What's wrong with us?

What's wrong with us?

BY Kenloy Smith

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

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In a discussion on the recent gruesome killings I heard a remark that bothered me: “What is wrong with our males?” But, honestly, what really is wrong with our males?

If the killings had switched gender, and it involved two women who had murdered two men, would the narrative and reactive conversation be the same?

Or, better yet, if it was another beheading of an alleged homosexual by his alleged partner, would the cries of family and friends be muffled by the justification of God-fearing bullies?

Do we, then, really care about others, or do we simply care about those whom we can relate to or those who won't attract controversy and run away potential sponsors for our non-government organisations?

Already, I can hear radical feminists puffing, but to be totally unbiased there are numerous issues and several details unknown to us, the public. You could be dating and living with someone for 50 years and still not know them.

The first killing, involving a Jamaica Defence Force member, to me, gave rise to the question of how much sustainable and effective psychological training and counselling is provided to our workers in this and other highly stressful jobs.

Secondly, the real issue at hand is not just the killing of women, but rather how our men — be they Jamaican, Caribbean, black, male, homo sapien (at least by gender and/or sex) — are raised or not raised.

I grew up in a very toxic masculine community. However, we must be careful before we end up thinking that masculinity in its essence is toxic. Anything in excess is toxic, even love.

Some can 'afford' to teach their boy child, while others simply beat the badness out of traditional frustration. Some overexaggerate the importance of materialistic gains, sexual competence, and aggression towards other males as if all male and male interactions must be an aggressive, hyper-hetero-normative power-struggle about who is the real man and who is less than a man.

This plays out in our relationships when a human can even imagine, regardless of the hurt, to kill someone they once loved.

I'm positive I can conclude that these killings are not a result of one specific incident, but rather the amalgamation of many undocumented and unmeasurable experiences. Lest we forget, the body has its own way of recording trauma, even those we seem to forget.

Whatever the case, this is sending a shock through our society. However, this is not the first time these incidents are happening, but the frequency, proximity, and intensity of these killings are more evident.

Lest the extremists think I am robbing the spotlight of the injustice done to our women by men — who also are victims, too — let me refocus. Could it be that we subconsciously created these 'men' who see it fit to kill their partner if she decides to leave him? Could it be that an innocent girl took the now popular “gunman in she hole” song too literally and realised too late when her head had the physical or emotional hole? Could it be that these are men who lacked emotional intelligence and became so overwhelmed with rage that they lost all sanity? Could it be that our mental health, as a society, has deteriorated so much that we fail to realise our own need for help, which is inaccessible and stigmatised, especially for our men and boys? Could it be that we are actually living in the end times and the hearts of men are growing so desperately wicked? Or could it be that these men were victims of a dishonest dispute or a cyclic case of trauma as well?

Are our women now supposed to just submit and sit in the abuse that can happen to any and everyone? I must reiterate lest extremists think I am siding with any gender. We don't know the details.

It's one thing to write a letter to an editor from a nearby community of the killing, but it's another thing to take a step to change only to be murdered, especially as a trauma survivor. Sadly, we must press on with those loved ones in mind.

This continued injustice that our women and girls are facing, however, won't end and life will never — as far as my Bible study shows — be euphoric. However, we must save whom we can, where they are, while we can.

Maybe if we weren't so homophobic or emotionally unavailable our boys and men would think twice about how they see themselves and how they see others. Maybe if “Delilahs” and “Jezebels” stopped being so coy and deceitful some of our already fragile men and boys would not commit suicide or go on these killing frenzies when they graduate at the expense of sweat thinking no one cares about them.

I repeat again, there are multiple factors that go into any form of abuse and, worse, murder, so before we start pointing fingers let us look at ourselves.

How are we perpetuating this culture of violence? Do we turn a blind eye to the early warning signs, and do we, directly and indirectly, support the upbringing of manipulative, disingenuous, sexually promiscuous, and facetious adults?

As I was adamantly reminded, I have not lived the experiences of a woman. I am quite glad, too! Women have it hard just like men. Period!

Nonetheless, I still hold firm to my believe that there are men — good men, I shall not say — who do care about women simply because we are the ones who got it right (not from a workshop, but good homes where the head is actually the tail since true Christianity sees leadership as stewardship and where women were always equal to men).

Maybe if society — at least the dominant culture — did not categorise us as waste materials or sodomites or passive partners that they'll link in private or potential rapists we would have been effective contributors of more impact.

While some may call us patriarchal or foolishly religious, I call us men who care. And even we could have killed our partners, too! We all are capable of killing someone, so before we go jumping into this frenzy or rally for justice, let us really assess the root causes and not get caught up with painful results.

There are instances when both men and women are called to exhibit masculine traits, just as there are instances when both men and women should exhibit feminine traits. In fact, the healthiest examples of humans are those who know how to effectively employ either trait when different circumstances require them.

Maybe if we lived by that and not by theories or extreme religious pride or insecurities, we'd have a more peaceful society. So no, it's not just fair to say what's wrong with our males, but rather what's wrong with our society? What's wrong with humanity? What's wrong with us? We could be the next headline story and the mass would never know the real story.

May God (or whatever you call him/her/they) help us.

Kenloy Smith is a resident of St Elizabeth. Send comments to the Jamaica Observer or kenloysmith@gmail.com.

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