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In order to be able to effectively discuss about gender roles and it’s effects in our society today, we must first define gender role.

Gender role is a set of societal norms dictating the types of behaviors which are generally considered acceptable, appropriate, or desirable for people based on their actual or perceived sex or sexuality. Gender roles are usually centered on conceptions of femininity. The specifics regarding these gendered expectations may vary substantially among cultures and religions. Continue reading GENDER ROLE AND ITS EFFECT IN TODAY’S SOCIETY

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Gender roles and it’s effect on today’s society

I watched in captivation as  this dad changed his daughter’s diaper. She had pooed and he needed to change her at the crèche changing table before taking her home. I was waiting for my turn to change my son’s diaper. I watched as he wiped his daughter’s bum from front to back, wiped it repeatedly till he was sure it was clean. I watched him wear her a new diaper, flipping her with all confidence and alacrity, lovingly pinching her cheeks, the little girl giggling happily and I was so caught up in the father and daughter time together so much that I needed to be reminded it was my turn to change my son’s diaper.

This is  the scenario of dad’s and their children that I have seen in Europe. Fathers bringing their kids to school and shopping malls alone without their wives in tow. These men wipe runny noses. You see them pacifying unwilling toddlers who do not want to stay in their buggies. These dads are so good at pacifying their kids that I, as a woman, whom the society purportedly  believe is born with an instinct to nurture, lacks the kind of patience they exhibit with their toddlers.

I remember a time I needed to take my daughter for immunization, and my husband was not around. It also happens to coincide with a day when my son’s crèche was on holiday. So we needed to find a way to get to her doctor. I was so frustrated by having to restrain my son every now and then and also manage my little baby. I was almost in tears before we got to the doctor’s.

On getting  there, I saw this dad who also had two children, his toddler should be about the same age as mine. He was so good at managing both kids that I was so in awe of him. I was watching him keenly to learn more tips on how to manage my son and daughter should we find ourselves in such a situation again.

This is not limited to Caucasian dads alone, I have also seen African dads do the same thing abroad. Things which the African culture forbids them from doing back home in Africa. Some of the African dads look a bit embarrassed when I see them do daddy duties when out with their kids, probably because I am an African woman and I might be feeling they are being emasculated. I give them this reassuring smile to let them know they are doing well, and they need not feel emasculated.

This is what the African society has taught our men, and it is what I grew up observing back home in Nigeria. The stereotypes of gender roles.  The believe that it is only a woman that can nurse her children has destroyed our family life, which in turn has spilled into our society and created a lot of negative impacts.

As Africans, we need to realize that taking care of children  and managing the home is not gender specific. I know that with my first child I knew next to nothing on motherhood and mothering a child.

Despite the fact that I had read books, it didn’t help. I got to learn on the job daily, And till today, I am still learning and not yet a perfect mother, (not that there is one anyway)

Some years ago, while I was still in Nigeria, a woman who was a senior friend told me how she goes to work with blood shot eyes everyday. She gets so short tempered at work, snaps at every little thing, and her junior colleagues are beginning to get weary and tired of working under her.

She over heard one of them saying that she needed good sex and maybe her husband was not giving it to her. I asked her if sex was the problem, she told me, no my dear, I NEED HELP FROM MY HUSBAND NOT SEX! I felt the pain, desperation and helplessness behind this statement, she further told me how she overworks herself at home  and that she is almost at her breaking point, and she just wants to quit it all. I  hugged her and afterwards I left.

Years later it dawned on me that her problem was gender roles and it’s ideology, and it was having an extremely negative effect on her entire life. This is the reality of most women today, you see some married female bosses acting so wicked at work, giving their junior colleagues a hell of a work time, those ones on the other hand scared and afraid of her.

Some of the junior colleagues of such women have sunk into depression, and they dread each morning when they have to wake up and prepare for work. We might as a people feel this is far fetched, but these are some of the problems that ascribing the sole responsibility of taking care of children, an able bodied man who is a husband, and extended family members who are also sometimes thrown in the mix. together with keeping the whole home clean and running on the woman creates.

The woman also needs to plan good diet, she needs to make sure everything runs well so that the home does not crash. This is such a huge mental load for any human being to bear solely in our society today.

Today’s society is not fit for heaping the management of the home on the woman alone. it has a negative effect which will cascade on the entire society at large. Some people keep saying it is our culture for women to manage the home, this is acceptable in the times of old when things were different from what it is now.

My grandmother was a typical example of a woman of old, and she was so very industrious and a farmer who farmed on various large expanses of lands which were hers. She was able to concentrate well on farming because while I was a child I noticed that she had nothing less than two house helps with her. Not only that, she also had young relatives living with her, and we were sometimes also part of her brood when we go on holidays.

All of us went to the farm with her, and were given our own small duties as young as we were. After each day’s farming, my grandmother gets back home with all of us and dishes out orders on cooking. Someone will peel the yam, another one is rinsing, someone is fanning the embers of the fire at the cooking section, another one is washing the pestle and mortar, someone is warming the soup, another person is arranging plates for serving. It was a beautiful division of labor and the mental and physical load was off my grandmother which in turn made her so accessible, sweet and energetic. Ready to take on a new day of farming again.

Compare that scenario with today’s scenario where a career woman without a house help has to do all these without the help of her husband. How do your think she will be sane with so much to do inside the home and at work?

Besides, we are  already in the era where no one wants to be a live in  help to any family again, so the use of employing a maid will soon fizzle out of our society, and your home would have to be run by you and your partner.

Besides,  it is not every African  family in many countries in Africa that can afford a cleaning service or all the home appliances which could make life easier. Even with the help of appliances, there is still a lot of work to be done and the mental load involved can be consuming for just one person to handle.

Gender ideology in the home is not healthy, and it is not ideal for today’s world where both the man and the woman are working.

The implication of shifting the second shift, a terminology used to describe home making in the industrial times by “Hochschild” in her book “the second shift” which is our reality today where many mothers and wives work is that it could create frustrated women who becomes short tempered and difficult to live with in a marriage, in and outside the home. Her husband sees her as rude and obnoxious, her children and people outside her home sees her as a terror. She unknowingly abuses everyone around her one way or the other.  Whereas this might not be so if the man does his own sheer of the home keeping and become a true partner to his wife in every way to move their family forward in a healthy way.

In conclusion, traditional gender ideology or roles, which heaps the sole duty of keeping the home on a woman in these career oriented times we are in, is not healthy and is not fit for today’s society.

Thank you.
Did you find this educative? Please share and let’s educate our society so we can make it a better and saner place for everyone.

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Let me tell you something about Inertia,

Inertia can be defined as the tendency to do nothing or remain unchanged.

It is a state that usually creeps in on us particularly when we see a task as daunting, or after we just acquired a huge feat, and trying to get into another task before us.
It is state that keeps one in a state of helplessness and joblessness, particularly when you need to get up and keep moving. Continue reading Inertia

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Men, ego and the craving for respect

“The only thing that a man needs is respect”

I hear this popular statement every now and then being used to charge women to be respectful towards their husbands. It is said that the only thing close to the heart of a man, that he needs and craves, is respect. This statement has wreaked a lot of havoc in many homes. It has created a lot of men who have become unapproachable gods their homes, and to the society at large.

This statement has positioned some men and pitted them strategically against their wives. It has made them stiff-necked, and like a panther, prowling quietly seeking for ways to accuse their wives and all women, as being disrespectful. It has created lots of men who have become an opposition on their own path of progress. They will not discuss issues with their wives because they see her input or advise to them as a sign of disrespect. Continue reading Men, ego and the craving for respect

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The mommy wars

We have allowed society to pitch women against one another by tagging the career devoted mother a nonchalant mother who is more career devoted and tagging the family devoted mom a lazy woman who is not career oriented. The media created this form of dichotomy between women which is tagged the mommy wars. A group of family therapists actually wrote a book titled deconstructing the mommy wars : The battle over the best mom, it is a culture of mother blame and women have bought into it tearing each other apart over who is a better and a complete woman and mother rather than unite and talk about issues that affects us all.
Issues like gender roles and the adverse effect it has on good parenting which could later lead to child abuse.
Women who tilt towards career than their family are being looked at like nonchalant  mothers who do not care for the well being of their children. Some stay at home mothers look at them with disdain and find a way to prod them and make them feel guilty. On the other hand stay at home moms are being looked at with so much disregard and disdain for daring not to be career oriented.
This article is focusing  more on the stay at home mom………..
Let me tell you something, every woman is on a journey, and I know that most women who became a stay at home mother never imagined they would find themselves in such a state without a career. However rather than encourage this women, they have become an object of public ridicule. We call them lazy women, we call them jobless, we boo this women and tell them they deserve every form of ill treatment they get in their marriages. The stay at home mom who also just earned her first #5000 also joins the team of people who boo the stay at home non earning mother and looks at her with disdain. This sort of women forget that they once walked  that path of being a stay at home none earning mom. They feel superior now and uses all sorts of derogatory words to describe a stay at home none earning mother.
Do you know how confused some stay at home mothers are?
Do you know some of these women actually shed tears over their state of joblessness?
Do you know that some of them looked for jobs without finding one?
Do you know it is more difficult for a stay at home mother to secure a job, especially in a country such as Nigeria where some companies are looking for quick profit and would rather go for an unmarried lady?
Do you know some stay at home mothers want to even begin a business but they are not able to raise even #5000 to begin that business because they are in a marriage where every penny is being accounted for to their husbands?
Do you know that some of these women were forcefully bullied to quit their jobs because of their husbands and insecurity issues?
Do you know that life happened to some women, they lost their jobs and get so sucked in motherhood that they are trying to find a way to build a career and also balance their devotion to their families?
Do you also know that the decision of a woman to quit her job to stay with her family in order to be family devoted most especially when her kids are still small is her choice and it’s valid?
The list of the journey of a stay at home mother is endless, every woman with her story and her pain, we need to be careful how we call women misfits and lazy because they are stay at home mothers. You do not know how much pain you add to the heart of a woman who is honestly finding her way out of joblessness.
Dear stay at home none earning mom, this too shall pass ok, you will rise above this and find your own niche, it is only a matter of time if you don’t stop striving.
PS: This is not an excerpt from Motherhood and the Society, rather it is an addendum. If you want to read more about this article, and see a bit into my own journey as a stay at home mom,  please get a copy of Motherhood and the Society, chapter 7 speaks deeper about this with my true life experience. You can order your copy from amazon for those in diaspora and you can order here for those in Nigeria
Image credit: and respectively

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