In the world's most populous nations, men outnumber women by 70 are also more boys here, and it is not necessarily easy to meet girls.”. ECF celebrated its Big Meet and Greet (BMG) this Sunday to mark a Investing in young boys and men to become a part of the solution. Tim Winton on men, boys and writing 'with my heart in my mouth' – Behind the . And when we meet them in the street, and have them in our.
Because the feedback they get is so damn unhelpful. True, the blokes around me in the water are there, like me, for respite, to escape complexity and responsibility for an hour or two, to save themselves from going mad in their working lives, but their dignified silence in response to misogynistic trash talk allows other messages, other poisonous postures to flourish. Too often, in my experience, the ways of men to boys lack all conviction, they lack a sense of responsibility and gravity.
And I think they lack the solidity and coherence of tradition. Sadly, modernity has failed to replace traditional codes with anything explicit, or coherent or benign.
There are lots of reasons for having clear-felled and burnt our own traditions since the s, and some of them are very good reasons. We retain a kind of indulgent, patronising, approval of rites of passage in other cultures, including those of our first peoples, but the poverty of mainstream modern Australian rituals is astounding. What are we left with?
The sly first beer your uncle slips you. The 18th birthday party where the keg is the icon. Call me a snob, but that strikes me as pretty thin stuff.
This, surely, is cultural impoverishment. And in such a prosperous country. In the absence of explicit, widely-shared and enriching rites of passage, young men in particular are forced to make themselves up as they go along. Which usually means they put themselves together from spare parts, and the stuff closest to hand tends to be cheap and defective.
Toxic masculinity is a burden to men. And nobody needs to hear me mansplaining on the subject of the patriarchy. It narrows their lives. And that sort of damage radiates; it travels, just as trauma is embedded and travels and metastasizes in families. Slavery should have taught us that. The Stolen Generations are still teaching us. Misogyny, like racism, is one of the great engines of intergenerational trauma.
How do you live a life in which all of us must eventually surrender and come to terms? Too many men are blunt instruments. Otherwise known, I guess, as tools. Can we wean boys off machismo and misogyny? Will they ever relinquish the race, the game, the fight, and join the dance? In our homes, in business, and clearly, and most clearly of all, in our politics. Worse, in the traditional culture of villages, those who miss out on marriage have no hope of female companionship; dating or having a girlfriend is out of the question.
One recent evening, a family threw a rooftop party to celebrate the birth of a boy. Parties to welcome girl babies are still so rare they are covered by the local newspaper. Before the guests arrived, Kumar huddled in a stairwell nearby, sweating over a cast-iron pot, cracking jokes with friends as he fried sweet pancakes for the guests.
He likes to cook, he says, but the role occasionally unbalances him. During a harvest festival last year, his mother was delayed in another town. So Kumar was left to prepare the pancakes on his own. As he flipped the cakes in the bubbling oil, he grew teary-eyed, thinking of how there was no wife and kids to eat the treats he was making.
What is lacking in his family? What is lacking in him? I laugh on the outside but the pain that I have in my heart only I know Suresh Kumar Evenings are the loneliest times, when the village folds into itself, minders return with their cows from the pond, smoke wafts from evening meals, schoolchildren still in their plaid school uniforms play in the uneven lanes.
Kumar shuts himself in his room. What I feel inside stays inside. When he was in high school, he had a brief romance with a classmate, a beautiful year-old, tall and slim, with two braids that reached down her back. Even now he cannot speak of her without singing a few bars of an Urdu love song.
But the tryst was discovered, the parents put a stop to it, and his classmate eventually married someone else. Sometimes, Kumar says, the suffocation he feels is palpable: Many Chinese men are working harder — and taking more dangerous or unpleasant jobs — to get ahead. Parents are also trying to give their sons a leg up financially. The high household savings rate, particularly in China, helps explain its huge trade surplus. A man who makes cheap shoes for export does not spend the wages he earns on consumer goods imports.
Instead he saves to build a house and attract a bride. Another unintended result — urban housing prices are rising fast. Families sock that money away instead of spending it. Having sons was once a hedge against poverty in old age. Now elderly parents are sacrificing to help their sons appear marriageable — and to support sons who fail to find a bride.
In millions of families, that is no longer possible. Li Defu is typical. Now 21, he left home seven years ago to find work in the Guiyang, capital of Guizhou province, but he has pooled the family savings to build a room house overlooking green hills and valleys of his birthplace, Paifeng.
Girls have very high standards, they want houses and cars Li Weibin Li was brought up by his grandmother, a tiny, wizened woman who sits beside him as he chats. His parents still work in far-off factories; the savings they have collected could be crucial.
That translates into huge pressure for young men like Li and their families. Only a show of prosperity can attract, and hold, a bride. Their work ethic, their determination to succeed, is remarkable. In a noodle shop close to a series of shoe factories, a year-old who gives only his family name, Wang, is enjoying dinner with some friends.
Too many men: China and India battle with the consequences of gender imbalance
In between mouthfuls, he says he left his home in rural western China a decade ago and now works 11 or 12 hours a day, with just two days off a month. He has already saved enough to build a house back in his home village, but is still struggling to find a wife. In their new families, daughters-in-law often occupy the lowest status.
In any given age group, a proportion of men will fail to find brides, but they will stay in the marriage market, competing with younger men to marry younger women.
The disproportion keeps growing.
About the boys: Tim Winton on how toxic masculinity is shackling men to misogyny
That takes women away from villages to the cities in search of those types of men, making it even harder for the men who stay behind. His sister and mother helped him to choose from a selection of Cambodian women who had come to China looking for husbands, eventually picking out a slim girl with a pleasant smile. Their main concern was that she was a bit taller than him. That, and worrying about what the neighbours would think. She is friendly with the neighbours and treats them politely.
Everyone says how nice she is. Leping has become a centre for the trade in Cambodian women: Our village has 50 or 60 bachelors and only one or two single women. For men who are 40 or even older, Cambodian women are like a second chance Liu Hua But in Cambodia, daughters are expected to help support the family financially.
Her village, in central Kampong Cham province, offered no real employment opportunities. Illegal Chinese cross-border matchmakers flourish as demand grows The two profess to be content, living in a house filled with photos of their wedding and their two young children: In one picture, they sit on a park bench, he in his best grey suit and red tie, she in a white wedding dress carrying a bunch of red and white roses, together making the shape of a heart with their arms.
Both insist theirs is a genuine marriage, not a transaction. But Lili still feels cheated, especially after she found out how much her husband had paid. The job she was promised never materialised; she is furious with the marriage broker for pocketing almost all the fee.
Lili spends her days looking after her two young children. Her husband, a painter and decorator, is often away for work, but her mother-in-law seems sympathetic, even proud of the young woman who brought her two grandchildren.
Lili is one of the lucky ones. I have children now. If I want, I can do anything to you. Her husband demanded sex four times a day. If she refused, she was beaten. Finally, she had a baby girl. Seven days after birth, her husband demanded sex again, and when she refused, he beat her, she says. Eventually, though, she called her brother. Together they convinced the Chinese family to let her visit her sick mother in Cambodia, but they let her go only on the condition she leave her daughter behind.
Now she lives in a cruel limbo. Scared of being stigmatised in her village, she rarely goes home, working instead for low pay in a garment factory on the outskirts of Phnom Penh. She has been separated from her three-year-old daughter for more than a year. In China, they are the most sought-after brides, prized for their fair skin and European features.
They are seen as educated but accessible, less emancipated than Western women. These women are more likely to end up in bigger cities, with richer men.
But a much larger number of women come from Vietnam. Marriage migration across the porous border in southern China began two decades ago and is flourishing, says Caroline Grillot, who has been researching the phenomenon for a decade, most recently with Barabantseva in Manchester. They are also sought after for their fair skin, their big eyes and slim waists, Grillot says. They in turn often prefer Chinese husbands to their own compatriots, not just for their wallets, but because they are seen as hard-working and family-focused.