THE TENDER MASCULINITY 

I overheard a female pastor on YouTube giving marriage tips to a congregation. She talked about the importance of men helping their wives with house chores even if it was as little as clearing their dishes after eating and laying their beds when they wake up, which I totally agreed with. If a woman shares the ‘manly’ duties of her husband with him by contributing financially to the upkeep of the family, then by all means, her husband should reciprocate by doing house chores too. It’ll be totally inhumane for both of them to leave for work early in the morning, come back at the same time and only one person does the cooking and house chores while the other does absolutely nothing because he’s a ‘man’. Then the preacher proceeded to talk what being the ‘head of the house’ entailed for men. She said and I quote “you are not a man if you cannot pay at least your house rent and your children’s school fees”. I could not help but wonder, is it a crime for a woman to take up financial responsibilities if her husband can’t? Except of course he’s a total liability that refuses to help around with house chores nor the with financial upkeep for the house. If your husband helps you with house chores, what’s wrong with you helping with school fees and house rent whenever you can and he can’t? Let’s look at this for the perspective of a man who’s going through financial difficulty, he goes to the church with the hope that he could get some encouragement and comfort, but on hearing this preacher, all he gets is more pressure. His wife probably nags all day and night about how much money the family needs because she doesn’t earn much from her petty trade, but instead of encouragement, all he gets is pressure. 



MASCULINITY- MALE. Or anything that is suited or relating to a man. According to the society, this goes beyond looks, body structure, or natural instincts. The society has set goals and targets men should meet before they can be ‘MEN’.  Imagine setting a goal for people so that they can be who they already are? The same goes for women “A woman should…”, “As a woman you should not…” etc. Going by our tradition/community, gender goes beyond just physical and biological attributes, it in fact determines your whole character, beliefs and aspirations. 
In a typical Nigerian setting, a young girl is raised to be well mannered, good with house chores and cooking, taught to be only a little ambitious, reserve, less vocal, aim to be attractive to the opposite sex and aim to marriage, and also be totally submissive to her male partner. While on the other side, a young boy is raised to be very ambitious, careless, tough, strong and be the ‘head of the family’- sole providers for their families. He is also taught to hide his emotions as though he has no emotions, “men don’t cry” etc. The society teaches young boys what’s most important for them is ambition while for young girls, marriage. Therefore young boys are told to be go-getters so they can be wealthy and attract girls who will in turn be submissive to them because they are wealthy, asides this, every other thing is secondary. This may sound fair but how about the pressure put on the people who cannot meet up to the standards of their gender? How about how men develop fragile masculinity and ego (due to all the expectations they are to meet) which eventually becomes fractured whenever a woman aims higher than the ‘traditional woman’? How about the fact that women now have to nurse their ego by stooping below what or who they’ll rather be every time so men do not feel emasculated?


In as much as a man is expected to be ambitious and be the sole provider in his family, he automatically is supposed to be financially stable at least. Once he is, every other attitude of his should be tolerated by his wife because he’s a ‘man’. But when a man falls short of his so called responsibilities as a ‘man’, he’s no longer a ‘man’. In fact, he begins to actually feel less of a man because he knows he’s not meeting the expectations he’s supposed to meet. He then begins to feel ’emasculated’ when his female companion steps up to take care of his supposed duties. What happens basically is that her strength begins to threaten him because he’s supposed to be the strong one while she is supposed to be a ‘woman’- weak. Quiet a number of men feel this way whenever their wives are financially buoyant than they are, or any woman generally. That’s why some Nigerian men are quick to tag any young woman driving a nice car as a prostitute or assume her husband gave her the car. Civilization has gone a long way but still has a longer way to go. If a man, knowing fully well that there are honorable ways a woman can make money still chooses to believe that any woman who is financially stable and single is ‘a whore’, then are we really moving forward? If you ask men if they can marry a woman who is richer than them, majority of them will say no because they think that a woman who is richer than them will not be totally submissive to them, while they themselves do not even plan to be submissive to her anyway. 



Whereas when a man is financially buoyant, he is allowed to develop all sorts of behaviors that should be tolerated by his female companion because he has met the required standard of a ‘male’. For instance, cheating is persumed to be acceptable by some people if the man cheating is rich. Perhaps that is a part of what makes a man who isn’t financially stable emasculated, because his license to misbehave is taken away from him when he cannot live up to the required standards, after all, a wealthy man is allowed to misbehave.

The pressure put on men does not only cause them to have fragile egos, it also makes them look for wealth through desperate measures that could be illegal or morally wrong. It can be checked by encouraging women to be just as ambitious as men, not as mere side piece. Girls should not be raised to be a little ambitious, they shouldn’t be raised to depend on their husbands. They should be raised as equals with men. That way, men will not feel threatened by the achievements of women because they are women. Neither will women have to put up with the terrible attitudes of their husbands just because he’s rich. Instead, she’ll be financially independent and won’t have to be so dependent on a man because of his wealth. Men should also be taught that its okay to lean on their partners for support, that way, they’ll be able to ease up from the unnecessary pressure put on them by the society.

 

But its only my opinion, you can share yours by commenting in the comment box below. Thank you for reading, please share, comment and follow my blog.

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