Drop the Macho Stereotypes


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Category: Relationships 05 Nov 17

Sexual abuse, abandonment, ghosting after an intense relationship: unimaginable cruelty by the predator leaving victims in a dark tunnel. An act so evil by those who have power over women, or have them in their care, it leads to wrecked lives, and suicides.
A 57-year-old professor reached out to me this week after last week’s column on Harvey Weinstein with her ‘me too’ secret that has haunted her these 50 years:

“I was a child of seven. A male cousin in his 20s sexually abused me when he was ‘babysitting’. There was no pain inflicted. It was sexual—touching, kissing, ‘lovemaking’. There were unsuccessful attempts to penetrate. If I acquiesced, it was purely a physical response based on emerging adolescence. Nothing else. As a child I didn’t feel outrage. As a child you trust adults. You don’t expect adults to hurt you.

“After one such incident I said, ‘You know, I have to tell my parents about this...He said, ‘You can’t tell anyone’. That’s when I knew it was wrong. I didn’t tell anyone till now, when I’m telling you. I didn’t see him until after I was married. I ignored him. When I heard he died I felt enormous relief. He carried around my secret, and with him, the secret died. He was in his 40s.

“I felt the shame as an adult, wondered what was wrong with me. That dissonance between what I accepted then and what happened to me until I saw the damage. It was not my fault. Not my doing. I blocked it off. But by numbing sexual abuse, I numbed my entire childhood. I don’t remember any of it. He robbed me of my innocence, my childhood. Yet that memory is vivid with pain. Today, 50 years on, I can close my eyes and see it happening. It was inappropriate to engage a young child who doesn’t understand it was abuse of power.

“Men ask why women don’t speak up. It’s because women and children don’t recognise that it is even something to speak up about. We are supposed to be in a lesser place in the world. If we try to assert ourselves, or don’t see ourselves as objects, we are branded as angry women. Men and women conceptualise things differently. A man’s narrative has credibility as a rational, logical being.

“Men say women are emotional. People minimise women’s feelings. They think the only strength lies in being logical like a man. I embrace my emotions, even better when I can name them, label them so I understand what I am.

“It doesn’t preclude being rational, critical thinking. If we were all solely rational, we would lose our hearts.

“We would lose love. As a woman I want to live an intentional and authentic life. This is the story that the child in me could not tell.”

I thank this brave woman for telling me something she has not told another human for 50 years with the hope it helps others.

A Pakistani friend observed that she found it peculiar in T&T that she saw men and women engaging in the lewdest acts towards one another at Carnival, but outside of it rarely saw affection, hand holding, between couples.

It made me see many male (not all) loins work overtime, but their hearts automated, perhaps because they were socialised like that. Relationships between the sexes are increasingly transactional, sexual. This is why women mostly, are discarded, forgotten like a ragged Carnival costume once used.

Perhaps if men dropped their macho stereotype, that didn’t have to do with exercising power, or silencing women, feeling emotion would release them from their barricaded hearts.

And if women were not branded angry ‘bunny boilers’ for speaking the truth, but seen as human beings, we can all find our way to enduring love, which is everything in this briefest of lives.

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All Articles Copyright Ira Mathur