Tuesday 11 March 2008

My Mother's Generation

Introducing the M Generation

Some were born just before Hitler’s guns were silenced and it stretches to just about when the Korean War ended.

A generation of women we probably fail to understand and appreciate who were our mothers, our teachers, the market women or successful business or career woman, all still with strong opinions and views.

I call them my mother’s generation (The M Generation) and maybe one should have researched this more, but in the advent of the scurrilously annoying bill about indecent dressing sponsored by one of that generation in the Nigerian Senate, the passing of the International Women’s Day and the incessant cases of violence against women, something had to be written.

The indecent dress divide

Did I not chat to one of that generation about the indecent dressing bill only to be regaled with examples of ladies looking like ladies of the night and unworthy of respect, ready meat for abuse?

Well, at the risk of inviting unpalatable commentary, even if one were dressed like a prostitute, the whole idea of prostitution was that you paid to obtain a service – nobody has the standing right to violate the person of another person regardless of relationship, appearance, situation or opportunity.

The acquiescence to sexual menace divide

That should be a cardinal law which when violated should attract the heaviest sanctions, to paint men as salivating uncontrollable sexual beasts who run rampant and criminal on sighting any form of “indecent dressing” is unhelpful.

Everyman should have control of their bodies and urges, as human-beings they should have an advanced sense of societal responsibility not to behave like animals on seeing a sexually attractive female.

Unfortunately, the M Generation has given men carte blanche, rather than call the men to order and wipe out unacceptable behaviour; they expect young women to fend off these “beasts” to maintain peace in our communities.

The sexual education divide

Many a time, I saw how they were able to detect that a young girl had taken in whilst still trying to remain oblivious of the fact that adolescents can and do become sexually active and find outlets for those urges that inadvertently lead to unwanted pregnancies.

A typical inquisition of a girl of suffered that misfortune went along the lines of

M Generation: You are pregnant, your eyes are whiter and you have been spitting all day, whose is it?

Girl: I don’t know

M Generation: What do you mean I don’t know, did it jump on you? (The Yoruba version is O fo mo e ni?)

Girl: I don’t know

M Generation then goes through a list of probable men and boys without a sense of irony, if she hits on the right man, it is unlikely that the man would get anything more than a warning to keep away from the girls, whilst all girls are told to be wary of the man.

It is amazing how abortion comes easily to mind and many have been done with unwavering religious conviction. Where the pregnancy comes to term there have been things less cruel than taking the baby into care without letting the young mother know that the baby survived.

Many of these misfortunes might have been avoided if they ever deigned to talk to us about sex but it was always a taboo subject and the way they express surprise at the consequences is breathtaking. However, from the questions they ask afterwards, it is evident that they do know what it takes to end up in that situation and how it could have been avoided.

It is all for the good divide

This, according to them is all for the good, because, regardless of what they do, and usually what they do is wrong in the long run, it is all for the family for the honour of the family and to avoid shame in the community.

Some of the M Generation have suffered horrible and rotten marriages but they have always been stoic, taking all the abuse within the four walls of their homes but defending their atrocious husbands to the hilt in the streets.

They exercised a loyalty that would be utterly alien to the generation that comes after them, therein is the wide generation gap – even if we have conservative ideals, we are still considerably more liberal than they are in many things.

That is not to say they were wrong, it does not make them right either – they are a product of their own generation, one that had broken free to gain independence of will and means but willing subjugated it all for the preponderance of their men or men in society.

They are our mothers, we cherish them; they have taught us, we honour them; but I doubt if we would willingly follow them down the path that they have laid out – we have lessons to learn from the M Generation and many are about – How not to do some things.

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