Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : January 12th 2014 Contents SO YOU WERE physically born a girl. And
somewhere along the way you learned
what the other parts of being a woman en-
tailed: the societal expectations --- including
which emotions you were allowed to ex-
press, the expectations on how you were
supposed to treat other females and how
you were supposed to treat males, the as-
sumptions on your present and your future.
In other words you didn't fully become who
you are because you "born dat way". You are
a complex mixture of nature and nurture. Of
birth characteristics and environment.
While you were learning the "female" les-
sons so, too, were boys and men learning
their equivalent: the 'male' lessons. They
were learning what society and the individ-
uals within it were teaching them; what
emotions men could have, which male be-
haviours were socially acceptable, and what
was in store for them as they moved into
adulthood and old age.
Well sistah, times are changing, and the al-
lowed behaviours need to be held up to the
light. The old definitions and attitudes are
clearly not working for us and it's time to
think about a "renovation" of what existed.
In this article we are going to bring some al-
ternate thinking to the idea of masculinity
in Trinidad and Tobago.
In 2014 we are clearly having some prob-
lems in this island nation. Yup we are. And
they aren't brand new. We had them in
2013. And in 2012. And...and...and. But we
need to get increasingly serious before the
situation gets even more out of hand. Mur-
ders are already ridiculous for the year ---
more than two a day at the time of writing
--- and, for the moment, it's clear that the
murders are generally by men AND of men.
The situation regarding road fatalities, vio-
lent crime, drinking while driving, alcohol and
drug use, gambling etc. are all pointing in
one direction. Towards men. Male alco-
holism is at an all-time high and the life ex-
pectancy for men continues to be about five
years less than that for women. And no
way can I write an article about masculinity
without discussing the use of pornography.
Trinidad and Tobago ranked Number One in
online pornography use per capita in a
Google study. These statistics are stagger-
ing. But we're used to them.
Well, it's time to (1) stop being used to it
and (2) do something about it.
We are all, women and men, playing a role
in developing a culture where the above sta-
tistics are possible. And while male violence
is an almost ubiquitous global problem, we
seem to be having a particularly bad case of
it right here at home.
Men are good. Most men toe the line trying
to find ways to express their goodness in a
fashion that society can handle. And they
do so even while not having the freedom to
express themselves without being targeted
and labelled, whenever their behaviour
veers towards seemingly feminine stan-
dards. Every day our men feel stressed out
trying to keep themselves and their loved
ones safe, they feel stressed out trying to
reach accepted material goals in an increas-
ingly consumerist society, they
out trying to conform to the expectation
that they be brave, not express fear or sad-
ness, yet must suddenly turn on sensitivity
around their partners and their children.
But in the midst of the fundamental and un-
derlying goodness, there is incredible dys-
function. Other boys and men just twist and
turn in the definition they have been handed
about who they are. They lash out, act out,
hurt others, destroy what they create. (And
please don't expect me to join in the argu-
ment that it's "just criminals killing crimi-
nals". I've worked in the juvenile prison
system and it taught me not to throw any-
one's value down the drain. These "crimi-
nals" didn't just decide to ruin their lives and
the lives of others. And leaving a free-for-all
in impoverished communities does NO ONE
good. It does not, and never has, ended up
improving the situation.
What has happened to create a nation
where males are increasingly using violence,
and fatal violence, to solve their problems?
And what role are women playing in the
whole equation? How are we helping to
shape this nation of today's men and boys?
Clearly when we bring that little wet
squirming baby into the world it's not in-
evitable that he's going to become one of
the statistics. And although we don't know
the complete answer, we do know some of
what it will take for him to not be part of
the challenge but instead be part of the so-
I'm writing about this because our role as
help transform and shape the type of male
identity that is currently with us. And not
only is it time to have this discussion but it's
time for this conversation to be a central
one in our everyday lives.
And if you are starting to feel stressed and
angry and upset that I could even say these
things, that I could start this conversation,
then I understand. I hate being part of op-
pressed groups that have to take care of
the problem that it feels like I didn't even
cause in the first place. But bear with me.
We will continue this discussion in the next
I would love to hear from you. I know this
article may bring up strong feelings. Write
me. Let's talk about it: lianagoddard-
| RELATIONSHIPS |
By Liana Goddard
A wonderful TedX talk by the founder of
Cariman (an organisation for Caribbean
men) Peter Weller:
• Another wonderful Ted talk this time by
• Check out this organization: Create.fu-
ture.good. They are doing amazing work.
Watch their incredible short episodes on
family life in this country.
Links Archive January 11th 2014 January 13th 2014 Navigation Previous Page Next Page