Friday, July 06, 2012

Celebrating men

(Originally published in Guyana’s Stabroek News on 16 June 2012)

Every week, this column celebrates women in all their glory, whether by highlighting the great things women accomplish and presenting her-story, or by underscoring the many injustices meted out to women and standing up for their rights. This week, I want to celebrate men.
In the process of addressing the pertinent issues facing women today, which is the focus of this column, I frequently report on the problems created by the men who abuse and oppress women. However, in honour of Father’s Day I want to celebrate those men who stand with women as we fight for our rights.
It is not easy for me to celebrate men because I spend a lot of time researching women’s issues and working with women, as such I know very well the devastation men inflict on the women of Guyana and around the world. But it is exactly because of my difficulty in celebrating men that I am writing this column today.
If, as women, we neglect to celebrate the good in men, then we become just like those men who refuse to celebrate the good in women. It is their lack of respect for women that allows them to think they somehow have a right to rape, torture, oppress and murder us. Sisters, for the sake of the human race, we must not become this animal, too.
It is imperative to recognise the men who stand up to the abusers, who strive to keep women safe, who join us on the protest lines and who take a stand in legislative bodies to insist on women having equal rights and a voice. It is vital to celebrate the men who do live up to their parental responsibilities, who hold down a job and support the family instead of drinking the money away and who work side-by-side with the women doing the household chores.
Yes, I see so many atrocious things men do to women, but I also see glorious exceptions to the rule. In today’s world, where there are so many ways to harm a woman, it is so refreshing to see men who choose to care about women.
It may seem that I am congratulating good men for doing the right thing by simply being good men, which is what they should be doing anyhow. After all, no one thanks women for not beating men. Still, I think good men deserve some recognition for choosing not to be one of the animals that endanger the lives and rights of women.

In Guyana, there are men who stand with the women on the protest lines. For example, Vidyaratha Kissoon stands with Red Thread in protest lines, and in other ways, to fight for issues such as fair pay and justice for rape victims.
Johann Earle, a friend of mine, who is a reporter at this newspaper, has long had a desire to write more on the environmental impact on women in today’s world. I hope he gets to do that one day.
James Bond, a Parliamentarian for APNU, put a lot of effort into highlight women’s issues during the last elections.
Also during the last election season, Donald Ramotar, Khemraj Ramjattan and David Granger sat down and talked with me about many issues facing the women of Guyana. By agreeing to let me interview them, they helped to inject vital women’s issues into the campaign season.
I cannot name all of the good men who I have seen going about their daily lives helping women, supporting women, caring about women and loving women. I have even had taxi drivers who, without being asked to do so, patiently wait for me to unlock my gate and lock it back before pulling away. They are good men.
I have a friend whose dad influences me frequently. You would be surprised at how many columns I write on women’s issues that were inspired by this man’s wisdom. I proudly call him dad, too, because it is obvious how deeply he cares for the women of Guyana.
All of these men should be celebrated this weekend, whether they are fathers or not. And this selection of men is just from my circle of friends. There are a great many more men in Guyana who should be celebrated.
These good men are the antitheses of the man who hammered his wife’s skull in because she wouldn’t give him money to buy alcohol. In fact, most of my male friends would risk harm to stop such an animal (which is probably why they are my friends).
Of course, I have to mention my own Guyanese man, the father of my children and my husband for 26 years (+/-). Paul is the reason I walk with such confidence today. I was an abused child who had lots of issues. Not only did Paul help me overcome those issues, but he also stood by me and encouraged me to be everything I wanted to be in life. Now that is a good man.
As I mentioned, because of my research into women’s issues around the world and my work with women in Guyana, I am exposed to so much devastation against women by men. What keeps me balanced so that I do not get jaded and forget the good in men? My husband. I do not have to look very far at all to find a truly good man.
Sometimes he drives me crazy with his procrastinating ways or his loud music, but I can easily handle those annoying aspects because I know he is also an animal lover, he loves his children, he would never raise a hand to harm me, he shares his wisdom with me and most importantly, he has a good heart. In fact, Paul is the one who encourages me to keep going when I lose my strength to continue fighting for women due to my constant health issues. Like I said, he’s a good man.
Yes, Sisters, it is important to celebrate the good men around us. This Father’s Day, thank a man who supports women’s rights and celebrate the men who care about women.

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