The newspaper caption read ‘What do you do, as a wife, when your man is not performing his God-given duties?’ Well, a thoroughly frustrated wife from Nyondia village in Naivasha decided to humiliate her husband, by parading him in public in front of her jeering friends and castigated him for not performing his manly duties.
I found this highly depressing. The series of pictures that made the paper showed an extremely embarrassed man taunted and jeered by women who were probably saying things that would make next guy snap. They tagged at his T-shirt, swat him with twigs and hissed at him. In my books this was straight out sexual harassment in total contravention of Chapter 4 in the Bill of Rights. That man’s dignity was trampled in a manner that only an older once-virile man could understand. It is unfortunate that these sorts of incident of male bashing are still presented as humour in mainstream media. When violence against men makes the news, whether physical or verbal, it is always delivered with muffled chuckle.
Despite all the progressive changes we have seen to the gender dynamics in this country, underneath it all most women still expect men to be men, meaning to primarily function as conduits for pleasure, comfort and protection. Men who do not live up to the expectation these days are openly ridiculed. In the past though, when a man failed to deliver in bed, discrete arrangements were made to compensate for cases of neglect. Private affairs were never settled in public. In the contemporary era of reality TV and live radio, problems are subjected to an opinion poll and when things get thick at home, just pick the phone and talk to Maina Kageni.
I find this need to drag a guy out by his shirt collar for a verbal flogging out in public greatly disturbing. Invariably the man will be an innocent victim caught in a vicious cycle of frustration and alcoholism. A glimpse at the physical profile and graying hair pointed to a man over 50 probably suffering from two rampant male maladies; alcoholism and ED (erectile dysfunction). The inability to rise to occasion when it matters is a common male problem. Some men use drink to enhance their mood with limited results. As one matures, bodily function diminishes and some of the lithe moves of youth are consigned to fond memories. In the upper class, one can seek medical intervention and a few blue pills like Viagra have allowed several to salvage their dignity. However, down in the trenches, hard up and condemned to cheap liquor options are scarce.
Since generations of men have wielded power over women, the current generation is held liable for the transgressions of their predecessors. Ours is a hen pecked generation but do not expect anyone to admit it openly. Men are still frequented stereotyped as the corrupt politician, cheating husband or the hopeless alcoholic. In reality, the average guy has no access to power, is intimidated by his wife’s financial position and usually too broke to get high regularly. Men too suffer from psychological wounds inflicted in relationships that were mostly built on fantasy of modernity as prescribed by TV. They come out battered and highly cynical, eventually seeking solace in alcohol. They would love to meet in all men groups to talk about feelings and sensitive issues but society is still too macho to admit that guys need help. So men who cannot be celebrated as success objects suffer in silence fearful of the next woman’s scorn.
Image source: Joseph Kanyi/Daily Nation