Brawn alone does not make a man, says columnist


  • Nation
  • Wednesday, 14 Jun 2017

PETALING JAYA: It is important to look at how society raises boys today, social activist and former journalist Niki Cheong said.

“When we raise our children to believe that there is only one way to be a man, this makes us less tolerant of anyone who is different from us. In this context, it’s about a boy being gentle and effeminate,” he said.

Earlier in March, Cheong wrote in his The Star column about the need to protect boys from bullying and abuse.

Sharing his own experience as an easy target of fellow schoolmates because of his scrawny physique, Cheong said complaining to teachers was out of the question because it was something “only girls do”.

Victims do not whine about being bullied because “boys don’t cry”, while the bullies are just “boys being boys”, he wrote.

The consequences of taking it all “like a man” was dangerous, Cheong shared, as the toll on one’s emotions could manifest in various ways, some more violent than others.

Responding to T. Nhaveen’s case, Cheong said boys were taught to fight because brute strength is a perceived quality of masculinity.

“For me, fighting is about ego and power – playing up the narrative of the alpha male. But it works both ways. To the kids who are bullied, we always tell them to fight back.

“But as someone who has gone through it, my opinion is that this is not a Hollywood movie where you get one good punch in and everyone scatters.

“They will all hit you back,” he said.

Cheong opined that society did not teach them that it was not weak to report the bullying to adults or authorities and the importance of reading a situation before reacting.

“Because all we tell them is that there are two extremes – the bully and the victim,” he said.

Nonetheless, Cheong believes there are more issues at play here.

“Why are our young often so angry and resort to violence? Where are they learning this from?” he asked.


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