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Prejudice and all forms of it, we know, find a way to transfigure, to renew, to contort itself, and to remain in all societies. That is one way to see it. But the conflict I have with its forms is this: that though gender inequality has worn itself out in a patriarchal society, it has found a way for sustenance. Partly that only one cause of the problem has been for decades now the focal point for activists: which is ‘feminine empathy.’ The latter is not a sarcasm, but an admonition that alongside feminine empathy, masculinity should indeed be made also primary. The essays in this collection are an attempt to make primary the affairs of the boy-child in his formative years.
The judges have been most careful. This is because they understand that there is always in talking about the boy-child the temptation of falling into the usual habit of demoralizing femininity and its –ism. So easily did hundreds of entries submitted to the prize this year fall into this section, and the job of sifting without hesitation did the judges do until the final essays in this collection emerged.
Not that they were the most perfect, but that they were the most without the encumbrance of dogmas.
If the topic of boy-child advocacy through literary publications as this is treated without contempt of its other, we should expect at least some profit. And it would not be because reading these essays would enable the reader to make more empathetic gender decisions, but that the contributors, all of them young and most of them university students, would, while pursuing a mutual growth with the feminine, think beyond gender stere /otypes. (This assertion is reinforced by the fact that more female writers submitted to the prize.)
Underlying these stereotypes of course are common truths. Truths that girls suffer pressure, that boys suffer neglect, and that the combination of these causes an elemental unhappiness in our society.
Testimony Akinkumi’s question would do justice to this assertion: “How could I unboy?”
Spanning through these essays is the repetition of Akinkunmi’s question: how could the male child be less of a male child? How could he unboy? Would it be, as Kevin Chukwube said, through his yearning for love, ‘to be trained and taught human emotion and sympathy’? Or would he have to accept Adesuwa’s position that he is rather outwitted by society’s perception of him?
This is one running answer through the collection, all of it gathered in bits and parts across the essays. Gender inequality should simply be antiquated, and not modernised. Reiterating this, Adesuwa gives us the end-results:
“Importantly, moulding the perfectness of the boy-child is moulding the continuity, totality and explicitness of the near future and our world at large.”