The “woman as eternal slave to man” mentality

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The ideology that a woman is inferior to a man is ancient and has prevailed until this day in our African society. African women have to put up with this challenge at work, local communities and even at home on a daily basis. More often than not, the “old school” misconception of a woman being inferior and a “slave “ to the man has been linked to religion; twisting the true meaning of her submission and obedience to her husband, as quoted in the Bible or Koran, to words that best suit the men. Therefore, the African society casts a look of disdain to African women who challenge this conception in any way possible.

Let´s take this to the household level. A wife who laments about her husband´s lack of organization is always frowned upon as a nagging wife. Now what do you do to a man who never seems to arrange his wardrobe in a logical manner; drops his socks and underwear around the house knowing that wifey will clean after him; leaves the dishes unwashed, because it´s wifey´s job to do that anyway or invites his friends to watch a football game and expects you to play the waitress and the cleaner while they have fun? Most sisters will agree that their husbands never lift a finger at home and always expect their wives to clean after them. The quarrels that ensue from these little things range from manageable to devastating for the couple.

It is very hard to ignore this attitude in men. As a typical African girl, I grew up with two brothers and a hoard of cousins, and I can assure you the boys´ rooms were always a mess. It extended to other parts of the house like the living room, with my mom always lashing out severe anger tantrums at my brothers. One would ask why we women marry these guys knowing that we can´t handle their attitudes. The truth is, while at the courting stage, we women never get to see these sides of our husbands. We think they are different from our brothers back home because, most guys keep their houses super clean when expecting a girl. My brothers did this. The only time they ever willingly cleaned was when they were expecting female guests. Eventually, when faced with this problem at later stages of a relationship or marriage, complaints are always perceived as constant nagging.

In my opinion, men these days are too comfortable with doing the bare minimum in the home and we women need to give them a wake-up call. Times have changed and men have to adapt. If a woman who complains about her husband´s disorganized attitude is looked upon as a nag, then what can one say of a man who is comfortable with allowing his 9am to 5pm working wife come home and cook, bathe the kids, help them with their homework and undertake a whole myriad of activities on her own, without his offered assistance? Is that love?

Now don´t get me wrong. I do not support nagging. I personally think it is a waste of energy. I also think that not ALL men or husbands are that inconsiderate and insensitive. I have seen my own share of clean and extremely organized men. Unfortunately, these few make up the little exception of the rule. I think the roles of husband and wife are no longer 100% traditional.

If we both work and we both contribute to the family, why is it okay for a man to come back home from work, and watch his also working wife clean after him, cook dinner, look after the children, encourage them to do their homework, give them a bath, pack their school lunch, have sex if he wants to and the million things wives do? Yet after all this, most adult males find it difficult to show their spouses some any form of appreciation.

The African wife does a myriad of things almost on a daily basis, and does not need to be told before she does them. She has a duty to her home as a wife and mother to do all these chores, which unfortunately cannot be done at her convenience. Compassion, accountability, and responsibility for the wife come with truly loving and caring for her. Not turning her into the household slave because tradition or society dictates this, but instead understanding and respecting her as a wife and mother, as well as appreciating this because YOU love her.

The archaic stereotypes that minimize women to maximize the men must be dealt with and left to the past century. It all starts in the upbringing. A man who grew up in a house where everyone did chores, including his Dad, will help his wife tomorrow with preparing dinner for the family when they both come home after a hard day at work. He will also clean after himself to make more bearable the weight of her chores at home, and accordingly appreciate her contribution to the wellbeing of the family.

By Fanny W. Nzie I am a Cameroonian with a B.Sc in Microbiology, an M.Sc in Biology and developing passion for writing. I am also a member of an NGO, the Citizen Service Corps e.V., which aims at enabling Cameroonians from the diaspora to implement projects for the development of Cameroon. I am presently a devoted wife and mother with the perspective of one day being able to transfer my scientific know-how in my home country.

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