I have been wronged by the men in the lives of the men with whom I am or have been in relationship. So wronged that I have chosen to put pen to paper about the subject. Yes, I know this is touchy. I know that it may rub some the wrong way. Nonetheless, it has to be said.
We will start with the converse. Women. Women have lively support groups, girl nights out, ladies conferences like the one I will be guest speaking at this month, BFF phone conversations that run into the wee hours. Women have each other’s backs. When one of us go through something, we all do. My mind takes me back to the scenes in Waiting to Exhale, Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, Why Did I Get Married Too or to the most recent Girls Trip where women band together in friendship, tunneling through tough life stuff like cheating men, STDs, body complexes, abuse, divorce, etc, TOGETHER.
It would take much longer for us to identify the scenes in Hollywood films where men boast friendships that extend beyond visits to strip clubs, drunken happy hours and Super Bowl parties — all of which are characteristically devoid of real conversation, ON PURPOSE.
So, today, I cast blame on the men in the lives of “my men.” For our purposes, I have identified four of these men to blame.
Naturally, this is the first person to blame. As has been written about in books like my friend Andre Harrison’s From a Fatherless Father to His Sons, a father who is present in the home of a boy most times gives him the opportunity to observe a man in proper, healthy relationship with a women. Father involvement leads to better emotional, academic, social, and behavioral outcomes for children, says an article for The Fatherhood Project.
We already know that in the lives of African American boys, fathers are absent at a rate of 73 percent.
If a father isn’t there, he cannot develop a bond with his son, he cannot discipline his son, he cannot teach his son, he cannot reflect positive male behaviors for his son.
Fathers are to blame.
2. So-called Best Friends
Unlike female best friends, a man’s best friend – if he even has one – is someone with whom he also does not hold healthy, supportive conversations. In fact, these relationships are often very surface or very unhealthy. I’ve been messed over by the best friends of the guys I’ve dated. So, yes, I blame them.
One best friend I knew actually encouraged my guy to cheat on me and hid it when I confronted him.
One best friend said, “We don’t talk about relationship stuff,” when I asked for his support during a rocky time in our relationship.
So, what DO you talk about? Sports, video games, movies, sex. Are you really a friend then?
The fact is, if these best friends aren’t helping these men to become better, healthier, more responsible men who can lead healthy homes and rear godly children, then – please, tell me – what is their purpose?
Friends are to blame.
Don’t even get me started. We need not go further than the countless cases of assault, rape and harassment of women at the hands of college athletes — the most recent one involving women at the University of Texas.
Coaches have consistent exposure to these young, impressionable men and can teach them more than just how to have good defense on the court or field.
Coaches should speak and impart wisdom into the lives of these boys, wisdom that can extend far beyond their four-year NCAA career. Talk to them about how to treat a lady, how their sports fame may make them more appealing to women and even more susceptible to entrapment, how to discipline their bodies in the weight room and in the bedroom.
Coaches are to blame.
Our spiritual leaders are those we trust with our souls. We trust them enough to hear their words once a week and we see them as oracles of God.
Yet, I have known many a pastor to turn a blind eye to a musician who was sleeping with multiple choir vocalists or a young minister who looked good on the outside with his Sunday best but was tormented on the inside because of his double life. If they know, why don’t they interrupt these men’s toxic decisions and behaviors. Do they think these men will figure it out? No, they won’t. More women and men will be hurt in their wake.
Our spiritual leaders are not taking enough interest in the lives of these men who will become the future of their churches.
Where are the male mentorship programs? Where are the men’s prayer partnerships? When will it be okay for men to seek counseling?
Clergy are to blame.
If fathers, friends, coaches and clergy continue to remain uninvolved, our society will continue to produce these unevolved men of weak substance, unable to sustain healthy homes. And, the cycle continues.
Tiffani Knowles is the managing editor and founder of NEWD Magazine. Her hope is to become as "newd" as possible on a daily by embracing truth, authenticity and socio-spiritual awareness. She is bi-vocational as she is the owner of two businesses and a professor of Communication at Barry University in Miami, Florida. She is also the co-author of HOLA America: Guts, Grit, Grind and Further Traits in the Successful American Immigrant.