I recently watched a video posted on social media. It was a depiction of ‘the world if women didn’t control men’. It was chaotic, to say the least. Men were driving recklessly on the roads, hailing cabs and not waiting for them to stop before jumping onto the boot and hanging on from the outside throughout the ride, crossing the streets without looking out for oncoming vehicles — and there were indeed oncoming vehicles, some even barrelling down the streets while turned upside down. The picture painted was a very chaotic world. No one could survive an hour in a world like that. A world where women had refused to tame the men around them. A world where men were left to their own devices.
It made me chuckle like it would anyone. There was some truth to it. Marriage, for example, is known to civilize men. A man, who was once comfortable drinking on an empty stomach and eating just about anything he could find, all of a sudden starts talking about having a balanced diet and looking like it too. The most stupid, near-death ‘stunts’ you would see are typically pulled by young single males. There’s a reason for that. The presence of women has a tendency to bring out the good in men. It’s a powerful level of influence that works both to the benefit of the men themselves – by ensuring that they lead safer and longer lives, and their women who crave such stability.
Influence is, however, not enough sometimes, especially when a total change in behaviour is required. You are only able to influence people to do what they want to (but are reluctant to) do. When it comes to what they do not want to do, a stronger force than mere influence is often required.
South Africa is well known for its game reserves. There was a time they wished to move all the elephants from one game reserve into another. Because of their weight, they could only lift them one by one by helicopter. However, the male elephants were still too heavy to be lifted. So, only the female elephants and their calves were transported to the other reserve. Now the male calves grew up into aggressive bull elephants that began to terrorize tourists and some other animals in the reserve. They bullied and killed lots of rhinos needlessly. They were out of control. They became such a serious source of concern to the reserve owners that something needed to be done quickly. The solution they came up -with was to find a way to bring in the older male elephants they had left behind in the other reserve into this reserve. They brought them in, reunited them with their herd and, not before long, the younger male elephants began to behave better. They stopped being so aggressive. They stopped troubling tourists and killing rhinos needlessly. The older males whipped the younger ones into shape. They needed that much more dominant force to get them to change their behaviour.
Parallels can often be drawn between the animal kingdom and the human. While it is true that women have some influence over the way their men behave, we should be hesitant in characterizing such influence as control. Most violent crimes, such as mass shootings, are typically committed by men who come from fatherless homes. Most rebellious teens are boys from fatherless homes. Most social crimes, such as drug abuse and sexual assaults, are statistically committed by fatherless males. Fatherless, meaning that there was, most likely, only a mother around. A woman who could not bring these men under said control.
Single mothers find raising daughters, who are innately better behaved, easier than raising sons. It appears that a more masculine force — as seen at the South African games reserve — is often needed to bring men under control. Young boys need their fathers, not only for their own good, but for the good of society. Grown men need male mentors for the same reasons.
While marriage is known to civilize men, many of the problems therein stem from a failed attempt at controlling a very stubborn man. A wise woman comes to understand that there’s little she can do to get her husband to change his detrimental behaviour. Every attempt at that is branded a negative term: ‘nagging’. And he’d rather climb up to the roof of the house, find a nice corner up there, and sleep the night through than put up with it. She’d rather do well to find a man in his life, whom he respects and looks up to, to get the job done. It has surprised many wives how readily their husbands would take good advice from other men than from them.
So, while chuckling at that video of the very chaotic world where women did not control men, I found myself in slight disagreement. It was a good depiction of a world gone crazy because men were out of control. But whose job it was to ‘control’ these men was in question. Having women in their lives would certainly ‘tame’ them to some degree, but the job of controlling behaviour seems to lie more with the other men in their lives: their peers, their colleagues, their bosses, their mentors, their fathers. Present father figures are what is needed to create a world where men are of their best behaviour. Boys crave this presence. Grown men crave this presence too. It’s a yearning that just cannot be explained.
Everyone readily understands that a man needs a woman; but the surprise, to many, would be that men need men too.