How are we raising our sons?

Father, son

When a man is raised by an abusive father who is cruel to his mother and in extension, to the children, this greatly hurts the man.

Photo credit: Shutterstock

Did we not all watch in horror as a group of depraved men assaulted a terrified young woman? What was even more appalling, not one of the men in the vicinity stood out to protect her. I can’t help but wonder, what did they tell the women in their lives when they got home that evening?

That clip was a major trigger for a lot of women who have experienced abuse from the male gender. Sometimes, the abuse or bias is so subtle that it is normalised. It is in the ‘harmless’ statements passed as jokes. Like when I was a freshly graduated teacher. While serving myself a cup of tea, a male colleague asked me to serve him some as well.

“In fact, serve all the men in the staffroom. Tea is sweeter served by a woman.”

After the laughter had died down, I told him that I was not a tea server but a fellow teacher. He sneered, his ego clearly bruised.

“You women from the mountain are very arrogant. The only way to subdue you is to ambush you in a bush and teach you manners.” The laughter was louder, even from the women. One female teacher quipped,

“They don’t circumcise them, that’s why they grow horns.”

 I was ready to murder someone. In that exchange, thankfully, an older man shut the rest up when he asked, “Would you want your daughter to be treated in the same manner?”

Dr Lundy Bancroft, a consultant on domestic abuse and child maltreatment, in his book, Why Does He Do That? says that domestic abuse is not rooted in psychological problems but rather on conditioning.

Domestic abuse

“The domestic abuse perpetrator has specific behaviour patterns that trauma cannot create. It takes societal training and some bad role models to create a domestic abuser… A domestic abuser has all these tactics and attitudes that you cannot get from trauma.” An abuser is raised. Their behaviour is rooted in the upbringing, in the messaging that we tell our sons and daughters about how to treat the other gender.

“We have to address domestic abuse as a problem of values and attitudes, not as an emotional problem.”

 Someone referred to the criminal boda boda behaviour as ‘illiterate.’ The truth is that low education has nothing to do with abuse. A highly educated man is just as likely to be, statistically, as abusive as a lowly educated man. We saw a Governor slapping a woman, and we gasped, then quickly justified it.

 In my research on domestic abuse and gender-based violence, I have learned some facts that I hope by sharing, will teach you something, as well as inspire you to stand up against abusive behaviour and enlighten others about it.

When a man is raised by an abusive father who is cruel to his mother and in extension, to the children, this greatly hurts the man. You would expect that he would never repeat the same towards the mother of his children. But the sad reality is that such a man tends to mirror exactly what his father did, probably exhibiting it worse.

 Boda boda operators

 He adores his mother but is cruel towards his wife. Unless this man recognises the abuse in his father and in himself, and intentionally decides to end the cycle, he will pass on the behaviour to his son. His daughters end up marrying men who are exactly like him, because they are conditioned to live, accept, and normalise abuse.

The kind of abusive behaviour exhibited by those boda boda operators is rooted in their attitudes towards women. It is not just from the riders, but as we have seen, most men in our society believe they can enforce on control and demand respect from women.

“At the root of most perpetrators’ decisions to abuse are deeply held beliefs about male power and privilege…the primary drivers are values that they’ve learned growing up about male entitlement and what kinds of service females are obligated to give males…” adds Lundy Bancroft.

How we raise our sons counts, because we can turn them into abusive or non-abusive characters.

Karimi is a wife who believes in marriage. [email protected]


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