Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Honourable Kuol Manyang Juuk and the New Breed of Sexist Young Men


If you don’t know who is who in a crowd then generalize them in good faith and you’ll soon know who is who. Bad advice but it works! So I’ll lump up the majority of South Sudanese young men as sexist unless they distinguish themselves otherwise.
I know each and every society has its normative and traditional parameters used by its people. It’s obviously remarkable that every society considers its cultural tenets central to its way of life, and to some extent, free of error.

This is of course a fallacy for any given human social construct is always fraught with mistakes. However, societies that face criticisms given the inhumanity of some of their cultural practices take refuge in cultural relativism. And this has led to resistance to change by some cultures.
Luckily, the world has grown to a point in which unacceptable human practices are getting challenged as revolutionized means of communication have opened up closed societies in ways never seen before. Societies are no longer closed and therefore can’t oppress some members of their societies without such injustice being heard.

Sexists, Racists, Dictators, embezzlers, religious bigots… are exposed and bashed on regular basis.
This doesn’t mean injustice and harmful cultural and social practices aren’t taking place. They still take place in the cover of darkness. Sexist, enslavers, racists, immoral capitalists, war-mongers, rapists…still exist. What’s comforting is that the above perpetrators know the contemporary societies don’t approve of their practices.

The famed James Dewey Watson, the Noble Prize winning co-discover of DNA double helix, fell from grace for his racist remarks and was shunned by the scientific community; and the American beloved comedian, Bill Cosby, is now falling from grace for the way he treated women.
Among the sad practices that still haunt us today is men’s attitude toward women. This is an attitude that exist in almost all human societies. Even seemingly progressive societies like western countries still have a lot to do when it comes to women rights. Women are still paid less than men, they face domestic violence, have hard times when they vie for elected offices, have difficulty moving up corporate ladders… etc. However, western societies have done relatively better than other societies.

Even young, educated men in some societies such as South Sudan still think stereotyping women is acceptable because “it’s part of our culture.” These young men think talking about rights of women is a ‘western’ concept. What a pathetic state of mind! Women rights are human rights applicable to all societies. When did it become a western idea that women shouldn’t be compared to cowardly men? Women in the west didn’t always have the same rights they have now so calling respect for women a western concept is to miss the point. Everyone human society progresses not retrogress and some norms of 100 years ago aren’t even mentionable now. The word ‘Negro’ was an acceptable reference to African Americans in the 1950s and 1960s but mentioning it now is almost an anathema. About 200 years ago Africans were sold like sheep.
Societies change. And it’s the acceptable change that’s welcome.

 And it’s bizarre for an educated man to think that saying a cowardly man is a women isn’t insulting to women. It might have been okay for African men to insult their women 50 – 100 years ago but to say it’s cultural to use analogies that denigrate women now is a scary state of mind.
The recent remarks by South Sudan's defense minister, Kuol Manyang, comparing cowardly men with women can be understood or excused in the context of the society he grew up in. It shouldn’t be condoned, however. It has no place in the current society Kuol lives in. And what is even appalling is how educated, young South Sudanese believe such sexist, inflammatory remarks are ‘not a problem.’ We all know the context in which Kuol uttered the statement but it’s really mindless to say that we can condone such a statement because it was uttered by Kuol Manyang, a government official. We can say Kuol only wanted to raise the morale of his soldiers and scare other ‘men’ to join the army. But did Kuol Manyang have to make fun of women to make a point?

With such an attitude, I believe girls and women in South Sudan should sharpen their spears because the upcoming breed of young leaders is full of mindless, robotic sexists, who wouldn’t hesitate to endorse sexism in the name of culture and Afrocenticity.
This makes me wonder how such a breed of leaders would be able to take issues like rape and women rights seriously. Is it the support of leaders that has completely blinded some of our able-minded young men and that they’d change if the issue of support ceases to be a problem? Or is this the actual state of affairs in South Sudan?

To respect women is not to simply love or marry them or to say they are good mothers and sisters. Respecting women is to guarantee their rightful place in any society. So we have a bunch of young men who believe that women are simply weak and cowardly. How do you look your wife or girlfriend in the eye and believe mocking analogies are okay? Why do we get angry when Europeans or Euro-Americans make fun of us? Why do we call ‘white’ people racists when they use analogies such as ‘Africans are monkeys’ or Africans are inferior? And some ‘white’ people have been raised and cultured to believe Africans and people of African descent aren’t even human beings! They actually believe this to be true. Should we condone this attitude towards us because it’s part of some ‘white’ people cultural upbringing?

It’s up to young girls and women to know that the coming generation of leaders has among them sexists of the unpalatable breed. They’ll marry you but be ready to put you under the bus! And unless young girls and women become vigilant to safeguard their rightful place as boys’ equals and challenge archaic-minded and sexist people, they’ll have themselves to blame.
And prominent leaders and heroes of our liberation struggle like Kuol Manyang Juuk should be the frontrunners in the fight for girls’ rights. The use of analogies that denigrate women in our contemporary society is unforgiveable. Hon. Kuol has women colleagues in the government and the use of such analogies not only disrespects them, it also sends a wrong message to boys about how they should treat girls and women; and that expressions that compare women with disgraced men is okay.  Kuol needs to apologize to women to set a good example for young men and boys.

 

ON CULTURAL IDENTITY & BELONGING

Dear Melbournians, the South Sudanese people to be precise. Do you think we have seen it all? Do you think we have seen that: I mean in the aftermath of yesteryears, in regard to our culture and the notions around identity and belonging? Do you think we have seen the true reaping of what we sowed years ago? Do you really think so? After all, did we really sow anything like seeds and that there’s something to be reaped? Did we really live it out well to be seen today?

I am sorry to have bothered you, my potential readers, with questions regarding our social, economic, and political location in our host society: Australia. I think we have not seen it all and as a whole: The idea that people are bound by certain values and beliefs of significance to them. This requires cooperation and role-specific obligations on the roles of every man and woman across a given people and their society.

TOLERANCE & INCLUSION


While it is possible for us to racially discriminate or judge people we know, the chances of judging people we know diminish significantly the more we know them. An easy example of the importance of understanding others is the attitude people develop when they want to harm others or when they want to deny them something valuable. Essentially, before you fight someone, you insult them. Insults are attempts at diminishing the value of people, an attempt at estranging them, as Toni Morrison argued in The Origin of Others. It is easy to discriminate against strangers or make others strangers or dehumanized in order to discriminate against them.

Transformational Leadership, Inclusive Institutions and Service Provision

Leadership, given what is happening now in South Sudan, and generally in Africa, fascinates me. And it fascinates me not in a good way but because of the sociopolitical and socioeconomic ills facing the African continent and most of the so-called 'Third World.' To me, South Sudan, now, is a classic case.

Rebellion by disaffected politico-military leaders and repression by the government of South Sudan in Juba have stunted institutional development and leadership growth. This has made service provision almost irrelevant as political survival has taken primacy and supremacy. CLICK HERE TO READ MORE

‘Black’ as an Identity Oversimplification and Mockery

Black as a universalized cultural identity of the African Person (AP)* is a residual effect of slave and colonial mentality; a racial/race paradigm. It is a malady I call, conservatively speaking, stuck-in-the-past syndrome of color constraints. Black could be an on-the-street ‘social identifier’ of race figures not a meaningful phenomenon of deep cultural identification on a universal scale.