New Year,same old gnawing questions and views.

Happy New Year to you all, I know its well over a week into the new year however, this is my first post and better late than never. On this post (which is quiet short and serious, you can tell because there is no picture) ,I have more questions than facts or opinions because the topic is quite heavy and sensitive – domestic abuse.

I had a conversation with my mother today about a Zimbabwean man who killed his wife and children recently in London. I was quite curious as to what her views were regarding the topic and serious issue at hand; and her perspective was, most Zimbabwean (African) men do not like the idea of an empowered woman. They feel emasculated and challenged if a woman gets more money than them and is independent (does not ask for money from her husband to buy certain things or anything at all) and that when they move to Western countries,they feel outlawed and are not given the proper respect and honour a man deserves. These are all valid points and I do agree with her, some men have this kind of mentality and that has crippled the system and has misinterpreted the word “submission”  to mean control.

Whilst she was informing and explaining her views, I recognised how this has been one of the major reasons why most women are being abused and killed by husbands/boyfriends and we have fought to be heard and pleaded with men to stop beating their spouses. The way I see it (you can take this with a grain of salt), I believe pleading with men to stop and marching against domestic violence, is similar to removing the top of a weed without getting rid of the roots. We might combat ourselves against men, hate them and trash talk them as much we can but I think until we look at the real cause or rather, the root,we will keep hearing stories of women being murdered by their partners. I believe the root on this issue is men’s mental health, yes I know I have said before and gave elaborate points as to why it should be taken seriously but I think we need to openly talk about it. As a Zimbabwean, I was conditioned to believe certain things about men which dehumanized them and I was biased for a long time.

I now view every human being to have the same emotions and have the right to express them. I believe men need to be allowed to freely express themselves without being judged and “emasculated”. To cry, yes, I said it, CRY without being told to man up or be laughed at. Goodness, men go through a lot than we think. They are pressurised to have a car, a house,a family, a million dollars, a connecting beard and whatever society throws at them to be deemed manly or good enough. They are rarely given room for growth or failure and when they do, they can not or rarely have people to confide in who will pick them up and console them. Most men do not have “besties”,mentors or brothers they can freely talk to and not feel ashamed. They just go on with life and I believe that is an unhealthy way of living. One becomes depressed, stressed and because they can not cry or talk it out, most will project it out on others especially those close to them. Some have never had positive examples of men in their lives (that is not an excuses though), others were abused by women and have had a negative perception of the opposite sex ever since or others are just horrible human beings.

Culture and society is quick to question what the woman did to anger the man but we do not ask what caused the man to do it? Some men are asked but because of deep-rooted issues or not being able to express themselves,they blame lapse of controlled anger or the woman for being “talkative”. It is usually blame rather than admission to error; apology rather than repentance and the cycle goes on. I believe we need to normalise men expressing themselves and therapy too. And by any chance if you laughed at my suggestion of therapy, you might also need it. Men need as much support as women, there should not be fear but mutual respect. We should take care of each other; cater to one another and  help each other. I would hate to be in a world where we hate each other over something that can be corrected and improved.

As women, we need to play a part in helping men – our sons,brothers,fathers and partners etc .I do not mean to be their fixers but to be supportive and have positive words to encurage them. We also need to refrain from phrases such as “man up” and “trash” when addressing to them. Think of them as your brothers, because they are. I strongly believe if we include men’s mental health onto the movements, marches and campaigns, it will have more impact and literally improve quality of life. It will impact the divorce rate, suicide rates, murders amongst partners and a positive environment. We have a long way to go but I believe if YOU start by being a friend or confidant to someone; you could be saving a life or lives.

P.S:By any chance if the message you got from this post is women are not important or their mental health is not as important, that is the complete opposite of what I am trying to point out.Women, we have more room and allowance to express ourselves and 97% of us have someone to confide in compared to men. I am not saying women are less important or men are more important – I am saying we are all important at the same time.

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