I can’t tell you anything new about how half our population would become an invaluable resource if we were unfettered by conditioning and conventional ‘womanly roles’ as well as the violence that is necessary to keep us ‘in check.’
But perhaps some of us still have the patience to hear why this is so necessary for men.
My brother and I were home alone by ourselves for about a week, and by the end of the week, we started a furious clean-up before the parents returned. He’s the kind that unquestioningly shares these tasks with me equally.
At some point, as I was standing with my knees on the wet floor, hands deep in dirty water, I saw him trying to sweep a different part of the house, as he inadvertently ended up dirtying the bedspreads. We burst out in a fit of laughter at the craziness of the situation – the two of us not being able to manage the task of one – at which point he remarked, “I clearly can’t keep up with more than one task at once.” I responded to him, alluding to how women tend to be better at multitasking, that yeah, it apparently has to do with male biology. And laughed heartily at his shortcomings.
He was quick to respond, with a sly grin, “At least I’m aware of my own limitations.” I chided him “Ooooh! Mr. Emancipated Man!” Followed by guffaws of laughter from us both.
I told him later that I wasn’t kidding. Nor did I mean my last remark negatively. Having him around, a male sibling who knows what he is and isn’t capable of, will listen and find the best solution before dividing up tasks, and feels no hesitation in asking for help, is a blessing. I asked him about this once, whether this pattern of behaviour put too much pressure on him, and the question honestly puzzled him. He doesn’t know any other way to be.
There’s a fabulous TED talk by Tony Porter along these lines, also embedded below – which I suggest everyone watch. He explains from his own experience, how we must lose the chains of what we normally call ‘manhood’; one of its essential elements being the subjugation of women. According to him, it is a box that keeps men confined in certain patterns of behaviour that stop them from being all that they can be.
He says of women’s liberation, “My liberation as a man is tied to your liberation as a woman.”
The point he makes cannot be stressed enough. The convention that deprives women of the right to be respected requires that men not be respectful beings – they are two sides of the same coin. It demands that men derive happiness from domination and subjugation. It stops them from learning, as learning demands that we be open, vulnerable and free.
What perverted idea of manhood is this, where you are deprived of the right to learn?
I’m angry as a woman because these patterns affect my freedom. But if I were a man, I’d be furious.
I’d be furious at being deprived of my right to learn.
Before you watch the compelling talk below, I leave you with this question: why aren’t men angry?
It certainly baffles me.
This post is my contribution to the MustBol Men Say No Blogathon, part of 16 days of activism against gender violence.