Kagure Mugo
Kagure Mugo

Kenyan men extend sex boycott

Men supposedly have a new weapon: sex.

I am extremely uncomfortable with this because, I thought it was our weapon but according to Kenyan men it is on like Donkey Kong and women in the country are being denied sex.

A men’s rights group in Kenya, Maendeleo ya Wanaume, called for a sexual boycott in order to protest gender-based violence against men. According to a report published in 2014 “300 men had been assaulted by their female partners” and “110 had lost a private part” to such attacks.

Men have even been called upon to refrain from interacting with women and should wave at them rather than shake hands. If they do insist on shaking hands then they should do so with their left hand but waving is better.

The boycott was extended after the chairperson of the organisation supposedly received a petition signed by 3 000 men requesting the extension in order to properly “stick it to these women” and have maximum impact. The chairperson furthered this idea by stating that minimum contact with women would drive the point home and ensure that “men were treated better”.

This would, in true Kenyan practice, culminate in a nationwide prayer session.

Now the question is to what extent should this all be supported and entertained?

Saying that men are being “mistreated by women” so they will be denied some good loving seems to be a case of furthering the war between the sexes.

It would seem that the men’s rights activists seem to think that gender-based violence and prejudice is an issue that affects them only. That they are facing a new social scourge never before seen in polite society.

It is not.

Women have faced this problem for centuries.

What is disconcerting about the way in which men’s-rights activists conduct themselves is that they seem to have drawn a line in the sand, seeking to fight back against the attack they think is coming from women who seek to “assert themselves”.

A great number of these groups seem to exist because they’re mad at the fact that women have brought about a grave injustice by … existing.

Increasingly these groups seem to think they are backed into a corner due to the fact that women will no longer sit quietly in the corner and accept life.

This can be seen in the fact that one of the “challenges men face”, which Maendeleo ya Wanaume has identified, is that 60% of households are headed up by women despite there being men in the household.

How is this violating men’s rights?

Men’s rights activists have bemoaned a number of things, like being left out of policies by the government, which has sought to focus on women and children. The men are complaining because they live in a country where until recently women could not inherit land and could be stripped in the streets because of how they are dressed. A country where children either live on the streets or pray to the good Lord above that someone loves them as there is no other social assistance in place.

Granted men do face some gender-based violence problems.

A study conducted at the University of Glasgow found that of the 200 women surveyed, “60% said ‘it was acceptable for women to hit their husbands’ while 35% admitted assaulting their partners and a total of 8% admitted to physically injuring them”.

In the UK a study showed that 40% of all reported domestic abuse cases were filled by men. The British-based survey, done in 2010 showed that 2 in 5 of all domestic abuse victims were men. A survey conducted in the same year in the US is much the same. A survey taken by the CDC in 2010, found that 40% of the victims of severe, physical domestic violence were men.

But these statistics do not take away from the fact that the numbers are much more severe on the other side. Therefore men throwing their proverbial toys out the cot comes off more “temper tantrum” and less “taking activism to the next level”.

What these men should be doing is finding a niche within the greater paradigm that already exists in terms of gender-based violence. Gender does not mean women, so making it seem like you are fighting a whole new battle when there is already a war going on is counter-productive.

What could be far more effective would be to show that gender-based violence is a problem on both sides of the fence and thus collective steps should be taken.

The fact that men are looking to “punish” women for the violence against men furthers the idea that it’s “go time” and the battle of the sexes is on.

Thinking like this is not going to end gender-based violence, chances are it will merely aggravate it. On both sides of the “divide” the thinking that the other side is the enemy merely perpetuates the problems that lead to the violence. “Men are this and women are that therefore life should be like this.” Anyone who does not fit the mould is punished.

Frankly I’m mostly wondering how effective this boycott is. I see a lot of men talking the talk at meetings and on petitions but faced with lingerie and a dim light, they might not necessarily be walking the walk.

As one man on Twitter asked: “Who is actually abstaining?”

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