By Kunle Abrahams
We were in a busy market somewhere in Osun-state when I curiously drew my friend’s attention to a store. There was this mother relaxing in the background, obviously exhausted from struggling to sell her wares of some dry fish and other condiments. There was also a young boy of about 14 years. Equally present was also this young girl of about 9 years, who appeared to be totally in charge, with such dexterity in attending to customers, that she would make any world-class salesman green with envy. I pointed out to my friend again, to compare the level of maturity displayed by the siblings: One already adept at a basic ingredient of survival and successful business： marketing, while the boy fiddles unconcernedly with his mobile phone.
Even in most urban homes, have you observed the common setting of where the daughter is there in the kitchen helping the mum, while the boy is languidly reclining on the parlour sofa, surfing leisurely through tv channels, only to be called to the table when food is served .The underlying belief of our world being a man’s world is partly responsible for this.
If a parent has to send a child on an errand, who do you think would be readily sent？A female child of course! Have you also observed the level of strictness deplored in training a girl-child? ‘Sit like a lady’, ‘Don’t shout like that, you are a lady’ ‘Be accommodating, you are going to be a mother one day’ and many others to give our girl-child prim and proper upbringing. For the male child however, we all seem to give them such free rein, ably supported by the usual refrain-‘He is a man oo’.
Ironically, a basic skill such as cooking, an essential skill for every human, which we have culturally ceded to female gender, under the excuse that the future wife would take charge, is lost forever. We seem to forget that an average human would spend 25% of his income in a lifetime on food. So, what stops him from mastering its preparation, where basic skills such as measurement, time management, patience, planning, multitasking, and creativity etc. are imbibed.
At such a young age, the the boy-child grows with the “boss attitude” of always being served, which doesn’t work out that way in an adult world. It is even worse if the child is an only son or child.
There were times I had to check myself whenever I noticed what I considered the highhandedness of my wife in her dealing with my first daughter. It looks as if she is a perfectionist, who wants her to get everything right, but on a second thought, I realized it is for her own good and that what we were often told as children, that we should make mistakes and learn is not entirely true, as some mistakes are too fatal to be made or allowed.
Now even in school, how do the two genders fare? Let me share an experience. We were trying to constitute a Student Representative Council in an A level college in Lagos, when we were faced with the stark reality that if we were to strictly follow the set down criteria（responsibility, discipline etc）to choose members of this council, no boy would make the team. In the end, we had to use a quota system of ceding the position of the Secretary General to one of the boys!
Many years down the line, the girl seamlessly fits into her role of being responsible mothers, while the boys are still grappling with basics of manhood, not to talk of even being a responsible father. No wonder we see nowadays that the maturity of a 17 year old girl is almost equal to that of a 40 year old man!
Our environment has changed in such a short time, so drastically that skills that were in high demand some thirty years ago are no longer so. With every passing day, it is becoming glaring that raw physical strength which gave men professional edge in the past is no longer so. Traditional professions such as Medicine are not so hot again, or have even been hybridized into more attractive professions, where intelligence, skills, creativity hold sway. .
Feminism despite all its flaws has engendered a lot of positives. More than before, the girl-child is now exposed to the same opportunities as the male and are excelling. You needn’t go far to see the growing number of female becoming presidents of countries and corporations. Even in the work place where every career is synonymous with marketing, a female with all the imbued soft skills definitely has an edge.
On the home front, the battle even gets fiercer. Where men used to hold sway being traditionally acclaimed as the bread winner, there has been a reversal of role, with men now playing the second fiddle and men now being the ‘house-husbands’. Where a man is not too comfortable with this new role, he resorts to a cowardly option, by unleashing violence on his more successful spouse, thus the reason for the growing number of domestic abuse we have today.
In a new world of objective assessment of outcomes, women are definitely going to take charge and control things and a quota may have to be put in place to accommodate the male! Don’t blame the female, nature just has a way of not allowing a vacuum. Where men through faulty upbringing, have become irresponsible, seeing life only from the purview of making money and pleasure, women have rightly stepped in.
The solution is very simple. Parents must just change their approach to parenting. Apply the same strict parenting, often given to the girl-child to the male-child!
Kunle Abrahams can be reached via Kunleabrahams046@gmail.com
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