This new era has been characterized by a different breed of womanhood; the kind that seeks equality and fights for her rights or feminism as rightly put. The 21st century woman has chosen to detach herself from the shackles of what used to be or what was obtainable, when she was regarded as a symbol for sex, abuse, oppression, and gender discrimination. She clearly has set out to be fierce, strong, knowledgeable, ambitious, competent, and a go-getter. Most importantly, the 21st century woman wants to give more to herself, her career and her society but not necessarily to her partner/family or so it seems.
Prior to this era, a woman’s main responsibility was get married, reproduce and cater for the family. The only role obtainable to her then was as a mother, a home keeper and a worker (preferably farming and petty trading). They had no say in other matters except issues concerning the family.
The stereotypical role of the woman is changing and has become so dynamic that the 21st century woman has her education, career, family and ambition to think about, and there is the tendency for one to suffer for the other. She gets a degree, a job and then works 9-5 like the man and even harder to keep up with competition, and might not be able to saddle her main responsibility as a woman and mother. This however has been a constant topic for debate and dispute between the traditional and non-traditional roles of the 21st century woman.
The 21st century woman believes that times have changed and therefore methods of keeping the home too has changed. Matters such as cooking, washing and cleaning has become an issue to contend with. One of such is the controversy of whether a woman should still cook, clean and perform other duties for her family after a hard day’s work. Some are of the believe that either the man or woman and can do it or share the responsibility since they both work for a living but the responsibility should not be left for the woman alone. In short, some women say that can’t and will not cook but rather get a help. Mere issues like this make me sit and wonder what exactly the argument is for to begin with. I have always known it to be the primary responsibility of the woman to cater to family matters such as this and for the men to first, provide and perform other manly duties such as fixing electrical and mechanical issues, gardening, nailing and hanging stuff and so on.
I also read somewhere that women have discarded their homely image and are making meaningful contributions to the progress of the society. Looking at it at face value, I can’t agree less but then it’s counterproductive. What have we placed as priority? Divorce rate is on the increase with each passing day, ‘baby mamas’ are springing everywhere, children are faced with depression and anguish over parents constantly fighting or not being available. And then we say we are making meaningful contributions to the progress of the society, forgetting that the society begins with the family. The family whose primary responsibility is to provide for and nurture a child, and it is the mother who binds it all together. Just maybe if we women focused on the family like our mothers did maybe the story would be different today.
Taking a look at women who are contributing to the progress of the society such as Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Oby Ezekwesili, Folorunsho Alakija, Omotola Jalade-Ekiende, Dora Akunyili, and many others; I must point out that these women have paid their dues. I remember my facilitator at school used to say that she knew Late Mrs Dora Akunyuli and used to see her take her kids to school and perform her motherly and wifely duties. I also read some time ago where Mrs Folorunsho Alakija mentioned that she still washes her husbands under garments. Or is it Omotola, Annie Dibia, and a few others that we see from social media cook for their family? So it battles me when we younger women talk about cooking, cleaning, and washing like it’s impossible to achieve and still have the best of both worlds.
It would be deceitful of me to say it is easy to work and still cater for the home, it really is not. Some people get helps and buy gadgets that can make things a bit easier, which is not entirely bad. My main concern however is the impression we leave in the minds of the younger ones. Let me take the ‘wife, not cook’ campaign that some male ‘celebrity’ claimed to have started a fuzz about. I understand his wife is not his cook and that sincerely is his business, but what I find wrong is why he would create a fuzz about it making young girls see it and think it’s the right thing. It is a lady’s primary responsibility to take care of her home, all of which includes cooking, cleaning, washing and taking care of the family in general. A man might decide to help or you both might have other ways to go about it depending on the understanding you have with your partner but never should we try to give the impression to the younger woman that it is not her responsibility to cater for the home as a wife, mother and career woman.
In the end, it is our primary duty as women especially 21st century women and aspiring proverbs 31 women to accept our role even as we fight for equality, find a balance and use the help and technology around us to make our work easier. Accepting it wholeheartedly and not making excuses I think is the way forward, maybe then the men would find a way to help us, but no matter how much we try to change the roles a man would never be able to give birth or nurse a child like a woman would. Remember, ‘a wise woman builds her home and a foolish woman tears it down with her own hands’ (proverbs 14:1).