Very few individuals know that the 16th of May is set aside globally to celebrate the Boy Child. Therefore, following the moment’s mood, I decided to write this piece to bring to the fore the challenges, stigma, stereotypes, and pride that come with being a boy and, by extension, a man.
Over time, the Girl Child has generated so much furor in our society. So naturally, we treat everything that consigns them with utmost care and diligence, giving them special attention and extra allowances to ward off the opposite sex. But not much can be said of their male counterparts.
I’m not saying parents neglect their girls, but they should put the same energy into raising their boys, and there should be a balance. Unfortunately, the Boy Child is often left to deal with his emotions and trauma. Society encourages the boy child to bottle up his emotions because he is a Man. He is never allowed to express his feelings because if he does, he is regarded as a weakling and sissy.
This has caused many to believe that expressing emotions is wrong, that they have to sort out their problems alone and be challenged in the face of adversity, which spans through to their adulthood and invariably causes mental and physical issues.
Let me unequivocally posit that no gender is immune to emotional trauma. The fragility and tenderness associated with girls’ hearts are also deeply inherently associated with their male counterparts. The boy child slides into emotional chaos, too, when his heart is broken…. he cries on many occasions and feels better afterward. So next time you tell a boy to man up, or “take it like a man”, or not to show emotions… you are indirectly telling him not to be human!!!
The boy child is scared. He is often afraid of the enormous responsibility that is “unequally” bequeathed to him by society. We want the Boy Child to grow up and take over the family business, do exceptionally well in academics, be a caring and lovable man to his future wife, and take charge of situations. Yet he is often left to accomplish all these alone. Why?
In an interview, Solomon O. Ayodele, founder of Boys Quarter Africa, a non-governmental organization that deals exclusively with boys’ issues, opined that.
“We must accept that there is a problem with masculinity in the world, and it is more endemic in Africa. There is a lot of attention on the girl child, and they are raised deliberately on how to talk, how to cook, how to walk, how to sit, how to address men, and how to treat visitors…. But there is an assumption about boys. There is this gender empathy where parents feel they will be okay, and we keep going over the same circle repeatedly. We do not give the boys the same attention we give the girls; these boys become the husbands of these supposedly well-brought-up girls. They beat and abuse them as their wives; they become albatross to their progress; these boys become the Uber drivers, the violent ones that will rape these girls while on a trip in lonely and secluded places… Karma is indeed a bitch. So we must do something to help the boys transit deliberately, open up and dig deep with problems with fatherhood and masculinity generally”.
Dele isn’t far from the truth; we should start with a Federal Ministry of Men’s Affairs like their women counterparts. Just as there is a need to address the problems of the women using that platform, there should be for boys and men because they aren’t susceptible to problems. Boys are caring, tender, and soft, but they do not show it in most cases. So, we feel all is always well with them.
Do you know these boys get bullied and raped? Yes, they get raped too by both genders, who are Drivers, Cooks, Uncles, and Big Aunties, their mum’s friends. Still, they conceal all these atrocities because society does not beam searchlight on them, and if they ever speak out, we wave it aside and pretend that nothing ever happened.
Most times, the boy child can be so fragile, and instead of treating them with tenderness, we unleash hostility and I don’t care attitude in dealing with them. Parents, guardians, and caregivers must work assiduously to revert this ugly trend so that we will not raise men who think it’s okay to cheat, rape, be violent, carry ballot boxes, chant racial slurs during elections, kill, engage in thuggery, engage in fraud, be disrespectful and entitled.
We must begin to disengage their minds so that the act of control is not by being physical, forceful, and manipulative but by accepting responsibility for their actions. To be successful is not to cheat, scam, or even kill. We must now begin to handle the boy child differently, holding them by their hands and showing them the right way, lending them a shoulder to lean on, to cry on and climb on…. Or are shoulders only meant for the tears of the girl child? I come in peace.