In Guyana men are deprived of their ability to earn and maintain their status as head of household

Dear Editor,

I would like to respond to a letter, ‘Too many of our males are walking around with self-esteem deficits which they try to mask‘ (SN, October 24).  This is a well-written letter that touched on the more familiar talking points and explanation of the problem. It is difficult to say if the writer is male or female, but it is my observation that mostly females try to explain this phenomenon of brutality against women and men’s diminishing role in the home and family, with hardly anyone getting it right.

Since 1975, which was pronounced women‘s liberation year, women were given their rights to pursue their own destiny, to attain any heights they could conceive.  Generally men have been supportive of this. Men of course fathered daughters that they wished could move way beyond being mere housewives. But even as the male envisioned greater possibilities for his girls the dynamics of this new ideal and women‘s strict adherence to the ‘new rules’ have culminated in a lot of collateral damage to the traditional family structure.

I find that the men who pronounce on this new trend in society generally speak from a point of being politically correct. While men generally agree with the concept of equal rights and opportunity, Guyanese men have always considered themselves as the sole provider, the head of the home and such like.  It is what gives a man pride; to go out there and work to provide for the family. As a boy I used to say whatever a man does, he does for a woman. He worked hard, educated himself so that he could earn more to take care of a wife and family.  That is what a man was/is made of. If a man is not doing or not allowed to do those things he is not whole.

I have not seen anything to indicate that women in Guyana have used their liberation status to deliberately deprive men of their head of household status, and have generally not risen to the point of out-earning their counterpart to make an impact. Indeed, there are still many women who depend wholly on the man bringing in the bacon.

The problem in Guyana, given the economic situation, is that men are deprived of their
ability to earn and maintain their status as head of household. The problem is magnified in the splurge of illegal activity which shows quite a few persons making money that is much more than what education can attain. Many men do not see the wisdom of education in an environment where other men can out-earn them without it. Men who cannot or will not get into that hustle are placed in a dilemma of not being able to give their women what they need.
Herein lies the conflict and the wanton aggression of men on women.  The opportunities for men are not balanced in Guyana.  In many cases they are nonexistent.  Illegal gains have given some men greater advantage over others.  Some men are able to flash the big bucks and attract women who are forced to leave their traditional relationships to survive. While women are in many cases forced to do whatever is necessary to make ends meet, that activity can cause a vast loss of face for the proud Guyanese man. The economic situation in Guyana cannot be left out of the equation.

While men are advised to walk away from their relationships and let their women be, it is not as easy as many may think. Right or wrong Guyanese men generally believe that lashing out at their compromising women, even at the expense of incarceration or the death penalty is better than losing face among other men and even some women.

Women’s liberation has brought on a different response from men, for instance in the US.    Many more children are today growing up in single family homes. The man’s role in the traditional family is diminished. The greatest effect is in the African-American community.   Compounded with police brutality men are absent from the home because women are practically forcing them out.

I do not think that women’s liberation was intended to break up the family, but equal rights and opportunity are taken much too seriously in the African-American community. There are too many rigid rules on who is and is not the boss, especially in households where the women are out-earning the men. This is not a familiar position for men. What’s the point of getting an education? What’s the point of earning when there is no pleasure in having someone to share it with? As women yearn for more education men do not see the value any more – manliness may be gone forever for them.
In other communities the women are more lenient. Men are allowed to feel like the head of the household. In most cases they still maintain their original status even if married to a woman who is earning more.  There is not too much of talk of I can do without a man. Those attitudes have devastated our community.

In the letter the writer dealt reasonably well with the symptoms, but I do not total agree with the cause. The observation that “too many of them [men] are gradually slipping into an abyss of self- destruction and destructiveness without receiving any attention other than chastisement” is right on. One wonders what the new generation of men would be like.

The writer’s suggestion for a solution: “Men will support ‘feminition‘ and advocate equal rights for women, even as they, men, are tormented inside. Please, let us find ways of extending grace to them also.  Let us start by teaching them that one’s inherent value lies within and without. Let us teach them that human life is not devalued in the absence of a person or possession. Let us teach them that a human is a dichotomy of male and female attributes and that to embrace both is to make oneself whole,” is also well taken.

Yours faithfully,
F Skinner