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Cheap shot: curbing the destructive male egos of PNG

H&SMARTYN NAMORONG | Supported by the Chalapi Pomat Writing Fellowship

I WAS AWOKEN AT 1 AM BY A DRUNK. It was a rainy night and I was a bit disorientated and couldn't work out what was causing the confusing sounds piercing through the darkness and irritating my ears.

"Yu disla mangi Kairuku wai na yu chip shot long mi ya!" [‘Young Kairuku man, why are you having a cheap shot at me!’].

I won't repeat the expletives and grunting, hissing and yelling that coloured his slurred speech.

But what added salt to the drunk's wounded ego was the fact that the girls laughed at him.

Or perhaps they didn't but he kept shouting and swearing and repeating that "ol meri ol lap long mi" [‘The women are all laughing at me’].

I won't say where the drunk was from or where the incident happened simply because this seems to be a typical scenario in most parts of Papua New Guinea.

Some guy gets beaten up and won't stop acting like a bitch in order to recover lost pride. And because society seems too polite to tell them to put their tail between their legs and retreat, they give them their 15 minutes of notoriety and hot air.

So the consolation for a broken ego is that one is allowed to wake up the neighbourhood at 1 am and declare to everyone that you would have beaten the other guy's butt but for the 'cheap shot' he gave you.

Of course the entire neighbourhood knows your butt got whopped, but they'll be silent and enjoy hearing you hang yourself.

Eventually the alcohol wears off or the drunkard becomes satisfied that the rather large wound in his ego has been treated and he stops bitch'n.

This sort of behaviour by a vast majority of men in PNG, whether under the influence of liquor or not, has significant developmental implications.

The recent political impasse is an example of such egocentric behaviour.

And other disputes arise due to ego as well.

Administrative matters in the public service get thrown before a judge and crushed egos battle it out in the courtroom to save face. Even the election petitions are an example of some bruised ego having a 'cheap shot' due to vote buying, even though the entire electorate knows the petitioner also ran a dirty campaign.

Many such men would not like to see women participating in decision making processes. Indeed most of them would rather be in control of family finances as described recently in the Canberra Times by the CEO of Care Australia, Julia Newton-Howes.

Newton-Howes described the community's perception of income generated from coffee as being 'men's money". She pointed out that if women had control over income they were more likely to spend it on food and children's needs compared to men.

Some commentators in PNG jumped the gun and declared that there was no need for affirmative action to get women in Parliament following the historic election wins by three women. They declared that women had an equal opportunity to win.

What these mostly male commentators failed to see was that women account for less than 3% of seats in parliament even though they account for half the population.

Just as income from coffee is viewed as 'men's money', the parliament and, by extension, decision making is regarded as 'man's domain'.

Considering the rather irrational behaviour of Papua New Guinean men with battered egos, one does see a case for greater involvement of women in addressing the developmental challenges faced by this nation.

Men's unwise spending of family income gets reflected in how, at the national, provincial and local levels, budgetary expenditures do not translate into improvements in social indicators.

Indeed, it is widely recognised that there is a need to translate PNG's natural wealth into improvements in its social sector. We need greater involvement of women at all levels of decision making.

By involving women, I do not mean appointing figureheads who merely tick the box of 'gender equality'.

Considering that one of the authors of Vision 2050 recently got sidelined by the National Executive Council for an alleged failure to deliver the free education policy, one can assume that such developmental aspirations cannot be realised by PNG's Big Men.

It is imperative that affirmative action be taken to gain greater involvement by women in key developmental roles so that we do not continue to have small boys with big ego issues blaming "cheap shots" for their own lack of capacity to deliver tangible development to the people.

Comments

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Phil Fitzpatrick

In my time working for both state and federal governments in Australia I've had a number of female bosses, ranging from branch managers, departmental CEOs and ministers.

Thinking about them I can't recall that any of them were particularly better or worse than their male counterparts. In fact, many of the high flying females were decidedly worse than the men.

A classic case was the female CEO who wouldn't employ young women because they would 'invariably' go off and get pregnant.

Positive discrimation for women is slowly creeping into PNG however. The recent amendments to the Land Group Incorporation Act which came into force in March, for instance, requires that the executive of every new ILG must have two female members.

If that's the case in that sector there's no reason why it can't be the same in parliament.

Warwick Brandes

Hear, hear, Chalapi. A very dangerous mad monk that budgie smuggling Abbott.

Chalapi Pomat

And may I also add his best and ignorant mate Alan Jones who thinks “women are destroying the joint … “

Honestly. Enough said.

John Fowke

Dear me! Facebook reverberates every second, doesn't it! Handbaggers rampant!

Don't worry, Martyn, your pearls are appreciated by most for the truths expressed - sorry about the pigs.

Samuel Roth

Tony Abbott is it? No comments. But cheers to Martyn.

Chalapi Pomat

Martyn, it is great to reading your as always insightful writing again. I enjoy reading your work. I am looking forward to your next one.

Your story today reminds me of a guy here who runs the opposition and wants to be the prime minister of Australia so badly that he thinks he one of the ways to get it is by using force & intimidation and shaming his womenfolk who get in his way.

It will be a sad day for Australia if he becomes the PM.

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