A hopeful mother-in-law awaits news of the birth of another child into the family. She sits, pensive with other family members in the village. The phone rings and she picks. It’s her son and his voice conveys the news that everyone’s been waiting for, “Mama, na boy!”
The people erupt in jubilant noise as if Nigeria just won the World Cup.
Remember this ad? If you don’t, then you’ve probably not lived long enough. Or you were in the wrong place, paying attention to the wrong things at the wrong time – sorry. It was awesome, totally ‘us’ and captured our imaginations perfectly.
But recently, I’ve been thinking about certain disparities and patterns, undertones in how we deal with different genders and remembering this advert brought a smile to my face as well as a question in my mind: what if the son had said, “Mama, na girl!”
Of course, they would still have rejoiced but with an ‘How awesome it would have been if it was a boy’ at the back of their minds – that subdued “Yay!”. The copywriter did no wrong, but he or she inadvertently exposed a collective patriarchal psyche.
By now, you are probably level with me and should know where I’m going with this. And since I’m still messing with probabilities, I also wondered how it would have felt if when the phone rang year after year with news of new born girl after girl, the mother-in-law would still have been cool.
Maybe. Maybe not.
There’s a likelihood that the Papa ‘bomgirl’ would have been hit with suggestions on getting another woman so he can sire a boy to carry on the family name.
This brings me to the third question for the day: who family name epp? What’s the big deal about birthing a boy? Pikin nor be pikin?
So far, my closest friends from school who are married have only given birth to boys. When they call me to tell me that their wife has just been delivered of child, all I say is “Congratulations.” They’re the ones who usually tell me which gender it is. If they don’t, I get to know at the naming ceremony or from the child’s name. Because I really don’t care if it’s got a penis or vagina – a life is a life.
If and when I get to be married and decide to have kids, I wouldn’t care what they’ve got in their pelvic region. Should I have girls, they will be able to do what they want because they can, because they are good enough. And God help anyone who tries to suggest otherwise while I watch them grow.
This is not to say that those who ask about the gender of a child at birth are wrong – for the most part, it’s just plain curiosity. The aftermath of that curiosity is what I don’t get. If it’s a boy, the excitement is usually more palpable so I’m like, “Wait, do parents get discounts from hospitals when they give birth to a baby girl?” I reckon not.
So what’s this bulkakery (I’m borrowing an expression from my friend Falcon) we see every day?
Hence, males tend to grow up with an awareness of the misplaced privilege that their gender allows them. They can just do stuff because they’re men. They can get away with almost anything because of some phallic-transmitted superiority. And with this, the same bloody circle of one gender being better than the others continues. They are superhuman even when they pop out of the same place and cry the same way the moment they’re born.
So we get arguments that males have a special responsibility to carry the family name along. Names are important but our legacies aren’t tied to our names but in what we do while we’re alive. What we impart into our kids and the world is what lives on, not what we answer to.
The funny thing is that when the kids grow, the women look out for their families more – nuclear, extended, in-laws, everyone! If it were left to the men, meh – once they’re married, they’re gone (for the most part).
Come to think of it, Newton, Gandhi and Mother Theresa didn’t even have kids. Decades after, we can’t talk about science, humanity, humaneness and kindness without mentioning them and others. One of those I even mentioned is a woman. So you that you’re shouting, “Boy, boy, boy,” upandan, who you don ever epp?
So what’s the moral of this story? Males are in no way superior to females and vice versa. Don’t get hung up on the hype.
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