Culture and its Importance towards Raising Functional Men
By: IyanuOluwa Fagbiye
Culture, from an anthropological lens, is dynamic; not static but ever changing. This change could only occur through contact with another culture. Hence, making cultural traits embedded in various cultures is a major element of culture comparison. Culture, as defined by the renowned anthropologist, Edward Burnett Tylor, is that complex whole that comprises knowledge, values, moral, arts, custom, belief, and any other capabilities that make a person a member of the society.
Society shapes people; thus, making every person a product of the society they come from. However, before we have functional men, they must have been functional boys. For them to be functional, the attributes of being functional must have been passed down to them at an early stage in life; failure to do so is what makes men ignoble beings. As a boychild, it is expected that you have a kind heart. It is also expected that you express yourself; whether when happy or sad. This is because these traits are human traits that you’re free to express when you feel the need to. Sadly, men were brought up to be less expressive and to always bottle things up; to always man up, as many would say. The idea of men not showing emotions is one of the causes of the many problems that hinder us from having functional men. How so, you might be wont to ask? The thing is, how can a man function as a member of society when such society denies him the right to express himself but rather? He’s rather raised to bottle up his emotions, thoughts and feelings because society expects things to be so.
Humans, in general, were built to be reactive; reactive to things and issues around them. Expressing feelings as things affect them as individuals and collectively. However, men have been denied the opportunity to successfully express themselves, making them unfunctional men. For men to be functional, a change of some cultural beliefs and societal perceptions is important. Having a change if these things will go a long way in not only bringing about change, but also seeing to it that our efforts to raise functional men does not go in vain.
Firstly, the culture that says men should be unresponsive should be totally abolished, as it is unsafe for the boychild. It is a warped mentality to believe that men should be emotionless and expressionless. Men can show emotions and express themselves is the narrative we should start pushing to the much newer generation. There have been recent clamours against campaigns such as this, saying the aim is just to reduce men to weaklings. This is not the case. In every human, there’s a lot to unpack, and in as much as men are also humans, then, there’s also a lot to unpack in men. Dissuading men from unpacking when need be is dangerous to them as individuals and to our society as a whole. Bottled-up emotions and unexpressed feelings and frustrations can lead to a whole lot of unpleasant situations, including an engagement in vices.
Secondly, boys and men should see themselves as members of the society; members created for a purpose. It is only when men and boys see themselves as purposeful members of society that they would function in their capacities to bring about growth and development to such society. Even as we try to start raising functional men, we should as well make men accountable in all ramifications. The way a girl child is raised shouldn’t be any different when we raise a boychild; accountability leads to more men being responsible and functional.
Thirdly, making men accountable for their actions and inactions will only make society progress even more. More men will see the need to abolish the wrong narratives that have been enshrined by society, which makes them think certain roles are exclusive to one gender. Ours should be a society where the genders complement each other, and not the other way around. Also, if our boys are taught to be accountable and responsible from early on, they would see it as something normal to watch out for the other person ― whether it’s a female neighbour in distress, or a stranded traveller ― without ulterior motives in mind.
Our society often laments on the vile that is rampant among our menfolk, especially when newer issues of violation, rape, domestic abuse, molestations and physical attacks surface. Many deem it fit to lament and complain, few think of the need to change the narrative, and even fewer people have switched their thoughts to the importance of raising functional men in a bid to tackle these malignantly perennial social problems.
There’s the need to look inward for solutions, and when we look inwards, it will dawn on us that the sustainable solutions to many of the problems bedevilling the womenfolk lies in raising functional men. For, how many rapists can we successfully catch? How many violators can we track down? As much as we would love to make these evil ones go through as much pain as they make their victims go through, how many of them will truly face the wrath of law? The answer is few of them, and that’s why we need to change our strategy and give more attention to raising functional men than we’ve ever given to it in the past. For a functional man is capable of positively impacting 5 women, and one woman is a town on her own. This means that with our little drops of functional men, we can make a mighty ocean of a world where women-targeted atrocities are at the bare minimum. When all the barriers instigated by society are broken and the shackles are taken off, we will start to see men expressing themselves in ways we haven’t seen before; men will become more noble, accountable and functional to themselves and the society at large.