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The eyes of men: toxicity & ridicule

Hermes-riveraHAZEL KUTKUE
| Sipikriva Girl

BRAUN - I walk past men almost wherever I go. They sit on large rocks that somehow end up on the roadside. They lean against power poles, rusted in the winds of time.

Whenever I walk past men, I have to be decent. If I am ‘not decent’, I will be the subject of stares directed at my ‘indecency’.

I want to be like some womenfolk who wear voluminous meri-blouses that render them shapeless, accompanied by laplaps.

This outfit is the type that presumably makes you a respectable, humble, woman.

But try as I might, I cannot. I cannot wear clothes that make me feel like I am swathed in a bedsheet, tangled up inside and outside.

Sometimes I want to be like the other womenfolk. They throw all caution to the wind. They dress like covergirl models I see on magazine covers.

They are the brave ones. They wear short shorts and bare their breasts at least partway. They spice up their attire with lipstick and a bunch of other make-up.

I want to dress like that sometimes. However, I am not brave enough.

I am afraid of men, and maybe women too. I am afraid of society. I am afraid of being groped. I am afraid of stares. I am afraid of catcalls. I am afraid of rape.

I stick to the ‘us-in-between-outfits’. The outfits are ones where I can walk past men feeling at least comfortable.

Sometimes I walk unnoticed, and those are the best times. Sometimes I am given unwanted attention. Sometimes the men are rude, even explicit in their language. How horrid!

I belong to the ‘in-betweens’. The ‘in-betweens’ wear ripped jeans, tee-shirts, jeans or skinny jeans and shorts.

We walk past men, cringing in our heads, not wanting attention. Sometimes walking past men will leave our confidence broken. What is humanity?

Maybe I belong to the stronger ‘in-betweens’. Sometimes I glare at men who throw their ungraceful, stupid comments from their twisted oral cavity.

Sometimes they get a middle finger that flips them to Saturn. Sometimes arguments break out. Sometimes, however, I shut up and take the stares and bad words home.

Everywhere I go, I walk past men: teenagers, young adults, the middle-aged and more.

Everywhere I go, there is a man placed there by some unseen power to judge women, to look down on and to ridicule.

Everywhere there are men put in place to comment on how womanhood should be improved, as if it is not already perfect.

Maybe someday, the eyes of men will not be so judgy and condescending.

Comments

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Robert Forster

No one has mentioned PNG's ubiquitous pornography and its contribution to situations in which women, however clothed and whatever their location, are often identified as sexual objects or prey.

Perhaps six years ago I mistyped "kiap png " into my internet search engine and entered "kan png" instead.

I'm no prude but was profoundly saddened at the result.

My error revealed a file in which a girl, who could have been a grandchild of one of the happy young village girls I knew in the 1960's and 70, was being degraded and defiled so smart arse men with cameras and access to the internet system could make money. from lonely men with a smart phone.

I was dismayed instead of shocked. because I really liked those happy young meris, quite unabashed in their pul-puls, who laughed together in noisy groups that always remined me of colourful flocks of chattering birds.

Now I could see what the 21st century and its dissolution of family support and community social control had delivered to some of them instead.

Not good.

Robin Oge

This article perpetuates a very corrosive and fallacious identity narrative that is all too familiar in the west and now gaining grounds in the Pacific - toxic masculinity.

It was in a way the result of feminism as a movement in the mid 1900s. I do not recognize the inflammatory description of the character of men in our society as alluded to by the author.

When it comes to dressing, culturally and socially accepted codes of conduct, for a specific geography and time, govern dress codes for both sexes in any society and all those who live in such a society, regardless of sex, must adhere to that.

This fosters a society that is stable, peaceful and progressive. And there is nothing wrong this, this is the diversity of dress codes observed around the world. The edges of any cultural behavior is evolving and so dress codes will change over time.

To think that decency in female dress codes is now an offense against women, is not only ludicrous, it is a rebellion against good values of decency that hold and progresses society.

This is so important to teach young girls - that there is such a thing as decency, which must be the highest attribute to achieve, and that there is such a thing as indecency, which must be avoided, and that decency and indecency in amoral issues is relative to space and time.

Not every men wants to catcall, grope, stare negatively or rape a women! Most men, husbands, sons, uncles, etc are the providers and champions of their wives, daughters, aunties and families.

I am sure the author belongs to family composed of fathers, husbands, brothers and uncles too. To take marginal cases and apply it across the entire male population is disingenuous - this is identity politics typical of the leftist ideologues

I have so much to say bout this but I'll leave it here.
_________

This comment has been edited to delete some ad hominem reflections on the author of the original essay. I would add a comment that any fair reading of the author's words would understand that they were written from personal experience - KJ

Philip Fitzpatrick

Someone said that how we control our base instincts is a sign of our degree of civilisation. (Someone else says it can also be gauged by the way we treat our animals).

Donald Trump, for instance, leers at women and doesn't own a cat or dog and is therefore less civilised than others.

Dopey men who openly stare at women and catcall are simply exhibiting their basic instincts and their degree of lack of sophistication and lack of cool.

Funnily enough if a group of women leer at a handsome male he feels flattered.

Sexual politics is a strange and rocky road.

Philip Kai Morre

According to Sigmund Freud, sexuality is a driving force that forms our behaviour and personality.

Human beings are faced with negative irrational thoughts and those negative thoughts in our minds produce negative results.

Men and women are attracted to each other because we are sexual beings, we are not aware that blind forces of our sexuality keep causing us problems both medically and legally.

Our sexual behaviour is determined by our conscious and unconscious factor within our personality.

Glancing at a beautiful woman at the street automatically leads into sexual imagination and delusion. Some times the more we suppressed our sexual thoughts we develop psychosomatic illness.

In the town streets, institutions, public places and in any situations staring at men or women is common. Sexual harassment and teasing and swearing is becoming a norm. young women now are subjected to abusive languages and they felt intimidated, fear, guilt, shame and feel inferior.

Why we men keep glancing and staring at women and having imaginary sexual pleasure cannot be explained in causal interpretation but goes deeper into our psychological disposition and unconscious factors.

Our internal drives causes personality problems and even sexual problems. We need to tame our internal sex and aggressive drives.

Garrett Roche

Hazel - Thank you for this. We certainly do need to reflect on the issues your raise.

In rural Western Highlands Province in the seventies the dress code for women was similar to what Arnold Mundua describes for his area (Simbu).

As Arnold has noted, in traditional culture men did show a basic respect to women. In rural areas in WHP (and Jimi) I would not have seen much of the disrespectful behaviour that you described.

However as town settlements and squatter areas developed, men there seemed to lose a lot of the traditional respect for women that was in their own culture. Hopefully that traditional respect can be recovered.

Arnold Mundua

There was a time in the 1960-70s, when I was a kid, where our mums and girls in the highlands wore practically nothing except purpurs in the front and back to cover the posterior and anterior. And it was absolutely normal.

There was no stares, glares (or you name it) of any kind from the male community.

This era has unfortunately gone. Sad but true.

Milton McMahon

As a male, I fully support Hazel's concerns. My late Central Province wife spent her life in 'gender issues' (with my full support). But there can be another side.

Sometimes females (and males) want genuine companionship. When I exchange with a young woman, in whatever setting, sometimes I feel they want me to flirt a little - to explore the possibilities.

There is a wish for the man to appreciate a woman's woman-ness.

Even the rude catcalls on the street are a request for sharing of some sort. Maybe we males only need to refine our style a little.

And a little Biblical respect wouldn't hurt - from both sides.

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