I was shocked when my best friend expressed her excitement on replacing the light bulb in her room for the first time. I could not believe that in almost 30 years of her life, she was changing a light bulb for the first time ever. For someone who is always busy with one chore or the other at home, I wondered what kind of environment was created for her to be able to cook almost every dish in the world and do the laundry without being able to change a simple light bulb.
Thinking about it, reality hit me. She was raised to believe that fixing the light bulb was the job of a man, so her dad and brothers always took care of that each time any electricity bulb needed to be replaced at home. Today, she was compelled to replace the bulb by herself since she has moved out of her parents’ house with no man around to do that for her.
Back at school, I remember her saying she did not want to marry a man who could cook. According to her, ‘men who cook do not appreciate your cooking as a woman’. While I, on the other hand have made cooking a basic requirement for any man I choose to spend the rest of my life with. This is because I was raised to appreciate my roles as a human being, and nothing like a role for a woman or a man.
My parents are like a real team and taught us by example. My brother and I grew up watching them wash the cars, cook and do the laundry together. Whenever my dad got home early, he would make dinner and get us to start our homework even before mummy got back home.
My brother and I have not been raised any differently. I wash the cars, bath the dogs, check electrical faults and call the electrician if possible, make sure I check the Wi-Fi at home whenever it goes down among others. Doing all these did not stop me from learning how to cook, do the laundry or the dishes, and my brother does same. It only takes the next available person to do what needs to be done. We sometimes negotiate which chores to do depending on what each of us feels like doing.
We were made to understand that whatever we did was for ourselves. My dad always advised us to be limitless in every single endeavor. Kobby (my brother) is a lover of Banku with Okro stew so whenever he succeeded in convincing us to make Banku with Okro for dinner, he did the cooking himself or made the soup while I stirred the Banku or vice versa.
It is still a shock to me why some parents spend all their energy raising their daughters to be ‘submissive and homely’, thereby forgetting to teach their sons to do simple domestic chores.
Our society in general has made boys believe their sisters need to take care of domestic work while they (boys) explore the world to be financially liberal. We make boys feel superior to their sisters in terms of wisdom and opinions, even if their sisters have more intelligent views.
Even when we educate girls, we make them mediocre, believing that the more they have success, the more they scare men (or potential suitors) away. Unfortunately, girls at an early age are made too conscious of their manners, feeling each time that they must impress and gain the validation of men to feel beautiful and accepted in their skins.
Boys and girls needs to be empowered and trained equally, and this starts from the values instilled in them at a tender age at home.