Gender Roles in African Relationships. (Parts 1-3)

Also see Reaction by Michael Oluwagbemi

Preface by Author: I use the term "Africans" in my articles not to designate Africa as one country or Africans as one people as Westerners sometimes do, but because some of the examples I use are not just about Nigerians or any one set of African men/women. These are my people, and they are the ones I have chosen to focus my writing about. Where appropriate, I have been specific about nationality. These articles are also published in other Non-Nigerian specific media.


I agreed to meet up with this Nigerian guy a non-Nigerian friend of mine had been dying to "hook me up with" a while ago when I first arrived in NY. You know how "Oyinbo" people don't have a good barometer for the nuances that make us Africans. I had my reservations, but obliged her just to potentially make a new friend in my new city. On the first casual date with this chap, the first question that popped out of his mouth was "You seem quite westernized, can you even cook Nigerian food"? Almost in the same breath, he also tried to gauge my earning potential, by wanting to know how I'm keeping body and soul together as an Artiste - he is definitely not interested in a woman he will have to support financially I learnt. But much on that later. You see, this man loves himself some home cooked buka-style food, which was not in itself his death-sentence with me, as I too love me some African cuisine. However, he told me an African woman is not worth visiting if she can‘t cook…, yet he himself can‘t cook, and he wouldn‘t cook even if he could, so he elaborated. His "shopping list" for a potential mate is one who will take care of him just as his mom took care of his dad, but one who is also financially independent he said. My "Oyinbo" friend had told me earlier that this guy worked on Wall Street. I smiled, deflected his question back to ask him instead in a language I'm sure he understood. ‘So, what is your financial portfolio worth'? how diverse is it, and what are your short, mid and long term financial goals?" And by the way, do you have a problem with a woman who won't sign a pre-nup?' He was amused. I didn't blink. He got it. "Why?" He asked, slightly irritated, do I need to quiz him about his financial status before I can answer a simple question rather expected of a "True African sister". I stated that I merely wanted to judge how potentially good a provider he would be since he similarly wants to judge how potentially good a mate I would be in the domestic department. That should be a rather expected question of a "True African man", not so? Also, my domestic services don't come cheap because I'm a very intelligent and creative woman whose education isn't shabby. Let me break it down: If I have to put all my years of toiling in school and all my "lofty" dreams aside just so I can be a glorified domestic help, he might as well be able to afford my kind, right? otherwise, my advise to him, and men like him is to go back to their villages and get a well groomed home girl who will serve them dinner on bended knees, and every one, I think will be happier, but oh no, he must have the professional domestic diva who can match him dollar for dollar as well. Obviously, my question about his financial status annoyed him. Mission accomplished. If my question irked him, why, that is the same way I feel about his enquiries about my domestication, since that is obviously one of his top criteria for choosing a mate. Here is a guy I'd had less than a few minutes of conversation with, who does not care how my mind works, if I have good morals or if I'm compassionate or fair-minded, but immediately wants to assess my ability to cook delicious Nigerian cuisine as a way to his coveted heart.

If upon agreement between a couple, a women chooses to be a full time homemaker, and a man accepts his role as the sole provider, I absolutely have no problem with that, if it works for them, and in a lot of cases, it does. Where I have a problem is when roles overlap, but only in one direction. You encounter a guy who tells you he wants to marry a professional woman whose bacon sizzles as well as his, because he doesn't want a lazy, soap-opera-watching "leech" in the home who will depend on him for all her financial needs, yet in the same breath, this same guy in no uncertain terms will say he won't cook, clean or take care of his kids. He needs a woman who will "take care of all his domestic needs just like his mother did". This logic of abdicating a share of his "traditional" responsibility to her, yet not picking up the slack on the domestic front in my opinion is unfair. She does her own half and half of his. For guys who claim to hold the lion share of the logic side of the brain, mathematically how this 4 divided by 2 becomes 3 logic beats any commonsense (The double-standard logic of "Some" African Men).

African women, especially those in the Diaspora are constantly being regaled with stories of "Mama did, Papa did" by spouses who refuse to lift a domestic pinkie. The men who cite the fact that their dads never cooked or cleaned while they were growing up are right, but they are forgetting one key fact: That even while their mothers orchestrated the show behind the domestic scene, they engaged a host of hired help where labor is cheap. That is why some of these women were able to go about their businesses of also making a living. And some women again, had to do it all alone without any assistance at all, they had no choice, they bore their burden with stoicism.

There are countless stories of women, especially of our parents' generation who had to juggle multiple roles as breadwinners, homemakers, mother and father rolled into one while "sending their husbands to school" abroad, supposedly to advance his career and better his earning power only for these women to be left in a lurch once these husbands become successful and decides to get another woman "befitting" his new status.

It's not that most women won't take on the lion share of domestic responsibilities or burn down the kitchen in protest, it is the expectations, and the fact that most men think it is their God-given right. It's about respect. ""Some" guys don't get it, that the same way some men don't want to be seen merely as "meal tickets" is the same way some women don't want to be seen as "domestic helps". When the expectations are not there, it is easy to fulfill these roles and do things out of love rather than out of duty.

When a woman assesses a man's money making potential without even getting to know him, how does this make men feel? These same guys will label such women "gold-diggers". If men will be objective, they will know that this is exactly the same thing they do, only on the domestic front. I have a friend who is the CEO of a very successful software company, he is usually very cautious about telling women what he does for a living or even take them to his home for fear that his wealth will become the focus of their affection and not him, I know where he's coming from, and I feel for him. It is natural for women to gravitate toward men who can "take care of business" but do men want them to be all that obvious that they see them primarily as meal tickets? As well, it is natural instincts for men to gravitate towards women who are nurturing, but do men have to make it obvious that they see women only as domestic helps ? "Some" guys will never be able to make this parallel or see the point because of their unique gender ability to equate ¾ to ¼ .

I'm not saying gender roles don't or shouldn't exist. But that they shouldn't be so set in stone or firmly defined only along traditional lines. A couple in an equal non-rigid role defining relationship will soon learn to adjust and find out who does better at what and work harmoniously to make co-habitation a seamless effort. If the husband is the better cook, so let him be in charge of that department. If the wife has better potential to make more money, so let her, if she doesn't flaunt it or seek to emasculate the man, why is that so difficult for "Some" men (and women) to accept in this age?. The fact is that on the average, most men will end up playing supporting roles in home management and most women will end up playing supporting roles as bread-winners. But the shift these days is that while men want their wives to have good paying jobs and bring in as much bacon to the table, majority of them are not stepping up in the domestic department, believing it's a woman's preserve.

A woman's job is never done, Tracy Chapman waxed philosophically in her song. Most earn a living, a role that's traditionally a mans, while not being relieved of her own role in care for the children, cleaning, cooking etc. Selfish, I say, pure selfishness on the part of the men who expect all this of a women and more. Women are emotionally strong, but we are not all super-beings on the physical side of things. Women who are smart are relieving themselves of this extra burden, and "Some" men folk are crying foul. For "Some" their logic about fairness is so bent out of shape, they have to always eat their cake and have it. Someone, please quick, get the pacifier!

Click "next" for Part 2


{mospagebreak}Gender Roles in African Relationships. The Problem with "Some" Men. (Part 2)
Click "next" for Part 3

With "Some" men, It's all about "What can you do for me"? (Read: "How can you make me happy, how can you love me, feed me, support my career, fulfill my sexual needs, propagate my genes, cater to my family, respect me, respect me, respect me!, because I am the boss of you, and generally be at my beck and call 24/7 with limited or no reciprocity on my part").

Permit me in this case, to personalize portions of this essay as a means to illustrate my point. I was in a fairly new relationship with this Nigerian guy several years ago, dating across country. He was to pay me a short visit after a while. And I, considering myself a pretty good host, naturally, stocked the fridge was with all sorts of delicacies, even going to find some of the hard to get African food in Seattle where I lived then. I also took some time off work during his visit, and prior to his arrival cooked up a storm that my entire neighborhood was smelling of iru, ogiri and nkan nkan. A few days after his arrival, I had to resume work. He was craving catfish, and I lived in a city known for some good fresh seafood. I told him I knew exactly the place where to get the freshest catfish, and I could pick some up on my way from work, though a drive away. This was back when I still toiled for corporate America working 12 odd hours a day. After work, I drove 90 minutes in heavy traffic to get live catfish. He was excited. I got home after 9pm having left at 7am that morning. Too tired to cook the fish, and having to prepare for a presentation the next day, I merely seasoned it and preserved it in the fridge. Next morning, on my way to work, I asked "home boy" if he'll like to have the catfish for lunch, I told him it's all prepped and ready to be put it in the oven, he nodded a sleepy yes, and off to work I went. When I returned later that evening, catfish was starring me in the face as raw as I left it in the morning. I asked him why he hadn‘t cooked it, he just went eerily quiet, at first ignoring my question. I persisted, "I thought you wanted to eat catfish now?, did you decide on something else" (as there was plenty of cooked food in the fridge). I was further ignored. Again, I pressed, "Did you eat anything today"? Silent treatment. After much query, I realized that he had expected I was going to dash down from work in the afternoon to cook it, or wake up an hour earlier than my usual 6:00am to cook it before going to work. Here is someone on a visit who watches CNN all day while I‘m at work, simply to stick in a "ready to cook" food that HE alone was going to eat, (as I don't fancy catfish myself) but which in defense of macho effrontery he wouldn‘t do. He said "He didn't come to visit me to cook". This was a guy who had regaled me with how his culinary skills can beat mine any day during the "toasting phase". Then it hit me…Ah ah!, he's one of those "I can cook, but refuse to cook in the presence of a woman type" - (You see, it takes a while sometimes to detect this trait in a guy). As the Yoruba saying goes" Ebi ni o pa ‘jesha to lohun o j'eko Oyo, tebi ba pa Sule, a j'obo - (Non-literary translation: He wasn‘t hungry enough, or he would have sorted himself out). You guessed right!, catfish was not on the menu in my house till he left. Nor was anything cooked that wasn't already cooked prior to his visit or readily available. Yes, go ahead, I am a mean ….(expletive)!!.

On the other hand, was another Nigerian friend of mine who couldn't cook to save his life, but he will never sit crossed legged in front of the TV while I sweat it out in the kitchen. He would chop the onions, check on the rice, set the table whatever he needs to do, or simply just hang around the kitchen just for the company. Knowing his mind-set, if he had wanted to watch TV while I cooked, I would at this point be OK with it, because he had no expectations, and guess what, cooking for him was a joy, I gave more than he expected, and he appreciated it, there were no domestic issues. There was never any reason to resent what I did.

If I even sense the slightest expectation on a guy's part when it comes to my domestic skills, I'll simply resist. I'm not your maid. If a guy comes to my home and expects as his God-given right my culinary services, he can have a phone book and I'll even let him use my phone. Pizza Hut cooks, so does Olive garden!. And guess what, they'll deliver and even throw in some napkins", and I‘ll be glad to pick up the tab. Again, feel free to call me a mean …(expletive).

You see a man whose friends comes to visit and he immediately commandeers his wife to the kitchen to wait on them. I'm not saying asking politely, I mean gives orders!. A dear friend (one of the few mature African male I know) once said when his male friends visit his home, he prefers to personally go to the kitchen and cook for them. He doesn't want them to see his wife as their waitress. He clearly demonstrates before his friends that they need to respect his wife, and that to him is an extension of their respect for him. He would be in the kitchen assisting his wife…"Some" men will say he's a fool, but his wife appreciates such simple gesture, and he reaps the benefits.

A real man does not have to be asked before he assists his wife. He knows what to do, and he does it. The domestic system becomes fluid. All parts of the sum does what needs to be done to create an effective system of domestic co-habitation. It doesn't make a man a weakling. Sure, I can't speak for everyone, but I know that SOME women find a man showing his domestic side quite alluring, as I'm sure a woman who proves her merit in what is traditionally a man's role equally turn SOME men on. "Some" will say that's hogwash. Maybe.

Not every man or woman is a good cook, that's fine, and some women don't even want their husbands hovering in the kitchen, that alright too. What is not alright is when it becomes a "battle of the sexes". Whoever can, should cook. And the one who does is not the others' "Maid". Meanwhile, should some of these "My shadow won't grace the entrance of a kitchen" African men be married to "Oyinbo" women, not only will they become domesticated by force, they will enslave themselves to her "majesty's" service should she also want breakfast in bed - every morning!. While also bringing home the bacon, they are also making the gravy.

I have a few male friends who can't tell what a frying pan is if one hit them over the head. You can see they make an effort but fail miserably at domesticity, either because they‘ve not been socialized that way, or they just don‘t have the chops. They may even ask the women in their lives to show them how, yet they fail. Sometimes, these class of male friends have asked me to help them "arrange" something when they need to entertain. But the difference with the ones I oblige is that they ask politely, with no expectations whatsoever. And I'm glad to do so out of love, I'm sure the same way they would oblige me should I ever be in a financial bind and need bailing out if I ask them politely, NOT because I'm a woman and EXPECT that I deserve to have men take care of my financial needs, but because they will do so for me as a friend who have earned their trust and respect in other areas.

"Some" men feel that the ONLY way to win a girl's love is by impressing her with his wealth, status, job ALONE. Personally, I find that a huge turn-off. Thank God, not every woman has a price tag. I'm not against wealth, I think money looks good on most people, and it can (sometimes) certainly make life and ones relationship more enjoyable. But when the layers of the bearer comes off, and there are major character flaws like lack of integrity, loyalty etc, it's a dud. It's an insult for a man to think that because he's so and so, he can, and should be able to get any woman. If a woman breaks up with a man who everyone (including himself) considers a "good catch" ( Read: High 6-figure salary, status conferring profession, family ties to old money etc), she is said to be "crazy". People are forgetting that the novelty of money and status will eventually wear off, and they are not the ones who will live with the man, nor will they be around to douse the fire when the scorching flames of a bad relationship consumes her. All the wealth in the world cannot make a "bad guy" good. How I wish more women will acknowledge this.

There are men, who think that sex is theirs for the asking, and for the taking. They prey on young impressionable women who sometimes are at a loss for what to do in economically harsh climates like that which obtains in most African countries, so they succumb to these unscrupulous monsters. I'm not making excuses for "bad behavior", and no, not all women who "give generously" are saints either, ( Article: Gender Roles in African Relationships. The problem with "Some" Women) but the wanton sexual abuse of women, sometimes of those young enough to be grand-daughters of some of these African men is so abominable. Yet, when a woman sleeps around she's a whore…but theirs is a conquest.

"Some" African men believe they have the exclusive right to be the "chooser" in a relationship. Women have to be the ones who parade themselves before him so he can have his pick. "Some" don't believe that a woman should have the privilege to choose them. That is a male's exclusive right. This goes back to the days of virgins being paraded bare breasted before men who will then pick their brides…And if a woman is not married by a certain age, "She has been left on the shelf" What makes men (or society) think she's not the one who hasn't chosen a man yet?. Any wonder why a lot of African women are now opting to date outside the race? A lot of these women have discovered that there is an alternative to the "typical" African man and his overblown ego. What makes the over marriage-able aged African man think that he has not indeed been left on the shelf? - What makes him think he's not an "old male"?.

The role of manipulating fertility to conceive in relationships should be a joint venture, yet you see "Some" men completely abdicate this responsibility to a woman. They refuse to participate in what they believe is the "messy affairs of women", yet act shell-shocked and sometimes even abusive when she "inconveniently" gets pregnant. Not all women necessarily "deceive" a man to concieve, sometimes, yes, that is the case, but it is often not. Yet, "Some" men will put the blame squarely on the woman, forgetting that it is his responsibility as well to prevent pregnancy, and he may even force her to consider an abortion. If both couple have an understanding about fertility and conception, they can work though the sometimes difficult - if unplanned situation - together.

The issue of child care is where "Some" men will absolutely draw the line. "Some" will even go to extremes to be absent in the first few months of their children's lives, conveniently going on "business trips", taking that long desired course abroad or finding some other lame excuses to not be around for the sleepless nights of the first few harrowing months of a baby's life. Yes, papa didn't change diapers, I know, but we live in a different time, and for those in the Diaspora, a different reality. Both parents need to be hands-on with child care, and by that, I don't mean the 5 min pat on Juniors' back before settling down comfortable on the recliner way down in the sound-proofed basement to block out his cries while you catch up on the latest sports stats on ESPN. Maybe there's something the penguins can teach us (Film: March of the Penguins).


{mospagebreak}Gender Roles in African Relationships. The Problem with "Some" Women. (Part 3)

With "Some" women, It's all about "what can you do for me"? (Read: "How can you take care of me, pay for my fake hair, my fake nails, my Prada bag, Manolo shoes: buy me this, buy me this, buy me that!, because you're my personal piggy-bank, with limited or no financial reciprocity on my part"). "Some", even while they work, don't believe in "our money", it is "My money is MY money", and "His money is OUR money". They refuse to pull any financial muscle in the home even if the man's purse is stained beyond capacity. (Ref Article: Equality in African Relationships). Yet, they complain that men don't respect them.

If a woman earns money, she should contribute to the financial well being of her family, unless of course, what she earns is so miniscule compared to her husbands, and they both agreed hers is for frivolities. But less common, and more fraught with issues is if she earns more than a guy. My take on this, is that it is okay to for a woman to take on the larger of the financial responsibility, if that is the circumstances in which the couple finds themselves. It doesn't always have to be a 50:50 financial affair, especially if the man deserves to be treated well and he's not at all insecure about gender roles. And, there is such a thing as THE MALE EGO. I acknowledge it, and I respect it. It is the over expression of it by "Some" men on testosterone overdrive to the detriment of the women in their lives and to the relationships that bind us together that I have a problem with. Ladies, if you're paying for dinner, don't make such a big deal of it. If you are the heftier breadwinner and have to shell out more for the mortgage, don't broadcast it to the universe, especially to your family or female friends, and certainly don't make a hardworking man pay for it with his self-esteem by disrespecting him. If the man is lazy, that is a different matter entirely, then you need to make him haul his lazy behind out of the recliner and take care of business. (Note to men: For the most part guys, it really doesn't matter to SOME women who pays for what, don't let your egos get in the way of "jollof").

If a woman is not the sole homemaker in the house, but gets adequate help with the domestic aspects of running the home, there is no reason for her to be sitting down, twiddling her toes watching soap opera all day and not contributing financially - well unless you're married to a gazzilionare who just wants to gaze lovingly into your eyes all day long (Personally, I think that will be boring, but then, each to his/her own).

"Some" women, when they go on job interviews, expect to get the job, just for showing up and having a set of "twins". You see them showing up to work wearing mostly their cleavage and nothing else. They don't believe in contributing any quota to the intelligent quotient in the workplace. While some of these women are extremely book smart, they opt for the path of least resistance. They see all men as fools who lose their heads when sex is the currency. These women believe any man can be enticed with the right sprinkling of flirtation. These are the women who believe ALL men are dogs, and they hold the bone that can make him salivate. They forget, that just as there are women who are discerning, we have men too who are just that, they don‘t cave at every canal temptation. These men respect themselves. These are the women who set other women back a hundred years. Just go to any Nigerian university, ….I mean "glorified brothels" to witness the extent of the moral decadence of some of our fellow Nigerian Women. It's quite sad really. And while there are severe economic reasons that one may proffer for why these women are behaving very badly, there has to be better way.

Thankfully, not all men are lead by their "willies". A friend of mine is a hugely successful film director. By most people's judgment, he could have any woman he wants. He has power, and he could wield such if he chooses to. But he has turned down so many untoward sexual advances from women, "Some" even question his sexuality.

Conversely, "Some" women also believe that the only way to get through to a man is giving "it" away on demand, while "Some" others have rationalized that treating sex casually is a way of getting even with men. The idea that treating sex casually engenders a woman on the same footing with a man is not only a foolish idea, it's also dangerous. There was a girl I knew once at the university where I attended whose mantra was, "Men will get what they want, either from you or from someone else, you might as well use what you got to get what you want". And she gave plenty!. I mean, the path to her doorstep was paved with many "foolish" men, who according to her she was "using sexually". This girl really felt empowered - albeit in a warped sense. And doling "it" out just because a man demands sex of you puts you way down on the rung of the equality ladder before God and man (ok, maybe I shouldn't speak for God, but I'm making a point).

"Some" women really do believe and perpetuate the myth that the only way to a man's heart is though his stomach. A friend's girlfriend once told me that if you don't cook for your man, how will you "punish him" or "manipulate" him to get what you want when he misbehaves?. Another friend told me that once, he was introduced to a Nigerian girl in the UK with the intention of possibly dating her. The first thing she wanted to establish with him was how great a cook she was, she wanted to know what type of food he likes and when he can come over so she can entice him with her culinary skills. His take was "Feed my mind first, I can take care of my own stomach". She wouldn't relent, when she persisted in asking him what he would like to eat over and over, so she can have it prepared, he joked "Breast milk". She didn't get the sarcasm. Some women don't understand that connecting mentally, emotionally and spiritually with an intelligent, secure man will last much longer than trying to impress him with just your culinary skills ALONE. (Well, except of course, the ones who want to marry a cook, who then later turn around to find a woman outside of their marriage to stimulate their intellect). Let the cooking skills - if you have any - come as part of a complete package.

Being a good cook and skilled with sexual prowess may temporarily get "Some" women the man they desire, because "Some" men are conditioned that way, but it may not hold his attention for ever. Most men need mental as well as physical stimulation. Otherwise, why do "Some" of these men leave the wives at home and chase after women who will challenge them intellectually all other things being equal?

I'm not advocating that women burn down the kitchen, neither do I think women who cook for men or their families are slaves. Do I, and would I cook for a man? Absolutely!. But out of love, not out of duty. And certainly not for a man who needs to see "COOK" on my resume before he expresses interest. Will I allow my husband in the kitchen? You bet! unless of course he's a lousy cook, in which case he will only be allowed to chop the onions J .

I'm certainly not opposed to chivalry, but some women take this to the point of ridiculousness. They won't walk through a door or get out of the car or out of a chair unless a man rushes out of his way, almost killing himself in the process to satisfy the chivalrous demands of "Today's Woman", thus making this a chore rather than an act of love. While this act in itself is an "Act", and may work out for the heck of it in formal situations, from one woman to another, please ladies, when a guy is weighed down with grocery bags with no spare hands to open the door, or you are walking way ahead of him, it really makes no sense to wait to be waited upon. "Some" men will pull this charade off very dutifully until he feels he's got you, then, "Chivalry" will be a Chinese word to his African ears. Let it be an act done out of love, not borne of expectation or resentment, that way the genuine act of chivalry (hopefully) will outlast the wedding vows.

Okay, so it is a fact that most African women NEVER make the first move in romantic relationships. (I'm not talking here about those who throw themselves at men for sexual overtures, that is another genre entirely). Shyness aside, if a women feels it, doesn't she owe it to herself and possibly the man (if he reciprocates) to act on those feeling of attraction? Why are "Some" of us African women so coy?. So, not every woman has enough chutzpah to approach a guy with heart-felt intentions, I'm aware of that, and not all men have the courage either. But sometimes, it is "Some" of these same coy women who will be the first ones to "nail" a guy who has summoned up enough courage to woo them in the most humiliating fashion if they don‘t "dig" him. There is a good way and a bad way to say "Thanks, but no thanks" without having a man crawl away with his tail between his legs (No pun intended).

The role of manipulating fertility to conceive in a relationship should be a joint venture. Some women take it upon themselves to single-handedly control this aspect of a relationship, simply because they can. And "Some" wield this "power" unscrupulously. They get pregnant for a man without his consent - either prior to or after marriage, possibly thinking a baby will bring them closer together if they are married, or get the man to marry them if they are single, or more frightening, the ominous tick-tock of the "biological clock" gets louder, so "Some" get pregnant intentionally for the unsuspecting guy. This one, I think is a big foul. If you expect a man to be responsible for the child, don't you think he needs to know what he's getting into first? Yes, you have more control over how and when a child gets conceived, but to use that as a weapon manipulatively is so way off the chart of unfairness. In the end though, sometimes it's these women who get the short end of the stick in this deceitful bargain, because a man who doesn't love you prior to having his child will most likely resent you even more afterwards. And men do need to be more pro-active and be in the know of their significant others "affairs" in this department so they don't get stunned, to not do so is foolishness on the part of a man.

There is no denying that the instincts of a mother is strong. And this plays out in an almost instant greater bond between a mother and her child even before birth. So one can argue physiological reasons for the propensity of a woman to focus more on the child during this phase in marriage. But some women completely abandon the husband who more or less wanders around the house hovering around like an un-welcomed stranger, feeling unneeded and sometimes unloved. But problem arises when some women take this to a whole new level. All the love once felt for the husband is now entirely showered on the children. This is normal to an extent, It's a protective mechanism. But for some couples, this phase persist way past what is healthy for their marriage. Now I'm not defending the man who pulls a disappearing act once his wife gives birth, and wants no part of child rearing. I'm defending the hapless man who is caring and loving and wants to be involved, but whose wife keeps pushing him away, taking the term "mother-hen" to an extreme. The man gets not love, no role or respect in the child-rearing department and most definitely no sex. Yes, sometimes, the lack of libido on the part of a women post-partum can certainly be hormonal, and some men too just simply will not have sex with a woman after she's had their children. Many marriages have fallen apart after the advent of what should be a joyous and new phase in a couples lives upon becoming new parents. There is no reason why this should be so. Couples would benefit to communicate openly and honestly with each other and seek professional help if need be, but where tradition, roles and taboos still take precedence in most supposedly "modern" African Marriages, this may be a tall order. (See Article: "Mothers who love their children more than their husbands").

Also see Reaction by Michael Oluwagbemi


I've been musing for a long while about shooting a short documentary films on these types of discussions based on a dozen or so articles I've written as a series scrutinizing African relationships. I hope to be able to interview different participants over a period of 6 months. If anyone is interested in being part of this project (or if you know of other folks) , please email me at folasayo_documentaries@yahoo.com . Invitation is open to all who live in the US* for now. I will make allowances for people who may wish to remain anonymous although preference will be to those not. Demography sought are Single, Married, Divorced or Separated 18-50-something yr old African Men and Women. Or non-Africans involved with an African in a relationship.

A screening questionnaire will be emailed to those who express interest in the project. In the meantime, if you think you have a compelling personal story about the discussion on this thread, viewpoint, etc, please send a short briefing to me or just simply indicate interest, it may be a while, but I will follow up if interested.

*Those living close to NY are especially encouraged to participate for logistical reasons. However, if you live outside the US, or can't participate for other reasons, you may email your thoughts and comments with your real identity for credibility. Text excerpts may be used in the final cut. Also, as the project expands, Africans who live elsewhere will be included to diversify the opinions portrayed.

Thank you.





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Re: .Gender Roles in African Relationships. (Part 1)
Tsohon Soja posted on 06-18-2006, 15:53:53 PM
Its so interesting how those of us who live or grew up in foreign climes are absorbed by the influence of technology and economy on culture, that we preach or make inferences to the adoption of such ways to our 'African lives', hook-line-and-sinker'.

We should please beware of our historical antecedents as well as our present realities. While Western soceities are bemoaning the collapse of the family system and its beutitudes, we who still have it in abundance (Africans) are rather drawn by the favor of feminist activists, who rebel against the perceived harm of patriachy and masculinity. As a husband and a father, I know at the bottom of male leadership at the family level remains responsibility and fairness to all members, with the wife as your adviser and companion. A man's responsibility and the respect soceity accords him is rated according to how he treats his family.

So much intellect is being peddled/spun around this gender imbroglio. My submission is that the soul of it all is about the industrial revolution and the emergence of the 'earning power' of women. At this point, the issues are - You work, I work. You wear trouser, I were trouser. So what?

Until we are honest to ourselves and re-admit the truth that we are divinely created for special sacred roles, the better for humanity.

As a Muslim and an African in the cultural setting I am now, whenever the matter of polygamy comes up, the thing I am told is that it is unacceptable because it smerks of unfaithfulness and its immoral. Interestingly the other day, I was in an arument with a female colleague who has been 'co-habiting' with her 'boyfriend' for 9 years and does not see anything immoral about that. The other day a feminist reasoned that those primitives of us should imagine that a woman should also have more than one husband if she pleases. I do not think thats a problem, because, some soceities practice polyandery. Though the culture itself is fast dying.

We all see things from our cultural lenses/prisms. But my problem is that the West demonises our ways, while those of us in the diaspora mimic and rejoice in a bid to be socio-politically correct and find acceptability.

Gender equality is the in-thing now. It has even been elevated to academic degrees. Next will be sexual equality, which is already gathereing strenght. Soon not only will people go to universities to do BA - Lesbianism, Gayhood or Nudism, we shall have up to PhDs in such fields, followed by an equal guarantee that it is preached in Africa and how backward you are, if you do not comply.

A step at a time, we shall get there.

May Allah protect our generations. Ameen.
Re: .Gender Roles in African Relationships. (Part 1)
Ayala posted on 06-18-2006, 16:24:42 PM
Another fruitless exercise of he say I say not knowing what when down between both of you. It will be fair if your date could anonymously table his side of the story. If it smells like a fish it must be a fish. You sounded confused, acidic in your piece, disengaged in your role as a lady or wife to be. Being educated does not give the liberty to attack people for whatever behavior they chose to exhibit in their marital life. "One man's meat is another man's poison" If you want a man to lord over I bet there is someone in the wings to take your commands willing no question asked. It will cost you.
Re: .Gender Roles in African Relationships. (Part 1)
Bambo posted on 06-18-2006, 16:59:31 PM
" If the husband is the better cook, so let him be in charge of that department. If the wife has better potential to make more money, so let her, if she doesn't flaunt it or seek to emasculate the man, why is that so difficult for some men (and women) "
The man don become Iyawo be that.
Re: .Gender Roles in African Relationships. (Part 1)
Unregistre posted on 06-18-2006, 17:21:21 PM
Perpetual spinster; You should have told your so called non nigerian friend you weren't interested in getting married, instead of these prattles on NVS.
Re: .Gender Roles in African Relationships. (Part 1)
Anike posted on 06-18-2006, 18:17:46 PM
Sounds like you went on a date with a nutcase but even at that, men are not as bad as you paint them. There are just as many bad Nigerian men as there are Nigerian women and the same applies to all nationalities. NO, asking if you can cook Nigerian food is uncalled for but I get the feeling you over analyzed it because of the preconceived opinion you seem to have towards Nigerian men. I see the "some" and "some" but I don't hear them when I read your article to myself.

I think you might have went a tad too Margaret Thatcher on the guy, even considering that he lacks finesse when it comes to dating (or maybe the man had been starving since he got here (joke))

QUOTE:
African women, especially those in the Diaspora are constantly being regaled with stories of “Mama did, Papa did” by spouses who refuse to lift a domestic pinkie
I'm sure you've seen several of such cases but I have to disagree based on what I've seen. I actually think that Nigerian men here do help out around the house more than they would were they back home. Now you see men taking out the trash, doing grocery... yes, there are some bad eggs but let's give the good guys their dues.

If I may disrespect your space a little, maybe you should just give some guy the benefit of the doubt and don't be as judgmental. Believe me, you do sound like ...angry judgmental and it's so hard for me to say but, oro ole le le bi ka fi obe bu.

Initially, I was gonna respond siding with this article just because "the author is a female" but then I said to myself, "you're not being true to yourself". So, deleted and started over.

So here, is my honest take
Re: .Gender Roles in African Relationships. (Part 1)
Emj posted on 06-18-2006, 18:22:28 PM
Quote
There are countless stories of women, especially of our parents’ generation who had to juggle multiple roles as breadwinners, homemakers, mother and father rolled into one while “sending their husbands to school” abroad, supposedly to advance his career and better his earning power only for these women to be left in a lurch once these husbands become successful and decides to get another woman “befitting“ his new status.

Such stories indeed are pathetic but true, it is a pity that some men can be quite heartless. At the end of the day when they get fashed/jilted or ill-treated by the new Madam good, we will all castigate the said woman without knowing the genesis of his downfall/nemesis.


Quote
It’s not that most women won’t take on the lion share of domestic responsibilities or burn down the kitchen in protest, it is the expectations, and the fact that most men think it is their God-given right. It’s about respect. “”Some” guys don’t get it, that the same way some men don’t want to be seen merely as “meal tickets” is the same way some women don’t want to be seen as “domestic helps”. When the expectations are not there, it is easy to fulfill these roles and do things out of love rather than out of duty.


I will say do things out of duty and love. It is expected of women to run their home properly kitchen duties inclusive, if baba pauline decides to chip in to help with the meals or put the plates used in the dishwasher etc etc fine. I at times change the bulbs in my home, back home in Nigeria, i handle even electrical works, even switch the cut-out when there is no light in a phase----there ain't much to fuss about in respect of making sure that the ship/home runs full steam.---------can even take baba shope's hand to the sink to wash for him after his meal of lafu/gbegiri So any man who thinks that he is the meal ticket for the woman is nothing but a whimp.


Quote
When a woman assesses a man’s money making potential without even getting to know him, how does this make men feel? These same guys will label such women “gold-diggers”. If men will be objective, they will know that this is exactly the same thing they do, only on the domestic front. I have a friend who is the CEO of a very successful software company, he is usually very cautious about telling women what he does for a living or even take them to his home for fear that his wealth will become the focus of their affection and not him, I know where he’s coming from, and I feel for him. It is natural for women to gravitate toward men who can “take care of business” but do men want them to be all that obvious that they see them primarily as meal tickets? As well, it is natural instincts for men to gravitate towards women who are nurturing, but do men have to make it obvious that they see women only as domestic helps ? “Some” guys will never be able to make this parallel or see the point because of their unique gender ability to equate ¾ to ¼ .


Why dig gold when u can dig Diamonds, Platinium, Ephymium etc etc. Of course nobody want to marry a pauper. We all look forward to marrying someone who can take care of business, someone who has the potential----there is Surulere and Olorunshogo. If Surlere has potential and he is not a lazy bum fine. Olorunshogun is welcome always--provided it is legit
Only a man who is archaic and myopic will see every woman or a woman only as domestic help----shows how he was raised. That's why we shld all train our children both male and female to do house chores, proper house-keeping----draw up your own finishing sch ettiquette for them. Teach them how to budget, run their own finances, set goals. Proper decorum and respect for the opposite sex etc etc.

Just my 2ounce take Afro-poet. Have a nice week.
Re: .Gender Roles in African Relationships. (Part 1)
What? posted on 06-18-2006, 19:11:19 PM
There is no culture where men do majority of the cooking at home. It is not an African problem, it is a man problem.
Re: .Gender Roles in African Relationships. (Part 1)
Ajibs posted on 06-18-2006, 20:44:02 PM
Anike,
You are going to get many blessings for your response up there!

First blessing:
QUOTE:
Initially, I was gonna respond siding with this article just because \"the author is a female\" but then I said to myself, \"you're not being true to yourself\". So, deleted and started over.

Great! And much appreciated! Thanks for being true to yourself. That all we ask for really. Be objective, be fair, be honest, simple.

Second blessing:
QUOTE:
I actually think that Nigerian men here do help out around the house more than they would were they back home. Now you see men taking out the trash, doing grocery... yes, there are some bad eggs but let's give the good guys their dues.

INDEED! And we have our own Palmedes to support this fact! HA! He was initally blowing hot and heavy, its all a womans job... then admitted that he did a little cleaning here and there and finally admitted to pushing the cart in the supermarket, soon he will be preparing the kids lunch and putting them to bed!

Final most powerful Blessing:
QUOTE:
I get the feeling you over analyzed it because of the preconceived opinion you seem to have towards Nigerian men. I see the \"some\" and \"some\" but I don't hear them when I read your article to myself.

Ah ha! When we said the same we were attacked. We have agreed that "some" Nigerian men are bad, useless, terrible, all thngs evil. We asked the author to tell us about those other "some" good Nigerian men that she says are out there. Now we get another piece on yet another terrible, useless Nigerian man. So were are the "some" we have been asking for? Dem dey this life so?

Oh yes, an extra blessing with this...
QUOTE:
There are just as many bad Nigerian men as there are Nigerian women and the same applies to all nationalities.

I said exactly the same thing a while back. gracias!
Re: .Gender Roles in African Relationships. (Part 1)
Emj posted on 06-18-2006, 22:06:10 PM
Admin, what happened to the article Gender role, we can't access it any longer. What happened?
Re: .Gender Roles in African Relationships. (Part 1)
Picasso posted on 06-18-2006, 22:21:16 PM
I think this article is essentially saying the same thing as the "Equality....." one.

Makes it kind of redundant to me. Anyway, lets see if the author will talk about something else in Part 2.
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