• Recently, there has been a heightened reportage of women brutally attacked by their male partners after rejecting them.
• We should stop coddling the boy child and permit him to face life with tenacity, courage and resilience.
Her beauty was legendary. Her skin was like fresh white snow. Her hair was brighter than the sun. Her eyes were greener than the Aegean Sea. And her lips were redder than the reddest rose in the world. She was the most beautiful woman in Ancient Greece. Her name was Medusa, a priestess to Athena, the goddess of war.
As a priestess, she had taken a vow of chastity in service to the goddess. This made her off-limits to the numerous men who desired to be her suitor. Knowing that they could never possess her, they visited Athena’s temple just to glance at her beauty and became content to simply admire her from a distance.
One day Medusa was taking a walk along the shore, and she caught the attention of Poseidon, the god of the sea. He was instantly smitten with her beauty. Her magnificence was so great that Poseidon could not control his impulses to be with her. However, due to her chastity vows, she rejected his advances. The more she rejected Poseidon, the more he became obsessed with her.
One day, he stalked her while she was in Athena’s temple praying. Poseidon, unable to control his urges, raped her at the altar. When Athena found her lying shattered on the floor, she was enraged and appalled that such a sacrilegious act could happen in her hallowed temple.
However, since she could not punish Poseidon, a fellow immortal, she channelled her anger at Medusa and blamed her for enticing men with her beauty. As punishment, she transformed Medusa’s beautiful hair into locks of snakes and her skin became cracked and withered. She cursed her so that any man that looked at her was instantly turned into stone. Subsequently, Medusa became the evil monster.
Recently, there has been a heightened reportage of women brutally attacked by their male partners after rejecting them. Some have been stabbed with knives, while yet others hacked to death by partners who were despondent over their break-ups. The jury is still out however, on whether there is an increased incidence of gender-based violence towards young women by their jilted boyfriends, or whether the reportage is a classic Baader-Meinhof phenomenon.
Also known as the recency bias, the Baader-Meinhof phenomenon is a circumstance where something you recently learned about or became aware of, suddenly seems to appear everywhere you turn. There are two reasons for this – the first is selective attention.
Our brains are wired to be prejudiced towards patterns and the brain’s reward centre gets stimulated for successfully detecting a pattern. This increases the chances of being more aware of the subject when we encounter it again.
Second is confirmation bias. Every time you see something related to the subject, your brain tells you that it’s proof the subject has gained notoriety suddenly.
Whether it is a case of recency bias or not, the reaction by the nation has been ludicrous. Many have blamed the female victims for accepting monetary gifts from their boyfriends only to reject them afterwards; others have blamed the men in our society for abandoning their parental and mentor roles over the boy child; while still others have blamed the religious leaders for salivating more on monetary donations from politicians rather than on imparting moral values to society.
Begs the question, at what point did society abdicate personal responsibility? Who is requiring the perpetrators of this violence to own up to their mistakes? Why are we treating the offender like Poseidon, who could not be blamed, and instead all the blame and rage has been deflected to everyone else but the offender himself?
As a nation, we have acceded that 18 years is the legal age where one attains maturity and acquires full legal rights and responsibilities for his or her acts and omissions. Resultantly, one is deemed competent by law to acquire a governance licence, where they are entrusted with electing our national leaders; a marital licence, where they are eligible to become parents; a driving licence where they are capable of safely transporting humans and goods; and a consensual licence, where they can engage in coitus.
All the offenders of the gender-based violence recently reported were all above the legal age. If we have entrusted them as mature individuals with the said licences, isn’t it, therefore, absurd that we are engaging in emotional blackmail by inducing guilt on fathers, uncles and religious leaders? Why are we not laying the blame squarely on the offenders for their maladaptive behaviours? Why should society collectively offer apologies on behalf of the jilted lovers while they do not appear even remotely remorseful?
I submit that we should stop coddling the boy child and permit him to face life with tenacity, courage and resilience. This will teach him that there is a real difference between fiction and reality. Fictional movies portray persistence in men as romantic, that an initial rejection doesn’t really mean no, that it means just try harder until she eventually gives in. The cold truth, however, is that no girl owes the boy-child a yes, just because he got the nerve to initiate the relationship.
Life will teach him that the world is a cruel place where rejection is a part of life. That they will be rejected emotionally when they love a woman, professionally when they fail an interview, academically when they don’t ace the test, and sometimes culturally when they marry from a different tribe.
But he will also quickly learn that rejection is not a statement of his self-worth or his manliness. And that, like Tiger Woods, he can make a triumphant comeback, no matter how despondent the rejection made him feel.
Finally, my unsolicited advice to jilted lovers is, rejection is painful. You must let the pain visit. You must allow it to teach you. But you must never allow it to overstay its welcome. To the media, we know that if it bleeds, it leads. However, do not cause unnecessary anxiety in search of trending news. To our men, do not allow society’s induced guilt to turn you into a martyr. A martyr is someone willing to die for what he believes in, while a fanatic is someone willing for you to die for what he believes in.
One martyr, 2,000 years ago did it once and for all. I invite you to reflect on Him this Easter season.
A man has two options in a relationship; either stand up and be the man she needs or sit down so she can see the man behind you - Anonymous