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Happy New Month to you all. We’ll continue from where we left off last month – another featured post on the gender issue. If you haven’t done so, you may want to read the earlier post on Chivalry. This week’s featured post is from Tobi Odetola’s blog and it’s going to challenge your mindset. Enjoy!

Many years ago, you could proclaim on your balcony that the world belongs to men and you would not be challenged by more than a few dissenting whispers. Rather, your declaration would be met by numerous tenor-voiced affirmations and chest thumping. Not these days! If you make a silly joke about women, you will be interrupted by loud dissent before you get to the funny part – if any – of your distasteful rendition. If you make this error on social media, the condemnation becomes even more pointed – and global if your following is wide. 

We live in a time when words such as feminism, chauvinism, sexism etc which although are not newly minted words, now carry more weight and feature more often in regular discourse. People’s utterances or actions are no longer merely examined for religious or racial undertones. Forensic audits are now carried out to look for traces of feminism, chauvinism, sexism or what-have-you.

With the evolving dynamics in gender interactions, a battle has been raging between the feminism people and the submission people. If you want to start an argument within a group comprising of men and women, raise the issue of submission. In our society, submission means allowing the man to have his way all of the time. ‘His way’ may include the woman being a house wife, doing all the chores by herself, accepting with equanimity appropriate disciplinary action – physical or verbal – from the man when she ‘steps’ out of line and so on.
Big question: Where did the idea of submission come come from?
Plausible answer: Religion and/or tradition.

It is well known that the two dominant religions today began in a period when women where firmly under the heels of men. Also when giving marital advice, it is noted that they both admonish the women to submit to their men. Not forgetting the accounts that the first woman was created from a part of men.

Traditionally, most societies are ruled by men and this derives from the fact that men are the economic lifeblood of the society. The men solely provided food and shelter for the family and ensured protection of the family. These acts which involve a lot of physical activity were placed above other relatively ‘easier’ ones such as raising children, trading, cooking which were seen as the preserve of women as they are regarded as the weaker sex.
Even the term women implies that women are a subtype of men.

However, the situation is changing. Women are beginning to challenge – and rightfully so – the dominance of men. This is primarily due to improving education among women with a direct positive consequence on their economic power. 

To illustrate this better, let’s look at the typical Nigerian situation of a political office holder and his godfather(s). Prior to elections, the aspirant is usually not-well-to-do and basically has a master-servant relationship with senior politicians. If a party bigwig with the right amount of financial and political clout backs our aspirant, he becomes, say the governor. Now in power, the former servant becomes the boss of many people and wields executive powers – which is usually nearly limitless in Nigeria. As a governor, he has access to more money than his godfather. This is where trouble begins. If large enough, the new found financial and political influence may make the former master an object of irrelevance whose opinion or demands are ignored especially in the areas of appointments, monthly payments due him, contracts, succession etc. Woe betide such a godfather if the fall-out occurs during the governor’s second term in office. Any attempts at exercising seemingly sweeping powers over the governor would be rebuffed and treated with scorn or more emphatically, a put-down.

A similar scenario is also seen in a parent-child relationship. Once the parent no longer has economic control over a child, decision-making is no longer his or hers and an overbearing attitude may no longer be tolerated.

In short form, (S)he who has the money is the boss. Subservience, otherwise known as submission in these parts, is an ego-driven expectation fueled by a provider-dependant relationship. In a relationship where the partners are on (near) equal footing in financial terms, mutual respect rather than submission is necessary for longevity.

A woman who is unemployed and depends on her husband for the provision of food, clothing, shelter and care of the children cannot but be subservient to the man. She cannot leave the house without his permission, cannot keep friends he dislikes, must carry a hairdo he favors even if she hates it, must observe her curfew and so on and so forth. He pays the piper. Ergo, he must hear the tune he likes. This is the logic behind behaviour of many men that abhor working class wives even if the woman has a degree in astronomy.

However, more women are overcoming this barrier and are earning a decent living. Girl-child education indices are improving and women’s participation in the socio-political scene is increasing. We are slowly leaving behind days when women are seen as men’s ‘handbags’. More women are in government and in the top echelons of the corporate world. These days, it is not uncommon to  hear among young women that ambition is the new ‘ sexy’. 
Can these developments be associated with the increasing divorce rates in our society? Yes! A big yes with a simple explanation. In the not-so-distant time of our mothers and the other women that came before them, the concept of the House Wife was the norm. The woman, no matter how educated, stays at home and caters to the children with no more than zero income and discounted opinion. Hence, she has minimal input in key decisions concerning the family. A more liberal man may seek merely seek her advice. Nothing more. More wives even may follow. And these women endure all forms of abuse and cannot leave simply because they lack the economic means to survive on their own talk less of cater to their children.

However, as more women are in employment, formal or otherwise, they rightly have a say in goings-on in the more and any form of maltreatment may lead to separation and eventually, a divorce. After all, she earns enough money to fend cater to her needs and possibly those of the children. 

It is not about women of nowadays being ill-mannered or being poorly brought up. Education enlightens, money emboldens. Men have to understand this. If your wife earns a decent income, you have no choice but to come up with a power- sharing arrangement which is dissimilar to the Mugabe-Tsvangirai format. Although, it must be said that that feminism is not a reason for a woman to be unnecessarily antagonistic to her husband.
If you desire a ‘submissive’ income earning wife, marry your house help.

PS If You think feminism is merely the new cool, then you need to see this interesting letter: http:// (H/T to @Lettersofnote).

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