EVERY hunter who goes into the forest knows that one of the most dangerous creatures he is likely to encounter is a wild boar.
With razor sharp tusks, these formidable animals can disembowel a man and leave him dying on the ground.
When a genteel man ventures forth in the cities, towns, suburbs and villages of the modern world, he knows that one of the most dangerous creatures he might encounter is a liberated woman.
Why should a man be afraid of a liberated woman?
Perhaps some of the blame lies with the early feminists, who could be very prickly indeed.
If you watch archival footage of Germaine Greer eviscerating male panellists and audience members it’s easy to understand the basis of this fear.
Germaine tended to go straight for the jugular, or should I say testicular? She was very good at ridiculing men and their sexuality in front of appreciative female audiences.
Papua New Guinean men may not be aware of Germaine and her peers but the fear of having their sexual prowess and egos ridiculed might have something to do with their preference for wild boars over liberated women.
Whatever the cause, this fear of the strong woman is deeply entrenched in the psyche of many men.
However, if such men choose to read the forthcoming anthology of Papua New Guinean women’s writing, My Walk to Equality, which I have had the opportunity to do, they will realise this fear has no basis.
Far from being a diatribe against men, the anthology is more an invitation from Papua New Guinean women for men to join them in their quest for equality.
As Elvina Ogil says in one of two scintillating forewords to the 300-page book: “If Papua New Guinea is to claim its place among civilised nations, its women must walk with its men. Not behind, not beside but with [them]”.
The invitation is also extended to Papua New Guinean women still labouring under old world beliefs that see men as naturally superior.
This sentiment is expressed and underpins the essays, reflections, stories and poems in this first collection of PNG women’s writing.
The message is clear: We are liberated women, come join us as liberated men.
There are criticisms of men, of course, but these are not presented so much as censure as genuine attempts to illustrate archaic and misdirected thinking that is no longer relevant in modern Papua New Guinea.
The days of strident feminism are gone and this is a good thing. Feminism has matured and is a lot more confident of itself and its aims.
The anthology is a first for Papua New Guinea and while its value will be measured by the veracity of its arguments, it is only a first step.
The next step has to be a lot more highly personalised.
Oxytocin is a hormone that produces a sense of well-being and happiness when people interact and socialise.
Men and women who have happy and fulfilling relationships with their partners and neighbours produce lots of this hormone.
The chemical, however, is influenced by other hormones, notably estrogen and testosterone. Too much testosterone can overwhelm oxytocin and nullify its effect.
Men have to learn to not feel threatened by women who exert their rights and then respond with testosterone powered aggression.
Women must be careful how they exert themselves. They should not do what Germaine Greer did in goading men.
To achieve equality women must be much smarter than that.
And perhaps one day being a liberated Papua New Guinean man will be a mark of pride and represent a major step in gender relationships and building a more effective society.