- April 8, 2021
It’s true that men need to take responsibility for the prevalence of rape incidences in the country. After all, it’s our fellow men who are doing the raping and tainting the name of man everywhere. On the internet, people are way too willing to apportion the blame, but no one wants to do something about it. As long as all we are doing is passing the hot coal, a solution will not be found.
In my view, the prevalence of rape incidences is a sign of a deeper problem. A crisis of maleness, if you will, that is being expressed in the worst possible way. In Kenya, we have many men walking around who possess none of the values that make a man a man.
The four duties of a man
Manhood is a contract of duty. Every man has four main responsibilities, in which failure leads to a breakdown of the community.
1. A duty to himself
Every man has a duty to take care of his mind and body. This entails ensuring that your body’s desires do not end up hurting another person’s life. Maybe because of the politics of equality, or simply the erosion of culture, we seem to have forgotten all about appreciating the male body.
And yet men carry a potent energy called male vital energy, which works with female vital energy in the process of reproduction. When men stopped appreciating their full part in reproduction, broken families and rape incidences go up.
Even though no one needs lessons on how to be a man physically, manliness is an art form that must be taught. But here is the rub: most men just don’t know how to be a man or what it even means anymore. And if you don’t know something, you don’t know. And if you don’t know that you don’t know, then it’s a disaster.
In Carl Jung’s theory of psychology, the subconscious is a point of connection with ancestors, accessed mentally through the generations. In the case of Kenyan men, it is important to remember that as recently as one or two hundred years ago, we lived in tribal enclaves. The rules of engagement then were very different from what they are today, but we still haven’t updated our social education to match.
2. A duty to his family
The family unit is the most important social unit for the ultimate man. Blood links are highly valued, but friendships can also be forged that are stronger than blood. When it comes to family, it is a fine balance between responsibilities and expectations. You are expected to engage in behaviours that bring honour to the family.
Rapists don’t just disgrace themselves, they disgrace their entire family and whatever other support system there was in their lives. They cause untold pain not just to the victim, but to her entire family and support system.
But rape is a double-edged sword, and worse shame and pain hangs on the rapist, his family, and his support system. They didn’t teach him well. They failed their duty to the community.
3. A duty to the community
With the current “independence” fad, no one seems to care about society anymore. Actions are no longer weighed on communal value, but personal gain. And yet community is a central and intricately linked aspect of human life. We can’t just ignore the role of the community in human behaviour.
To the cold and uncaring outside world, a rapist has failed in his duty to live harmoniously with others. It gives the government enough cause to throw the said offender in the cooler for life.
4. A duty to spirit
Our traditional religious beliefs may be gone, but the underlying need they filled is still there. African life has always been intricately tied to truth and justice (ma’at). Even though this concept was enforced through ancestral invocation and sacrificing to God – two things that are probably never coming back – this does not mean that the old ways are lost.
Rape contaminates the perpetrator’s own soul. The biggest disaster, therefore, is that which only the rapist knows. From the story of Absalom in Kings, giving in to those passions only leads to angst, regrets, guilt, and if the law catches up with you, a spear through the heart – or jail time in these our more “civilized” times.
Role of the Community in tackling rape culture
Rape indicates the most despicable breakdown in moral fibre in a community. It sullies us all with the shame and disgust that it brings. That is why it must be the job of every person today, man and woman, to work together to tackle the underlying causes. And uproot the evil by the roots.
Families need to do a better job of raising men. And for the record, it’s not the removal of the foreskin that makes a boy a real man. Just as important are the lessons we teach our sons on following the path of The Ultimate Male. A forgotten lesson that needs to come back.
Peer support and responsibility also need to go way up. As men, we are both our fellow men and keeper of the community way of life. Rape culture does not even remotely feature in the way of life we want.
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