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Love and unlove – A Gender Struggle Part 1

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When boy meet girl and girl sees boy and they admire each other, we have a hand in that programme. True, in the bodies of our children, there are chemical substances that encourage their brains to “sweet eye” one another and explore one another, but that is not all. We, too, enter the recipe of admire-desire-possess and destroy, in the love mixture of our children’s lives. You see, love and with it, unlove, is a skill-talent that we educate our children to graduate in. And as adults, we are not only the guardians of this creative destructive institution, we are also its graduate victims. We enjoy its blessings and we endure its pains.{{more}}
 
We care and slay each other in our love relations. What the cutlass, the gun and the bludgeon perform in the open for the media to report, we use other tools – the silences, the non-maintenance, the kick, the slap, the cuss out, the withdrawal of sexual embrace, the “butting” etc, to brutalize our beloveds and empower ourselves – indoors. In truth, we will perish in a slow gender and social catastrophe if we do not bring love to the round table, recognize and lay bare our own complicity in daily unlove, and strengthen our desire to re-programme the love life of our community.

The prime target for us as we examine, revision and retool our love life, is the rescue of our children. They are endangered and their sex life is a critical battle zone. In 10 years or so, they will be parenting, cohabiting, facing the cruel reality of (un)employment, wagelessness, rekindling hope and bartering their bodies.

Today, they must learn from us where love is. I still remember the haunting experience I had recently, as a seven-year-old girl swung her way on an errand, singing lustily “Roll yo batty girl, roll yo batty”. It was not just a song, but a learning-teaching aid, as she and her peers anticipated or practised their sex roles. As she returned from her errand, the child was just as sweetly singing the song “Yes Jesus loves me, the Bible tells me so”. The two songs sat side by side in her socialization data base, one she could see and do as a practical activity, the other she could learn and discuss in her faith class. As you could imagine, that case has me thinking.

It is not an unconnected case to refer to two fairly recent studies, done by the American Association of Psychologists and by the British Association of Psychologists respectively. Their topic was “The Sexualisation of Young Girls”, (in the USA and in the UK). Both studies showed that from infant ages, “we” educate girls to know that to be females is to cherish the female body and offer it up for attention, admiration and gratification. A girl child gets satisfaction and esteem/identity from having eyes focused on her and praise, compliments showered on her parts. And, of course, the real behind-the-scenes stakeholders are the business houses that promote cosmetics, garments and other supplies, beginning with the infant and pre-school pageant/beauty shows, complete with bikini outfits and lip gloss all the rest, while the parents glow and with pride as they cultivate girls who are sex symbols. Many of these young British and US girls do not have a Sunday school background telling them about Jesus. Ours might have that advantage, but they do have, particularly in the majority US population, that a college education is there for them to ease them into the workplace, rather than the wageless vortex that awaits many SVG young women.

The sexualisation of our young girls, whether we do it ourselves, or we import it from abroad, teaches them early that the essence of femaleness, its power, is to be sexy and to be admired, to be possessed and to be paid/maintained because of it. “Love is the reward for supplying sexiness”. That is the summary of our course outline for girls. Think about what that means in a market society and in a male dominated industry! Love goes on sale and love can be pillaged, plundered.

The young male also lives in an endangering environment as far as maleness and love is concerned. If we suggest crudely that young girl is learning that to be female is to “roll you batty,” can we discern what the young boy learns about being male, and being loved as a male? Here is the critical point that we must put under the microscope. Is it that the young male does not need an explicit model of what/who a man is? Let us talk about that after we have given more reflection on love, sex and unlove in the female experience.

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