My mother always had her eyes on me as I played in the backyard. Women are great at multi-tasking. She would be washing, cooking and singing her Jesus songs but her eyes were always on me. We had a fish pond in our backyard that was quite deep. The water was clear and I loved looking at the fishes. I was five years old when I fell in and nearly drowned. Her powerful arms hoisted me to safety. A few lashes followed but she held me close for a long time. I felt protected and safe. Throughout my childhood I felt protected and safe because she was there. You would, therefore, think that every child who grows up with the loving care of a mother would automatically love, care and protect women in general.
By the time I turned eleven, like most boys of that age group, I started liking girls. So, as boys we would gather at school and whisper our interest about nice girls. I am sure girls were doing the same. If a girl gave you that ‘look’ with a quick smile behind it you knew everything was alright and a little spark was there. Most of us boasted to each other with about ninety per cent exaggeration of what happened that made one sure that the girl was interested.
Scheme School fair was the annual big event for us at Wismar and Mackenzie Sports Club fair was the big one for Lindeners in general. The party halls at those fairs were where we displayed adult tendencies. But it was also where we learn’t about emotions internal to our being that we never knew existed. Jealousy was only one of them. I don’t know if it was the feelings of excitement coupled with the effort of fitting the perfect part, where sometimes you had to borrow your silbling’s clothing etc, to impress and be confident that you would get her approval and attention for that evening, that would result in a reaction when things didn’t turn out the way you wanted it to. I went into the party with the girl I liked, paid the door and bought a drink and was happy to know I had my girlfriend and didn’t have to punt to get a dance. It happened that a punter got to dance with her throughout the duration of the party.
Things were happening to me, in terms of feelings, I had never felt before. So I said to her I wanted the money I paid for her entry, back. She gave that to me. Then I said I wanted my drink back and she went and got the drink. I refused and said I wanted the same drink in the same bottle that she had already drunk.
These experiences are quite common while growing up and both genders can feel those hurtful pangs. They sometimes prepare us to handle such situations in the future in a mature way or to avoid such experiences by really getting to know who you choose to let into the vulnerable spaces of your heart. They can also make us begin relationships from a position of quiet distrust where we are always alert to such experiences.
Looking back, I realize that our society sees such matters as taboo to discuss openly. In schools there were no social studies that addressed such ‘trivia’ and older folks, instead of educating the younger about the future danger that can result from such displays in our socialization process, would just laugh and dismiss them.
Like back then, the now relates in the same way. Everything around us ‒ music, films and books deal with that aspect of how we socialize. Blue murder is the most gruesome murder. There is a senseless rage that unfolds in such fatal brutal acts that shocks the system when you see or read about it.
In my country Guyana, it is as prevalent as the music that plays projecting women as the property of men who should depend only on her man to provide while she stays home to tend the family through household chores, etc. She is the queen, his queen to cook and keep him clean.
Outside of women who are exposed to a good education and are fiercely independent, the majority of our women are impoverished and are slaves to the male in the relationship. Men do not kill women they love. Men kill women they see as their property. This culture of the ownership of women must cease.
We have not grown up from wanting the same drink in the same bottle that the woman had already consumed. We cannot walk away without maiming, brutalising and murdering her because we never understood what love truly means. Moreso, every brutal act of abuse perpetrated and which continues to be perpetrated is reflective of a failed society. Failure at community and national levels.
Our nation cannot wrongly expect women groups alone to address the concerns about the slaughter of women in our society. It is the collective responsibility of men to address this unacceptable scourge. Every man must be held responsible for those acts of brutality, violence and murder of women, that have become so prevalent.
The Government of Guyana in the height of this scourge of civilization said the solution is for women to just leave an abusive relationship. There are always fatal consequences when such women try to run away. The government must address the plantation mentality of ownership of 21st century Guyanese women.
The loving and strong arms that lifted me from what could have become my watery grave is the greatest love in action. The greatest love is not a mother’s love, it is the love of a woman, for civilization will halt and the future cease to exist without her grace and mercy.
The marches against domestic violence must be replete with overwhelming numbers of men. The resulting challenge to remove this scourge from society must be firmly placed at the doorstep of both powerful and ordinary men. We are never men until our women are protected and free.
There must now be a genuine national discussion with ensuing urgent and visible action to address and stop the violence of women in Guyana.
Mark Benschop is vying to become the chief citizen of our capital city, Georgetown. His quest is indeed an honourable one and he has my support. He would do well to build his campaign around the call to liberate women from violence in our beloved land.