“I don’t want to” he whispered into the eerie silence of the room, all the while looking at anything and anywhere but her face. He knew what he would find there. He had seen the way anger twisted her features and blazed in her eyes.
“Grown wings now, have we?” she said softly
He looked up and saw the sardonic smile on her face. Dread filled him, he knew the consequences of his refusal would be grave, he just did not know how much.
“Alright then, kiss me.” He looked at her in surprise and wondered what pleasure a 20-year old could hope to get from the kiss of an 8-year old. He did not even know how to do the thing. The ones he had seen on Television had filled him with repulsion. But then again, if that would make her leave him alone and not ask him to put his tongue ‘down there’, he would do it a hundred times over
“come on, don’t be shy. I wouldn’t want to hurt you”
That was a lie. He knew the opposite was the case. She could hurt him in ways far more than he could imagine and enjoy it too. She was after all their maid. She bathed him, fed him and was in charge of almost everything in the house until his mum returned from her place of business.
He breathed a sigh of relief as she left to answer the knock on the door. That however, changed to dread as he saw two other girls come in with her. He looked at their faces and saw the predatory look in their eyes.
“kiss me, I said”
Quaking in his boots, he brought his lips close to hers and felt a sharp pain, followed by the metallic taste of blood as she bit him hard.
“oh, you’re bleeding. I will just tell your mum you fell. Alright, enough said”
He watched in horror as all three began to lose their clothing….
Due to factors such as the differences in the male and female genitalia, including the fear and guilt of victims, cases of male (sexual) abuse are mostly underreported. Other contributing factors to this silence are the stereotypes and myths surrounding the gender, such as men’s inability to be raped by women or being less affected by abuse than women, cultural perceptions projected to the boy child as being strong and therefore shouldn’t show weakness by ‘crying’, and the lack of understanding of their channels of emotional expression.
Do not get me wrong, it is such a relief to finally see violence against women garner so much awareness across board, though this is by no means the best we can do. I mean, the extent of damages which marginalization and abuse of women has done to society cannot be adequately put in words. Being underestimated while continuously relegated to the “kitchen” are major contributing factors to the objectification of women.
However, in advocating for change, we must be careful not to become the very monster we have come to loathe. What with the value of men being reduced to their ability to solve problems and provide the needs of their dependents, and not on the uniqueness of their characters as individuals, this clearly points to the objectification of men too and this is a problem we have to root out from society.
And so, we need not encourage toxic masculinity by not only allowing gender to define the emotional response of the boy child to circumstances and situations including abuse, we also should not reduce their importance to their ability to provide material things.
The validation of people’s feelings and emotions should in no way depend on their gender. Research recently carried out in Warri, Delta state, Nigeria, showed that, compared to their female counterparts, young males are more likely to commit suicide. There have also been consistent cases of suicide among Nigerian males in Abia, Rivers, Edo and Osun states.
This indicates the ripple effect the conditioning males have received to bottle up their emotions rather than speak up and actively seek help, and its resultant effects.