Being a man is harder than most women realize
There are a lot of hard things under the sun; diamond is the hardest and chemistry taught us that there is a range of many other hard elements in-between ranging from beryllium to aluminum.
But while being a man isn’t necessarily physically hard or even featured in the periodic table, the men posit it is among the most challenging phenomenon that exists under the sun.
The mere introductory line above is enough to send us women up in arms citing all the challenges that come with being female to overshadow any such claims. Therein lies one of the main challenges of being a man – having no right to highlight any discomfort without being met with a counter from the gender that feels entitled to victimisation.
We will line up issues ranging from the weighty disadvantages of FGM to non-issues like the emotional turmoil we experience when stretchmarks crack our glowing skins and the distended flabby tummies, we acquire post-pregnancy. We will cite the imbalance in the ratio of women to men at the workplace and bring up the gender abuse directed at woman in corporate setups.
Because the opening paragraph attempts to crystalise what men might find challenging in their space as males, we will be quick to counter that stating the stress of mood fluctuations in each cycle caused by hormonal changes set on us by nature. And just before we give a listening ear to them, they will roll up their sleeves and be men. They must not whine because it is unmanly to do so. They must soak it in till the day they drop dead.
But come to think of it, a man is expected to provide for his family. That is his main role besides siring children which is something the neighbours can happily help with or can be delegated to boyfriends at the workplace if need be. The moment he commits to say “I do” before God and man he has to swiftly move on to his biblical duty of ensuring he does anything to put a roof over the head of his wife and future children and food on the table.
In modern times there are other key basics he must sort out such as education in a good school for the children and a comprehensive medical cover for everyone called by his name. These are the very bare minimums any household will expect from a man besides expecting financial security.
To imagine that the aspects mentioned above sit at the very bottom of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs confer enough pressure when you are a presumed head of the family worth his salt. It, therefore, implies that a man must seek every opportunity to meet his obligations even if that means taking up a job in North Horr, war-torn Juba, or at the very belly of Afghanistan bordering the explosive Islamabad. His journey around the world starts leaving behind the voluptuous curves he imagined he would be enjoying each night.
Time flies fast and in the understanding of what it takes to be a man, some men eking a living in far-off places are only lucky to make it to their own houses a fortnight every two years.
But while a wife understands the sacrifices that a husband must make to earn his place, the children who complete the domestic opposition formation do not and there is major trouble looming in the man’s old age. The children have grown into adulthood experiencing only images of a father on Zoom and Skype calls suddenly becoming hardened rebels who believe that the father ignored them when they needed his attention most.
They have no bond with the returning hero and as he stares into the gloom of old age the wife does not make any effort to make amends in his defense explaining his absence and why it was a necessary sacrifice. He is deemed an absentee father who deprived the young ones of fatherly love and care. He did not drop or pick them from school, he missed their appointments with teachers to discuss their results and was unavailable for them emotionally when they transitioned into young adults.
Suddenly all these are pricy elements of the family that cannot be equated to the dollars he sent home.