreams on the shelf to focus on what seemed at the time to be the more pressing need of racial equality. In the 60s and 70s, our territories were not as transformed by the feminist movement as they were the black pride and black liberation movement, both of which were extremely skewed to help the black man feel “like a man” again. Unfortunately, a large part of him feeling like a man was being able to take full advantage of yet unchallenged, unfair, sexist paradigms from both his African roots and the Judeo/Christian Anglicanised constructs he learned from his former slave masters.

The liberation philosophies of Marcus Garvey, Martin Luther King Jr. Bob Marley took precedence over those of black female civil rights voices. So much so that many in the Caribbean are unaware that black women were some of the first outspoken feminists, combining both civil rights and women’s rights, rightfully so. Even before slavery was abolished, there were voices like Sojourner Truth, a former slave woman who toured the United States. One of her most famous speeches, “Ain’t I A Woman?” reveals not only her plea to be treated equally as a black person but also to be acknowledged as having strength and fortitude as woman.

That man over there says that women need to be helped into carriages, and lifted over ditches, and to have the best place everywhere. Nobody ever helps me into carriages, or over mud-puddles, or gives me any best place! And ain't I a woman? Look at me! Look at my arm! I have ploughed and planted, and gathered into barns, and no man could head me! And ain't I a woman? I could work as much and eat as much as a man - when I could get it - and bear the lash as well! And ain't I a woman? I have borne thirteen children, and seen most all sold off to slavery, and when I cried out with my mother's grief, none but Jesus heard me! And ain't I a woman?Sojourner Truth (1797 - 1883)

Many men, including educated black men in larger first world societies have been able to envision and embrace a new paradigm where women are financially independent, intellectually equal, fully capable of fighting alongside their brothers in the military and are not expected to mother their men (cook their food, clean their mess) by default nor are expected to tolerate disrespect (infidelity, abuse of any kind) nor are expected to relent sexually without equal input about their sexual needs.

Yet far too many men from the African Diaspora desperately cling to the colonial, 18th Century, religious, traditional gender constructs, in particular, Caribbean men. They freed themselves from being the “nigger” by making us women their niggers.

The exacerbated desire to feel recognized and respected as a black man, often makes him misconstrue our assertion and fight for justified freedom as insolence, disrespect and an attack on both his “blackness” and his masculinity. If he cannot rule over someone else, then how is he to feel valuable? Ruling over another is the only form of self-esteem he has learnt.

Many Caribbean men feel at a complete loss with regards to their identity and self-esteem in a world where the 18th Century gender paradigm becomes irrelevant. The more it changes, the more aggressive they become. This plays out in many ways. Two of the most common:

Humiliating Women For Having Freedom Of Movement And Sexual Options

Men are designed to chase and exhibit peacockery whenever there is a viable, fertile, healthy female around. Their testosterone-driven need to be noticed and acknowledged manifests in all cultures from the Italian men in the piazzas calling, “Bella! Bella!” to every attractive woman (pinching her ass is now strictly frowned upon) to the antics of Caribbean men whenever a nice pair of tits and ass pass their way. All the sooting, lyrics and flaunting of muscles and prowess are just the men saying in their primal way,
“Over here! Over here! Look! I have a functioning penis that can impregnate you! Please acknowledge me! Notice me nah! Notice me nah!”

There was a time when all a young lady wanted was this kind of attention because it meant she was a viable prospect for marriage, which was her only option in life. She did her hair, put on her most flattering dress and paraded herself hoping to catch someone’s eye and snag herself a husband. The peacockery of men and parading around of the women is part of our Caribbean culture and captured in many folk songs. It speaks of a very old-fashioned mating game based on the most rudimentary of rules- matching the fittest man with the fittest woman and by fittest, I mean physical attributes.

"Peacockery" is in the biological nature of the male animal. It drives them to flaunt their presence and sexual prowess to any and all females who look sexually viable. However men who are healthy, intelligent, industrious, successful and already well-reputed for their talents need less peacockery to get female attention. The only men who still have to resort to it as a rule, are usually suspect and my Caribbean sistas know it.

In the year 2010, many women and most men have long evolved past this kind of thing. Men have figured out that the right education, physical health and status allows them to forgo the blatant, childish peacockery and be silently and powerfully attractive to the opposite sex. A healthy, intelligent, industrious, successful man with social awareness does not need to go, “Pssst! Pssst! Sexy!” to every passing woman. Without uttering a single word, women flock around him.

As for women, ever since marriage no longer became our only option in life after puberty, we began to take care of our appearance for totally different reasons. We do so for the same reason men compete amongst themselves. We go to the gym, get our hair did, do the manis and pedis to rank ourselves higher amongst our sistren and to demonstrate our social class. It is about personal pride and status men, it is no longer about you.

Now imagine what it must be like for the Caribbean males who are still stuck in the old mating game paradigm. Somehow, they expects women rushing to their jobs, appointments, lectures, charity work, children's school activities, brainstormings to stop and acknowledge every single male advance on the street as if it were still 1918 and we move around in public aimlessly seeking attention.

The Caribbean man is surrounded by women who are all attractive and viable but instead of being desperate and grateful for his attention they are busy about their business. Not even the "ugly", "fat" ones are interested. In fact, the only women he can get with the, "Pssst Darkie!" and "Pssst Sweetness!" approach are the truly low self-esteem train wrecks and mercenary types. Imagine his frustration when his peacockery is met with female nonchalance and sometimes disgust from every classy, quality female he sees and wishes would notice him in an attractive light.

Snagging a husband or getting male attention now has very little to do with why women take care of their health and appearance. We do it for our own sense of well-being, strength and status in the world.

Many of my Caribbean brothers who depend on peacockery to attract female attention, resent the fact that any woman who they find sexually attractive has the freedom and right to ignore or dismiss him. It is actually a little sad, for the men who need to advertise in this way because they have little else going for them. They need women who need their validation...which of course, most of us don't.

Some men allow the peacockery to spiral out of control into sexual harrassment. They attempt to take by force a woman's mind-space and sense of well-being by spewing sexual intentions on her whether she likes it or not. Those who practice it regularly are not expecting the victim to like them. They even do it to married women or women who are obviously unlikely prospective love interests. It is a means of acting out verbally what the perpetrator knows they are otherwise unable to do physically. In this way, they gain a feeling of control over another. It is not uncommon in the Caribbean for entire groups of men to gang up and engage in sexual verbal bullying of a woman. Just pass near any construction site.

Of course, the more a society condones and tolerates sexually aggressive and dysfunctional behaviour the worse it will get. Incidents of sexual assault, rape, incest are on the rise in the Caribbean.

According to USA Today, female travelers list the Caribbean as one of their least favourite destinations to travel alone. The reason? Overly aggressive men. There is something wrong with our men and the sooner we admit it, the sooner we’ll solve the problem.

Punishing Women For Demanding Better

A few years into a marriage, the typical Caribbean woman, like so many, finds out her husband has an outside woman and several children. Now she does what her mother, grandmother and great grandmother never had the courage to do when it happened to them.

She divorces him.

Now, all hell breaks loose!

I am not talking about hypothetical situations but disproportionately numerous real life incidents I know just within my own circle alone, of ex-husbands punishing their wives for being so bold-face to actually hold them accountable for infidelity and/or mistreatment. This includes my own father denying my mother her important legal and citizenship documents when she finally walked out on him. As a teenager, snooping around the numerous old trunks in my father's house, I later found her passport, ID card, school certificates among other things and returned them to her in secret.

Two months ago, I spoke to a Customer Service Manager at LUCELEC once who told me she deals with countless cases of men seeking vendettas against their ex-wives. There are cases of men calling their police friends to harass their ex-wives, especially if she finds a new man. And of course, we know of the thousands of incidents of violence with the cutlasses, bottles of acid and a bullet. While this happens all over the world, the per/capita rate in the Caribbean is unreasonably high.

Men In Crisis

A lot of Caribbean men feel threatened by sex toys, particularly dildos. They are afraid that a phallic shaped piece of silicone combined with a steady salary can replace them with far less hassle.

Let’s face it the old arrangement between men and women has become trite!

The woman serves as maid, sycophant, sex slave, child-rearer in exchange for status, security and if she is lucky some actual companionship, not too much insensitivity, immaturity and infidelity. The only women still over-eager to transact this outmoded arrangement with men these days tend to be so low class, they don’t even bother to cover up their mercenary intentions and petty manipulations. These desperate low self-esteem skets and baby mommas are joined by lonely, older foreign women who want an island boy toy they can use and discard as needed, just like a sex toy.

On the other hand, the more educated, confident, spiritual-minded sistas, are simply deciding that what they get on their end of that deal is not worth the stress. Times have changed thanks to HIV/AIDS. Excusing infidelity is now a death sentence we cannot afford. A lot of Caribbean men feel threatened by sex toys, particularly dildos. It’s almost as if they know that a phallic shaped piece of silicone combined with a steady salary can replace them with far less hassle.

According to Anand Ramlogan, traditional Hindu/Indian men in the Caribbean are finding it hard to get “traditional” women like their mothers. I would go further and say I think all Caribbean men are in the midst of an identity crisis tailspin as far as relationships go. They have no idea how to be a man in relationships that do not require them to always provide the money; initiate and dictate the sexual pleasure; dominate the space; does not coddle and cater to them by default and does not necessarily make them feel indispensible for protection and pragmatic decision-making. Unlike many women who learned how to define their femininity and its value in isolation of serving a man’s or child’s needs, many men have no way of defining their masculinity and its value in isolation of a women being subservient to them.

How Feminism Benefits Men

Any human rights movement with the objectives of fairness and equality transcends its primary beneficiary.

Whites who realized this truth marched with their black brothers and sisters and stood up to the racist elements in their society and families. It did not matter to them that a racist society could make them feel “special” and "comfortable". They understood that those feelings would be worthless because they were based on a lie. That lie would eventually encourage crippling attitudes and bring damning results.

Many whites in America are struggling to regain a true sense of self-esteem and cultural significance now that their illusion of superiority has been shattered. Some carry around a perpetual feeling of guilt and defensiveness about what their ancestors did. It manifests as either deliberate ignorance “I choose not to see, talk, relate to the ill-effects of racism and those who suffer from it still” or scrambling justification, “well they must have deserved it!Or they are better off for it right? Compared to the blacks in Africa” or feeling such a lack of pride in their heritage, they adopt someone else’s’ culture.

Women’s rights are not anti-men rights. Any society that does not allow the fullest intellectual, creative, spiritual potential of its women to be realised has basically cut the might of its population in half and will fall behind in innovation, knowledge and advancement.

For this same reason, men should be marching hand in hand with women if they understand how sexism against women also harms men. Here’s how:

False Self-Esteem

How valid can your feeling of self-esteem be if it only exists when another is oppressed?

Growing up in a strict religious background, I would observe my older sisters and their dating and mating habits. As single women, they would be bright, vibrant and full of spirit and opinions. Then they would get married and lose a huge chunk of their personality. The men however seemed to flourish before and especially after marriage. Even the really moronic men would get such a boost of self-esteem from finally being large and in charge. Meanwhile the wife faded into the dismal background. It was especially tragic when it was a really attractive, intelligent woman who could have been so much more and you watched helplessly as the light faded from her eyes.

How does a father who has objectified women all his life feel when he sires a daughter and must watch her suffer inequities for which he is a culpable contributor?

I have had many a Christian man quote Paul on the subject and try to sell me on their paradoxical guarantee that despite having to be submissive, the woman will be treated "fairly". Rather than debate them on the relevance of Paul’s opinions (the man never married and/or supposedly never had any sexual or romantic relationships), I simply point out that the scripture itself is a paradox.

Asking the wife to submit to the husband yet asking the husband to treat the wife as he would like to be treated cancels each-other out. No man wants to be treated as a subservient, second class citizen who does not get to have the final say simply because of their gender. Asking the husband to treat his wife the way Christ treats his church goes a step further and makes the husband the one who must sacrifice everything for his wife. And I can tell you point blank, this is not what many Christian husbands have in mind or practice.

If the only reason you feel good about being a man in this world is because, “I can rule and use women as I please,” then you are a spiritual infant yet to unlock the true potential of masculinity, the yang energy which is independent of another’s subjugation and also independent of gender. You will be crushed by women who have unlocked the true potential of their femininity which is also independent of subjugation and gender in addition to unlocking the true yang enegy as well. You will find women evolving faster and further away from you.

It is already happening!

Forever An Infant

The consumerist culture is trying to make us all retarded and childish.

The blob-like, infantile, future humans portrayed in Wall-E are not entirely science fiction.

Don’t like the taste of vegetables? Well, instead of learning to train your palette to appreciate the taste and develop a more sophisticated appreciation of good food in the process, we’ll give you a nice, sweet drink alternative to cater to your infantile taste buds. Anything that contributes to our laziness, soothes our squeamishness, hides the reality of nature and detaches us from having to use critical thinking and social intellect is created and sold to us as the “new convenient” way.

Bill Maher, whom I love to watch and who often makes a lot of sense; derides the constant portrayal of men in the media as fat lazy babies while their wives and girlfriends are slim, intuitive, intelligent and morally superior. Understandably Bill feels this way because unlike many American men, he is not a fat big baby who needs to mail order a wife from Russia just to get a fairly attractive woman who is desperate enough to put up with his infantile, insensitive shit. Obviously, wealth aside, Mr. Maher has the intuition and empathy to command the sexual interest of some very strong, smart and attractive women who have tons of options.

I do not relish saying it but the insensitive, emotionally retarded, helpless little boy and his long-suffering, deserves-better; emotionally empathetic, do-it-all- girlfriend/wife is not fiction as Bill presents. It is art reflecting life.

It’s also worse in the Caribbean than it is in the States because in our region, we have coddled our men to a ridiculous extent. In the meantime, we have held girls to a higher standard of morality; pushed them harder academically, told them they have to work twice as hard to succeed in a man’s world; told girls it is okay to express their emotions, forge close bonds with their female peers and stand up for each other. In doing so, we have given women a distinct edge in our modern world where social intelligence and empathetic management are prized.

Caribbean feminists are demanding that our men buck up and improve as well.

How can that be a bad thing?

Too many girlfriends are telling me, "I've looked. I've tried. I would prefer a Caribbean man but the fact is there is a scarcity of those who know how to relate to a modern, educated and indepenendent woman, so I am casting my net further and wider!

Enslavement To Biology

A Rasta beach bum tried to give me “talks” recently. It ended up being a long philosophical conversation and although it started with him trying to pick me up, he did admit after a while that he already had a woman and several children.

Of course, he does not love this woman. If he did, he would not be so busy fishing for other inkholes to dip his pen into. I deduced, they must have come together (no pun intended) based on animal magnetism, the “lusty, weak in the knees” infatuation feelings heterosexuals mistake for love but are just pheromones and reproductive evolutionary impulses at play. As nature intended, children are born but not necessarily a loving soul-enhancing relationship.

The Rasta is infantile and his woman is also infantile and from what he told me, they fight over infantile issues stemming from his low emotional acumen and her low-life manipulations born out of desperation. They fight then have sex. It is a relationship where neither enriches the other’s soul because they are not in love with each other’s soul. They are in love with feelings created by the other person’s physical body and daily actions.

This sad situation is reflective of many relationships in our region.

"Men are confused. They're conflicted. They want a woman who's their intellectual equal, but they're afraid of women like that. They want a woman they can dominate, but then they hate her for being weak. It's an ambivalence that goes back to a man's relationship with his mother. Source of his life, center of his universe, object of both his fear and his love."
Diane Frolov and Andrew Schneider, Northern Exposure, Cicely, 1992

I could see light bulbs go off in the Rasta’s head (and it was not just the weed) as I tried to elucidate him on what contributes to a higher form of love. It has nothing to do with, “She eh cook fuh meh when ah reach home!” or “She eh want to gih me sex today.”
Poor man!

In fact, it is not uncommon in any rum shop in the Caribbean to hear men bad-talking women they are sooooooo in love with all the time with statement like, “She real stupid!”, “She is a pain the ass!”, “I cannot stand that woman’s voice!”. Many Caribbean men, after letting their penis and ego do their selection of a mate, complain about what they end up with.

You see, Men love their woman for all the wrong reasons. They love her butt. They love hermstyle. They love her cooking. They love her picking up after them. They love how she sucks a dick. Everything they love about her relates to how she looks and what she does makes them feel good. But no part of their love is simply about loving the woman’s heart and soul. We are so much more than our functions. We are so much more than our anatomy, which is just a temporary window dressing! In order to really love a woman, you have to love her mind and her soul.

Most men base their decisions to enter a relationship on biological impulses alone. Any woman who looks nice and fertile, has good genes, gives off the right pheromones or is simply available and they are instantly in love. She could be a sket, a ho, a manipulative man-hating bitch, gold-digger, immature or insane, it does not matter.

Unfortunately, nature’s reproductive function overrides this spiritual, higher form of love. Men are biologically programmed to first notice anatomy. Like that Rasta on the beach, they fall prey to biology and if they lack the intellectual and spiritual empowerment can become slaves to it. I have had men come up and tell me how much they "love" me. They don’t know a single thing about me or care I am happily in a relationship. They just like what they see and based on that, they have made a value assessment! My way of letting them down is now,

ME: “I’m sorry we are not compatible.”

THEM: “But how you know that?”

ME: “Because any man who was compatible with me would have the discernment and enlightenment to take the time to get to know me, my values, spirituality, before playing that card so prematurely."

THEM: "So what wrong with just being upfront?"

ME: Nothing! I love upfront! If you were upfront you would say, "I like how you are looking! It turns me on and I want to fuck you." and I then could be upfront and say, "Thanks but I am not interested." But instead you started on the love thing. Which further emphasises to me that you either too immature to make the distinction between sexual attraction and love or you are just saying flattering nonsense to get into my panties. Either case brings home just how incompatible we are. But don’t stress, I’m sure you’ll meet another girl before the night is through that you will also "love" very much and hopefully she is more compatible with you than I am.”

That usually throws them for a loop and I hope, makes them think.

Men cannot help but be visually stimulated and I do not hold their nature against them. I also know that some women take full advantage of that trait to get their attention. I also have no problem with a sexual hook up based purely on animal magnetism (as long as the parties are consenting adults, not cheating and are practicing safe sex) if and only if that is what the woman is looking for. However, if she was looking for genuine, soul stirring, lasting love then falling for the "sweet-talk" of smooth-talking, nookie-seeking men attracted to her physique and what she can do to make them feel good, will only leave her used and frustrated.

When a man is truly, deeply intrigued with a woman who speaks to his soul, he does not need to flatter her to get into her panties. He has more respect for her mind than that.

From afar, all the Rasta saw was a black, thick n juicy dreadlocked chick in a bikini. After speaking to me for a while, the Rasta stopped flirting and got very respectful instead. Not, "African queen!" trite respect black men pay to shut us up and continue to objectify us but real respect.
"How come you know dem tings an you is a woman? I never knew women could talk dem kinda deep tings so! You fuh real? Where you come from? You does talk real sense. How come I never meet no woman dat like you?"

Poor soul. I wished him the best with his woman back home and he was on his way, hopefully, seeing out of new eyes.

The caliber of the man determines the caliber of the woman he can have.

In theory, so many men would treasure a woman who does not need his money or status, is not overly desperate to have children, is not in need of being “repaired” for she is already working on what is damaged in her life, is world-wise, street smart, intellectually strong and educated and can initiate, stimulate and self-satisfy a large portion of her sexual and emotional needs. She could be a true best friend, co-partner/co-conspirator, enthusiastic lover and travel companion on this exciting journey called life.

Unfortunately, until they change their mentality they will continue to repel these real gems of ladies. They will continue to pout and complain furiously when foreign men or at times even other women snatch us up or we become increasingly content to settle for a career, charity work, close friends and a vibrator.

Jane Galvin Lewis once coined the saying, “You don't have to be anti-man to be pro-woman” and I want to take that even further. Being pro-woman is the same as being pro-man. For when one gender is required to be weak for the other to feel strong, relevant and needed, both suffer. I agree whole-heartedly with Margaret Mead who said, “Every time we liberate a woman, we liberate a man.”


NickF said...

I Like the topic..Very interesting..Blessed Be..oxox


I see you as a brilliant human
Who is worthy of note on a world

Keep doing the good
It looks like the tide
May be turning


Aloha from Paradise, Jessica
You would like Hawai'i
And vice-versa