What you need to know:
- My previous stories on male victims of sexual harassment and domestic violence have drawn me fierce criticism from both men and women.
- Shockingly, activists who work in women’s rights organisations have also condemned me for writing on trivial matters such as “men’s abuse, yet there are serious issues like teenage pregnancy”.
The story of a taximan tormented by his estranged wife has drawn massive reaction online, with some readers sympathising as others blame him for his predicaments.
The story had attracted more than 1,000 comments, 23 hours after it was shared on Nation.Africa's Facebook account.
One Facebook user consoled him, saying: " There's a man who lost his family in a day but he overcame the pain.”
Another one comforted him with: “Be strong brother.”
One suggested that he is to blame for his misery. “You missed a good lesson, it's either you were asleep or absent when Mzee Kibor was teaching us during men's conference…”
One comment stood out though; the user urged Nation.Africa to shift focus and tell the "vice versa stories".
My previous stories on male victims of sexual harassment and domestic violence have drawn me fierce criticism from both men and women. Shockingly, activists who work in women’s rights organisations have also condemned me for writing on "trivial matters such as men’s abuse, yet there are serious issues like teenage pregnancy”.
The Facebook user who called for a shift in focus seems to be reading from the same script. However, this perception that men’s issues are unimportant is misplaced. In the push for gender equality, there is no lesser issue when it comes to a man or a woman.
Studies have already shown that inclusive communities are more productive, hence we need men and women in their complete set and health to effectively contribute to development.
Also read: Men, reporting SGBV does not emasculate you
The 2020 McKinsey report elaborates on how diversity wins. That diverse and inclusive companies are more likely to make better and bolder decisions. Therefore, conversations about men’s issues cannot and should not be ignored.
In a previous interview with former Gender Cabinet Secretary Margaret Kobia, she said: “As the world evolves, there is demand for valuing gender inclusion and diversity as a strategy for social economic development.”
Fredrick Nyagah, the national founder and chairperson of Men Engage Kenya Network, previously told me that men too need mentorship.
“It can take the form of coaching where a role model shows them the way because they have been there and can relate to their issues. They also need support and motivation,” he said.
“There are a lot of expectations shouldered on men such that when they do well, it is not taken to be an achievement. No one congratulates them. They also deserve to be told 'Mr so and so, you have done well in raising your family.'”
A report published in the American Journal of Men’s Health last February, in which researchers reviewed 21 studies on men’s experiences of mental illness stigma in the past decade, found men were weighed down with “feelings of fear, shame, embarrassment, guilt and isolation”.
“This self-stigma was driven by the stigmatising attitudes of peers, colleagues, family, health professionals and members of the wider community. A common experience was that men believed people negatively stereotyped those with mental illness as weak and failures,” reads part of the study.
This generation of society needs to change their attitude towards men and accept that they, too, carry burdens that they ought to be relieved of, or helped to shoulder.