We need to come to terms with these facts:
-Some women are better leaders than their husbands.
-Some men can cook better than their wives.
-Some men are more domesticated than their wives and many other women.
-Some men are and will make better child minders than their wives and many other women.
-Some women are physically stronger than some men.
-Some girls would like to be Pilots and Engineers, while some men would want to be nurses, child minders and nursery teachers.
Digest that… Breath…. Now let’s go on..
When we talk about gender role stereotyping, we aren’t referring to the naturally designed roles. We know a woman has a vagina, ovary, eggs and womb. We know the man has the penis and sperm. In the event of sexual encounter where the sperm fertilizes the eggs and pregnancy occurs; the woman carries the baby in her womb, births the baby, and breastfeeds the baby. We know all these, but these are not what we refer to when we talk about gender role stereotyping.
While I was growing up as a child into a young adult, I had some contrasting information; that which I got from my environment, and that which I got from my immediate family.
I was privileged to grow up in a home where every child was encouraged and given the right push to exercise the maximum potentials. There were times when I had to change the car tyres with Dad while my brother did the cooking. The dividend of such stereotypical free grooming is that we grew up to become individuals with the least handicaps. I can change a car tyre, I can work the power generating set, I don’t need a male figure to change my light bulbs. My brother efficiently does his laundry, cooks like a pro, and tidies up after himself.
When I matured into an adult old enough to plan and make decisions for myself, I was faced with two choices, and I decided to go with my ideas from my immediate family. I took some time to unlearn all the filt I had learnt from my environment. But not everybody had a choice, some of us had that same information from both within the family and environment telling us that we can’t do or be certain things just because we are a certain gender. This is gender stereotype in its raw form, from the grassroots. An unhealthy indoctrination, A mental slavery we need to emancipate from.
One undisputed implication of any form of stereotype is that it hinders a people’s abilities to fulfill their potentials by limiting choices and opportunities.
Stereotypes are prejudicial assumptions, they disregard an individual’s inherent abilities, opportunities and strengths.
The global human potential is currently grossly underused due to the culture of gender role stereotyping. Such dogmatism which results in a wastage or human resources should not be groomed in this current era of the 21st century.
Societies, nations and the world at large will become more productive when and only when we begin to recognize and measure human abilities and potentials based on individual prowess, strengths and proven potentials, rather than based on gender.
In 2013, I was in a public bus on my way from Abuja back to Delta State. A woman in the bus took it upon herself to entertain us with her marriage history. Amongst other things, she told us how her son died of epileptic seizures because she couldn’t rush him to the hospital without the husband’s consent. The husband’s phone was unreachable, and she couldn’t make the decision to take the child to the hospital. “It is the role of the man and not the woman to make decisions”. Well, the son died, and she remains married to her husband. I was silent all the while, but I couldn’t hold it anymore. So I asked her “But madam, why you let your pickin die like that nah?”, she then bored me with the submission sermon, and how a woman is under her husband, hence should never make any vital decision without his consent. At this point, it dawned on me that I was mourning more than the bereaved… literarily. The most painful bit is that most of the other passengers agreed that she made the right decision, and she actually still believes she made the right decision.
Tell me; where is the common sense? Of what use is the brain if it can’t be used to make the simplest decisions, even in life and death situations?
I bowed my head and shed some tears.
How did it get so ridiculously bad?
A woman was made to believe that she isn’t allowed to make a simple decisions to save her son’s life, even if she could.
When we advocate for the review of man-made gender roles, we are not asking for the total elimination of religion, culture and traditions upon which these beliefs, practices and societal impositions are deeply rooted. We are asking for a reasonable amount of flexibility. We want the doctrines of common sense to supercede in the event of a clash, and ultimately, we are asking for the strengths and potentials of individuals to be measured and assessed based on their demonstrated potentials and individual strengths, rather than based on their sex organs.
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