By Rukh-Shana Namuyimba:
Lately I hear so much debate about men and how they are not what they used to be. For someone whose limited knowledge of men only spans two generations I have found myself, countless times, asking the question, “What happened to our men?” So I took some time out from my terribly busy life to reflect on this question over and over again and try as I may, I could only come up with one word – Feminism.
Contrary to popular belief, the women's liberation movement started in earnest in the Western world in the late 18th Century. Then it was about getting middle or upper-class white women much needed political equality. A second wave soon swept in and with it an attempt to combat social and cultural inequalities. It only grew bigger with the 3rd wave that saw women baying for blood. We simply had to assert ourselves and exert greater influence in politics – and rightly so, if we were to make a difference we had to be in position to make decisions that made a meaningful difference.
Now, I must be clear about my stand on feminism. I am all for it. Not just because I am a woman but because I believe without it we wouldn't have come this far. But I can't help but wonder, “Has it been too high a price to pay?”
The way I see it, the feminist movement was about getting women into that space where we saw our place in the home as more than just that dusty seat by the embers. It was about getting us to find our voice and use it in not just matters about the family and home but politics, economics, religion et al. It was about nudging us out of the bedroom into the boardroom – some of us gleefully and others well, screaming and kicking. It was about empowering us to rise up from the embers and take our rightful place in the chambers of power and influence and ultimately make a difference for the generations that would follow.
But like they say, the path to hell is paved with the greatest of intentions. And perhaps this rings so true when we look back at the effect of affirmative action today. Perhaps it was too high a price to pay. What started out as an attempt to uplift the woman from the drenches she had sunk courtesy of the effects of male dominance now has the scales tipped and we all hold our breath, men and women alike, in frightful wait for the next shoe to drop. In deathly silence we hope for the best but expect the worst. “What happened to our men?” This is a question that has found its way on to the lips of many over the last decade.
In our fathers' days, men took their role as fathers and husbands very seriously. In fact, apart from that, they had no other purpose. No identity. Men took pride in providing for their families with whatever little they had (and they didn’t have much truthfully). Men sowed wild oats (perhaps not as much today, or if they did it was in a more controlled environment and therefore easier to deal with) but they still took responsibility for the fruit of their seed. Men provided for their wives, protected and valued them in love and in return women respected, adored and submitted to their husbands in love. Men were high priests, strong and wise leaders in their homes and women counted on their husbands' leadership for direction and confidence that it was well. The family unit was stable and so was society. Or at least that’s what I think.
So what really happened to our men? My mind races back to Chinua Achebe's 'Things fall Apart' and I dare say, the proponents of feminism were very clever. They came quietly and peaceably with their women liberation movement. Men were amused at this 'foolishness' and allowed it to take root. Now it has, like a cancer, eaten up the fabric of our homes and our marriages and families can no longer act like one. It has put a knife on the things that held us together and the family has fallen apart. The center cannot hold. Mere anarchy is loosed upon our society.
Man has been placed at the altar of sacrifice. Profusely he bleeds, that woman should live and in the end both will die and with them our family, our society, our country. Shall we sit back, cross our legs and revel in our new found power as women? Yes we have come a long way and now that we are here perhaps we need to go back to where it all started. Back to the basics and with our new found and much enjoyed power and influence, empower our men. It is after all our God given role. For God saw that it was not good for man to be alone and in his infinite wisdom created for him a helpmeet. They need to be supported. And that in my opinion is too small a price to pay.
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