ARE MEN TRASH? A DISCUSSION WITH ADEOLU ADEFARASIN

Last year, I held a series on my blog called ‘The Future is Female’. The series consisted of several interviews with young women who spoke to me about the notion of womanhood, feminism and the future that they see for society. The response to the series was excellent and I intended on creating a second season featuring young men. However, over the course of the year, a more prevalent statement has overtaken gender-sensitive discussions, which is ‘Men are Trash’.

Several people are advocates for the statement and several people strongly advocate against it, yet we haven’t been able to have a healthy discourse about the statement. To break down the notion, I’ve decided to speak to Adeolu Adefarasin, as he hosts Shop Talk – a YouTube show focused on men conversing on important matters and I really wanted to get his perspective on this.

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The aim is to steer a conversation in a more progressive direction and push as close to the grassroots as possible.

Hey Adeolu! How you doing?

Hey Laila, I’m great, how are you?

I’m good! The last time we had a gender-based conversation it was on feminism and I know we didn’t see eye to eye on everything! Let’s see how this one goes (laughs)!

Hahaha, true, let’s go for it!

Okay, let me get straight to the point. Adeolu, are men trash?

Personally I am very intentional about the words I choose to use, and I’m pretty sure the question and the statement to is very intentional. I believe I agree with the heart of the statement, but not the statement itself. In society across the world today we have created standards for men below anything that should be acceptable and given men the freedom to act with callous and a lack of disregard towards others, this shows itself forth in families, relationships business and more.However I don’t agree with the statement, because when a trend sweeps over such a majority, I believe the fault is more in the society than the individual.

But what do you think it is, that has driven a strong number of women to conclude that men are trash?

Well to be honest, I judge no woman of that view, because you hear the stories on a daily basis of men who act in authoritarian self serving manners, constantly acting with little or no regard for others. The majority of men seem to lack the ability empathize and act with emotional consideration. In relationships they cheat, in business they belittle and in society as a whole they fail to comprehend the importance of seeing from outside of who they are.

It’s interesting that you say this, but you don’t really agree with the statement. So I’m going to dig further, would you describe yourself as a feminist?

I am not sure today that I would define myself as a feminist, not out of a lack of respect or disregard for women, but simply because of the methods being used by those who call themselves feminists. I think generally a lot of the movements these days are being carried out in a heavy handed manner, with feminism it seems to me a men vs women thing and I believe that works against the goal of unity and equality. I also believe that if it is fair to generally say that there men are trash then it is fair to say there are things men are better at and things women are better at and not look down on either of the qualities but rate the qualities equally and value them as much as one another.

Well feminism is for men and women. You have to name the problem, which is that women have been sidelined and oppressed in society socio-economically and politically for as far as history tells us. Anything beyond that definition isn’t feminism per say, so I think you’re starting to fall in to the trap of judging feminism based on the actions and self-proclamations of certain people in society who don’t really understand feminism either. It’s kinda like saying “black lives matter”, you know? We know that all lives matter but BLACK LIVES MATTER because it’s black lives innocently being eradicated in society at the failure of institutions and constant systemic oppression. Any way, as a man, do you feel as if there is anything that women may need to understand more that is currently misconstrued?

So I fully understand that. My thing is as long as the misconception has a louder voice than the truth, then that is the truth we are dealing with. Perception shapes reality and we are dealing with a lot of ‘slut shaming’ as opposed to calling people out for poor behavior. I would say that there are more men out there who want to be a part of the solution than women think. And if we don’t fully understand, we are happy to be educated, well at least I am. So it should be less confrontational in my opinion.

But to answer your question, I think the biggest miscommunication between men and women is understanding the power of root causes. I am of the belief that though yes a lot of men cheat, the root causes are different and we need to hone in on values created in family and root causes in order to change the results we get.

Well the slut-shaming is coming from men, so I’m not sure how many are really ready to be educated Adeolu. But when you say root causes, what exactly do you mean?

So we have a lot of stereotypes Laila. “All men cheat”, “men are liars”, “men look at women as objects”…

Can we call them stereotypes if its become a constant trend though?

Hold on I’m getting somewhere. While it is true for a huge majority, there isn’t a “one size fits all” for this because though the result is the same, the root cause is different. Some grew up in perfectly loving homes but that stride for similar perfection created people pleasers, who hurt people out of their desire to please everyone. Others grew up seeing their fathers disrespect their mothers and though they resented it, it is hard to become what you haven’t seen. And if you don’t know the root cause, you can’t heal the issue. So we need to look at people as individuals and not as statistics.

But statistics are a guideline for general behavioral patterns in society. Yes, I agree that we are all individuals with different root causes, but the outcome is having a seriously oppressive effect on too many women. But let’s move on – a large number of men believe in having daughters to understand women. We even hear it in our music, like Jay-Z stating that it “took for my child to be born to see through a woman’s eyes”. Is this a notion that you subscribe to?

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Do I think it’ll be amazing to have a daughter? Yes! Do I think that is the best way to understand women? No! I think by then it is too late and you run more of a risk of damaging a young woman. I believe the best way to understand a woman, or anyone is to listen objectively, be attentive to the and considerate in how you perceive them.

Well I thought it was pretty straight forward too, but unfortunately I see too many questionable opinions on this on social media. But speaking of social media, a lot has come out recently with regards to rape and sexual violence. How has this made you feel?

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Firstly I think it is incredibly sad the reality of what is going on in society in general. I am consistently alarmed at the amount of people I know that have fallen victim to sexual abuse and violence. It points to a huge flaw in the value system we are giving men on how to treat and perceive women. I fear a lot for the direction we are heading into because where we would imagine things are getting better it appears they are getting worse and more hidden. I think it took a lot a boldness for a slew of young women and girls to speak and that it is a necessity that it doesn’t end at that and there are major consequences for men guilty of such depravity.

I agree with you, but unfortunately rape has become a culture in our society, making it extremely difficult for most survivors to speak up about their experiences. How can the world become more fair towards women?

That is a ginormous question and I don’t think there is simple answer to that, but it starts with empowering more women, in all walks of life and challenging men and their belief systems. Like I said earlier though this is not a men vs boys thing, but it is clearly a matter of finding like minded men with good hearts and women with proper motives to empower one another, shake tables, change systems and put some cultural beliefs on the chopping block.

Fair enough. I think I’ve asked you enough questions today haha! But thank you Adeolu, this conversation was necessary and I hope we keep it going.

Always a pleasure Laila.

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Adeolu Adefarasin is the youngest of Pastor Wale Adefarasin’s three children, an actor, speaker and presenter. Having earned his bachelors degree in Acting at the Arts University of Bournemouth, Adeolu moved to New York to further his acting education at the prestigious New York Film Academy, before moving back to Nigeria to carve out an acting career. Since his return, Adeolu has featured in a number of box office hits including The Wedding Party 1 & 2 to films such as My Wife And I. Adeolu has also featured in the hit TV series Skinny Girl in Transit, before going on to land major roles in the hit film New Money, alongside stars from Dakore, Wale Ojo and Kate Henshaw to Falz, Osas Ajibade and Jemima Osunde. Shortly after that, Adeolu’s first leading role film in Nigeria was released, titled The Eve alongside Beverly Naya. Asides from acting, Adeolu has established himself as a voice for influence, when he released his own hit talk show, Mr Shop Talk, which he created hosted and produced. Shop Talk is a men’s talk show with the aim of getting men to talk openly and honestly about a wide range of serious issues and challenges men face, that aren’t usually confronted.

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