Sometime in the not too distant past, I had a spat with THE significant other.
As these things happen, something that may or may not be as monumental as it seemed way back when had happened and we had gone into the room for ze goode olde shouting match.
Like is bound to happen in every shouting match where the aim is to be heard and not to be understood, as the contest progressed, each kept trying to be heard above the other and while some of us are very good at typing yabbies and absorbing insults that are delivered over the internet, it gets a bit more difficult when you actually have to LISTEN to those words hurled at you and the anger and pain that comes with each one.
Each word cut deep and as I gradually yelled less and listened more, I felt myself losing the grasp I had on the purely logical argument that had somehow gotten lost in the jumble of angry words. The more I began to splutter at the words that were flung my way, the faster I lost control until eventually, I reached out and pushed him. That shove had the force of all my frustrations behind it and but for the fact that there was a bed right behind him, maybe today I would have been the most distinguished member of a female prison somewhere in Nigeria, cracking rocks for leisure and labor.
Anyway, so… the bed.
As I shoved him, and he went down, he reached out and dragged me with him and…
Okay, you guys would have to stop here. Much as I try, I cannot for the life of me remember exactly how THAT particular spat ended.
[checks the length of my nose]
Thankfully, this is not about in-marriage spats and how the gladiators decide to resolve it. Just for one moment imagine that at some point in that war of words, I was the one who had gained the upper hand in the use of verbal missiles and in order to regain some sort of control, the man had been the one who had shoved me. And I had been unable to take him down with me prompting a more delight-some method of reconciliation.
Maybe if I had lain down there sobbing and he had walked out, and then I had deigned to pick up the phone and call my “support system”? Verily verily I say unto thee, all the placards of domestic violence and abuse against women would have been pulled out that day and all the stops would have been unplugged in order to ensure that the fact that I was pushed never repeats itself in that house again, or else…
But I was the one that pushed and so he handled it in his own way, the issue was amicably resolved and promptly forgotten and we moved on unto other things. What if it had been worse, if he had not had the capacity to react the way he did? If there had been no bed beside him and his head had met with the cold hard concrete? And that also happened to be one of the days when Satan was walking to and fro on the face of the earth looking for who to use to shine?
My people, men also suffer domestic violence.
Men also cry.
Sometime last week, I had the dubious honor of receiving a video inbox. I followed the video link and watched in disgust as this woman, surrounded by her female friends and with a distinctly noticeable Ghanaian twang to her voice, flogged a grown man with a wooden stick.
From what I could gather, he was supposed to have either attempted to start up an affair with the woman’s sister, or had actually gone as far as to dip his pen in the family ink. Whatever it was, the woman was there to teach him a lesson and had her friends along for moral support.
Initially, the guy tried to play it cool (and I didn’t blame him – a chicken surrounded by foxes has to play wise to make it out alive). He ran his hand up and down her leg, attempting to explain and pacify her but as she continued to lash out at his shin bone with the wooden stick, he felt the pain more and more and eventually broke down in tears.
At that point, the women broke out in laughter, shut down the video and then proceeded to spread it on social media.
Can we pause for one loooooooong moment and imagine that the tables had turned? That it was the man who had heard that his woman was playing footsie with his brother or best friend, laid a carefully set trap for her, she had walked into it and he had then lured her to his house where he had proceeded to flog her while his friends crowed along in laughter and videotaped the entire session?
Would some of us who had found excuses for the woman have allowed any form of explanation for the man?
Would we not have been carrying placards and advocating for someone’s head to roll?
And the irony is that this double standard does not only exist among women who pretend that domestic violence only happens when a man hits a woman and turn a blind eye to the numerous cases of women who batter and in some instances even kill their partners; it is also from society who would scoff at a man who cries out from the pain of the violence he is experiencing, but will brim over with righteous indignation when a woman is at the receiving end of domestic abuse.
Violence is violence and we must say “No” to every form of it. Domestic violence is gender neutral, it is gender blind.
I once had a Facebook friend tell me how he grew up seeing his mother batter his father. At every slight provocation, she would jack him by the collar, sweep his legs out from under him, throw her big body on his as he lay on the floor, and begin to pummel him.
Sadly, people would gather and laugh at the man for being less than a man and ask him to suck it up and take his medicine like a good boy. The man also had some warped sense of propriety and would never raise his hand to retaliate. When he felt he had taken enough abuse, he walked out one day with only the shirt on his back.
He soon remarried and enjoyed almost two decades of a peaceful marriage until the day aunty decided she wanted reconciliation.
The elders intervened and in the midst of trying to broker peace, this same woman, twenty years down the line, reached out and jacked this man again by the collar.
My friend told me he stood up in the gathering that day and told his father that if he ever took his first wife – his own mother – back, he would know for sure that his father was indeed of all men, the most foolish.
Na so reconciliation take pend for now and for ever…
See, women, we should be careful and conscious of how we lay our hands on men and beat them up and throw them around because we believe we are protected by law, the law is actually gender neutral. If the man gathers up courage and shakes off what society would say and files a report, you would be prosecuted.
If you kill him, you will go to jail.
If you are lucky, you will fling one blow at him and he will return a hail of thunder on you.
And maybe, just maybe… that day, you will finally receive sense.
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