On Gender roles and Gender specific activities

Growing up we were told that boys liked blue and girls liked pink. Well, I didn’t like pink.. Not really, so I didn’t feel girly enough. What I liked was Red! Today, I can name it least four guys who are close to me that are head over heels in love with pink. I know girls who love black. In fact, I saw a quote on a girl’s dress that she’d stop wearing black when she sees a darker color ?.
And I think it’s pretty cool because it’s what they love!

When I was younger, they used to say that doctors were male, nurses were female. In fact a lot of texts, especially those authored by Africans, use “he” for doctors and “she” for nurses.. Well, I went to the hospital one day, saw a female doctor and a male nurse and I was glad because I knew I was smarter than a lot of males in my class and I knew the requirements for entering med school was higher than that of nursing. I didn’t want to be a nurse just because I was a girl. I couldn’t imagine being it. Then, I still wanted to be a doctor because I didn’t know about Pharmacy.

My mum is an engineer. We were always told that Engineers were men well mum is super smart and has never really cared about stereotypes. She didn’t want to be anything else so she followed her passion. She loves Math, Physics, anything logical. She’s very analytical and intuitive. So she applied and got in. She was the only girl in her class till she graduated. She’s still practicing till date and she inspires me a lot!

Do you know that there was a time in the developed countries when women were not allowed to write, ride horses, work, learn or practice science, etc? All they did was stay home, knit socks, sweaters, mufflers and caps, play pianos, gossip and learn how to catch a man’s fancy all day long. Their lives were boring like that. In fact, it was laughable and unthinkable to be more than a sit at home chatterbox. But a few women decided to break the rules and do what girls were not supposed to do. Jane Austen, a British author, was one of them. Among other beautiful novels, she wrote Pride and Prejudice, an all time favorite and I have a strong feeling that Elizabeth in that story is just a reflection of her character. Elizabeth was a nonconformist too and was interested in matters where most women wouldn’t have a say. She didn’t care much about impressing a man. While most women in their day, would feel honored to be approached by a man, she loathed the rich guy that was making advances towards her because she could see through his schemes and see what sort of a selfish man he was. She even rejected his proposal and he couldn’t believe it! She fell in love with him in the end but then he had had a change of heart and he learned a big lesson. I read that Jane was never acknowledged as a writer till the time of her death.

Louisa May Alcott was another. She was an American author that wrote stories for children. One of my favorite, “Little Women” had a strong female characte, Jo, that I admired. Jo loved to play with boys. Her best friend was a guy and her family members frowned at it at first but they had to get used to it. Then, in book two she subtly proposed to an older man she loved. This wasn’t something that was common back them. There’s also another story of hers like that too. I’ve forgotten the title. To a large extent, her female characters saw boys as competition not a specie to impress. They played with them. Scolded them. Grew up with them etc. Back then, Louisa had to write under the pen name of a man. She was called a tomboy in her day because she loved adventure, horses, competition etc.

So see it was once considered a masculine thing to write. Ridiculous right? Gender roles or activities has always been a cultural thing. Nothing more. Take a look at Saudi for instance. They recently allowed women to drive and I’m sure that it’ll probably be few that are driving now. A lot of them will still be seeing it as a masculine thing. And we will all be amused and perplexed because we know it’s not.

Kenny Osalope wrote a post about how she loves playing football, tennis, volley ball (I think), drums (she must teach me o), how she loves wearing sneakers. How black is her favorite Color etc etc.. She asked if she’s a Tom boy. People were saying she’s a girl who loves masculine things. To me that’s bullshit! If the success of such an activity does not depend on the presence of a penis then there’s absolutely nothing masculine about it. Nothing!

We teach girls to not want adventure. To not do crazy and wild stuff. To just stay home and do simple easy stuff. Their games are just something that is homely. House oriented. Blah blah blah. It’s not wrong if a girl prefers to play with a toy gun rather than a doll. It’s not wrong if she will climb trees rather than play game start. It doesn’t make her masculine. Nope. She’s just a girl who loves to climb trees. That’s it!

I reposted Milly Milly’s post about buying dolls for your boys so they can know that raising kids is not the sole responsibility of the female and some people were making ignorant comments like so we’ll raise more Bobrisky okwa ya. I just ignored because the comment was really stupid and somewhat insulting. But then, why do a lot of people see caring as a feminine trait. I know guys who are kinder than some girls. I know girls who have more ego problems than some boys. Character traits, tendency to be nice or harsh, none of these are gender specific. They have never been. So never be shocked that a girl did something terrible just on the basis of gender. Don’t say, how could a girl do that? If it’s a boy, I’ll understand. Don’t say that! It’s as ignorant as it is stupid. If something is shocking, let it be shocking because she’s human and humans should have sympathy to an extent. Not because she’s a girl.

The African society makes it seem like girls love cooking and home making while boys love being ambitious. I saw a post where an adult in this day and age said that it’s easier for men to set goals and achieve them because they were created to be that way but women usually need external push from a male and blah blah blah. I’m wondering what external push I needed to get me a 312 in Jamb in 2011! I’m wondering what external push BGS in Pharmacy 2015 needed to get her a first Class. The only thing I do know is this, society tells women to be ambitious but not too ambitious so a man won’t be intimidated by you. But Chimamanda will say that a man who will be intimidated by me, isn’t one I would love to be with in the first place (paraphrased). I know girls who would rather eat out than cook. I’m one of them and you’re free to think whatever you want. I know guys who feel that the kitchen is their destiny. I could live there forever and feel inner peace. And it doesn’t make those guys or girls less or weird. Nope!

One laughable belief is the one they say that you’re supposed to walk, talk, laugh and maybe even sneeze a particular way because you’re a lady. Lots of people complain I walk fast but it’s the way my brain processes it. I can walk slowly but I would keep feeling that I’m taking forever to just cover a short distance. Sometimes my walking fast is too slow in my head. I actually want to fly but for the sake of mortals, I have to walk as slow as I can manage. And I don’t think I care if you approve of it or not. So long as we are not walking together and I’m not in your way, it’s none of your business.

We are all individuals. Unique and different. It’s not a one size fits all thing. There’s no box. There shouldn’t be. You can’t just put a few boring activities and traits and label them girly and then put dangerous ones and call them boyish. And if our boys are interested in the girly ones you think they are not okay and vice versa. Crap! Open the box, let’s pick what we want and don’t judge us if we are not your definition of feminine!

I will teach my children that they can be anything. Do anything. Learn anything. As much as I can, I’ll expose them to every and any sporting activity possible. My boys will play “oga” as well as the girls. My girls will play ball as well as the boys. They will all have dolls, games, books, pets anything that will help them learn and be individuals that will know no limits. I would want them to learn an instrument, to learn how to code, to learn about money, to learn to cook, to learn to clean, to learn some electrical stuff, first aid, etc etc etc. Not the girls or boys only but both because no activity, trait, role, hobby, color etc is gender specific. My boys will wear pink if that’s what they like. My girls will wear black if that’s what they like. In fact, when they’re kids, you won’t be able to tell their sex by mere looking at their clothes.

So, I don’t believe in Tomboys and whatever the male version of the word might be! A boy is a boy because he was born with the sex organs and biological compositions of a boy. Same with a girl! There’s NOTHING ELSE that defines masculine and feminine.

Good morning.

Sohana

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