The gender groups can save us all


Like distant planets in separate orbits, the protagonists of the National Organization of Women (NOW) and the proponents of the Men’s Educational Support Association continue on their independent journeys, clearly intent on their own separable goals, even though, naturally, the ultimate happiness of each is intimately and inextricably interwoven in both.

We have previously urged the leadership of NOW and MESA to come to the table and commonsensically and without prejudice seek out common ground and a working relationship that could promote greater tolerance, respect, absence of acrimony and of all violence, deeper understanding and amelioration among its disciples and larger followings.

Regrettably, we have seen not the remotest of effort on either side.

Instead, we have had MESA leadership reporting that it has tried offering the olive branch before to no avail, and thus making no apparent new attempt; and NOW and its associate groups publicly accusing MESA of making excuses for the conduct of men. If two major structured organizations representing the genders of this country have neither the competency nor the will to effect mutuality and peace between them, and to show respect to one another, as exemplars, how can either, as adviser or arbiter, bring harmony to family life in Barbados?

In this burgeoning intimate relationship violence, the essential remedial course of action must be the pursuit of peace –– if romantic love is no longer viable. And accord and understanding cannot come when the mediators themselves are inept at reconciliation between them.

What kind of meritorious or commendable message can NOW and MESA possibly think this sends in all the heightened and highlighted ugliness of extreme violence between our men and their women? Mr Ralph Boyce, of MESA, who is almost invariably courteous to the other side, but discomfortingly strong on what he sees as the eroded rights of men, cannot wilt at NOW’s alleged first rejection of dialogue, and needs to keep seeking out that conversation with NOW as a matter of urgency.

Of course, we do not put all the responsibility of success in this regard on Mr Boyce and company. Ms Marilyn Rice-Bowen, passionate as she is about the safety and dignity of women, and naturally confrontational (as women’s advocates tend to be), despite her strong convictions, needs to step back for a moment.

We are with her all the way in her anchored position that our men just cannot be going about terminating the lives of our women –– no matter how provoked, or thought to be vindicating. We advise that stronger is he who walks away –– to see another day with peace of mind and in commodiousness.

Man has never created a woman, and cannot just unmake her.

But we aver that Ms Rice-Bowen should take up the claimed offer of Mr Boyce to talk and seek to resolve amicably the issues of both genders they represent. We suggest that Ms Rice-Bowen resist the temptation to see and present MESA and its leadership as the nemesis of her ambitions and goals on behalf of the women of Barbados. It is no good for the family unit or intimate unions. It is worse yet for our children.

Confrontation rarely works better than collaboration.

This truth has kept raising its head these past days as we mourn the death of former president of South Africa, Nelson Madiba Mandela. Mr Mandela has been revered for his practice of it –– cooperating with, rather than taking revenge on, his former oppressors for the betterment of his people and the development and sustainability of his homeland South Africa.

We are not all fully possessed of these godlike qualities, but we may yearn after them once we begin to have a sense of the fulfilment such gracious and Christian action brings the doer, and the great goodwill afforded the receiver.

We wish therefore that we could see, in the current circumstances of our gender challenges and seemingly increased intimate relationship violence, a more mature, unhysterical, unprejudiced and saner approach to resolution by joint participation of the leaderships of the National Organization of Women and the Men’s Educational Support Association.

We hope though for not so much talk as action. We are not oblivious of the rantings, meanderings and obfuscations of politicians and bureaucratic criers, which never see action, furthermore actuality. The sentences of their utterances carry no verbs –– after all these are doing words.

Let’s then go for a cap on the adversarial toing and froing between our genders and their representatives. Let us end the public quarrelling –– if only tentatively –– as we seek out a roadmap, of our own, to mutual respect (by example), to the prototypical settlement of differences, to fellowship, and to considerateness –– if not total familial harmony.

It’s up to MESA, NOW!

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