Tuesday, 7 January 2014

Decade Blogs - Jesse Oguntimehin - On Gender Equality

Decade Blogs
Then, another mobile phone propeller head like Mister Mobility, Jesse Oguntimehin is probably one of three people I follow on Twitter that I would go to for advice about mobile phones, mobile telephony, apps and accessories.
He comes across as soft-spoken, knowledgeable, quite engaging and fun, yet, he mostly keeps to his core expertise with the occasional foray into life topics that would always attract interaction.
From my observation, he has probably made virtual friends in as many places as the Internet would allow freedom of access, he should hopefully travel the world.
Jesse Oguntimehin blogs at jesse.com.ng and his Twitter handle is @jesseoguns.
In his piece for my #YourBlogOnMyBlog Series commemorating my Decade of Blogging, Jesse tackles gender equality and the changing perspectives of the issue in Nigeria, in the face of a learned and practiced history of unrestrained patriarchy.
The changing roles of men and women in Africa has been a hard lesson for the dominant patriarchy with a tendency to male chauvinism to appreciate. As we discuss the issues, some highlighted in this article, we probably can begin to grasp what amazing talent and ability we have left untapped, unused and wasted where the need for such is critical and expedient.
What I have learnt about gender equality; ongoing discussion
It is easier for me these days to compose my thoughts in a series of tweets, than to open my laptop and compose my thoughts in a full article. In writing an article to be featured on Uncle Akin’s Blog, I have ruminated over different topics; and after seeing several awesome articles already written on his blog, I wondered if mine would stand.
The inter webs has shaped my life in the last few years—starting from 2010 when I got my first personal laptop and a USB Internet dongle. I got the laptop and Internet dongle after finishing my National Youth Service Corps (N.Y.S.C) posting with the intent of making money on the Internet as a blogger. I’m making the money now, and I have also been able to get a job through my blogging. What more, my thinking has been greatly influenced through the interactions I’ve been having through blogs, blog comments and on Twitter.
How I use to view Women
I grew up in Lagos, Nigeria. It is customary for women to be looked down upon and treated as a lesser human—this is what I have been exposed to. I have always thought the woman to be the lesser of a man. The man calls the shot and decrees over the woman at home, in the office, in the community and at religious gatherings—while I am going to leave that of religious gathering out of it, I will talk about how my thinking changed in the other areas.
It was my habit if someone was driving sluggishly I’ll say: it must be a woman driving. If she drives well and smartly, I’ll assume it’s a man that’s behind the wheel. Men have dominated the women for long, but women never stood up to challenge themselves until in the recent times.
Things have since changed. There are women bosses that do very great work and help businesses succeed; women are the breadwinners of some homes; women pay their own bill and live independently.
If a woman decided to rent her own apartment and live alone, leaving the home of her parents, it is frowned upon that she’s likely to start prostituting, or she’ll not get a man who’ll be interested in her.
If a woman is earning a good salary and living comfortably, men become scared as if that is going to make the woman head over them and they won’t be able to subdue her.
How my views have morphed
I started hearing about feminists and feminism when I became active on the inter webs. At first, I was often irritated by them and the ideas—women who do not want to subject themselves unto the headship of a man; that’s how I used to think about them.
Today, I’m seeing women who have risen to the challenge, accepted more responsibilities and build businesses, families, economy and societies. Women are contributing a lot to the conversation and the development of our societies.
I am now in support of equality of the sexes. How do I mean? A woman shouldn’t be stopped from aspiring to a certain height just because she’s a woman. If a woman wants to be a bus driver, allow her; if she wants to fly a plane—now they do—allow her; if a woman wants to work a nine to five job, allow her. Never say: because she’s a woman, she shouldn’t be allowed to do this or that.
What I am not changing yet
A man is the head of the woman—in the home/marriage setting. She’s to accept the man as the head of the family. A husband and his wife should therefore have an agreement about the role of a man and a woman in marriage before agreeing to be yoked together.
It will be a lot of stress on their marriage if a man who believes women are lesser men, gets married to a woman with can-do spirit; a woman who can make a lot of things happen by participating in many of the tasks that have once been reserved for only men—managers in big organisations, pilots, earning better salaries than many men, a woman who believes women should be treated fairly and equally with men—she’s not asking to be the head of the house, but to be given opportunity to do as much as the man.
Is there a man (married) among us, who will refuse the woman (wife) the opportunity to contribute to the upkeep of the house financially just because you think that will make you less of a man? Are you as a man of the opinion that the woman should not work, just because you do not want her to earn more than you and then have more power than you around the house?
The coming together of a man and woman as husband and wife means that two different people are coming together. They may share similar views in some areas and have different views in others. They must be ready to sacrifice and know how to make things work out for the two of them—be ready to be partners and not rivals.
In concluding, I am for women being allowed to do things that used to be reserved to only men without calling them women or judging them—that they’ve succeeded at it or failed at it because they’re women. The next times a woman drives poorly, try not to say: after all she’s a woman. There are men who are poor drivers as well.
Women too should stop looking down on other women. While should you as a woman say: he’s so slow, when he’s not a woman. Are women expected to be slow? Is slowness a function of gender?
While women should be allowed to pursue their interests—to include the one once reserved for me—we should not forget that the women still carry the babies; it is the women that menstruate; and there are many things different in the physiological make up of both gender...
Questions and further discussions:
  • If we thus want equality of both gender socially, economically, and politically, why don’t we advocate for men to have paternity leave when their wives are pregnant too? Are we saying we should let the women go on maternity leave while the men can’t? Is that being fair to the men?
  • A man is expected to open the door and draw the seat for a woman. Is a woman expected to do the same for a man?
  • A man proposes to a woman. Are we going to change that too and ask that a woman should be allowed to propose to a man?

Obviously, there are things we can’t change. We can’t ask the man to choose to carry the baby during pregnancy: except there’s a culture somewhere that I do not yet know of. The woman doesn’t engage herself to a man; it is the other way round.
What are your thoughts?

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