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As a society, we are remarkably chauvinistic and intolerant of non-conformists. Are these anachronistic attitudes, most notably male chauvinism as expressed by violence towards and abuse of women, and intolerance of homosexuals, giving us a bad reputation with tourists?

Why is machismo still prevalent in our society today? Have we really as a nation, not outgrown the tendency to ill-treat women; can we not educate ourselves to be sensitive and intelligent enough to understand another person’s feelings and needs? On one level the macho attitudes of Mauritian men can be read as abuse of others as a means of self-aggrandisement to impress friends. This kind of behaviour is naive and pathetic especially when this self-aggrandisement is accompanied by belligerent, aggressive behaviour. A second type of chauvinistic behaviour arises from individuals who are poorly socialized. Our society, with its taboos about sex, and premiums placed on female chastity, leaves some men unable to differentiate between healthy relationships and verbal or physical abuse of strangers. Local women are not the only victims; female tourists have been insulted and abused on public beaches and in our streets by the selfish attitudes and regrettable habits of some of our compatriots.

Of course, to a certain extent, this problem is universal. Everywhere you find men in groups, you can hear discussion of women which is often crude and flagrantly offensive. Chauvinistic macho egos worldwide indulge in salacious and rude remarks, presumably because they feel a need to make up titillating and shameless lies in order to demonstrate their virility. Fortunately, most men can do without leering and ogling but those who cannot avoid making condescending and abusive remarks, should be educated to realise that there is a limit when it comes to flirting or accosting a lady, and that this lack of respect for women is definitely intolerable in any society.

It is time that the chauvinistic characters in our society, got themselves educated, through timely police intervention against both domestic violence and public abuse of women. Eve teasing, as it is known in India, is taken very seriously by the police there. Many countries have adopted practices which enable women to seek redress if they are harrassed at their workplace, and have women police who are specially equipped to help deal with rape or domestic assault.

Macho men who feel the need to put on this attitude, to show that they are in control or to exhibit their virility and maleness should be forced to reflect that they are sadly lacking in authority if they cannot, in the first place, control their hormones which are apparently too strong for them to be able to think intelligently and sensibly!

Such individuals should be taught that disrespect for women can only bring about disrespect for ourselves; men and women are both pillars of the family institution. We have to get rid of such damaging attitudes, which have been directed not only against local women but also affect the tourists;who are an important sector of our economy. This male macho mentality can only be detrimental to our society. We should institute Human Relationships seminars in our schools where our children can be taught that respect for one another is the building brick of healthy relationships?

Another group that is affected by chauvinistic attitudes (that are not just confined to men) are individuals with a different sexual orientation. Although the Church finds it immoral to encourage other than heterosexual relationships, no individual deserves to be degraded and treated rudely purely because they are gay or lesbian. We have all got rights and feelings, and even if the Church does not condone such tendencies, should our secular state not establish equal rights for all citizens irrespective of race, sexual orientation or disability?

Mauritius News

London, UK



© C Cuniah




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