In the typical African tradition, there are certain roles assigned to men which are different from the ones assigned to the women. In the past, both men and women were expected to stick to their own roles. These gender roles define the structure and mode of operation of the societies though they differ from society to society, depending on their cultures.
Back home in the South Eastern part of Nigeria, these gender roles were taken rather seriously. The man is the head of the family, that headship covers every aspect of the family and social life. He is the bread winner, provider, ‘protector’, and the major, if not the sole decision maker, in fact his wife(s) address (es) him as ‘our lord/Master (Nna anyi)’ because he has the final say in all things and the wife is not supposed to question him. Which is why, when the husband dies, another man in his family inherits the woman.
The woman on the other hand, is the home maker, child bearer, helpmeet and Obiageli (one who came to enjoy). They take care of the home and the children, see to the day to day smooth running of the homes and generally help the man in any way he demands her assistance, be it on the farm, in the shop, home, anywhere. She must always be available to carry out her conjugal duties to her husband as it pleases him.
And so they lived, happily or unhappily for so many decades until recently when the lines began to disappear and the roles began to merge till we got to this era of role reversal.
In our modern day living, the distinction between the gender roles began to gradually erode till it began to blend. It started with both husband and wife providing for each other and the children. Each takes a responsibility towards providing for the whole family. It ceased to be the sole responsibility of the husband; the woman also contributed her own quota.
However, the role reversal is still metamorphosing, it did not end with both spouses contributing to the family coffers. Now, we are tilting towards a new era, the era of complete role reversal, minus the child bearing aspect. These days, you might have noticed that it is not unusual to find the man lounging in front of the television morning, afternoon and night while the wife is off to work or business. It is now trending and this trend is in fact becoming the order of the day. Everywhere you turn, you find that wife struggling, not just as a home keeper but also as the primary or even the sole bread winner.
We are moving full cycle. Maybe in time the cycle will be complete when the husband will even take on the duties of child bearing, child rearing and home keeping. For now, the men are content to relinquish the sole provider role, to have the wife hustle for money, in addition to her other roles.
There is a local politician who loved to be addressed as a party chieftain. He will lounge in the sitting room all day long except when he wants to visit his barber, which is every three days or days that he has political meetings. The wife, who is my priest’s sister, sells roasted yam and plantain with cooked beans in the market. She is the sole bread winner; she pays the rent and other bills, she is training their children in school with one successfully graduated and working. Early in the morning before she leaves for the market, she makes sure there is enough food in the house for the husband and the children. Then the husband will demand for money to credit his phone so he can call his fellow politicians, demand money to go to the barber’s, or fare to one political program or the other. He contributes zilch to the wellbeing of the family, rather he burdens the wife so much so that he even borrows money that he knows he cannot pay trusting the wife to bail him out when his creditors come calling. Is that one role reversal?
Do you know any family with such an unbalanced ‘role reversal’? I bet you do for it is fast becoming the norm. Maybe there are some husband and wives that prefer living this way, maybe it works for them, who knows?
In my opinion however, if we want gender role reversal, then it should not be partial. If the man wants to be the Obiageli of the house, then he should carry out every duty of the wife. He should cook, scrub, wash, feed, work and maybe try child bearing too then of course give her good sex whenever the mood strikes her. Then the wife as the sole or primary bread winner must see to the general upkeep of the entire family.
Why is this scenario increasingly playing out in Nigerian families? Do you know? Do you understand why some men are becoming feeble and lazy? Did the women do wrong to want to assist their men? I’d like to know what you think because I do not understand it.
He married her, paid her bride price, probably with his own money or not. That makes her his personal property, that gives him all the right, to use her as he pleases, whenever he pleases.
Believe it or not, that is the mindset of some Nigerian male folk, even in this present day and age. It is a very simple logic that requires no argument. I have come across many of them with that point of view. He went to the human market, searched for this particular woman who interested him on some level, then he ‘purchased’ her with a bride price and legalised it with the wedding ceremonies. Then from the market he brought the ‘lucky’ woman to his home. He considers her lucky because there are too many women looking for a man to save them. I am sure you know what happens when supply exceeds demand. He saved her from that horrible situation.
In his home, a little above a purchased slave, she is to provide all his needs whenever they come up and this includes giving her body to him whenever the urge to plough her arises in him. She CANNOT say no, she dare not deny him of his conjugal rights, even when she is not able to perform that duty. If she is stupid or stubborn enough to refuse her dear husband, then she must be forced to submit to her husband’s needs. Why else did he marry her if not to satisfy his needs at all times?
The Nigerian constitution, unlike that of most developed nations, does not regard marital rape as an offence on its own. Section 357 of the Nigerian Criminal Code Act, CAP 77, LFN 1990 definition of rape:
“Any person who has unlawful carnal knowledge of a woman or girl, without her consent, or with her consent, if the consent is obtained by force or by means of false threats or intimidation of any kind, or by fear of harm, or by means of false or fraudulent representation as to the nature of the act, or in case of a married woman, by personating her husband is guilty of an offence called rape”.
The Nigerian Penal Code defines rapes thus:
“A man can be held guilty of rape if he has sexual intercourse with a woman without her consent, or with her consent, if consent was unlawfully obtained”.
The criminal code further describes ‘unlawful carnal knowledge’ as
“carnal connection which takes place otherwise than between husband and wife.”
This lends a different twist to the whole definition. It gives the husband the right to have sexual intercourse with his wife, with or without her consent. The Penal Code on the it’s part further states that
Sexual intercourse by a man with his own wife is not rape, if she has attained to puberty.
In essence, both Laws inadvertently give the husband the right to rape or love his wife as he pleases so far as he is recognised as the husband.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) however describes rape as
“Physically forced or otherwise coerced penetration – even if slight – of the vulva or anus, using a penis, other body parts or an object.”
Due to the fact that the Nigerian Law does not yet recognise marital rape nor consider it a crime, most people, male and female alike, see nothing wrong in the act.
My submission is that RAPE IS RAPE irrespective of who is involved or how it is carried out so far as there is a form of coercion.
Sometimes the woman will not be in the mood, sometimes, she is too tired or ill. I believe that instead of forcibly taking what you consider yours, a little love and care might soften her up. A little understanding and patience would not be such a terrible idea.
It is also possible that the sexual life of the couple is not healthy. These are things that communication can address easily rather than forcibly claiming ownership. In my book, raping your spouse is not just sheer evil, it is cowardice. It can erode trust and love faster than infidelity, if you ask me. I doubt if there can be much pleasure in forcing your wife into sex.
It would do us a world of good if theNigerian Law will criminalise marital rape.
Dear WordPress and its inhabitants, I have missed you dearly. I have not posted in ages due to many silly excuses I kept giving myself.
But this is a new month, a new day, a new beginning, new challenges, new opportunities, and of course, a new post all in the same old Alluring n Young blog.
I must have disappointed a lot of people by my absence, I apologise. I pray I get the long lasting motivation, inspiration and zeal required to stay on the radar more.
It is good to be back again. A lot of things have been happening to me and in the world around me and topmost among them is still the issues facing women which seem to be escalating. take domestic violence for instance, it is becoming damn too rampant.
But on the other hand, I feel that more women are finding their voices, seeking freedom and happiness, individually and in groups, drawing strength and courage from each other, and that is commendable.
My country on its part has been going through so many storms that it is beginning to feel like we are gonna be stuck in it longer, but God forbid. What with the ill and absent President and the dwindling economy. The environment still suffers from various forms of degradation from oil exploration.
But We have hope, sometimes that is all we have, sometimes, it is what we need to survive.
On another level, sex education and sex related issues are coming up in public discussions more often than ever before in Nigeria. Who would have thought that Nigeria and Nigerians can one day begin to discuss sex openly and freely on the social media to the point of creating groups whose sole purpose is to discus sex. I did not know I would live to see that day, but alas, it is here upon us and I am glad.
On that note, I welcome me back and welcome you back. Please ride with me as we continue on this journey of finding our voice… finding happiness.
March 8th as usual is the International Women’s Day when we celebrate the past and present women who have fought and sacrificed in big and small ways to make our families, societies and the world a better place.
This year, the theme of the celebration is #BeBoldforChange. To the men who stand with us and against us and to every woman, could you be bold for change? We ask that you be bold for change in attitude towards women’s plight, be bold for change in actions, from negative or lackadaisical to positive and active.
I just want to share a little story about an incident that occurred recently in my local area which made me proud of women all over again. (As told by one of the village women)
A guy impregnated a girl and declared his intentions to marry the said girl. The guy’s family refused even after the girl delivered a set of ‘male’ twins. The family alleged, wrongly too, that the girl was an osu. Osu is a caste system prevalent in the eastern part of Nigeria. They also were not comfortable with the place of origin of the girl. So for these two reasons, they refused the marriage but their son was bent on marrying the mother of his babies.
The guy’s mother, to prove her point, chased mother and babies out of her house where they were staying. The youth of the village packed them back in and warned the mother not to try that again.
Then the sister of the guy one early morning brought policemen to thier father’s house, jumped fence, and gave the police access to the house. The police promptly arrested the guy and took him off to their station in another town. All hell let lose at this.
The village women, through their female towncrier went round the community shouting to everybody’s hearing that every woman, old, young, cripple, so far as you are a woman, you must come out to this warring family’s house. Before you know it, the place was swarming with angry and agitated women of various ages and shapes.
These brave women of Umuoji in Anambra srate gave the guy’s family an ultimatum that the guy must be released that same day or they will face the wrath of the women. The women went ahead to go round their community chanting songs of anger against the mother and the rest of the family. By evening of that same day, they accomplished their aim and the guy was released and returned to his father’s house.
I will not bore you with petty details, only want to throw light on the power of a united women. They fined the guy’s mother and sister, excommunicated them till further notice and anybody found communicating with then will be fined too. The entire community stood still for these women. It might seem like a small feat but it speaks volumes. The town as a whole took notice of the case because of their activisim. The case is now in court because the sister alleged that the guy beat up their mother even though the mother said her son did not lay a finger on her. The women promised to continue their agitation till the matter is settled amicably.
How I wish that women will be bold enough to change and begin to stand together more. I wish that women will be their sisters’ keepers, that we will stand by each other through thick and thin instead of hating on each other and pulling each other down.
If the women in the neighbourhood of that victim of domestic violence can stand together with their sister and fight back, if the female judges and law enforcement agents could see themselves in the victims of rape and domestic violence and fight justly on their behalf, if my fellow female passenger could lend a voice when the guy beside me in the bus is sexually harrassing me, if only the female excisor would lay down her blades and knives and stand against female genital mutilation, if the late husband’s sisters could protect rather than join the men to intimidate their late brother’s wife and children, if only…
We can do it. This fight is ours first before the men, they will support us when we get serious about it. Time to act is now, not later, not tomorrow. United we stand, divided we fall.
Kudos to all the women who over the years have fought for their own rights and that of other women.