My cousin’s husband does not drive. So, every weekend they have an outing, she has to get behind the wheel and hurl their family of four to wherever it is they’re going. Not a big deal huh? They live in one those apartment buildings where there’s not enough parking space and if one person wants to go out he has to call his neighbor to come and move his car. So my cousin drags herself out every time a neighbor wants to go out. Every time I visit them, I leave the house wondering? “How does this work exactly?” I know there are some roles that are ‘traditionally’ masculine and sometimes when you hear some women talking about marriage or dating they say things like
“Someone to provide a home for me”
“Someone to pay the bills”
“Someone to pamper me”
It goes on. I mean women have these really lofty dreams about the benefits being with a man will confer. I mean, as much as we wave the flag of the modern woman, we still have expectations of what our men should or should not do and I don’t think this is entirely bad.
Last week, I had a very interesting conversation with a friend of mine about the subtle role reversals; women paying the rent and the bills, men staying at home and not exactly doing anything in particular. According to my friend, women want all the advantages of modernization and women empowerment but that we do not want any of the responsibilities. According to my friend, since women are clamoring for equality, we should be able to fill roles which we think are “traditionally” within the exlusive purview of the male folk. According to him, if women earn more, and are anxious to show it, then there’s no reason why she shouldn’t be able to pay the rent. He went further say, however, that the problem with that is that women end up becoming rude and unruly. He gave the instance of a family friend who seized the car keys and told her husband that he couldn’t go out with the car. Apparently, the husband didn’t have a car and for some reason, after an argument, the babe collected her car keys.
I argued that I didn’t see anything wrong with that, it’s her car, besides for all you know dude is posing around town with other babes. He said I clearly have had only bad experiences, and bad stories and as such that was the only thing that came to mind. We got to the issue of men who don’t work and sit around waiting for the women to bring home the bacon. After we got past the issue of “how do you know he’s not doing any work?” and we talked about writers, musicians, and painters, the issue of LAZINESS came up. I said that some of these men were downright lazy and had just gotten used to someone else paying for DSTV, washman, and home internet!
To my mind, my friend was justifying the concept of “lazy men”, but his argument was that there was a difference between “working hard” and “working smart” and the fact that a man wasn’t hurling a briefcase around Lagos didn’t mean he wasn’t about to make it big. I have been told that between hard working men and lazy men lies a world of grey. A world of men who keep trying to make things work but nothing just seems to be working. What then is the yardstick for measuring if your man is trying hard but things are JUST not working out?
“Women claim they want equality but when it comes to stepping up and doing some things in light of the new state of things they wont. Once a woman starts earning more money than you, or she’s in a position to provide, she becomes rude and forgets you’re her husband”
To that I ask, does that make it alright to make the woman pay the rent? How do you know that it is alright to pay the rent because you know that when the big pay break comes, your man will make it all worth your while. As women, do we have a tendency to become “rude” and “unsubmissive” when we know it’s our Daddy who gave us the house, or who paid the rent?
If we’re stepping out of the box of convention of “Daddy provides and Mummy stays at home” then we should step out of the box completely then. It goes both ways; if as a woman I’m going to work, paying the bills, paying rent, buying clothes for both of us, then is it fair that I maintain my role as the home maker and care giver? If you, as the man, stay at home, is it fair that you expect (demand) that I leave you on the “father of the house” pedestal?
Before you answer any of these questions, please think about it carefully because many times we find ourselves in positions we never really thought we would. We say “God forbid I marry a layabout” and we find that somehow all that “fine boy swag” is just what it is on the surface.
I’ve heard several testimonies of women who have stepped up to take the role of care giver when their men are going through tough times and those women have been rewarded with peace of mind and a very appreciative husband in the long run. On the other hand, there are men who find that they’re carrying this burden year after year and there’s no hope of respite anywhere. Are we partial in our expectations of what should be the traditional role of a woman? Is it alright for a woman to be the one who drives while the man sits on the passenger’s side? Are we really supposed to accept that this is the age of breaking the bonds of convention and the age of role reversal? and if this is the case, what are the terms?