My 6-year-old son walked confidently into my room like a boss. Then he said: “Mummy, daddy said you should change the channel to 307 so I can watch Nick Jr”
I looked at the time. It was almost 10 pm. I know they are on holidays but starting cartoon at 10 pm just seemed like a bad idea.
“I am not changing it.”
I actually said it playfully. I was waiting for pleas and a banter.
My son, whom I gave birth to over the age of thirty decided to place his arms akimbo and stamp his tiny feet. He pushed his lips forward and said.
“Daddy is the head of this house and what he says has to be done.”
Sorry????? (Insert a million and one Nollywood memes starring Patience Ozokwor)
What spirit was speaking through my son? The one that was dying to be flogged with my 3 pronged koboko? Or the one that wanted a lifetime ban on cartoons.
I gritted my teeth and pushed out my words. “My friend, if you don’t get out of my room, I will break your teeth.”
And the spirit fled leaving a very contrite boy.
“I am sorry mummy…”
He scurried out.
I was fuming.
You see, we are not one of those couples. Never and I mean NEVER has my husband thrown the head of the house card at me. NEVER in the decade I have known him. In front of the kids, we maintain civility even when we are upset at each other. In private, that has never come up. He doesn’t override me in front of them and vice versa. It is deliberate. We say please and we say thank you. He can ask me to get a cup of water for him to drink and I can ask him to get me one.
So where did this yama yama talk come from?
A couple of years back, my son came from school and announced proudly that fathers pay school fees and mothers cook.
The very next day I was in his school speaking to the proprietor. My concern was why on earth did little children have to listen to crap like that? Why teach gender roles to malleable children. Did they realise the damage it was doing?
Some little girl will grow up never feeling fulfilled till she has a man and children to cook for.
That is the simple reason why you enter into a class of engineering students and only 5 out of 150 students are female. I studied geology. In a class of 33 students, we only had 6 girls.
Because along the line there are people in our homes, schools and churches always putting a ceiling on what girls are able to accomplish. Because dolls are pushed into our hands, so we mimic breastfeeding dreaming of the day we can be the ultimate; a mother. At the same time, the boys are pulling apart toy cars and planes trying to figure out how they move.
It is an indoctrination of sorts. Very few girls are able to break this stereotype. They rebel against societal expectations either because they are strong willed or have parents who steadily pushed them forward by encouraging them.
Interestingly, the nature of my job juxtaposed to my husband’s means that I do the cooking. But I have no daughters, my sons will learn everything I know because cooking is a skill every human should have. Even if I have a daughter, the boys are not exempt from every domestic chore.
The owner of the school was receptive and she told me that the curriculum is not decided independent of the ministry of education. These books spell out these roles as an introduction of our social structure. I asked her if only men paid school fees in the school.
She sighed and shook her head. A lot of women even in two parent homes paid the school fees. It was something that was increasing with each passing year, she told me.
She said she was going to have a word with her teachers on how they could approach such topics realistically.
The head of home matter came from social studies as well.
Do they realise what it means to hand over this piece of information to impressionable children? Every boy who hears that is going to collect the male privilege card and flash it. For my son, it meant that a daddy should have his way without questioning… using the card to get what you want.
“I am the head of this home and you obey me just because I am.”
The girls on the hand, are placed underneath the boys just because. This is the crippling reason why some women live a life of subservience or second guessing their abilities. They accept that they are naturally answerable to men.
As a Christian, the head of house matter is not a cheap way of getting things that you want. It is a card full of so much responsibility that if required, the man would give up his life to protect his family like Jesus gave his life for the church.
But who balances this out for boys/men?
You see a fully grown man that cannot eke out a living demanding his wife submits all her earnings to him because he has a penis and so has been appointed head based on logistics.
This card has produced so many lazy men, it is unbelievable.
And for some, this card means they are naturally smarter than women because they have the penis.
Come on, folks. Even the guy that was ‘carrying’ last in class all through his school years will still claim he is smarter that his wife. Some man will discount every value a woman can add to his life because he is the head.
All that aside, why is it being taught in schools? How does this help kids in problem-solving and mental development? Of what use is this information to children that are decades away from marriage?
Social studies as a subject needs to be modernised. We can shape our children in a manner that nothing hinders both genders from reaching the zenith of their potential. If we start them off on a fresh slate, we will not need tons of gender stirred projects to build women.
Anyway, my son learnt a lesson that day.
Walahi, I own his and his daddy’s butt.
(Don’t worry Mr N, you have a nice butt that I am glad to own everyday).
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