Ololade Ajekigbe: No, men are not trash

Ololade Ajekigbe

“Yoruba men are demons”

“Short people have an inferiority complex”

“Feminists don’t make good wives”

“Ijebu people are stingy”

“Northerners are dirty”

“Whites hate Blacks”

…and now “Men are scum/trash”

All of the above statements are only a few of the popular generalizations many of us are familiar with. They probably started as a product of one person’s personal experience(s), but have somehow gained traction and have now sadly become a fundamental part of our thinking. They are stereotypes which like many other fixed notions discourage an independent assessment of a situation.

Over the last couple of months, the #MenAreScum has become a regular hashtag on the streets of Twitter. It started as some sort of curious joke – A typical social media reaction to the endless tales of how men continue to “play” and mistreat women especially in romantic relationships. However, things escalated quickly, and what started as a joke has morphed into a man hating campaign.

Women claim to be frustrated by the attitude of their men. Our men cheat, they do not show enough affection. They are uncouth and rude and lack the maturity our fathers were known for. They are irresponsible, and to make matters worse, they have formed the habit of battering us at the slightest opportunity. The sheer number of marriages that have hit the rocks due to accusations and allegations of domestic violence is pointer to the fact that all is not well. Our men have turned us into punching bags. That’s the argument. That’s the grievance.

And if one were to judge by these increasing cases of battery perpetrated by men against their opposite number, and even episodes such as the one that occurred with the “5k Bae” then one would tend to agree with the proponents of the crusade. But, like all generalizations this campaign couldn’t be more flawed.

There are about 7.5 billion people in the world, almost half of which are men. Bringing it home, out of a Nigerian population of 180 million, there are at least 70 million men. These stats alone shows that it is practically impossible for all men to be “trash.” This campaign of calumny against the male gender is one that bodes no one any good. Those at the forefront of the campaign may think they are sensitizing women on the dire consequences of being involved with irresponsible men, but no message produces the desired result when it is cloaked in hate.

Some men are scum. Maybe the behaviour of many men can be likened to trash. But, all men are definitely not trash! I have men in my life. My father. My brother. My “boyfriends.” All wonderful men. of course, they have flaws like every other human being, but their conduct and overall character cannot in any way be likened to trash. Have I met men who have tempted me to view all men as trash? You bet I have, but it would be foolish of me to myopically state that all men are jerks simply because I have had some not too pleasant experiences with some of them.

Men can also decide to see all women as trash (and indeed some are already on that counter-campaign), even though that would be childish. If the sin of our men is cheating, are we saying that there are no women who cheat in relationships? Can we confidently affirm that there are no women who are the aggressors in marriage? Remember the case of the female lawyer who allegedly stabbed her husband to death in Ibadan? Yes, there appears to be more men who are guilty of things such as cheating and battery, but there’s no empirical evidence of this.

I honestly believe that in general men can do better. These days, there are too many deadbeat baby daddies, women molesters and all round lazy, unambitious men who see nothing wrong in living off a woman. I also believe there’s a growing lack of sincerity and manners among men. The men who lead double lives and have hidden second families who are only discovered upon their demise are giving other men a bad name. Men who employ violence as a tool to assert their headship of the home are the scum. Men who have an ulterior motive in relationships, men who neglect to take care of their families, but can maintain scores of concubines can rightly be referred to as trash. But, not all men. Nothing could be further from the truth.

I have met good men. Fine gentlemen. Honourable men. Men have helped me out with little things like randomly offering to change a flat tyre in the middle of nowhere, to much bigger things like offering a sturdy shoulder to lean on when I have been down. There are good men out there. Those who would never take advantage of a woman’s vulnerability. Those who don’t use sex as a condition for favours. Those who would never hit a woman. Responsible, caring brothers, husbands and fathers.

In the few discussions I have had with women, I always have opined that even if women are generally dissatisfied with attitude of their partners, and can’t seem to do anything about it, the onus and bigger responsibility we have as women is to ensure we do better with our male children.

If your husband or partner is trash, then make sure another woman never gets to say that about your son in the next couple of decades. If not, you would have been guilty of the same thing you are accusing your hubby’s mother of – raising a son that is a shadow of what a real man should be.

The #MenAreTrash movement will not spur any man to do better. It is a condemnation. A label that disregards the efforts of the noble few. It’s another reason it is senseless. And what about our daughters? Hashtags like “Men are Trash” will mar their perception of men. We will only succeed in raising girls who are wary of the opposite sex even before they get to know them. We don’t want to raise a generation of paranoid women now do we?

Trash has no gender. A bad human being is a bad human being; it has nothing to do with their physical features. The #MenAreTrash is just what it is – a silly hashtag; albeit one which portends no good.

Op–ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija


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