Gender Role Stereotyping
I know a woman. We are very close to the extent that I’ve been to her house a couple of times to spend a few days. So, what I want to tell you about is something that happens in her home between her and her husband, but you will never know except you have lived with them for a few days.
She is married, and they had two children at the time (now three). She doesn’t like cooking, but she can cook a few meals. She doesn’t like doing domestic chores, and she is just like that.
Her and the husband dated for years before they got married, so the man knew all these about her. She didn’t even pretend about it when she was still single. But the husband said her dislike for domestic chores doesn’t take away the fact that he loves her and wants to spend the rest of his life with her. So, he got married to her.
The husband LOVES cooking. The guy is a chef per excellence. I have eaten his food SEVERAL TIMES, so I know exactly what I’m saying. He is also very good with the kids and domestic chores.
They lived and still live in the UK. What they do is hire someone who comes in twice (2hours each) a week to do the cleaning and laundry.
The man does the cooking 90% of the times. The other 10% that the wife cooks, it’s mostly likely things like boiling white rice to eat with the stew husband already made. She doesn’t like to stress herself with tedious cooking.
I observed something….
Whenever they have guests, the husband cooks and tidies up, then have his bath, spray nice perfume, take a bottle of wine, sit on the chair with his glass of wine and legs crossed while watching TV and waiting for his guests. He acts this like he is acting a scene in a movie.
When the guests arrive, the wife serves the meal pretending like she cooked everything. If you don’t live in that house with them, you might even start getting angry at the man for not helping the wife.
I thought my head was playing tricks on me the first time I observed this. But it happened over and over again.
When I asked him why he does that, he told me ***paraphrased*** “Before we got married, my wife made it clear to me that she isn’t big on cooking and domestic chores. But that she doesn’t mind dishing out the food, serving the food, and even washing the dishes after I finish cooking. I was fine with that. There was no way on earth I would give up spending the rest of my life with a wonderful woman just because she doesn’t like cooking. Not when I love cooking and can cook for the family.
But the thing is that you know our people. I don’t want them to “bad-mouth” my wife. So, I don’t let them know that she doesn’t cook. So, I cook and we both pretend she did the cooking. We are both happy with the arrangement.
For the cleaning, we have someone who comes in twice a week. My wife pays her salary from her own salary. She volunteered to do that to make up for the fact that I do most of the cooking, so she doesn’t expect me to do most of the cleaning too. Especially since I work a tedious 9-5 job.”.
I have seen this arrangement among couples. Some even close relatives. I know many Nigerian couples who have been married for decades and the wives have either never cooked or seldom cook.
What is my point?
Everyday, I’m learning to shut-up more and mind my business. That whatever a couple do, as long as they are both happy and it isn’t causing any harm to either them or their kids, then it’s 100% their business. Because different things work for different people.
Just like some ladies go out with husbands and pass their own money to their husbands to pay bills so that they will feel like “the man”, so also some men whose wives can’t cook or are bad in the kitchen do cook and pretend like the meals were cooked by their wives.
I would have wished the society didn’t place such burdens on people. That it was as a matter of fact ok for the wife to be a breadwinner and for a man to be the chef of the home. Then, there would have been no need for people to keep pretending to “save face”.
I have seen caucasian families where the wives are the breadwinners and busy career persons while the husbands earn less, are less busy, and thus do more cooking and school runs and homework with the kids.
This also happens in Nigeria.
But the difference is that these caucasian families do NOT have to pretend that the man is the breadwinner while the wife is the home chef. Because the societies don’t judge them so brutally. But in Nigeria, they have to pretend . Because the man must provide and the woman must cook and clean. It doesn’t matter if the wife earns 10 times more and the husband is a million times a better cook then the wife. We have to force it to be the way we think it must be.
You would be amazed at how many Nigerian women are the breadwinners of their families and how many men actually do most of the cooking and domestic chores in their homes. You will never know if they don’t tell you.
Gender Role Stereotyping: A one-size-fits-all prescription that sometimes try to force square pegs into round holes. And making people master the art of pretence as a lifestyle.
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