Making “Mock Sport” of Men’s Emotions: The Culture of Shame in Barbados

In Barbados, there is a process for making “mad men”! Men who are mad about the pain they’ve endured without pity. Men who are mad that no one cared when they were in pain and so they are angry when the pain they inflict on others becomes a big deal. Mad men who are angry about the mockery made of them for expressing love as they are seen as failures for even trying to love. Men who would rather be angry and alone than happy because they live up to the Barbadian  culture’s self fulfilling prophecy of making a mockery of expressing loving emotion. Self sabotaging mad men who see themselves as failures for caring about a woman and so in the end, they can only show how much they “cannot” care about her. Mad men who take their anger out on the ones closest to them because in their weakest moments, those who were in the same authority positions took advantage of them.

Making mock sport of men who share their emotions of love can cause permanent psychological damage to them. Someone has to take responsibility for the stigmatization they experience in a culture where being emotionally abusive is normal. Men must be allowed to be honest about their ups and downs in their love relationships and not made to feel as if having experiences with women is the onset of doom and gloom or the process of becoming a fool. If men are raised thinking that their failures with women will bring about family scorn and PUBLIC MOCKERY, with what kind of intent do we think these men will approach relationships? When things turn sour many of these men will decide to go down in infamy and abuse and degrade the woman rather than face the fact that the relationship is over. Fear of mockery relates to a fear that there must be someone to blame. And someone to shame. The embarassment can be overwhelming and so many men just run and hide, hop to the next painful relationship and never face their responsibility to themselves and others for closure and healing. Antonio Rudder is one such man.

Recently while reading the Nation newspaper I came across a story that resonated deeply. The opening lines read:

“ONE OF THE HURTFUL things in this country is the mock sport people make about men who get hurt by women.”

-quote from “I Confess: They Should Pity the Fool” article in Nation newspaper-

There is an old wise saying: “Hurt people, hurt people.” Could this be a reason why others make a mockery of those in pain because they too are hurting? The quote by a Bajan man expressing his disappointment in the treatment he received by his community as they reacted to his experience with a woman reminded me of my experience with my ex boyfriend. Antonio Rudder and I were together for 3 yrs with his anger and various forms of abuse taking place the whole course of our relationship whenever he wasn’t being “nice”. He was mean and I often questioned him, “Why?” I also questioned why after knowing me for such a short time he would find a reason to be angry enough to put his hands on me. I immediately felt within that something else was bothering him. Today, I think of the story I read in the paper and reflect on how this man sharing his story is similar to the process of me speaking out about what happened to me.

Fighting back to resist the STIGMATIZATION that many Bajans willingly inflict on those in pain is what those who go public seek. The process for restoring our dignity and human rights to be free from emotional abuse is worth embarking on. My comment to the man who wrote the article is as follows:

“It’s a shame you have to go public just to feel you are taken seriously. It’s sad you have to go public just to feel your voice is heard. It’s difficult to go public just to feel the need to reach out to someone who cares. Where is the EMPATHY of neighbors in Barbados? Why is it so much easier to BLAME, DISSOCIATE and TRAUMATIZE others who are hurt in this society rather than CARE and extend help, support, a hug?????? Why is it easier to not get involved and consider everything “A PRIVATE MATTER” rather than a social concern when there are clearly patterns that connect back to the adverse social attitudes and behaviors of Bajans??? Why do the wounded have to speak as their own advocates—where are the social agencies that give voice to those who feel helpless and in need of counseling, support and a victim centered approach to resolutions????

Sir, your story matters!!!! No matter who is guilty or not guilty, your perception of your experience matters!!!! What happened to you, matters!!!! Your LIFE matters!!! Your emotional and financial well being MATTERS!!! And your desire for restitution matters!!!! No one person should ever be allowed to mistreat another without SOMEONE speaking up to draw a line between right and wrong. It’s a sad sad day in the lives of any people where evildoers go unchallenged all for the sake of others who keep silent. Tap that woman on the shoulder and tell her: “YOU ARE WRONG!” …is that so hard for any ONE person to do?!?!?!! WWowwwww…is there the same measure applied in loving and empathizing with one another in BIM as there is for bullying, traumatizing and abusing one another????”

I am constantly perplexed, amazed and further traumatized by the things I learn about the life of Bajans through their cultural norms. I asked Antonio so many times, “WHY ARE YOU SO ANGRY!?!?!” and now I can see more as to why. He’s a Bajan. That can be a very upsetting role to play.

Take a listen to my podcast, “The Sound of Empowerment”, as I speak to Antonio about my concern that he “doesn’t give a fuck” about his attitude and actions toward me.:

http://soundcloud.com/trufocus246

Another thought echoed by the man who shared his story on December 19, 2015 in the Nation newspaper:

I’m talking about my situation in the hope that people reading it and knowing some of the details of my case would realise how I got burned. I hope everyone would also appreciate the pain that one suffers from being used in the way I was, and that they would realise when people put their all into relationships and get messed up, it is insensitive to laugh them.

As long as what is seen as normal in Barbados continues to shape and mold the people of Barbados, the nation will produce more hurt people who will live to cause themselves and others pain. Care!

-Tru Focus-

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