In a society that is changing and hoping to be balanced for the better, it is important we have conversations about smashing societal created gender roles, behaviours and systems; aka fuck the patriarchy. It is necessary to cancel the subscription of what women should be or shouldn’t, same goes with men. Time has indeed come for us Nigerians and even humans to put an end to the spiral and spiral effect problems caused by these things.
To start with, we are going to have to throw away those ‘talks’ given to the children but differentiated by gender. Those talks that advise girls on boys, domestication and discipline and advise boys on career, success and independence. From this moment, our society has started breaking us apart and ruining the fight against equality.
Imagine a world where we teach boys to aspire to marriage like we teach girls. Or better still, a world where we didn’t teach children and young ones to aspire to marriage. Do you know what is going to happen? Women will stop limiting themselves with the thought that they cannot do too much in life since marriage is ‘soon come’. Yes! Don’t act so shocked.
Women will stop teaching themselves to be good wives at a time when they’re supposed to be teenagers. Women will stop seeing each other as competitors and spending their lives trying to look the part of the best wife, the one with ‘beauty and brains’. And for the men, they will start catering for themselves knowing that nobody is being trained to cater to and for them.
We raise girls to be prim and proper, to be prissy and perfect. But you raise boys to be tough, angry and rich. You raise two people —who should normally have a bit of all these things—and you force one gender to learn and adopt it. Somewhere in the future, when two people raised under these circumstances (quite literally) find themselves married to each other, the woman- who is likely more worldly, better educated, better skilled, more knowledgeable, more responsible and more dependable- is expected to submit to the man as ‘the head of the family’ who at best is more successful or richer.
We should teach the boys to also aspire to cleanliness, to be respectful, to know that success and excellence is not exclusive to their gender. We need to teach boys that it’s normal to be afraid, cry and seek help. Girls do it and still flourish. Teach the boys that they will not die if they feel emasculated. That that word in itself —emasculation—is dangerous and should be destroyed.
Also, as we often teach boys; let us teach our girls to grasp opportunities with both hands and “have a go.” To be unapologetic about it, to be brave.
We teach girls to be careful and safe. But I dare ask, to be careful of what? Of men? Of challenges? Of opportunities? Of themselves? How come we teach girls these things and we never teach the boys?
We teach girls to be ashamed of their hormones, their bodies and their femininity. The ones who are unashamed about it, we call them shameless, in the way we would describe a naked person on the street.
We should teach boys to also be ashamed of their promiscuity, to stop celebrating infidelity and overt sexual behaviours. We must teach girls to be liberated sexually and be free of shame. We must teach boys that menstruation is not the apocalypse and they will be fine. You go dey alright las las.
We teach girls to say more of ‘no’ than ‘yes’. We teach girls to act like a lady and think like a man because thinking like a man means thinking sharp, dubious, unashamed, selfish and proud. We must teach boys to be, to act and to think like a human. I mean, how hard can that be?