Girls Just Wanna Have Gunman
V.S Naipaul was a “gunman”. Don’t believe me? I’ll show you.
In the late author’s Miguel Street, we are introduced to the narrator’s uncle, Mr. Bhakcu. He is a greasy, self-proclaimed mechanic. Naipaul states that Bhakcu regularly administers beatings onto his overweight wife with a cricket bat. The punchline? Mrs. Bhakcu herself “kept the bat clean and well oiled. Boyee tried many times to borrow the bat, but Mrs. Bhakcu never lent it.” In other words – she liked the licks.
Later in his life, Naipaul openly acknowledged that he physically abused his first wife and carried on open affairs with prostitutes, as well as a mistress, during his twenty-four years of marriage. He told biographer Patrick French, “She (his wife) suffered. It could be said that I had killed her.” One thing must be noted – the woman stuck with him till the day she died.
Naipaul remarried two months later.
That is gunman.
Now I’m not bringing this up simply to pile on a dead man. In fact, I consider V.S Naipaul to be a literary genius and despite those opening paragraphs I still consider him to be an influential figure for me. What I find interesting is that Naipaul’s writings held a mirror to society and his life imitated his art in disturbing ways at times. It was as if he was bound to repeat the same sins his characters committed with women.
The fact is, since Miguel Street was published some 61 years ago, nothing much has changed. If anything, things have gotten worse. Instead of dutifully oiling bats, awaiting their licks, women in present day Trinidad are flirting with their very lives. Just nine days into January a 28-year-old mother was gunned down by her jealous ex-boyfriend.
According to the 2017 Trinidad and Tobago Women’s Health Survey, over 100,000 women are estimated to have experienced one or more acts of physical and/or sexual violence. Approximately 11,000 are likely to still be in abusive relationships. Additionally, almost one in three women are the victims of lifetime physical abuse at the hands of their partner.
Why though? Why is domestic violence a permanent tent in this sexist circus that is sweet T&T? Well, I’m certainly not the authority on this but if I am to make a guess, I’d say it’s a case of a broken family structure. The same study I referred to made a chilling discovery. The more severe the degree of domestic violence experienced by a woman, the greater the likelihood that very woman witnessed verbal or physical violence against her mother at home as a child.
It all starts at home. Cycles of abuse just keep repeating themselves from both sides.
For men, the issue of toxic masculinity needs to be confronted. And before anyone accuses me of being a soyboy SJW, let me say that toxic masculinity is indeed a thing. Now I’m the kinda fella that appreciates darker humor so I’ve often made the joke that if I were ever to get married, I’d place certain rules on my beloved bride. She’d have to cook for me every day and massage my calloused feet when I return home from the garden. I would allow her to leave the house only twice for the year to go no further than Chaguanas, once for my birthday and once on Christmas eve, so she can buy new jockey shorts for me.
That entire scenario may be a ridiculous joke for me given its abject absurdity but the frightful fact is this is entirely plausible in the minds of some men. There is a perception by some men that women enjoy being treated as chattel. Interestingly, men who exhibit multiple controlling behaviors are at least twice as likely to display acts of domestic violence. This pattern of controlling behavior is bred from an early age. If teenage boys are not taught to properly control their emotions, they will end up losing control of those very emotions all the while trying to control the women in their lives.
And I’ll tell you a secret – all men feel jealous and insecure at times. Lord knows I’ve had my fair share of insecurities that eventually ballooned into me making a complete jackass of myself in the past. But as I’ve gotten older, I’ve learned that the strength in being a man is not “showing the gyal who is boss”. It’s not stalking her on facebook to “see who she new man is”. It’s not having the attitude that “if she horn me I killing she and the outside man”. No. Strength lies in accepting rejection with dignity. Strength lies in letting go and moving on. Strength is recognizing that you cannot and should not try to control another human being.
Likewise, women need to stop being emotionally dependent on their partners.
Ladies, men who have little or no education, are unemployed, abuse alcohol or some other drug/s and were in failed past relationships, are walking red flags. Just remember when you smell so much as a whiff of smoke, there may be a blazing fire in the background. Jealous, controlling, manipulative, selfish behavior all must be immediately addressed. If not, you need to find the strength to end any relationship that becomes toxic.
That’s not to say toxic men are limited to that mix; Naipaul was a brilliant writer. The sad reality is that rubbish is not just limited to the labasse. A piece of trash guy can be found lurking anywhere. In fact, you could be with one right now but you’re still telling yourself, “he only so sometimes. I am really the wrong one”. I always say that no matter how hard it may seem to break free from someone who may display slivers of genuine love for you at times, always remember that it is not worth the sustained periods of emotional or physical pain and abuse.
Written December 2020