Recently my mother and my younger sister came over to my place to spend a few weeks. One day, my sister called me at work to say that there was no light (in these parts by “light” we actually mean “power”) as almighty PHCN had done what they know how to do best, and had cut the “light”. The security guy had unfortunately traveled and they needed to put on the power generator. I proceeded to take her through the steps of putting on the generator. I made sure she understood before I hung up. A few hours later, I got home to find that the generator, which was on, had an unusual engine sound and that there was a faint smell of fumes in the apartment. Immediately I knew something was not right. I quickly ran to the back where the generator was and discovered that the choke had not been returned to its original position, hence the uneven running of the engine and the production of dangerous, toxic fumes. I was mad to say the least and I yelled at my sister. Two things: someone could have died due to carbon monoxide poisoning; and the new generator could have gone bad. Why didn’t she call to say that there was an unusual noise, after all my parents had the same kind of generator at home?! My mother said that she had pointed out it out to my sister but she had not responded. My sister, who has a post graduate degree, did not say one word. I proceeded to enlighten my sister on the “need to take an interest in these things” as although women are the “weaker” sex there are times she would find herself in situations where she would have to carry out male related domestic chores.
It got me thinking about the need for a woman to have an appreciable level of domesticity. Yes, I quite agree that things have changed a lot since the Stone Age and that women now aspire to greater things beyond the realm of kitchen, home and bedroom activities. But the truth remains that women are supposed to be quite proficient at keeping and running a home. Before you scream “Off with his head!” please let me get my point across using an illustration or two.
During NYSC, there was this girl that was certainly one of the belles of camp. She was beautiful, smart and fun to be with it; she was nearly always surrounded by guys who, with much reason, were attracted to her. After camp, a few of us – guys and girls – who had become friends in camp, found ourselves posted to the capital and we ended up sharing a house. As you can imagine, the place became some sort of “corpers’” lodge and we had friends squatting (to tell the truth I was also technically a squatter, but hey, I’m the one telling the story, right?) after a few weeks, our allowances had run out and so we had to stop eating out and start going to the market. We agreed to make contributions towards cooking proper meals, which the girls would cook. To cut a long story short, we discovered that belle couldn’t cook to save her life and in no short amount of time, she lost her status as a major babe as the guys who were initially wowed by her beauty and charm, gradually began to gravitate towards the more domestic women in the house! And it was not just about the cooking, it was about taking charge of her room, the living area, the kitchen, the guys etc. It was a sad thing to see as she kind of lost her swagger and confidence. Initially, she was defiant in the face of it all because to tell the truth she was discriminated against; however she began to see reason as to why men would prefer domestically capable women and she began to put in an effort and changed.
Funny enough there was another girl who shared a really hilarious story about how she was left at home alone for about two weeks; and during this period for some strange reason, all the light bulbs in her house went off one after the other. As she did not know how to change a light bulb, she kept moving from room to room until she ended up in the only room with light. Luckily, her brother came back from his trip just in time! We all had a good laugh over that one. Why didn’t she at least get someone to change it for her? But she was motivated to learn to change a light bulb, change gas cylinders, and all those other guy-specific domestic chores.
Some of you might argue that with work and/or school, social functions etc that it has become increasingly difficult for women to still perform and excel at those more traditional roles that they are supposed to be naturally good at. Am I now saying that women should be “Super Woman”? Er, yes I am. Look the truth is that men – African men at least – still require a woman to carry out her core function of being a woman that is capable of running and keeping a home; the extras are a very welcome addition to the package. Men are disappointed with women who are clueless in the home; can’t cook, can’t supervise or instruct the helps, can’t raise the children properly, etc. My mother once told me about a family friend who would praise her anytime he came around to our house, saying that our house was always very clean and tidy, as against his . Or didn’t you hear the one about the wife that was appropriated from her husband by her husband’s benefactor all because Chief sampled her cooking upon accepting his protégé’s dinner invitation?
I understand that in a home there are certain domestic chores that are assigned to the man, changing light bulbs, putting on the generator etc, but it wouldn’t hurt for women to learn those roles as well as the normal female defined roles. After all who would want to be stranded at home just because she can’t turn on the generator?
Think of it this way: a woman, who isn’t domestic, is like a man who can’t earn a living! A woman’s looks, charm, intelligence, and money can only take her so far with men; the same way a man’s looks and charm can only take him so far with a woman without any real source of income. The only other probable solution is for either party, i.e. the lazy man or domestically clueless woman to both marry spouses with a hell lot of money! Shikena! Problem solved.
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