After a long social media hiatus, I was ready to return to my Instagram addiction. I needed the distraction; something or anything to improve my mood at that moment. So, I dawdled over my timeline, occasionally liking a post here, chuckling at another post there, and laughing hard at some comment here and there. Nothing stood out, though. Nothing particularly exciting or interesting, until I arrived at Maraji’s page.
The comedian began a video she posted with “The video you’re about to watch stinks!” and it piqued my interest. What could the video possibly be about? I wondered, although I might have had an idea. Eager to satisfy my curiosity, I proceeded to watch. It was a video of some men having a discussion about women. “Oh, of course,” I rolled my eyes. Who better to talk about women than men?
On a normal day, I would scroll past. But I had started watching, so I was going to see it through. There they were, these men, unabashed in their talks about women and marriage.
“Your wife is lucky that she’s married,” one man said to the host who, without hesitation, agreed with an emphatic “Yes!”
The husband, on the other hand, is the prize, according to these men. “Till the day that you die as a man, as long as you don’t stop hustling, the world is at your fingertips. You go dey turn am like this. See, for women, it’s sad. It’s just biology, it’s sad,” the man continued, with the others nodding in agreement or stating their support.
The Wife and The Prize
So, while the husband is the prize, the wife is lucky to be married. Is she, really? Can a woman, married to a man who thinks of himself as the prize, truly be lucky? What makes her lucky: is it the fact that she’s married at all or the fact that she’s married to the “prize” – or both? Aren’t they married to each other? Why is one lucky and the other the prize? Why can’t they both be lucky and both be the prize?
The discussion continued, with another one of the men stating that it’s the wife’s duty to keep the husband married. Thus: “It’s one thing for the man to say I like you enough to want to do this. It is another thing for you to even keep the man in the marriage.”
Ah! I have heard a lot of things that I have found disturbing, but this certainly takes the biscuit. The only thing worse than the statement itself is the fact that someone could have conceived it. I mean, is it not bad enough that the woman should consider herself lucky to be married; must she also keep her husband in the marriage?
How does a woman keep a grown man in a marriage? Should she put him on a short leash, monitor his every movement, control his thoughts and actions, make decisions for him, or command him on what to do? Why isn’t it the husband’s duty to keep his wife? What does keep even mean in this context? Keep the man from cheating and philandering or keep the man from leaving the marriage? Plus, a marriage where a woman has to keep her husband is probably not worth having. If the discussants have agreed that it is impossible for a woman to force a man to get married, in the words, “If he does not want to marry you, he will not marry you. There’s nothing you can do, you can’t force it,” why do they think that it is possible for her to keep him married? There are glaring contradictions. Also, items are meant to be kept, not people. Would the fact that the discussants think of the husband as a prize explain their insistence on him being kept like a possession? Maybe.
More Than Just a Video
This shouldn’t be all about the video, since the views and opinions therein do not reflect those of every man. Still, you’ll admit that these views are shared by more people than we think. Culture, tradition, norms and religion have placed so much emphasis on marriage that it is regarded by some as the be-all and end-all of a woman’s life. It is why some women choose to stay in abusive marriages. It is why some parents pressure and stampede their daughters into marriage even when they are not ready or have not met the right person. It is why they send their daughters back to their husbands when they run away from abusive marriages.
Once, when a friend complained bitterly to me about her single status, I stated in a bid to pacify her, “It’s better to be single and happy than married and unhappy.” She immediately screamed, snapping her thumb and forefinger over her head, “Noooh! God forbid! I will not be happy o! I will not be happy single. Will you be happy?”
The fact is, society has painted marriage to look like a woman’s ultimate goal. But, is it? Someone made a comment on the video about how things have changed and how women are now leading more satisfying and fulfilling lives without getting married. Some other person responded, “What’s then the purpose of a woman?” A question that reinforces the poor mindset some have of marriage and childbirth, and especially how it affects women. A woman is more than her ability to bear children and get married. What if she tries, and it does not happen? Does it make her less of a woman? Can she not make other things of herself and her life? Doesn’t she, like her male counterparts, have dreams and aspirations? If she deliberately stays single while pursuing these things, should she be crucified for it? When she decides to get married and it fails, should she be blamed for not keeping her husband?
There are several obvious reasons why a woman can not keep her husband in a marriage:
Everyone has free will to make decisions and choices. True, these decisions and choices may be influenced by others, but that is as far as it goes. Both sexes have the free will to choose who they want to spend the rest of their lives with, and they can choose to either make their marriage work or not. So, a woman can do everything she can, short of holding her husband down physically, and still not be able to keep him.
Love and Affection
I don’t know what you have heard about love and affection. But a woman who genuinely loves her husband will not force him to be with her. If she has to keep him in the marriage, then he clearly doesn’t want to stay.
Blurred Gender Roles
In recent times, assigned gender roles have been blurred. Men are as much homemakers as the women are, and women are as much breadwinners as the men are. If there was ever a time when women were assigned the role of keeping the husband in a marriage, that time is far gone, not now.
Self-control and Self-will
Let’s face it. There is self-control, an ability not to act on our every whim and caprice. There is also self-will, the ability to do what we want, to achieve a desired goal and to be willful in making our decisions. Why should a man, with self-control and self-will, who decides to act out be kept in a marriage? It is not the duty of one sex to keep the other in a marriage, just as one sex is not luckier to be married than the other.
The idea of a woman keeping her husband in a marriage is nothing but another one of those marriage myths we are told, and myths are as false as they come. Have you heard similar marriage myths? Which ones have you heard? Pray, do share with me.
Featured Image by Keira Burton for Pexels