I bet you wonder why I’d go through the stress of writing an unsolicited response to a comment that perhaps is not worth much.
Or, if you are quite familiar with my commitment to gender-related issues, you may conclude that I have no self-control. But I do. Yet, I seem to have friends who are relentless in their efforts to save me from what in their opinion is a destructive path. They ever so dutifully snoop for trending anti-feminist conversations and quotes, and plaster them in my face, that perhaps I’d be saved from perceived damnation. So, as expected, one of my saviours brought Daramola’s comments to my notice.
I’m not obliged to be polite since she claims that social media insults add monetary value to her, yet, in all honesty, there is nothing unique or interesting about her position. Nevertheless, it’s worth some attention since her ideology on equality or inequality typifies that of the average – Christian, Nigerian – man and woman. Her comment speaks to an often-ignored erroneous thought pattern that has been sustained through generations, perhaps one of the biggest reasons why we are stuck in this struggle!
But, first, I must commend her boldness to share dissenting views at a time when there is so much rage in the Nigerian feminist camp as regards the squashing of the gender equality bill. Truthfully, bill or no bill, the gender discourse is a treacherous zone and regardless of what ideology you represent, stepping on landmines is imminent. Even when you create an impossible in-between, a backlash is unavoidable. It’s even worse when religious commentaries are dragged into the mix.
Without doing her any financial favour, I’ll simply courteously address the celebrated misconception, especially for the sanity of those who take scripted religious obligations seriously. In her attempt to substantiate her opinion on male dominance and female subservience, she erroneously, as is the common practice of many, quoted the Bible. In her words, “the Bible says that the man would love the woman and she would submit and respect the man”. Wrong Bible, wrong interpretation! Now, here’s what the real Bible says “Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands…husbands, love your wives” Ephesians 5:22-25. She also said “The man would always be the head”. Again, wrong! “The husband is the head of the wife” Ephesians 5:24.
It is disappointing and disheartening that with our level of literacy we still so conveniently abuse meaning and the use of language through inappropriate substitution. To think that “man” and “husband” or “woman” and “wife” are interchangeable terms is ever disappointing. Perhaps, for the sake of clarification, we should look at some simple definitions. Here are some clear ones, according to WordWeb dictionary. A man is “an adult person who is male” while a husband is “a married man; a woman’s partner in marriage”. Similarly, a woman is “an adult female person” while a wife is “a married woman; a man’s partner in marriage”. Now, those Bible verses, in the light of the revelations above, speak to a wife’s religious obligation under God to submit to her husband and the husband’s mandate to love his wife as himself. This means that a pair of testicles does not guarantee leadership. In order words, unreciprocated submission, gratuitous love, and uncontested leadership are somewhat divine arrangements exclusive to marital relationships. Is the submission clause then irrelevant outside this contract? Absolutely not!
For a truly functional society, submission is a requirement. Hence, the question is not “should we submit?” but who should, to whom, and how. Submission is a collective responsibility of all, to all, by all, and for the good of all. Without any undertone of differentiation, we must be ever ready to crucify our good ideas for better ones, with our hearts set on putting communal interests before personal. We must embrace and work to realize the idea of creating a level ground for the best abilities and qualities in our society to thrive irrespective of the anatomy they come in. We simply cannot access and enjoy the best of the human resource allocated to us until we conquer the forces of gender-oriented dominance, repression, withdrawal and strife.
As far as I am concerned, gender equality and equity is worth our every effort. It is giving our society a fair chance to develop as we engage people based on their capacity to deliver. It is giving everyone the chance to discover their strengths and equal access to tools that will build and enable them to make significant contributions. It is placing importance on content rather than the anatomy of the container. It is accepting that we live in a time when intellectual strength matters more to effective leadership than physical prowess. It is teaching our girls that by simply being their best, they can be all they want to be without having to engage in any shade of manipulation. It is teaching our boys that societal leadership must be worked for and earned.
Daramola’s comment staunchly echoes calcified truths against the backdrop of primitive cultural inculcations and a faulty religious indoctrination. Nevertheless, I, in all my search for and acceptance of truth, have learnt to read and listen, then think through ingested information with a dictionary before me – plus a cup of cold chocolate in hand!