“My husband let me come for this workshop.” Eyebrows rise.
I am sensitive enough to know what they are thinking.
“He LET you? Why can’t you be the only one that LETS yourself do anything? Is it because you are a woman that despite being an adult, someone has to LET you do things before you do them?”
I hide a smile and I think, “Na una brain go pain you over analysing things that do not need extra scrutiny.” Because I have always heard voices, the unspoken conversations get louder.
“Patriarchy taints everything. Male dominance is exerted especially in marriage. Marriage benefits the man mostly. He remains a man. He doesn’t have to move or change his name. To make it worse, patriarchy was institutionalized in religion to ensure that women are blackmailed into accepting without questioning the superiority of men. Especially this ‘head of house’ nonsense. It prevents many women from ‘being’. They become trapped and cannot achieve beyond what the man ‘allows’. They cannot be unless he ‘LETS’ them be.”
I stretched out my legs as I listened to the imaginary heated discussion.
“Why is the ‘head of the house” gender specific? Was the woman made with half a brain? Why is there need for a ‘head of house’? Equal partnership is what marriage should be. With equal consideration for each individual. Speaking of individuality, why does a woman lose her individuality in marriage? Sometimes it even requires her to give up her career so that she can have time for the home. The man on the other hand is always free to pursue every single dream he has nursed without a thought to how the home will run and care of the kids.”
It reminds me of so many discussions I have been privy to.
Discussions surrounding the equal importance of men and women.
Feminism is such a heated topic these days. When a woman says she is a feminist, some people immediately see a woman that wants to emasculate men. When a woman says she is not a feminist, people immediately see a doormat.
Many times you hear people say that feminism would mean men will start washing plates in a marriage. If I had a dollar for every time I have heard feminists say this:
“How I relate with my husband has nothing to do with feminism. It is not about cooking or washing plates…etc etc.”
I would be carrying Hermes bags to buy dawadawa in the market.
I find this very confusing. “Feminism is the belief and aim that women should have the same rights and opportunities as men, it is the struggle to achieve this aim.”(Oxford Dictionary).
There are various frontiers on which equality is sought. The woman in the workforce knows the specific challenges she faces only because she is a woman. A woman walking down the road knows she will face hecklers and sometimes a breach in her personal space because she is a woman. In a marriage, a woman has a completely different set of expectations than those of the man. If women are demanding their due in every frontier why not in marriage. Why do they insist that feminism has nothing to do with who washes plates and who doesn’t.
Why is the definition of roles the way it is? Why do they both have daily jobs and contribute to the financial upkeep of the family and still have a million and one things traditionally reserved for the woman to do.? However feminism masquerades it, the fight for the emancipation of the female and to attaining gender equality cannot be completely true if it pretends that it doesn’t tip the balance of a home.
Feminism in a home is complicated. I realised early in marriage that if I brought the scale that weighs each activity, weighs respect and regard for each other, that weighs whose rights are trampled in a marriage, I would not be happy. So I threw it away. I am a fool sometimes, sometimes I am not. Sometimes, I stand up for what I believe in and other times I don’t. It is not and has never been 50/50. It is different variations from either partner at different times that still equates to 100. But that is just me.
How a woman relates with her husband is not ‘private’ business with no bearing on her desire for gender equality. This is because the home is the first breeding ground of inequality. It is where children begin to learn the roles of men and women in the society. In a Nigerian home, the man is revered and placed on a pedestal. He barely knows the direction to the fridge as all he has to do it ask and everyone will be doing his bidding (an exaggeration… I know but you catch the drift). Boys get to learn how ‘special’ and ‘deserving’ they are while girls learn how to ensure soups don’t get sour…
Dear Feminists, do not mislead anyone into thinking that feminism does not seep into the household, it does. I don’t necessarily think that it is a bad thing to bring up children understanding that they are valuable because they are valuable and not because they are a particular gender. In fact that is the way it should be. But… I do not want my home to be a battle ground where every single thing is analysed through a magnifying glass.
I grew up in a traditional home where my father did the ‘man’ things and my mother did the ‘woman’ things. It was not a bad upbringing. I am tweaking my home to ensure that my sons do not grow up with a sense of entitlement based on the fact that they are male. But essentially, it is still a traditional Nigerian home.
So the Bill didn’t go through, the one on gender equality and of course I am not sure why we were surprised at that. When the executive, judiciary and legislative arms of government are more than 90% male what do we expect? It is also a reflection of how men are raised in Nigeria… thinking they rightfully deserve an edge over women.
So dear Feminists (of which I am not… insert smiley with tongue stuck out), do not ever say that Feminism has nothing to do with who washes plates at home.
Have you ever written anything and at the end of the article you are not sure what exactly you wanted to achieve? Neither have I…
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