Two weeks ago, I was moved, once again, to condemn a senseless act of violence against a woman and I reminded men that violence was not an appropriate way to settle domestic disputes.
While I continue to lament the many cases of abuse against women, it would be remiss of me if I did not draw attention to problems faced by men in their relationships with women. Anecdotal evidence as well as formal and informal discussion suggests that an increasing number of men feel a sense of being disadvantaged in the following ways:
a) Perception that the justice system discriminates against them.
b) Societal reluctance to take female abuse of men seriously.
c) Refusal of some women to allow men to play a meaningful role in the lives of their children.
d) Bashing of men in public.
e) Constant speaking about men in derogatory terms.
f) Viewing men merely as sperm donors and financiers.
g) Treating men as though they are irrelevant.
In response to these concerns, I wish to remind both sexes of St. Paul’s admonitions on the subject of male-female relationships. In Ephesians 6 vs 33, the apostle writes, “Let every one of you (men) in particular so LOVE HIS WIFE EVEN AS HIMSELF, and the wife sees that she reverences her husband”. Also in 1 Corinthians 7:3, we are advised, “let the husband render unto the wife due benevolence, and likewise also the wife unto the husband. The wife has not power over her own body, but her husband and likewise also the husband hath not power of his own body, but the wife”.
I understand Paul to be urging men and women to respect and care for each other. Any behaviour which demeans or devalues either sex is wrong in the sight of God. So, male violence against women must be strongly condemned, but so too must be disrespect and abuse perpetrated by women against men.
I call upon women to support their men folk and to refrain from words and deeds which damage the God image in males and do violence to their self-esteem. Neither men nor women can do without the other. That is why, in creating human beings, our wise God saw it necessary to provide for man a help meet (mate) in the form of woman, and commanded them to support each other
Disrespect and contempt lead to anger, frustration and violence which run counter to what God intended for us, humans.
A word of advice to men – when you have entered into a relationship with a woman, both of you ought to be deriving satisfaction from your union; you must not accept the traditional idea that the woman is giving you something which you must pay for. There should be give and take on both sides. Therefore, you should not feel obligated to give money, support her wardrobe, pay her house rent or fund her travel overseas. Having spent money in these ways, some men then believe that they have bought their girlfriends or wives, and resort to violence when they are told that they are no longer needed.
And women need to stop expecting such favours from men. This is not to say that men and women cannot offer gifts on birthdays or on other occasions when they feel moved to do so. However, it MUST NOT be a requirement for the relationship. It is distressing to hear some women boast of having as many as three men to finance different aspects of their life style- clothes, transportation and rent, for example. Of course, where a man and a woman are living together in a committed relationship- marriage or common law union- the two must share the expenses of running the home and providing for the support of the children.
Finally, I would like to remind both sexes that males and females are meant to be equal partners in relationships, and neither has the right to lord it over or use the other. Ladies, men have feelings, too, and pride which can be hurt. Do your part to help build a healthy relationship based on mutual love and respect. A redeemed Barbadian man can be an asset to his family and, by extension, the society.
John Goddard, Retired educator