How To End Male Violence | William Thomas Online | William Thomas

How To End Male Violence

Thea at motu's end -Will Thomas photo

Thea at the motu’s end -Will Thomas photo


By William Thomas

Just north of the equator in the remote reaches of the western Pacific, a string of tiny coral islets encircles a 30-mile-wide lagoon like white beads strung on a turquoise necklace. On one of these dry motus, an inviable rule prohibited drinking.


"No booze," was easy to remember and everyone did. Until one day, when two young bucks secretly fermented a batch of coconut toddy and proceeded to get blasted. Their merriment quickly devolved into harsh words. A fight ensued. Before it could be broken up, one of the men drew a knife and stabbed the other. Just a flesh wound. But still.


The abashed and bleeding revelers returned home to find a pile of sticks where their huts had been. The village women had quietly dismantled them.


With everyone’s attention assured, the women laid out the penalty for their taboo-breaking bloodshed: No nooky. Until further notice, the men were hereby and henceforth 100% cut off.  All the men. "You made your bed," the women told their guys. "And we aren't in it."


Or words to that effect.


Now in today's overdeveloped countries, where obsessive navel-gazing has slipped even lower, we are told birthrates are plummeting and sex is on the wane. But throughout the tropical Pacific, I can personally attest that breezes scented like an aphrodisiac are not the only agitated molecules that are perpetually hot. So you can believe this prohibition was as shocking as the violence that had prompted it.


The men mumbled and grumbled. But the inherent male inhibition against striking women, combined with implacable sisterly solidarity and a large dose of shared shame, ensured compliance.


Days passed. A week. Two weeks. The men became increasingly needful. And contrite. "Please," they importuned their mates. "Could we just try snuggling?"


The women were hurting, too. But they stood fast. "Keep pondering," came the reply.


More time passed. Finally, made resolute in their desperation, the men approached their women with an absolute pledge never to drink again.


Years later, when Thea and I came ashore with a gift for the chief to ask permission to visit, we found a community still living by choice in the “custom ways” of their ancestors. With so many happy little ones running around, love was obviously flourishing.


How could it not? Besides being assigned a second set of parents when visiting another motu, every child could explore their unfolding lives secure in the knowledge that they were always under the care and protection of the nearest adult.


The lagoon-wide treaty still held. And in keeping with tradition, every Friday all the women and men met under the nodding palms to quietly discuss village issues and settle any disputes. During the five weeks we spent there, we never heard a raised voice or saw a child cry.


I told Thea not to get any ideas if I stepped out of line.


She laughed.


 发件人     William Thomas 2019