There was traffic on Ogui road that night, a Dangote truck had again fallen across the road, blocking both passengers going to and fro, we couldn’t make it home till around past 9 that night. We were all exhausted, My mum had been on her feet all day teaching, when she wasn’t on her feet, she was on her desk, grading papers. It is almost customary for my mum to go meet my dad at the shop after school hours, from there they’d come home together. I was in dad’s shop because like always, ASUU was on strike. Dad said he wanted me to help out with the family business and learn the ropes, whatever that means.
When we got home that night, all of us tired and exhausted, my dad said he didn’t feel like eating rice, that mum should go make “Ukwa” for him. When he said this, I was shocked, more pissed than shocked. It wasn’t the fact that dad, knowing full well that we all, including mum, were tired that shocked me, but that mum immediately stood up, without even going in to change, went into the kitchen and began to prepare the food. She said “it’s the duty of the wife to make her husband happy”.
When the telecommunication sector was privatized, my dad who was at the time in a managerial position, quickly found him self out of job. I saw my parents go through a really tough time. My mum, who all her life had been told that men are to provide for their families, found herself in a situation where she had to provide for us, and she didn’t like it at all. My dad, who believed it to be the responsibility of the man, saw my mum ability to provide for us as a slight to his “man-ness”. He saw it as emasculation. This put a huge strain on their relationship and the tension hung over our family for years till my dad was forced to give up looking for a white collar job and take up trading.
What if my parents were told that it isn’t the role of the woman to take care of her husband but both their duties; that it’s both their responsibility to take care of themselves and the family? What if my dad was told that “Providing for the family” should not be on the shoulders of any particular person but should be borne by both of the parents or whom ever is better positioned to do so at the time?
Fixed gender roles and gender expectations in marriages can prove to be really problematic. Society teaches us from very tender age that men and women have fixed roles in life. We are taught that Men are providers and women are not; that women are to be kept at home to look after the home, a thankless job that women are expected to take up selflessly but when the man is to stay at home, it’s time to get a nanny.
I had an argument with a friend who said that when he eventually gets married, he’d ask his wife to stay at home and take care of the kids because he refuses to leave his children’s upbringing in the hands of total strangers. This unfortunately, is the mindset a lot of people get into marriage with. I have nothing against not wanting one’s kids being raised by strangers, my reservation is with demanding that the woman gives up her dreams and career and stay at home simple because she is a woman and that’s what is expected of her. I think a frank conversation should be had by a man and his wife, and both of them should upon coming to the table be open to the possibility of either one of them staying at home. It should not be foisted on any one of them unilaterally.
You might say that the Bible demands women to submit to their husbands and that the Bible also said that the husband is the head as Christ is the head of the church. Firstly, that passage first told husbands to love their wives before asking wives to submit. It is simple. The woman is only allowed to submit to a man that loves her enough to lay down his own life for her as Christ did for the church. That analogy is the only criterion for the submission of the wife to the husband. Now, how did your Christ love the church? He said, “Even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:45). So as far as a man is not serving and laying his life down, babe, carry your submission waka.
The whole world would be a better place if we all realized that the old ways will no longer do. A lot of things we held onto have shown to be wrong and unjust and needs to change.
This is where we draw the lie today. To read more of my articles, follow my column.