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Dealing with Emotional Trauma is Not for Bourgeoise Mamas’ Babies

Five weeks ago, Shahieda Jansen and I started a new men’s group. We have 8 more weeks to go. Every Monday we sit with these men, and until you have been in a space created for men to talk about what eats them and what gives them joy, unless you have witnessed men dealing with old wounds and the possibility of overcoming, you are likely to minimize it when they said they are pained. But they so are.
And if you do not buy it, in a world where money is often mis-used to hide our insecurities and wounds, don’t get surprised when they transfer that pain onto others, repeating the abuse. Fact is, most men violate from a position of violation, someone once said.

And don’t get surprised when they take it out on themselves, as men many do, internalizing it by excessive drinking,  meaningless sex with multiple partners, chasing power, working as if there is no life outside of the job, or faking it.

What can I can say except repeat what I have said before: Men have hearts, don’t they? Like women, men feel deeply, believe it or not. The awful violation men carry around with them through their life under the burden that no one will understand the abuse they suffered as children and young men, is terrible.

And they are not entirely wrong.

Both women and other men reproduce the story that men have to bear it, toughen up, get up and carry on. once again, why do we act surprise when they violate others. If they don’t care about you, why should you care abuot them: that’s what we communicate to men who have experienced violence from their parents, abused their won family members, or raped by strangers.

I believe all black people in this country, because of their collective history of being rendered less than fully human by white supremacy, need, beside free education and decent jobs, ongoing therapy to deal with the trauma that eats away at our psych. Some white people too can use help, of course. Not all white families are happy. Trauma seems to be what defines us in this place we call home. We all still need to heal.

African Men and Masculinities

Homeless Young Black Males Sleeping Rough on a Street in the Capital, Pretoria, Thursday 15 September 2011 (c) K Ratele

Men have hearts – believe it or not. Men’s hearts, like women’s, can get really badly hurt. Unlike women, men are not as adept in doing the work that heals a heart.

I wouldn’t be able to say stuff like that when I was in my teens and twenties, given to acting all smooth as Swiss chocolate.

I think it’s got to do with growing up. Or it may be because I have finally realised and accepted that everyone needs help, sometime. Which is the same thing, it is.

Actually, to think you can do it all on your own is actually immature. It is also one of the key problems some masculinities are dangerous for your health, and likely to lead to early death – of yourself or those you claim to love.

I’ve come to know that most African men can use psychotherapy – or whatever you call processes…

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