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Letter to Editor: We can alter our attitude towards women at home

“Now, when these men are “old and strong” and the society is reaping the results of generations of domestic and communal dysfunction on a large scale, we are conveniently pointing accusatory fingers at a veritable forest of old, hard, crooked trees that we as a national collective did nothing to try to straighten when they were young, pliable saplings…”

The following Letter to the Editor by Donnel Cuffie of Chaguanas suggests that targeting households is the best way to deal with domestic violence:

Photo: Denzel Washington (left) and Viola Davis in a scene from the movie, Fences.
Photo: Denzel Washington (left) and Viola Davis in a scene from the movie, Fences.

The late Ras Shorty I has a lovely song titled “Change your attitude”, and part of the chorus goes like this:

When you train a child how to go,
When they get old they ain’t moving so;
When the tree young and you bend it wrong,
It hard to straighten when it old and strong.

Simple and yet so profound.

I’ve been observing the passionate cries following some of the latest, horrific crimes against women calling for men to change how they treat women, and the backlash in response to the recent gaffe by the Prime Minister brought it up again.

What has struck me about a lot of the commentary was the abstract sort of way “men” were being spoken about—as if we all just happened to drop from a breadfruit tree somewhere.

These men were once children [and] in that critical formative part of life they could be set right or set badly wrong. And many of them were, as Ras Shorty I poignantly observed, “bent [badly] wrong” by the adults in their life—some of whom were women, especially their mothers.

Photo: A mother is kissed by her son. (Copyright Warya Post)
Photo: A mother is kissed by her son.
(Copyright Warya Post)

Now, when these men are “old and strong” and the society is reaping the results of generations of domestic and communal dysfunction on a large scale, we are conveniently pointing accusatory fingers at a veritable forest of old, hard, crooked trees that we as a national collective did nothing to try to straighten when they were young, pliable saplings.

It is my firm belief that until we find a way to make an intervention in the homes, and until the overwhelming majority of Trinbagonian homes are wholesome, functional, nurturing places for children, we are engaging in mass self-deceit if we believe anything will change significantly anytime in the future.

And oh… In order for that to work, both sexes—men and women—have to quit the mutual blame game and work in partnership with each other. Both helping to carry their fair share of the burden of change, together.

There’s no other way.

Photo: A happy couple. (Copyright Women's Web)
Photo: A happy couple.
(Copyright Women’s Web)

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12 comments

  1. Why the link between “Fences” and domestic violence?

  2. I love the appeal to stop mutual blame while making sure to give a prominent special s.o. to the women and mothers who failed these abusers. Men, it is ok to take responsibility for things. Really.

    • You don’t miss a comma or a full stop eh? Lol.

    • Nope. As soon as I read the intro I was waiting for it. And there it was. Predictably.

    • Lol. Well I can’t tell if letter was sent by a man or woman. Not that it would matter.
      Did the author come a bit closer to a helpful suggestion than most?

    • I think the message is well intentioned and the point about early intervention is spot on.

    • I noticed with the young girl in Tobago who was murdered… People pointed fingers at her mom for letting her out.
      I didn’t see a single post asking where her dad was. Not that I blamed EITHER parent anyway.

    • When it comes to child raising many still believe that is the woman’s job. It falls in line with the inability of both men and women to hold men accountable for anything

      • Earl Best

        Fayola, How accurate is that in the terms in which you state it? I think your point should be that many consider the mother the PRIMARY child raiser.

        Is it not also true that just as many people publicly lament the absence of fathers in children’s lives? Why would the man’s absence be significant or be perceived as significant if he has no role to play in the process?

    • I would agree to that many consider mothers the primary child raiser. I am not so sure “just as many” lament absent fathers. So far in this domestic abuse discussion I have not heard absent (or even abusive fathers for that matter) specifically mentioned. I could be wrong and am open to being corrected since I would welcome that discussion as well.

      • Earl Best

        Aye, gyurl, people know about Pandora’s box! You start that discussion here and cyberspace, infinite though it may SEEM, may not be able to keep it within its non-existent walls.

        Maybe someone on the distaff side will be brave enough to broach the subject; on the spear side, mum’s the word. Maybe it’s not just a Trini thing but we Trini men fraid Pandora more than we fraid most other women.