In the book of Genesis we see Abraham, a shepherd tending to his flocks with his servants and slaves and we see Sarah looking after the homestead and managing the maids. There was no Feminism.
In the traditional Igbo setting, the man goes out to his farm, hunt for animals and carries out the masculine duties at home while the wife takes care of the home, the children and prepares the food for the family.
In modern homes the father is called the breadwinner who builds the house or pays the rent, provides the money for food, pays the school fees and takes care of the financial needs of the home, while the wife takes charge of the home and sometimes does a small business besides.
But things have dramatically changed. In Africa, precisely in Nigeria, since the 1970s the economy has continued to degenerate even as modernity inevitably introduces new things to the society but protracted bad governance has made it tough for family to thrive on the old system where the man continues to be the breadwinner while the woman tends to the home.
Another reality is that unlike in the past when parents were niggard about sending their daughters to university, many women have earned higher degrees and are doing far better than the menfolk and some of them are doing better jobs than their husbands. So in most part, husband and wife contribute to the funding of the home.
So women are saying that now that our status has changed our men should accord us the respect we deserve. Yes, the society of old made the man the head of the house, but some of us are the breadwinners so men should no more be accorded head of the house. This is the genesis of feminism, which simply campaigns for equality of the sexes.
This campaign has been given strength by Western influences. It is said that the West in order to protect women made laws that tend to favour them. For example, in the US a man can be sent to many years in prison for beating his wife. And if a woman calls the police to report her husband the man may be sent away from his home, according to his wife’s wishes.
But in Nigeria there are variations to feminism. There are women who take it a tad out of the above contest. In the insistence to equality of sexes they say a wife is free to go out and come in at anytime; that she owes her husband no explanation and if food must be cooked at home the man must participate fully in doing that…
“What stops the man from cooking the food to serve his wife if he comes back earlier than her? Why can’t he nurse the baby? He is working. I am working and we both contribute financially to the home. So we have to take care of the home front together…”
A lady told me sometime ago that the husband she would marry must not be the one that would be demanding for breakfast. She does not have that time and this idea of cooking in the morning is tiring and she would not want to engage in it. In fact, cooking at home should not even be a priority.
But careful observation reveals that not many women who are working and earning money are willing to equally fund the home with their husbands. Some that even earn more than their husbands would remind him that he is the head of the house when it comes to money spending and go back to defend her equality of the sexes on other issues like going out for a party and coming home late, cooking and tending to the kids etc. some will even explain that why they don’t bring out money much is because the man will use it or the one he has to “chase” other women.
Another careful observation shows that those women who champion the outrageous equality of sexes like, “why should I cook for my husband…we must do it together are those who are largely single.
Then there are those who suffer from misandry who use feminism as cover to wreak vengeance on men. Some, if not all of these women have suffered in the hands of men. Some were raped, some were swindled in the course of love, some have had their heart broken by men they invested so much of their heart and emotions in. Those women feminist campaigners who belong to this group are usually vicious, irascible and cantankerous. They will dissect men, spice them with invectives, reduce them to the entrails of a chicken and tear them to shreds.
Another careful observation will also reveal that many single women who are vociferous about feminism in Nigeria are the women in their 30s and 40s etc. They epitomize their idealism about marriage, which can neither dovetail with the cultural milieu or the ego of the men. And the war rages on.
It has also been observed that some of the champions of feminism when they marry trace their way back to the traditional old system to make their marriage work. Some want to execute their feminism idealism in their marriage and this had led to broken homes. Then there are some already married women who get influenced by feminism and they begin to redefine their relationship with their husbands and begin to see cooking at home as slavery.
Then in the effort to adjust to the wave of feminism, there are men who have accepted their lot and stood with the equality of the sexes by according their wives the rights as equal partners. But there are men that cannot take it. They will ask, “Who paid whose bride price? You must be under my control in this house because I am the breadwinner and in charge of my home.
Due to the deteriorating economy, there are also men who are not well positioned economically who are willing to be taken in by their wives and also willing to submit to them. Some of these men collect money from their wives to pay bride price and do English wedding and remain fateful.
Then there are the gigolos who are eager to become “wives” to their wives. The feminists realise their full dream in these partners but wholly fund the home and only face he fear of the man’s infidelity….I saw you at Dorothy’s house. I hope you are not doing anything with her? Most often the gigolos arm themselves with good sex skills and bravado. Those are the tops in their curriculum vitae.
But the women that are usually shocked are those who want to apply the ideals of feminism as enunciated above after they have got married, buoyed perhaps by their new financial status. Such campaign always brings animosity at home and at worst leads to separation. But men should also recognition the inevitable changes and adjust themselves to reality.
But the difference between the women in West and the women in Africa is that European and American women can live to old age not leaning on any man. But it will be very difficult for women in Africa.
By Chinedu Eze