What does it mean to "be a man" (Boys for Positive Change Essay Competition Winner)
Each term the boys in Expo's BPC program are invited to write an essay describing what they have learned through the program. The following was the winning Essay from Antoa Senior High School's BPC Chapter.
What does being a man mean in your society? How can this negatively affect women?
Men are generally described as being male adults who possess physical characteristics such as beards, mustaches, deep voice and broadened chests. A man is considered to be someone who is valorous, confident, prestigious, dignified, unsentimental, unreserved and without cowardice or fear. They are thought to be the head of the family who is responsible for taking care of his wives and children. Men never expose their emotions and remain composed in public. In Ghanaian society, men are considered to be the head of everything, especially in marriage. They are considered to be superior to women and should never hesitate to achieve their objectives. However, if men individually show their emotions and lack confidence, these men are considered not to be men. Some men use their privilege and strength to maltreat women and bully them. This, in my perspective, is appalling. With all of these negative attitudes, the idea of what makes a man can have a negative impact on society and especially on women. These woeful effects are explained and examined below.
Firstly, this imbalance can develop an inferiority complex in women. This is the main factor which undermines women who are disdained, maltreated and embarrassed by men. Since society always considers females as inferior. This breeds low self esteem and makes women think that they are unworthy and incapable of doing anything good, and women begin to believe themselves to be inferior. For instance, in years past, men considered females as children and sometimes as animals and always to be confined to the kitchen. This depleted the knowledge and capability of women. This hurtful situation is reflected in recent times in the fact that in high institutions and among those who achieve self-actualization you mostly find men. This is because women fear to take risks which is due to the fact that they have learned to consider themselves inferior and incapable. On the other hand, when good gender relations are formed within society it can boost the confidence, dignity and equity of women. This will, henceforth, eliminate and eradicate inferiority complex in the society which will make it a better place to be.
Secondly, culture has infringed on the rights and liberties of women as individuals. This is also a factor which affects the women when they are exposed to violence and bullying in society. The men in Ghanaian society have a very terrific privilege, sometimes this is used to expose women to early marriage, forced marriage or other punishments which impedes on their rights to complete their education. Other awful practices in Ghanaian society such as widowhood rites, the Trokosi system and female genital mutilation (FGM) also hamper the fundamental rights of women. For instance, when a husband dies, the women are compelled to inhumane practices which abuse their freedom and rights. These rites involve the swallowing of the saliva of the corpse, being forbidden to shake hands with others, sleeping with the deceased and many more which even put their lives at risk. Promoting the rights of women as citizens will put an end to these negative attitudes and foster good gender relationships.
These imbalances inhibit progress and civilization in the society, which can be seen in any society which does not treat women as persons of worth. Since the women are considered in Ghanaian society to be inferior and their views to be worth less then men’s, there won’t be an opportunity for their ideas on certain issues will never prevail. Maybe, if that idea was taken it would have put an end to negative issues affecting society, allowing for more rapid development. Society cannot advance as quickly when there is no input on innovation from half of the population. This is even worse when the men in the community are not prudent enough to bring out innovation to improve the technical way of doing things. In a situation where women were allowed to put forward their ideas in the field of economics, politics and society, the communities and well as the country would be a better place to be.
Finally, gender discrimination creates mental stress and humiliation. This is part of the troubles which adversely affect women when they are exposed to cruel and barbaric behavior, in particular in society in Ghana. When females go through bad treatment and are always ridiculed and humiliated in will have a psychological effect on them. They become traumatized and always fear and shy away from their male contemporaries. This caused mental stress and embarrassment. Whereas a situation where women are welcomed without embarrassment or humiliation it will foster good interpersonal relations between the opposite sexes.
In conclusion, the community can improve and develop only when there are good gender relations and interpersonal relationships. This can be assumed to happen when we men no longer instill inferiority on women, accept and implement their views and never scorn, disdain or ridicule them. When this happens, I am optimistic that our community will develop and will become a better place to be. Besides our economy, social life and political decision making, when women have more important place, will and improve and develop.