Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is an Igbo author that has written a few books in her time. A few months back, she did a TED (Technology, Entertainment, and Design) talk recently. Her topic dealt with the idea of us all becoming “feminists”. Whether or not I agree with (or find it necessary) “everyone becoming a feminist” is one thing. What I did learn is that Adichie brought up a situation worthy of discussion.
I paid attention to this TED Talk and noticed something that I couldn’t help but nod my head in agreement to. Around 18 minutes into her informing diatribe, she noted how women are supposed to “be aware of their gender restrictions” so to speak . This is especially harmful to women because, from her perspective, involves women going against who/how they truly are. The end result is that it leads to “pretense becoming an artform” . Thus, it can be noted that not all expectations are great.
No Havisham. No intended puns.
Chocolate covered lie: gender expectations of females are helpful in these days and times.
Gender Expectations Are Not All Bad
Do not get my message confused with the allowance of “females becoming more masculine”. I will not get into any strange discussion about “redefining the sexuality genome”. I’m not here for that silly stuff. I respect the simple nature of men being different from women. I also work hard to make sure that, on an emotional level, men remain “acting like men”. In a sense, I do want men and women to hold onto their gender identity given to them by nature itself.
When Gender Expectations Becomes Repression
But what I do find to be confusing and counterproductive is the constant unevenness with the expectations of the female. We raise our women to be “chaste and pure” with much regard to their bodies and their self-respect. I understand all of that (disease, pregnancy, self-worth). However, we raise our men to “sow their royal oats” like they are in the middle of a conversation with King Jaffe Joffer. Which begs the question: who shall they soil these oats with unless they are understandably homosexual? It seems that our expectations can become a cause of gender conflict among boys and girls from the start.
So, maybe the “soiling of royal oats” can wait like the patrons of Prince Akeem’s botched wedding? I dunno.
Then, it gets worse.
On a level, we are setting these women up for misguided views of their own natural desires and sense of sexuality. Yes, it does make sense for people to “wait it out” for the sake of reproduction, disease control, and understanding of such responsibilities. However, we want women to be “chaste and pure” and then expect them to figure out how to be our personal porn stars in the bedroom once they become married? Sexual prowess only comes from sexual experience. Also, we have to realize that young women should be granted the same type of leeway to understand their own sexuality as we grant (or have granted) young men.
Either that, or we just tell young men to keep the royal oats unsowed.
Even as far as “household gender roles”, there are things to be considered. It is 2013: a woman shouldn’t be expected to know how to cook and clean to “keep a man”. That shouldn’t be the major goal. They should know how to do all of that for the sake of self-preservation. But get this: the same should go for men also. They should know how to take care of themselves (and their children) for the sake of their own manhood. If we REALLY want equality, then we should expect nothing less than household responsibilities for both genders.
I fully understand what Adichie was saying. All of these considerate gender roles don’t mean a hill of beans and a plate to eat them off of if they aren’t making any sense. You can’t expect women to be “chaste and pure” while men go out and sexually conquer the world. You can’t expect women to take care of the house and not expect the same for men. If we want true equality in this world, one place to establish it is in our cultural expectation. From there, we won’t have to worry about everyone becoming feminists: they would already be humanists.
‘Nuff Said and ‘Nuff Respect!!!