One of the ways to help boys and men get in touch with their emotions is through the content they consume in books.
And of course, we are all entitled to our own preferences. With the Zoom meetings season upon us, and many people feeling inclined to have a collection of their books as their backgrounds, I realised that our society is far from having men who are conscious about issues affecting women.
As a little sister of mine argues that she hardly sees black men read biographies of women or stories based on women’s lives. Because all most men consume is books about how to become the next billionaire. There is nothing wrong with wanting money, but usually, that adds on to the already aggressive and domineering nature of men.
And that is worrying. I believe that boys and men should read fiction. The reading boys and men should consume content that speaks to the challenges girls and women face.
Over the past few years, I have been on different platforms where I was identified as a feminist. It is such a huge label or title to carry as a man in a country where a lot of us men call ourselves feminists only to get proximity to the ladies.
For me, I have realised that I don’t think much about what I have to say, because the content I consume shapes my thoughts and actions. Most importantly, I read books that are authored by women and they highlight issues faced by women and girls.
I have read Kopano Matlwa’s Period Pains, Coconut and Spilt Milk. I have also read Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s books together with Tsitsi Dangarembga’s sequel. All the above-mentioned authors and books allowed me as the reader to understand girls and women better. The books helped me, as a reader, to be in touch with my emotions.
The battle against gender-based violence is going to need us to use different approaches to defeat it. One of the effective ways to help boys and men to be in touch with their emotions is definitely through the content they consume in books.
We are all encouraging a reading culture, and that is really good. But the reading can also help us in the fight against the toxic trades of men. We are in desperate need for healthy masculinities.
If it was really up to me, I would have billboards and adverts all over South Africa with big bold words that say, ‘Women’s Lives Matter’. And perhaps this would remind us that 64 years later, as men, we are delaying women’s progress. Maybe we would realise that we as men have a significant role to play in ensuring that women in our country are safe.
During this women’s month, perhaps boys and men should be reading books with shocking and opening lines such as: “I was not sorry when my brother died. Nor am I apologising for my callousness, as you, my definite, my lack of feeling.”
“The above opening line gives a glimpse of the nervous conditions of a lot of young girls caused by the treatment their brothers receive in the family as they are disregarded and treated as secondary human-beings.”
Our preferences of what we want to read as men are not preferred in a time where women’s lives are endangered. We need to do way better and read content that is going to enable us to be more emotionally available and conscious about women’s issues.
Men, let’s read books that are going to make us well-rounded persons.
For more news your way, download The Citizen’s app for iOS and Android.