Charity Begins At Home
Gender roles are generally defined as “a set of behavior patterns, attitudes and personality characteristics, stereotypically perceived as masculine or feminine within a culture.” From time immemorial, the issue of gender roles and discrimination has held
Be the wind beneath her wings
Our society is mainly patriarchal, giving more preference and relevance to the male gender, believing that they always have to be at the top of the chain and lead even when, in many cases, they don’t have what it takes to do so. It is safe to say that gender roles have done nothing but widen the horizon for continual discrimination between both genders but time has seen many strong women fight against it and rise to the top even in male-dominated fields, in spots that would typically have been considered a taboo for them to occupy. We talk of amazons like the late Dora Akunyili who was in charge of the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, the current Director General of the World Trade Organization (WTO). Both have proven to the world that stereotypes are useless and needless and that a woman can achieve much more if she puts her mind to it.
We now live in modern times that have become somehow lenient but that doesn’t mean the reality has changed, the same mistake of unknowingly defining what should or should not be done by a particular gender is still being made and repeated. An average girl child may spend most of her day running household chores, while the male child can just sit and watch, believing she solely must do it. Sometimes she may also have to clean up after feeding him because he doesn’t see the need to do such a “womanly duty”.
It is still tough for many of us not to discriminate and call certain duties “womanly” or “manly” sometimes not necessarily through words but through our actions even though we now claim to be learned and civilized.
We still believe women should run the household and kitchen duties without help from the other gender while men should pay the bills, do sports and go into politics which are a few instances of discrimination. No one will deny that male athletes are more favored, known, celebrated, and paid attention to, much more than their female counterparts and that there are very few women in the political scene. Also, finding a young man helping his wife with house chores or cooking might spark debates on his sanity as many will choose to believe he had been enchanted by diabolical powers.
This is as bad as women insisting that all the money needed to run the family must be from the men, even when the women are more fortunate or have better-paying jobs. That is why some men go out of their way to meet the needs of greedy and inconsiderate wives. This is why some men also suffer all sorts of abuse when they are not able to provide for their wives.
Gender inequality starts in the household, the unequal division of labor and that creates violence against women in all forms; especially gender-based violence. And I often encounter these kinds of problems in places I work. I think gender equality should start with the family.
When I chose my work, I knew that this was not an easy job, this was going to be tough and challenging because it is all about changing paradigms that are rooted in the culture of the community. Not only do we have patriarchal values and a capitalist system, but we also have the face of poverty as women - that is the reality here. We have campaigns, discussions, and awareness programs; but for me, it’s all about raising critical awareness in the community. It’s very important to organize community groups to be critical and to support the change in the culture and the system that marginalizes women.
In our community, the main issue for women is gender inequality. Inequality in their relations in the household, the unequal division of work in the household, domestic violence, and we also find sexual violence against women and girls. There should not be a standardized gender role strictly applied in the family. Both men and women should work together in the household because that is the key to preventing sexual violence in the family.
I strongly believe that the issue of gender roles and discrimination has led to many cases of domestic abuse and violence from the time of our forefathers. It has led to subjugation and low self-esteem, especially among the female folk who are in most cases exposed to abuse and made to see it as the norm, as a part of womanhood, which is wrong. There have also been cases of men getting domestically abused but women suffer more from the menace of gender-based abuse and violence.
Society gives more attention to training a girl child because she has to make a wonderful wife and please her husband when she finally gets married but forgets or purposely ignores giving similar training to the male child on how to be an excellent husband to his future wife. This sick society still sees a woman as an object or property, not a companion and a partner that she should be.
The menace that gender roles have caused in our society can’t be more emphasized; it has produced mostly a bunch of males with a superiority complex, who will always feel superior because they have been made to believe that it’s a “man’s” world. This terrible cycle may not stop any time soon because every coming generation learns to repeat it indirectly. They watch, learn, abide by and repeat while seeing no wrong because it is the way they see things being done. Therefore, gender roles should be abolished. There should be no limitation or restriction to what an individual can do because of their gender and no one should be made to feel superior or inferior to another because of their gender, everyone is created equal and even the law recognizes this. Domestic violence of any kind should be seen as an attack on human rights and a crime against humanity. It should be dealt with, seriously and strictly by all.
Don’t strangle her or cut her wings. Be the wind beneath her wings and watch her soar to great heights!