FE-MAIL TIES - Taking care of the boys
A dear friend of mine, Lloyd, adores women. He's a man who easily embraces both his feminine and masculine side and is instantly loveable. I'm often struck at how women seem to fall at his feet, not only because Lloyd is a fine specimen of the species but, we've deduced, it's because he is so caring. Now, I could go deeper but that's another story!
The point is, Lloyd came to this earth to nurture, and his capacity to care extends not only to women, as he regularly raises his concern about who is looking after the boys. As he spends so much time with women, he is fully conversant with gender-sensitive issues, and his empathy is a rare and precious trait.
When Lloyd asks who is looking after the boys, his point of departure is that he believes women, their causes and their issues are over-catered for.
Now, don't misread my favourite man friend, he understands that all the initiatives, welfare groups and the like set up to 'uplift' women, are all well and good. But he believes similar support systems need to be set up for young men on their way to manhood.
As I sat in a meeting the other day, Lloyd's issue came to mind. Picture the scene: a best-of-breed team had been pulled together to activate a project. As is typical of first-time meetings of this nature, the meeting organiser asked us to introduce ourselves.
As we each took turns, it quickly became evident that the women around the table - all black, accomplished and self-assured - were succinct and to the point. The pale males around the table (a diminishing breed in South Africa these days) took their one-minute introduction to a dizzy line-by-line résumé of their career history.
The other males of a darker hue also chose to take the same route. Some of them younger than 25, also made a meal of their tender but admittedly impressive curriculum vitae.
The difference in approach was startling. Was it that the women around the table were so comfortable in their achievements that they felt they didn't need to deliver chapter and verse. Maybe it was the complete opposite, but somehow I doubt it!
Power dynamics in business South Africa have shifted considerably in the 15 years since the first democratic elections. As such, many pale males are teetering on the edge of imaginary extinction. I'm not so bothered about them.
I'm interested in grasping where our younger brothers were coming from. Is it simply a testosterone-driven instinct to blow your trumpet loud whether you deafen people or not? Or is it a case of imitation of what has come before in a black-leadership void?
Time will tell. Right now, however, I remember Lloyd and beg the question: 'who is looking after our boys and ensuring their self-esteem is not threatened by those who are supposedly older and wiser? The age of feminine reason is upon us. Take heed.
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