Men are truly in crisis! Ralph Boyce and his MESA group are giving promotion of the interest of men their best shot, but I am not sure the extent to which they are succeeding. I see some very alarming trends on the horizon.
I am not speaking here of the disproportionate number of females enrolling at tertiary institutions. Neither am I concerned, on this occasion, about the virtual takeover of the leadership of the public service by members of the fairer sex. Indeed, there is also the matter of every other driver on the road being female.
None of these issues, though deserving of evaluation, is as striking to me as driving around Barbados on weekends and viewing the social scene. Take for example my “passing time” in the lobby of the Barbados Hilton last Saturday evening and observing as literally hundreds of persons arrived for what was clearly a dapper social event. I was not invited and I did not care to enquire of the occasion. What, however, was striking was the near 70 percent to 30 percent ratio of women to men. For every “male and female” couple that waltzed into that hotel, there were two and probably three of females only, comprising two, three or four individuals. I was in the company of a visiting associate from overseas and it was he who asked the alarming question “but where are the Bajan men?”
I do not think the answer rested in any issue of sexual orientation. Indeed, most of the ladies looked as heterosexual as ever, even though on that score it is hard to tell. But, I recognized some of the faces and I believe it was a genuine case of girls moving together in search of a good time. I believe it was simply a case of their men being left at home or not being at home when they left.
What was even more pronounced, and please, I do not mean to stir up any trouble here, was the sartorial elegance of the women and the rather ordinary effort at dressing by the few men sprinkled among them. It is clear to me that not as much effort went into outfitting the men or the men outfitting themselves as was the case of the ladies.
The female hairdos were awesome. Some, it was clear, had only hours before left the salon, where they also benefitted from value added services such as make-up, manicure, pedicure and the like. Their outfits, I would risk a bet, were not bought from any ‘on sale’ rack on Swan or High street. Some indeed, was designer pieces by popular names.
Bajan women are stepping out today in sync with any I have observed anywhere around the world. The fragrances were titillating to the nostrils and the accessories absolutely stunning. Don’t talk about the yellow and white gold and I would even venture to say platinum bracelets and necklaces. Our fair ladies have done and are doing wonders for themselves. And I am both happy for and proud of them.
But what of the men? Not only were we outnumbered three to one, but, it is as though we left home to go to a totally different function. The ladies were headed to the Hilton, the guys, it would appear, were going by the bar. For many, it was a case of ‘any can do’, for while the shirt and the pants were having an argument, the shoes, it would appear, couldn’t care less. They were assembled on those human frames without coordination and definitely no consultation. Some of the jackets had seen better days…much, much better days, and the hairstyles or more accurately, hairdos were reflective more of persons going to the barber than coming there from.
I do not know how to interpret and analyze this situation. I know I will be accused of men bashing. But who is better to bash men?
The Hilton experience was not isolated. Almost any weekend across Barbados, you can see groups and groups of women in their splendoural elegance socializing to the max. Whether it is one of the finer restaurants and bars on the south or west coast or the popular karaoke limes across Barbados, it is women on top women all over the place.
My brothers! Where art thou? Is it that we have no interest in these events? Is it that we are so generous with our money that we prefer to finance our ladies going out while we remain at home with the children? Are we comfortable just going down the road playing dominoes with the boys? What is wrong, my brethren? Why are you not the compatriots I meet at the sales in Miami and New York? Why didn’t I see plenty of you outside the examination centres a few weeks ago when the Common Entrance Examination was being written? Why aren’t you involved in preparations for the various Graduation ceremonies that will take place across the school network in a matter of weeks?
Fortunately, I am told, there is still admirable representation of men in Church on Sundays. That is a good thing. But we need men in every facet of life in Barbados. It is not enough merely to work and pay bills. We need our men as socialites as well. We need them to relax and get out there and live. Most of all, we need them to provide companionship for what has become Their Most Significant Other.