So the other day, I was in a taxi. Since having a crash in the family coupe, this has been my major means of getting around. In other words, I don’t get around much being a man who leaves the house on leisurely drives and in the midst of this drive I decide to drop in on a friend or two. Taxis don’t provide that luxury. On the crash, I might write about it someday maybe soon, I am not traumatized in the least bit. However, I am amazed at how ungrateful to the Deus Ex Machina that must have been in play to aid and abet my surviving the potentially fatal situation unscathed. I should be reborn in spirit, perhaps I am and don’t know it yet. Back to the topic at hand, So I was in the aforementioned taxi and we were at a junction. We had been beckoned to cross the junction and it seemed the driver in the vehicle ahead of us was driving so gingerly and slowly that we were in danger of crashing into the car. Can you believe my luck? I was thinking myself, oh not again. The taxi driver on his part in typical Nigerian fashion rained down some insults on the yet unknown driver,
“Useless driver, some people think na them get road, tell am to put L for their car they no go gree, tschewwww. God punish devil!”
So to avoid driving head long into the back of the car in front of us, we decide to swerve and overtake the car for the purpose I just mentioned and also so we can get a look at the driver, deliver a well-rehearsed scowl and wind down our windows to deliver some insults and hand gestures in typical Nigerian fashion. We are a nation of road ragers if you ask me; everyone is driving at almost boiling point. The courteous driver like the courteous Nigerian who does not make use of “gra gra” is left behind and progresses slowly. So we roll up to the side of the driver and as we are about to deliver our insults and so on, we both discover that a woman is behind the wheel. The taxi driver instantly calms down and speeds off ahead of her before I can deliver my insult or admire the fine babe if indeed she was fine and give my world famous smile (self-delusion, let me be). As we speed off, he explains to me in the midst of my protestation and discussion of the situation that “Na woman o, they no sabi drive” implying that women are naturally pre-disposed to poor driving.
Before I continue, I am no feminist or woman’s right activist. However, I do try my best to accord women the same respect and in the situation above derision I would give a man. This is what my liberal arts education and sojourn in obodo oyibo has taught me. Besides, I can say this confidently, my mother is one of the best drivers I know with proven credentials of almost a decade in Lagos and another in Abuja with its autobahn like roads that has almost everybody in a rush to meet their maker. Driving is just one area where women are discriminated against if that is the right word. I remember as a kid when the pastor gave an edict to husbands that they should not allow their wives to drive cross state or long distance and when one of our church members died in a ghastly car accident it was murmured that her disobedience of this edict and supposedly biblical principle was the cause. My comment? None. Not touching that with a 10 mile pole.
Growing up I always noticed a marked difference in the way I was treated as a boy and my female family members. You see it would seem from an outsider’s standpoint that from the time girls are old enough they are being groomed for marriage in our society. A typical refrain heard spoken to girls who are lazy about kitchen work is, “Is this how you will do in your husband’s house?” Girls are taught how to cook and do kitchen chores and boys are taught to do “manly” things like fix light bulbs, put on the generator, wash the car, cut the grass where necessary and lift heavy things. I for one was a marked introvert and actually enjoyed sitting at home and watching my mum cook. That my friends is the story of how I learnt how to cook, that watching cooking shows and occasionally messing around with ingredients on my own as an only child back then. Anyway, that we have a generation of young women running around from church to church and looking to get married is not fault of theirs. Our society has bred many of these ladies from they were wee for marriage, it has been the mantra repeated at them time and again. Marriage is the apparent end all of a woman according to our society.
This not to say our society has not progressed. Indeed it has gone a long way from the ages when girls were not allowed to go to school and so forth. Heck, on my mother’s side almost all the women are educated. Weirdly, it was some of my uncles who refused to finish their education and alas the women have become the bedrock of my late grandfather’s home. God bless his soul. You see if he was as myopic as some people of his time, he would not have sent my mother to the university where she met my father and I might never have been at least in the form and spirit I am today. I would have remained a potential in the cosmos and chilling with the spirits of the unborn philosophers and physicists. In current society, some families even though they let their daughters get educated still hesitate to fully splurge on the female child when it comes to education. They don’t see the need for the female to get a graduate/post graduate degree because by the time she finishes she might be “too old” for marriage. Hence in some situations a bargain is struck, the young lady gets married before proceeding for her PhD and the new husband supposedly takes care of the rest of the bills.
You see if there is a glass ceiling to women’s advancement in our society it is that of perception by others. You see a lot of times when people see a successful woman the first question they ask over here is, “who is her husband?” It does not occur to them to think that this woman could have worked hard and progressed in her career all by herself without the help of her husband. Yes she might be married but besides emotional and moral support, the husband might have had nothing to do with where she is today. This mentality is apparent in the rumor mills that go around. We have had rumors that a speaker of the house of representative was the concubine of our former president. There are stories of current female ministers being mistresses of the president. These kinds of rumors diminish from whatever achievements these women have made. It seems that behind the story of many “big girls” our sobriquet for society and wealthy young ladies is a rumor of her having offered the diamond in the midst of her ruff to some wealthy chief or Alhaji and in return he gave her a few million to start her business or bought her a shop, a palatial mansion in the choice areas of Maitama in Abuja, Lekki/VI/Ikoyi in Lagos or the GRA in Port Harcourt. The stories of runs girls and their antics are well documented. It seems that this mentality has equally sipped into the minds of some of our women that you see intelligent young women trying to ‘con’ young men or aristos out of money to get ahead. This I call Maga mentality. Perhaps I shall write about that soon as well.
Some young men of our generation do not even honor the opinions of young women; they simply brush them aside as thoughts of a woman. When having a heated conversation with a lady about politics I have seen many men of lesser wits who when losing the argument do not want to concede defeat or that they might have been wrong and simply say, “What do you know?” I fear some these young men have been brought up under the “Woman submit to your husband” mantra and have not come to realize that the opinions of all human beings are valid and should be given equal treatment based on their merits and demerits and not on the source. A civilized conversation should be just that civilized. Before you jump on my earlier comment about obodo oyibo, I know men in obodo oyibo who went to Harvard and the schools of strong repute who still have this attitude. Their egos won’t let them lose to a woman. This might stem from a time in primary school or secondary school when they came second to a girl and were derided at home for coming second to a girl. Thankfully, I never suffered such derision as I have been the recipient of many an academic beating at the hands of the fairer sex whilst growing up. My parents just encouraged me to do better. Another thing that is really serious is wife beating and maltreatment of women. That is just awful.
It is a shame that our society does not fully appreciate the woman as a person. Do they not know that degrading and insulting women is as though you are insulting or degrading yourself. We are all born of women; there is no man alive that was given birth to by some form of Immaculate Conception. If you were then please go ahead and discriminate and deride women as much as you want. As for me, I appreciate the women in my life. I appreciate my mother and my sister and the plethora of female cousins I have. I would not want them to grow up or live in a world that limits their accomplishments.
Do women really get a bad rap in our society? Where does equality start and chivalry begin? Have you witnessed blatant discrimination? What do you think about the plight of women in our society today? Is it improving? How do you deal with it? How can we make it better for our born and yet unborn daughters?
So Behind every successful woman is……?