That we live in interesting times is no news. On one end, a woman has a fighting chance at being the most powerful individual in the world – a world of both men and women. In the exact same season, an African leader is ‘joking’ with gender issues on an international podium, right before a female head of government in a first world country.
I await the US Presidential elections with as much anticipation as everyone else. I’m with her, by the way, and as I watch the umpteenth Trump vs Hilary debate or video or read the latest commentary about another women or girls’ rights group or initiative in the news, a familiar, jaded feeling overwhelms me. When is humanity going to get over all the Gender crap?
For generations, men have applied themselves willfully to the roles of Leadership and Influence, Revolution and Government. For as many generations, women have applied themselves to the opposite or, at best pseudo-modern versions of liberalism, with half-baked pursuits, limited ambition and abandoned projects.
From time, it had been established that the man must be tough, be able to shoulder responsibility, handle his family and never, ever display vulnerability. A woman is expected to be sweet, likeable, neat and submissive. Should a person of certain sex depict idiosyncrasies at variance with the given template, there is trouble in paradise! They declare:
- He has lost his manhood,
- He is gay,
- He is not man enough.
A strong, ambitious, no-nonsense woman is branded as overbearing and difficult, unlikely to ‘’succeed” at being a wife.
And please, this is not another feminist, fight-for-the-women article because I have plenty to say to the womenfolk. These same ideologies are perpetuated from generation to generation by women. You hear them discuss endlessly :
- I don’t need to work so hard, I have a husband
- My money is my money, his money is our money
- My daughter, you better forget all that ambition, step it down, your husband and your children are your destiny oh.
- You are the one that will hold the family together oh, its solely your job.
- She is such a tough boss, no wonder she is not married.
- All men cheat, its how they are wired
We have allowed the stipulations of society define us for too long , we are not seeking companionship or compatibility any more, marriage is number 1 (and for many, the only item) on our list of achievements. And many of these societal norms are preserved and passed on by the womenfolk themselves. Gender–based upbringing is applied to siblings in the same family. I blame the mother when a girl is unambitious and thinks all she needs to aspire to, is to be a good wife. Boys, on their part, are excluded from trainings on life skills on the home front and we gather and fight for women’s rights?
Ladies, many times, even I roll my eyes at the volume of activism put behind us. It's getting a little tiring, maybe if we really do “Lean in” like Sheryl Sandberg advised and individually claimed our rights to be as hard at work at our purposes as men, we wouldn’t need to have so many initiatives, rallies and protests. We would be able to channel all that energy to actually getting things done in business, in governance, in world peace. We need to stop contradicting ourselves!
Take it from me, a man, even a good one, will define you if you do not define yourself and my guess is, the result will be less than ideal. Trust me, only good can come out of you discovering who you are and pursuing your dreams. You will be able to add value financially, socially and psychologically to your family and the society at large. Should you be single, you will be able to sustain yourself without desperation. . Whether single or married, you are an asset to whomever you encounter. Many a wrong marriage has been contracted due to a lazy woman’s desperation for survival. If women were more involved in the economy, maybe some countries in Africa(especially Nigeria), Asia and South America would not be in the mess they are in right now.
And I’m certainly not done with men, especially in societies that are firmly rooted in this patriarchal ideology. You focus on your jobs/businesses giving them a 1000 per cent and you are sloppy at home. You give so little on the home front and the women allow you, soothing your lethargic nerves with endless meals and 24-hour service. What do you gain from having an exhausted woman living below her potential on your arm? How do you sleep at night?
At the workplace, you know that woman is more than competent, but you bestow the appointment on your fellow male and the woman doesn’t even fight back.
This Patriarchal system established by men and fostered and implemented by women, whom have been victims of the same needs to stop. Enough with it! Live your life, if that man will stifle you, remain single. As for the Buhari and wife drama, it’s not the first time, nor will it be the last that a man would attempt to stereotype a woman.
Can we just get over the mess and move on with our respective causes? God gave both parties mental faculties and in equal measure for use, and respective causes to activate and fulfill.
- Who cares who gets the meals prepared?
- Are we really going to allow the gender role stereotypes hold us back from pursuing our individual and national destinies?
- Are we really going to get ahead as men by relegating our women?
- Are we really helping our men by letting them handle the financial security burdens alone?
- Are we really helping ourselves as women when we allow our other women hinder us from thoroughly pursuing our goals?
- Aren’t we holding ourselves back when we chose a person for a role based on whether he is a man or a woman?
My point, irrespective of gender, we have all been equipped with gifts and wirings, anybody, can do it. Complain all you want, Hillary Clinton is there based on her competence. A man can only be considered superior to you if he is more qualified in certain aspects under review, which would still apply if she is a woman.
We should see value, intellect, capability, willingness and individual gift for what they are. There’s nothing to be gained from relegating women or demonizing men, neither is there any merit in stereotyping individuals based on gender. Instead, there is everything to be gained from harnessing the value that each individual brings to the table towards building more responsible communities, sustainable businesses, viable causes and effective governance thus leaving our children a better future. I mean, what’s a green, pollution-free world, if it’s still infested with antiquated mentalities?
By Ayodotun Rotimi-Akinfenwa