It was Christmas or New Year – at least I think it was because that was the only time we killed chickens – and I was in the backyard prepping to murder the fowl my mother had bought. My brother was standing near me, watching. That was when he dropped it: he was going to eat the gizzard when the meat was cooked. Why? I asked. Because I’m the man of the house, he said. I turned and looked at him to make sure he hadn’t grown a second head whose mouth was talking nonsense. I assured him that when the gizzard was eaten, it would be shared in three parts between him, my mother and me; as it had always been done.
I found out later that he had been joking, when I reported to my mum and she told me to ignore him and he had a good laugh at how annoyed he’d made me. It was when I was grown and a friend told me how her dad would get really upset if he wasn’t served the gizzard that I understood it wasn’t joking sturvs.
A few days ago on twitter gender equality became the subject of discussion when a social group shared their plan to go for a boat cruise and the cost was revealed to be N10,000 for men and N3,000 for women. Then there was that person who said something about women wanting gender equality and yet they were willing to pay less than men for things like this and the whole thing turned on its head.
Where I got interested was where women were going on to defend the disparate pricing as being one of the perks of being women. As I got to discover after asking questions, other perks include things like: having the door opened, having a guy pay for dates, going free into events that guys have to pay for, getting free drinks at bars, getting help with your luggage, men just generally being protective of you because you’re a woman, etc etc.
It immediately struck me that these were the same things most men brought up when the issue of gender equality came up. ‘You will say you’re a feminist and want gender equality, yet you want a guy to pay for dates or hold the car door open for you.’
I am driving to the reaction of, ‘but these things don’t matter, they’re trivial.’ Well, wake up. They are not trivial. Because in the minds of a lot of men, the fact that you as a woman have all these ‘perks’ mean you shouldn’t earn as much as they do because they spend more. You shouldn’t have a say in national affairs because you need to be protected from the warfront that is politics and so on.
I remember looking at my male friends funny every time they wanted me to stay on the inside of the road when we walked because I was a girl and they wanted to ‘protect’ me. It didn’t make any sense to me. My reflexes were better. If a vehicle made a wrong move, I was more likely to get out of the way faster than they could. But no, I was a woman and needed to be protected; because men come with shock absorbers in their factory setting. Issokay!
First time I went on a date I was 15 and I paid for the drinks because I had more money. I was doing small business and had spare cash. It didn’t make any sense that he paid just because he was the guy. If he had money, we’d have split or he would have paid; no big deal.
There are things that are so woven into our collective consciousness, these ‘perks’ that we take for granted as men and women but do not realise are setting us back a lot in the struggle for gender equality. It might seem trivial but when you hear some people judging case, you realise it isn’t.
Should we then dwell on them and make them the sole focus of the conversation? No. But we should not ignore them completely.
Jite should just mind her business abeg. If people want to pay N3000/N10000 to go for boat cruise is it your money? Ngwanu. No problem. But remember that it is the same mentality that pushes for you not to pay to enter a club that will allow a man in that club to grab your booty and expect you to be fine with it because ‘no be woman you be?’ and ‘no be free you enter?’
Previous weeks with Jite