Negative Influences Males Have On Each OtherPosted on 2013-04-07 22:00:27
Despite appearing independent, strong and assured, men depend on other men. This co-dependence by men has them open to influence. However this co-dependence is not always open as society tends to misinterpret when men show affection towards each other. Men influence each other in peer groups or in cliques. Pressure from peers (age mates) is a major contributor towards men’s health and their heath seeking behavior. Peer groups offer a sense of feeling valued and a sense of belonging, they give one somewhere to fit in, there is increased self-confidence, a sense of security by being understood due to acceptance in the group. The peer group also offers a safe place to test values and increasingly gives one a chance to practice getting along with others, they help in developing friendships, one learns to practice give and take and also not forgetting the influence the peer groups have in making decisions about their life. Cliques, a tight knit group with similar interests, can also be equally influential. People give in to pressure for fear of rejection or being made fun of. Yes even in adulthood, the men may still have this fear depending on their self-esteem. These groups can either make men or break men. They can make men live healthy lifestyles, exercise, be spiritual, work harder, be better workmates as attested by Pastor Nicholas Katale of Hope United Church in Lavington who said “Men can influence each other in their friendships in various ways. Men are known to be people who are not open. They like retreating in their “caves”. Whereas there is some truth in it, the relationships they have do influence each other. I have an accountability partner who is a man. This is a relationship that has been there for over ten years now. One thing that has happened is that I have become more confident and passionate about what I do”. On the flipside Men more commonly lead each other to early graves unknowingly. Nowadays it is common to see men gathered together in the evenings and over the weekends having alcohol and eating unhealthy foods mostly fried food or nyama choma (roasted meat). A trend that is now common is that a large number of these men are overweight and their bellies are protruding. Little do they know that this increases their chances of getting, high cholesterol levels, high blood pressure, arthritis, obesity, diabetes and heart diseases significantly. Moderate alcohol use is frowned upon by the “boys” and getting drunk on Fridays and Saturdays evenings are considered normal with Sunday being the designated recovery day with the family. Although this may look normal the damage long term use of excess alcohol has on the body and society is immense. Pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas), Gastritis (inflammation of the stomach wall), alcohol addiction, gout, obesity, low libido, liver cirrhosis(liver scarring), liver cancer, low blood sugar(hypoglycemia), road traffic accidents, risky sexual behavior and domestic strife are but some of the effects of alcohol use. When a member of a peer group or clique decides to refrain or slow down, it is not uncommon to hear him being chided for not being a “man”. They pressurize him using threats, insults or guilt in order to influence him to join him. This kind of pressure has led to many young men have their first sexual encounters early in their teens because they are tired of being taunted that they are virgins. The young men, ignoring the list of potential dangers, engage in sex and a majority of times it is unsafe. Could this be the reason we have a large number of young people living with HIV? Promiscuity and other reckless sexual behavior of multiple partners can also be caused by influence from peers as the men dare each other or brag of their conquests. It is usually seen as uncool not to have multiple sexual partners. Pastor Katale adds “I have also seen that some of the other negative influences (of friends) have been especially in areas of relationships, marriage, work and life status”. So how do we manage this pressure from peers and cliques? It is difficult but not impossible. Men are in these groups so as to fit and have a sense of belonging. However if these men have unsure about themselves they may end up doing whatever the groups influences them to do. They follow easily so as not to be left out of the group ultimately fearing rejection. If men are self-confident, assertive, and follow their instincts they will end up doing things they are comfortable with. Health wise that would mean moderating the amount of alcohol drank, limit food intake, improve choices of food and also manage time for the “boys” and the family. This may sound simple and logical but it is an enormous task that men have to grapple with every day. Pastor Katale concludes “A man can be (your) friend or worst enemy if they lose the big picture of friendships. The standard (friendship) should be that which builds somebody and not take away in every area of life - social, economic, spiritual, financial. Hebrews 10:23 talks of how we should spur one another towards love and good deeds.” As Wangui grapples with her family predicament, we only hope her husband manages to realize early the effects his time with the “boys” is having on his health and his body. Just as a note all may look grim for the male species but a woman living long doesn’t necessarily mean she enjoys better health. Women may live long but they will live long with chronic conditions such as arthritis, osteoporosis and auto immune disorders.
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