Society is highly discriminatory; our thoughts are already filled with conceits about the things that surround us, creating pre-existing beliefs and cultures that influence our actions and even gestures. This is bad for growth and transition. I love to attend functions and on one of the occasions, I made a stop to hang out at a mall with a new male acquaintance who I had befriended during the function.
Society and gendered gestures?
We shopped independently for our needs and at checkout, he offered to pay for my shopping alongside his. He also paid for a drink for another male shopper and fellow event attendee upon his request, a gesture that seemed born out of the kindness of his heart. In a telephone conversation with a friend, later on, I mentioned the event of earlier in the day and the friend laughed when I told him the guy bought me stuffs and expressed disbelieve that his actions had nothing to do with my gender; “don’t tell me that please, he won’t do that for his fellow guy”, alluding to the assumption that the gifts were a down payment for access to a relationship and likely to be reciprocated with sexual favors.
My displeasure with this statement rose to the fore as I was pretty convinced that the intention of the guy was not to “shoot a shot” as this form of propositioning women for sexual pleasure is referred to in the local male parlance, I could have done same if I had wanted to. I was quick to point out in defense of the guy’s noble actions that he also paid for drinks of another male shopper. My friend was apparently looking out for me by lecturing me on a subject he felt I wasn’t aware of, I knew he must have had it in his head that I don’t really know guys and how they act. This experience colored my relationship with men and left me constantly questioning myself; at some point, I was afraid of getting help from guys because I can’t tell if they are trying to shoot shots at me.
This became a problem and in the process of trying to unravel the mystery behind placing the actions of men in the menage of shooting shots I got to realize that society actually is the problem. Society has twisted our perception towards things and the actions of people that we bring falsehood into lives issues.
So when Chimamanda Adichie questions some attitudes portrayed by men in our communities, she is not interrogating the true essence of things, she is not questioning niceness, kindness, charity, help, protection, strength, defense and etc, those things are not bad in themselves, she is examining societal narratives and constructs, she is questioning kindness because a man thinks he is the only one to show kindness to a woman and she is always supposed to be subservient to his demands, she probes niceness because society thinks a man should always be nice to a woman not because he wants to but for the mere fact that women are regarded as being an imperceptible, substandard and shallow representation of the human specie, she queries acts like a man opening the door for a woman since he is a gentle guy.
Well, not opening the door for a woman along with the others doesn’t make a man less a man, so we shouldn’t say a man is not gentle for not doing this, besides in some places and traditions when an elder sees a man exhibiting some gestures towards a lady they feel the woman is controlling the man. She expects that a woman should be allowed to do the same for a man and not being questioned and a man should be able to extend the same for equal gender, it is all about humanity anyways. All these questioning wouldn’t be a thing to bother about if society has not twisted our experiences and shaped our minds into thinking about gender differences.
Some of these acts should be rejected since those acts have affected women and men greatly . Society has hampered on the thought processes of people, we do not know when people make mockery of others anymore, they hide under the phrase “what we do for women”. Society made my friend to grill the young guy who offered to pay my bill, he assumed that he only helped because I am a woman, not necessarily because it is in his nature to do so. This is bad! We make men to think this way, that they are always supposed to help women and women are not allowed to reciprocate that and as a man if you allow this you are tagged, “woman wrapper” or an “infidel” and this is wrong, it may be the intention of the woman to support not necessarily because she wants a power tussle. We also make it look as though all men are the same and every man helping a woman wants something in return.
I don’t have a problem with a guy opening the door for me, if he would allow me do same for him and he would do same for a guy without grumbling. Feeling sorry for women, patronizing well-meaning pity for women is the reason behind the rejection of most humble and kind gestures, because it is assumed and it is even clear that society is just pathetic about our femaleness, it is laughable when men say, society has progressed, No! it has not. We should do things for ourselves not for men, men should do same for women without an attachment of weakness to the kindness extended.
It is self-evident that things are still hard for women, men should stop disputing this. It is more problematic when you are aware of the notion behind the acts of people towards you, because humans are intellectual and emotional beings. As a show of masculinity, men hide their humanity, we make men to prove their masculinity by opening doors for women not necessarily because they are kind. Very humorous, how fragile this display of masculinity turned out to be and this stiffens the humanity of men. Women are not guilty of their femininity. We should not be ashamed of our gender, we spin pretense into a craft. The society is very prescriptive, we impose things that even the men who wouldn’t want some of those stipulations force themselves into doing them.
We should learn to focus on ability, interest, instead of gender. As a result of this, the opportunities for women are limited to household chores and motherly affection. Professionalism for women is very little as society have failed to entrust certain roles on women due to some archaic societal narratives; we see that in accordance with some cultures, women are the only ones allowed to choke themselves with domestic activities since men are supposed to head families.
A woman who works, comes back home with the idea of responsibility in mind, the woman plays double roles and this has led to the continuity of men’s toxic nature, women are seen as people without choices, women are expected to be all in time, especially when it comes to school, work, extra curricula activities and domestic values, young girls are expected to think towards marriage at tender age, they are expected to aspire towards having a good home and taking responsibilities, they are told to behave in defined ways, young boys are allowed to act the way they want because they are male. We see or hear cases of the internal pressures these women face due to these societal narratives and impositions, but it appears no one truly cares.
Cooking, the opening of doors, greeting, virginity, dressing, marriage, are not bad but the notions around them are. We make culture, we can refine them. The full humanity of women can be part of our culture and men should not be forced to hide their emotions because they are men, it is okay for a man to cry he is human anyway, so don’t force men to hide their pain because it is important they show strength always. This stiffens their humanity and makes them toxic.
Women and men must understand that the idea of gender roles is absolute nonsense and ridiculous, whatever notion that could prevent a girl from becoming what she wants because of her gender or whatever gesture that would make a guy hurt himself just to hide the selfish ego placed on his shoulder by the society should be eradicated. Certain things like cooking, sweeping and etc, should not be a test for women only and working so hard and carrying the world’s burden on ones shoulder shouldn’t be a task for the men alone, actually it shouldn’t be for anyone, it is okay for a guy to get tired, it is okay for him to love and also be loved, it is okay for a guy to receive care and affection from a lady, it shouldn’t always be the men extending these gestures.
A guy shouldn’t be applauded for cooking a meal, and we shouldn’t make statements like “she tried for dragging the generator” we shouldn’t make everything about gender. We should teach both boys and girls how to cook, the knowledge of cooking is not mounted on women at creation, we should teach both genders on the importance of making efforts, we should teach both genders to be independent, one shouldn’t be made to carry the other without a reciprocation. And what is this nonsense about a guy picking a pink car and he is being tagged “woman man” and a girl picking a blue car and she is tagged a “Tom boy” what is wrong with the society actually? We want to also ascribe gender gestures to colours too? What is the big deal actually? Just let everyone be allowed to be the best version of themselves irrespective of gender.