By Noreen Chada
“Why is he cleaning the house when there are three girls just sitting there?” Melina’s mum said as Melina and I sat upstairs getting ready to go out and her two sisters in the other room watching TV. Those words infuriated me and made my blood boil with anger. “What the hell do you mean Mrs. Efua!” I said in my head to this lady whom I had always looked up to. She was not my favorite person at that very moment. How could such ignorance come from such a phenomenal woman?
Melina and I have been best friends for over 10 years now. I’ve spent lot of time around her mother, who I was always admired and respected as a woman, so to hear her say that was rather disappointing. It probably wasn’t the first time she had expressed such views. What is so wrong with boys cleaning up after themselves? A number of men are are not raised to look after themselves because they were raised with the false privilege that it is a “woman’s job” to do the caretaking. A privilege where you are told only women do the cooking and cleaning.
Every day we complain and make noise about inequality, women not having the same opportunities as men, women having to pay the pink tax and women earning less. These issues continue to bother us but in order to resolve a burning issue we also have to examine the cause.
So, what is the cause? I say gender inequity at home. Of course, there are a number of other causes which contribute to and perpetuate inequalities, but what happens in the home often gets overlooked. We learn the majority of our values from the people that raise us. In turn, we take those values into the world and eventually pass them on down to our children and the cycle continues.
When I was, younger I used to hear things like “Why did you buy him a pink shirt, he is a boy”, and “let her win because she is a girl,”. Although I must say, at the time I didn’t mind winning and sneering at the boys. At some point in their lifetime, most women have heard this. Whether it be at home, at school, in the playground or in the work place. Are women really these fragile characters who will break if not handled with care? Why are there so many precautions to block opportunities for women? Precautions that we have not asked for, precautions that are hindering us.
As a woman myself, I cherish our capabilities, our potential, our tenacity and our strength. As much as we like to tell ourselves we have come a long way, I am positive there are women out of there of a high caliber who still get overlooked for certain opportunities simply because of their gender. If you are someone like Melina’s brother and you live in an environment where certain roles are reserved for the girls, you are going to carry those views with you into the outside world.
I’m sure Melina’s mum is not the only person in this world who still holds that view. Just imagine how many girls and boys are being raised like this in their homes. Of course, parents will say it’s out of love, you are preparing the young woman for when she has her own home and there is nothing wrong with that. But why not also prepare the young man and woman in your home to treat everyone equally?
The way you treat your children in your home is the way you are asking the world to treat them, so when your daughter comes home and tells you they will not let her be the Chairman of a football club because she is a girl what will you say to her?
We bleed for 3-4 days a month, have the capability to carry life in us for 9 months, squeeze out that same life from a small hole in-between our legs. So Mrs. Efua why do I have to go through all of that when there are men just sitting in this world? How are we incapable of doing what men can do and same way how does a man doing the chores reserved for women take away his masculinity?
Some will say “there is no pleasing you women, you want equality but you also want the man to go all out and treat you special”. To be honest, all we want as women is to be considered for the same opportunities as everyone else based on our own individual merits.
We don’t want to get things because we are women, we want opportunities because we are equal, we are human, we matter and we will continue chanting this same song until the world and Mrs Efua reciprocate. Gender equality begins at home.
Noreen Chada is the Editor and Founder of Demur Magazine a fashion and culture publication based in London, for young outgoing trendsetters. Demur offers a platform to independent artist, designers and creatives in fashion, music, art and culture. Demur is self published and distributed across London and in all four fashion cities during fashion week New York, London, Paris & Milan.
You can follow her on Instgram – @NoreenChada.