We may all have our diverse opinions on the platform Minister of Social Care Steve Blackett used to express his disgust with the seemingly unending bickering between the Men’s Educational Support Organization (MESA) and the National Organization of Women (NOW), but such debate must not be allowed to cloud the essential issue of the “antagonistic and confrontational relationship” by which the two entities would continue to exist apparently.
And ever since Mr Blackett’s criticism from the floor of Parliament of the two main umbrella bodies representing men and women in Barbados there has nary been a single indication that ever the twain shall meet on any common ground.
We have had to this day instead from individual female voices a condemnation of Mr Backett’s stance and a demanded apology from him and cries of foul against woman, among other mostly emotional reaction. But to tell the truth, the crux of Mr Blackett’s position is adequately presented when he says: “Now I know that they were established to represent the interests of their individual [constituents] and so they should . . . . [But] while representing their constituencies, they have to be mindful that in their quest apparently not to cede ground to each other, they are cultivating the very set of dangerous antagonism and contention that have spawned the same conflict that they are seeking to address between the sexes on the issue surrounding gender-based conflict.”
Clearly, if this point is missed, or acknowledged but not being acted upon, solutions to difficult –– or would-be difficult –– relationships will langush indefinitely. These “naked and sometimes obnoxious spats”, as Mr Blackett has referred to them, surely will not cut it.
Our wish is that this intimate domestic violence will end in this fair land of ours, but publicly presented estrangement between NOW and MESA will not help in projecting men and women living together in harmony, and if unable to, parting in compromise and in peace.
And while we would have preferred that Mr Blackett had reminded his Bureau of Gender Affairs officers more privately of the neutrality expected of them, we advise, now that the minister has spoken from the housetop, so to speak, that his words should be taken with the seriously they deserve. If indeed impartiality is not perceived as coming from the Bureau of Gender Affairs by the conduct of his agents, the credibility of the agency shall surely be compromised, its interventions questioned, and its utterances self-eroded.
NOW and MESA cannot continue, like distant planets in separate orbits, on their separate journeys, clearly intent on their own separable goals, though, naturally, the ultimate happiness of each is intimately and inextricably interwoven of both.
We have urged again and again the leadership of NOW and MESA to come to the table and commonsensically and without prejudice seek out common ground, and a praqctical working relationship that could promote greater tolerance, respect, absence of acrimony and of all violence, deeper understanding and amelioration among its constiutents, and have seen not the remotest of effort on either side.
Instead, we have these two major and indeed required organizations representing the genders of this country with not the guts or will to effect mutuality and peace between them, and to show respect to one another, as examples of how harmony might be brought to family life when there is suspicion and squabbling.
In militating against intimate relationship violence, the essential remedy must be the pursuit of peace –– even when romantic love no longer has life. And peace and understanding will hardlycome when the representive agencies themselves are inept at reconciliation between them. As we keep saying, confrontation rarely works better than collaboration.
We wish therefore that we will see, in the current circumstances of our gender challenges and seemingly increased intimate relationship violence, a more mature, unhysterical, unprejudiced and wiser approach to resolution by joint participation of the leaderships of the National Organization of Women and the Men’s Educational Support Association, sanctioned by our Bureau of Gender Affairs.
We hope not so much for talk as action, though. We are not unmindful of the postulations and obfuscations of politicians and social commentators that never come to actuation.
We plead once again with our gender associations not only to put a cap on the adversarial toing and froing, but to get down to the important task of constructive communication as they seek out a roadmap to mutual respect –– for woman as for man, if when total familial harmony is not to be.