|Working woman with her baby.
Image: Your Life Hack.
I know this very beautiful lady whose spirit is equally beautiful. She is the type of lady that brings about a sense of calmness when you speak to her. Her humility is so inspiring and the light in her eyes tell of a spirit that is happy, carefree and blessed.
Then she got married.
Barely three months into the marriage, I noticed a marked change in her demeanor; the light in her eyes had dimmed considerably, there was an air of sadness about her and what used to be graceful slimness began to look more gaunt than slim.
When I perceive such sadness, I don on Agatha Christie’s Monsieur Poirot’s persona. I went about investigating the cause of her sadness and what I found was deliberately annoying!
Her husband works in a multinational oil company while she works in bank. They both have to leave the house before 7am and both return home quite late. You corporate workers know the drill! It was a power marriage…but only for the husband.
I found out that the husband demanded she cooked fresh breakfast, lunch and dinner every day. This lady would wake up at about 3:30am to prepare breakfast and lunch and to clean their house. She would package his lunch in a flask and help him prepare for work. After a long day at the office, she would rush home to cook his dinner and probably wait for him to
fuck have sex with her at night.
What was most annoying was that the husband demanded she washes his clothes too. He used to take his clothes to the dry cleaners before he married her but he was quoted as saying, ‘I cannot be wasting money now that I have a wife’. So this lady had to wash his suits, shirts and kaftans and iron them for her ‘darling husband’.
After three months, she was bone-tired from balancing
slavery house work and a hectic bank schedule. Truth is, she was tired of the marriage. She wanted out but being a ‘devout Christian’, she felt she had no options.
You can imagine how angry I got when I heard all these. I was so mad I almost walked up to man to slap him! I know you would think it is not my business but truth is, it is!
Here is why I got so riled up.
Time and time again, we have been told that women are the weaker sex. Most religions of the world preach that women are weaker and it seems to be one of the few points that the religions of the world agree.
In Islam, the Qur’an the Hadith says a woman has a ‘weaker mind’ (Qur’an 2:228 and Bukhari 6:301 respectively), the Bible in 1 Peter 3:7 calls the woman the ‘weaker vessel’, early Judaism saw the woman as ‘weak minded’ and even my grandfather drummed it in so well into his children that my father believes we are weaker.
What of our cultures? They lend their weight to the notion that women are weaker. And not just that, they put up cultural markers in place to remind us that we are the weaker gender.
So…if we are the weaker sex, why the bloody hell do we do most of the work?!
There are many women like the woman I mentioned above; women who have to get it right at the home front and get it right at work. Some women are lucky and are allowed to have maids. Some are not. They have to do everything themselves! The argument has always been that men need to ‘focus on work and provide the bread’ so women have to ensure the home is properly catered to. I used to understand the logic. But now, more and more women are in the work place as their husbands are. Some women even do morein the office than their husbands. Is it then fair to continue to hold that ‘logic’ and to make such women do all the work at home?
Let me shade my dad and brother a bit. My sister and I don’t live at home because of work so they probably see us twice a year. My other sister is in school and is home about four times a year. When we are away, my father and brother do all the household chores and maintain the house. My dad fixes his breakfast – a cup of tea – daily and sets off for work.
Fast forward to whenever I come home. Soon as they see I am home, they take their hands off the household chores. My dad would even ask that I fix his breakfast. I want to assume that he misses me and would prefer to have that special bonding moment but eh ehn! I no gree! See, my father is set in his ways and one of his beliefs is that chores are for women. Simple and short! He raised us like that and even when my mother insisted that my brother does chores, my father relegated him to sweeping duty. Even that became a problem for him as we grew up. I knew he wouldn’t do it so I just took his portion. I spoke to my sisters and they said when they also come home, they experience same. My brother is especially worse. If I don’t wake up on time, my dad may still fix his breakfast but my brother? Total hands-off from chores! It wasn’t until I fell a bit ill that they both
miraculously found the ability to take care of themselves (and the house) again. They wanted me to feel that if I wasn’t home, they would die but seeing how fresh they both looked, I begin to wonder. Done shading! Okay popsi, no vex abeg!
You see, many men in the country are like that. They feel a woman can and shoulddo any and every household chore. A woman is supposed to maintain a house and maintain her husband and maintain her children and work and do business and still have time to have sex and satisfy her husband! How can we be the weaker sex and yet be given these much responsibility?!
If men are the stronger sex, isn’t it common sense that they should do more work than women do? I mean, the logic is set in stone!
I know some men say household chores are ‘not work’. How I laugh when I hear such men! Same people toting that line CANNOT do half the things their mothers, sisters, girlfriends or wives do. If you are a man and don’t agree, I want you to try it out. Give your wife/mother/sister/girlfriend a week off and try to do all she does. This includes carrying your baby at all times, cooking, cleaning, doing the dishes, going to the market, watching over the older children and all the while, trying to make your wife happy. Deal?
There was a time I went to a friend’s house. His mum was sick. She was so sick she couldn’t get up from her bed. My friend went in to help prepare their meal. Soon as he got to the kitchen, he saw his father and brother struggling to light firewood. They kept going at it for a while until the firewood caught. When the fire was roaring, that was when they decided to peel yams. My friend returned and laughed at his father and brother. He said they were both singing their mother’s praises at how effortlessly she managed the house.
These were even men that helped. There are women who, despite any sickness, have to do all the house chores; their men do not help!
A case was reported of a man who insisted that his 8 month pregnant wife pound yam for him. The neighbors saw her pounding and ran to his church to report him. The church members chastised him and he looked like he had ‘repented’. Next thing you know, the day she returned home after delivery, he said he wanted to eat pounded yam again. As she pounded, he kept shouting that the crying baby was disturbing him. She had to carry the baby on her back while pounding the yam. It wasn’t long after that the wife’s family took her away from the house.
I lived in a compound where we constantly had to shout at a heavily pregnant woman for doing strenuous work. Her husband didn’t help at all. Her house used to flood when it rained and she would be raising furniture, packing the water and cleaning the house. She would even take her husband’s bath water to the bathroom and worse, when he pooed, she would go and flush. One day, when I had had enough, I asked her to rest since she was close to her delivery. She told me something that shut me up. ‘If I don’t do it, who would? My children will suffer.’
So society says a woman is weaker. Religion affirms it. Culture punctuates it and misogyny (in part) and patriarchy (in whole) demand that women be viewed as weaker than men. So why do they all contradict themselves?! Why do they say on one hand that women are the weaker sex but give women the greater physical responsibility on the other hand?! Even King Lemuel’s description of the ideal woman in Proverbs 31:10-31 describes a woman so busy and so industrious and so intelligent and so wise that one has to wonder if, being the weaker sex, one can actually do all of these!
Are we, as Ryan Reynolds said, the superior gender? If true, then it makes more sense that we are charged with balancing home and work life and doing all this work. If on the other hand we are the weaker sex, isn’t it wise to say that men should take up more of the work in the home and at the office?
This then is the conundrum; we are either the superior sex and thus should work more or we are the weaker sex and should not be made to
slave away work harder than men or we are equal and should help each other in all spheres of life.
Which do you choose?