Gender Wars And Defence Mechanisms: How Do We Handle Change?

Change isn’t easy…changing the way you live means changing what you believe about life. That’s hard…  Dean Koontz      

                                                                                                                                                                                                       It is quite amusing the conversations bouncing off the internet today and how sensitive people have become as regards sexualism and gender roles.

~One young man went into a diatribe because I suggested men tried going Christmas shopping for the office, rather than women (yes, I was trying to avoid doing it again this year. How selfish!). His argument was that a man should have no business in the market when women were present.

~Another argument I watched/engaged in on a social forum concerned men learning to handle more feminine inclined domestic chores. While some argued in favour, so many others (men no doubt) were completely against the notion. Again it was assumed that teaching a male child to handle these duties made him a less balanced, more unmanly wussified adult. Apparently men should be paper-chasers, and women couch potatoes….erm….domestically inclined, primarily.

When did we get sucked in a gender war?

What has become increasingly impossible to find is a conversation with people of the opposite sex, without one party throwing accusations like missiles. Every time one gender raises an issue outlining the inherent problems in dealing with the opposite sex, the latter retaliates with a comeback detailing why the complainant is just as guilty of said ‘offences’. It’s like we are saying to each other: how you dare complain when you’re guilty. Abi na only you waka come?

No meaningful explanations. No solutions. Just fight. And then we continue dwelling in our ignorance about each other.

You know what’s appalling? How we have continued to ascribe certain behavioural characteristics to different genders in different age groups. One bus conductor wouldn’t address me politely because I was a woman, and apparently women are full of wahala and like to flex muscles. And my only crime was to explain the difficult situation he had placed me in, by failing to carry out his duties. According to him, men were more agreeable than women.

No attention given. No questions asked. Just nonchalant aggression.

Our mental filters and response motor may have been programmed to deal with actions of one sex a completely different way than we would the other. I wonder if this is a fight for preservation, or a defense mechanism geared towards the same goal.

Are people threatened by change?

So feminism has come to stay. It has succeeded in breaking down most inequality barriers and given women the freedom to express themselves and their desires. I am learning though, that with freedom comes paranoia. If I don’t hold on to it with tenacity, fight like a tigress with every confrontation, it will float away; Hmmm if we don’t endeavor to put them in their place, they will soon run us over. Women will wear trousers. Men will strap babies to their backs. And the world just became a horrible place!

I am an advocate for gender roles. I believe that certain tasks are better suited for men than women, and vice versa. I take this stand because I am inherently a traditional person. I also believe in choices and freedom to use that to the best of ones abilities. But in the light of recent development, I have also come to see there are many others like me who are not so comfortable with the option of choice. Change is good, but how much of it are we willing to allow? How does one even begin to measure good and bad change? Because there are no clear cut definitions, we fear it. We fear it because change disrupts everything we consider fundamental.

And fundamentalism is the peg that holds the tent in place.

Perhaps we need to be reminded that even while our destinations remain inherently the same, we have come from different places, each supported by different underlays. For some these foundations worked well, and for others they didn’t. The latter deserve something different if they so desire. Also because life and relationships do not come with a universally recognized manual, nor are people wired equally, we can each afford to work with trials and errors until we come to a place of rest. That isn’t a terrible solution now. Being a man adept at handling traditional feminine task does not make you weak. Having a man act out like men would is not a red flag to unleash the dragon. Our battle against conformity and non-conformity is muddling things up.

If we constantly feel the need to (re)validate our current positions, then maybe we are yet to fully embrace it alongside its implications.

…………………………………………………………..

This was inspired by this post on gender roles by Eric.

 

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43 thoughts on “Gender Wars And Defence Mechanisms: How Do We Handle Change?

  1. Jean January 25, 2015 / 1:56 am

    In my personal life I don’t get into gender role debates. No need to …when dearie already cooked, cleaned home (he’s neater than I), etc. We just divide up work naturally, depending on personal schedules, etc. Pretty fluid give and take daily without debate.

    At work, where there are sometimes unspoken, more subtler signals of more men making decisions, in senior roles/management jobs, that’s where effort is required to change minds.

    uju, I am recovering from a head injury due to cycling crash with another cyclist. So dearie must cook, clean alot more than I right now …. I say when a couple grows old, the guy MUST already be skilled to do the cooking, cleaning when she is ill/unable.

    Liked by 1 person

    • uju January 25, 2015 / 7:18 pm

      I’m sorry about your injury, Jean. Wish you speedy recovery.

      And like I tell my male friends/colleagues, learning to handle domestic work won’t undermine your ‘manliness’, it’s supposed to teach you how to survive.

      Thanks for stopping by 🙂 And I do pray you get back to cycling soonest.

      Like

  2. olisakwerah December 31, 2014 / 2:26 pm

    Very balanced write-up. I like where u stated that you advocate gender roles…cos men and women are wired differently; physically, mentally ,emotionally etc. Again, certain tasks require some innate flair and judgement akin to a particular sex. This however is not enough to permanently assign roles.

    Growing up, we were made to do everything from dish-washing, sweeping, dusting to cooking. It didn’t matter if u were a boy or a girl. This must have helped shape my ideology cos I’m a firm believer in the equality of sexes.

    Yes, the gender arguments/perceptions and the problems that come with it are still very present around the world but technology has relegated reliance on physical strenght to a very remote background.

    As for the required change, lemme borrow the title of a ‘Chase’ novel; ‘it’s Just a Matter of Time’

    Liked by 1 person

    • uju January 25, 2015 / 7:19 pm

      Love this 🙂

      Like

  3. yemi December 8, 2014 / 3:04 pm

    the truth in life is that certain roles are more suited to certain gender but does not mean the other gender is incapable of doing same..

    the problem comes in branding ourselves to certain ideology which automatically creates a “box” in which lies the dos and don’t’s of what is best suited for us.

    in this part of the world it’s also imbibing other culture we term “civilised” blindly into our lives without thinking how best to blend it to an already existing culture without causing so much friction..

    to me we should scrap the idea of feminism, male chauvinism and the likes and focus more on a symbiotic relationship..

    Liked by 1 person

    • uju December 9, 2014 / 1:42 pm

      When there’s change, friction is pretty much inevitable. But I agree with you on not boxing ourselves in and finding how best to introduce something new into our culture. Not so different from weaning a baby 🙂

      Like

      • yemi December 9, 2014 / 9:19 pm

        …yes ma’am as for every action there is an equal opposite reaction..

        Like

  4. ericjbaker December 7, 2014 / 10:56 pm

    I appreciate how you can view things at once as an observer and as a participant. Very wise at such a tender age, lol. It sounds as if that bus driver brought a whole duffle bag full of preconceptions and stereotypes to his interactions with you. That may be the biggest problem of all in communication: We’re all full of labels and definitions and expectations and tend to force them on the situation instead of going in with an open mind. I feel like I am aware of this in myself, yet I still do it. Working on it!

    Thanks for the blog callback.

    Liked by 1 person

    • uju December 8, 2014 / 10:44 am

      When you don’t have the physical ability to beat up a man, you learn to become philosophical about their attitude 😀
      I believe this stereotype is a problem most of us suffer from. It rubs off on me the wrong way, but I’m just as guilty as the next person. And there’s all that expectations you talk about……very frustrating when they’re not satisfied.

      You’re welcome.

      Like

  5. Holistic Wayfarer December 6, 2014 / 10:57 am

    “there are many others like me who are not so comfortable with the option of choice. Change is good, but how much of it are we willing to allow? How does one even begin to measure good and bad change?” You got to the heart of it, Uju. Our fear of change. But why do we fear so? We are afraid of the unknown bc we idolize comfort.

    Liked by 1 person

    • uju December 6, 2014 / 11:28 pm

      Babies don’t want to be ripped out of their mommy’s womb, but they get out anyway, and they adapt to their new environment.
      We could take a lesson from them 🙂

      Like

  6. stacilys December 5, 2014 / 5:54 pm

    Culture and the way it shapes and forms our mentalities and worldview are a funny thing eh. I used to be very black and white. I have come to learn that there are many, but many shades of grey. When I was in Afghanistan, I met a former muslim man, turned Christian that was nothing like I thought an Afghan man would be like. He cleaned dishes and all. Anyhow, as you said, it really is tough for people to change what they’re used to. We’re creatures of habit. We like our comfort and don’t want that messed with. Funny thing I think.
    Great post Uju.
    🙂
    p.s. I’m so glad my hubby is a good cook, and shares the domestic chores with me. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • uju December 6, 2014 / 11:27 pm

      One blogger once describes the world as a fruit salad. It’s funny how people don’t see any of that, except the black and white all round.
      But like you said, comfort is a hard thing to let go off. Even without trying, we’re constantly fighting mental battles to protect the walls we have fenced round ourselves.

      **Great husband. I’m starting to wonder if the rest of the world have different DNAs from the African populace.

      Liked by 1 person

      • stacilys December 8, 2014 / 8:04 pm

        Hahahaha. Oh, I don’t know about that. There’s still a good amount of the whole ‘macho’ thing here in Brazil. I just happened to land me a super smart guy 😉
        They are out there. Believe me.
        🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  7. @kaezydon December 4, 2014 / 11:36 pm

    Reblogged this on Welcome to Uzoka's Blog and commented:
    Uju hope you don’t report me for plagiarism.

    Change isn’t easy…changing the way you live means changing what you believe about life. That’s hard… Dean Koontz

    Like

  8. OBASI CHIDI December 4, 2014 / 5:49 pm

    Dear,change is for a matured not for babes. Respect each other and treat them equally either domestical or official norms. Women are special and deserve respect having in mind she is psycho… Look beyond ops…

    Like

    • Odii December 4, 2014 / 9:36 pm

      I don’t know what you mean, sir. Did I come across like I was advocating disrespect for women? Or something like that?

      Like

  9. Odii December 4, 2014 / 9:20 am

    Lol. But I didn’t say that women need to be weak in order for men to be strong. I said that to have a healthy world, there must be strong men and weaker women. One does not necessarily make the other. I don’t need you to be weak so that I can be strong.

    But you do need to be weak to benefit from my strenght. When you are strong and I am strong, there’s nothing to protect and everything to fight and destroy.

    There’s no need to redefine anything. Strength and weakness are unambiguous terms.

    Like

  10. Odii December 4, 2014 / 9:15 am

    Lol @ coexist. Another much bandied term. Sorry for laughing, I’m in a laughing mood this morning. I’m just laughing at everyone *smh*

    Let’s be clear about one thing: we subscribe to an ideology because we believe it is right. If we believe it is right we live by it regardless how others react to it. That is what every other person does. But Christians? We are so charitable that we’d sacrifice our ideals to keep our neighbors who don’t bother to return the gesture (what they do is guilt you into even more sacrifice) happy. It’s hilarious.

    Please find me one non-Christian argument for how we have any rights at all. One that makes sense, that is. Or, better still, just find any one and let’s see what kind of sense it makes.

    I can coexist with my neighbor lack of belief that he and I have rights because God gave them to us, but not with his commitment to violating mine or his insistence that I violate his either. I don’t need to live with that. And the coexistence is just for now, not for forever.

    Like

  11. OBASI CHIDI December 4, 2014 / 8:02 am

    Life is about change,change do not come one day,on gender equalities,it means different thing in peoples mind,let me stop here.

    Like

    • uju December 4, 2014 / 8:27 am

      But how open are we to change? All I see are people pushing back against it without availing it the option of doubt.

      What does gender equality mean to you? (if you don’t mind telling please)

      Like

  12. Odii December 3, 2014 / 11:09 pm

    It may ring to you like a fear that everything I know could be false, doesn’t necessarily mean that it is. I don’t fear to find that everything I think is true is false. I know that I have a lot to learn but I’ve no doubt that certain things are true, regardless how I want to think about them.

    Your analogy is quite wrong. You discount the existence of the conscience. Do you really believe that we do not have a conscience? Why do you believe that?

    I have met people with weird ideologies but I’ve never met one who was completely shocked by the fact that anyone could dispute those ideologies. Not one person. And I have met plenty in several ways.

    That tells you that we all have a fundamental sense of right and wrong. Yes, it can be adjusted but it does have content from the beginning in the first place.

    That negates your analogy.

    Again I’ll say to you that if change is the only fundamental then we have no reason whatsoever to expect coherence of any sort. The reason that scientists in Europe can communicate with scientists in America and with scientists in Asia and in Africa is that there is a clear code or a table of standards that is independent of the peculiar situations of each scientist, an objectice yardstick by which everyone measures and gets the same results. Without that science would not work. It is a thing worthy of great feat that such objectivity should be lost.

    The same with life and relationships. There is a standard. Something that says that one thing is good and another bad regardless who’s looking at or experiencing it. Without that we have nothing. Absolutely nothing.

    I will not argue that feminism did not make some gains. It most definitely did. Men are built to be hard and strong. That hardness and strength was meant for two things: to govern the physical universe, that is, to keep it in the right order without any sentimental wavering; and to protect the weaker things. One reason God said that it wasn’t good for Adam to be alone is that hardness and strength with nothing to protect turns deadly and very destructive. The woman was thus created to give man a soft spot, a “weakness” so that he would not destroy everything including himself.

    But some men misused that strength. They turned it upon the things that they should protect. Feminism helped to remind men what value there is in their women. But beyond that it has done terrible damage and will not continue.

    As soon as it got beyond how valuable the female is to the male it began to damage the point of the existence of both sexes. What is the point of a man when there is a strong woman? What is the point of a woman when there is a weak man? None. And both are fearful things to have. A strong woman is like a bloodthirsty poodle. A weak man is like a rotted foundation. Terrible things to have around you.

    We want strong men and weaker women to have a healthy world. And here’s the funny thing: we have both already and will always have them. Women will always want a man to be strong so that they can relax and be the soft landing for everyone. Men will always want their women to be soft and comfortable so that they can go out and rule the world in confidence.

    Feminism already lost. Big time.

    Like

    • uju December 4, 2014 / 8:26 am

      We will need a definition of strength and weakness now. Insisting a woman must be weak for a man to be strong is what makes women so touchy.
      Having women who do not satisfy this condition of weakness is what makes men feel insignificant and threatened.

      Like Eric said in a previous post, men and women need to redefine weakness and strength.

      Like

  13. Odii December 3, 2014 / 9:46 pm

    I didn’t miss that part. I disputed it. If fundamentals can be changed, then meanings cannot be trusted and thus life would necessarily be meaningless. And when you talk whatever you say would be gibberish to anyone else because there is nothing objective.

    That is what modernism is particularly wrong about. There must be things that remain steadfast regardless of clime, weather, language, unit or whatever. Without that, all we can hope for is chaos and anarchy.

    Like

    • uju December 3, 2014 / 10:02 pm

      “I didn’t miss that part. I disputed it. If fundamentals can be changed, then meanings cannot be trusted and thus life would necessarily be meaningless”

      Rings to me like a whole lot of fear. Fear that what we consider truth in our reality is really false.

      So a man believes the right way to live is by literally murdering other people. It has been the framework of his life since time immemorial. One day he is told that’s the wrong way to live, that rather than kill he could spare them and say…make them slaves instead. So he sits up all night debating this new fundamental he’s been told to buy, while the ‘vendor’ sits in disgust waiting to be the engine to bring about that much needed change.

      We do one fundamental that has always remained true. It’s change. And knowing that everything we know could be wrong.
      So when something proves to work, why are we still so scared to try it out?

      Feminism as a movement has been one of the best things to happen to women. So yes like a reader suggested, there are extremists…but even these are the ones I categorized as being too scared to let go and enjoy the already fought for change. There still looms this paranoia in both genders that if we let go of the reins we will end up where we have been liberated. If you don’t push back again this, we’ll have nothing left for ourselves.

      It’s still a senseless fight which ever way I view it. And everything still borders on fear.

      Liked by 1 person

  14. Odii December 3, 2014 / 8:12 pm

    I think I should add this anecdote too to help with ruminations about this matter.

    One time I needed a laptop and went to a much older cousin who was well off financially. He directed me back to my older brother whom I’d asked a few times to help me get one. At the time I wondered if he was just being stingy but then I had that type of experience a few more times and finally figured it out.

    In the Igbo culture, particularly in my hometown, specific positions in the family and community have specific responsibilities. Giving those responsibilities to somebody outside those positions was a testimony to one of two things: (1) the person who had the right to occupy that position was dead; or (2) they lacked ability to fulfill their responsibility.

    In the latter case, they were to by themselves clearly state that they lacked the required ability and thus were vacating the position for someone better able. If they didn’t do that, any attempt by somebody else to fulfill their responsibility while they are still alive amounts to an insult to them.

    So unless my brother specifically asked for that help in my behalf stating his inability they could not help without insulting him.

    That scenario played out with my Mom too. She used to hate it when my dad took over any of her duties. It was like saying that she was irresponsible. It also worked the other way for my Dad.

    We won’t always have the ability to do what we are supposed to. But even when we don’t, our duty does not change. It is wise to simply ask someone to fill in for you until you rebuild ability rather than ship off your responsibility like it’s not yours. You indict yourself when you do that. It would be you insulting yourself.

    What modernism has done is catalyse rebellion making people reactionary by default with very little willingness to stop and think. That is why we get confused over simple things like this. It is not well that we get confused. We should be clear about these things or else we will burn the world down the way we’re doing in divorce courts, on social media and everywhere else.

    Like

    • uju December 3, 2014 / 9:11 pm

      “Perhaps we need to be reminded that even while our destinations remain inherently the same, we have come from different places, each supported by different underlays. For some these foundations worked well, and for others they didn’t. The latter deserve something different if they so desire. Also because life and relationships do not come with a universally recognized manual, nor are people wired equally, we can each afford to work with trials and errors until we come to a place of rest.”

      Digest this first.

      Like

      • Odii December 3, 2014 / 9:15 pm

        I think I did. What do you think I’m missing?

        Like

      • uju December 3, 2014 / 9:21 pm

        The part where people are allowed to make changes to these ‘fundamentals’ as they please in a unit. And how we all come from different places.

        Like

  15. Odii December 3, 2014 / 7:57 pm

    Mmm.

    Well, you do have a strong point. We should try to be more accommodating and more open to seemingly contrary views. It’s good for the mind.

    And I think that it is not wussy for a man to do tasks traditionally meant for females but I think that it is dangerous to start thinking that because A is proficient at tasks traditionally reserved for the opposite sex there is therefore no separation of roles at all.

    That is where I think that discussions of gender roles should be handled carefully. However adept at doing tasks suited to to the opposite sex one is, the separation should not be lost sight of. As soon as it is, the war you spoke of will not be too far off.

    Why do we fight anyway? An old-timer named James said that it’s because we want things that aren’t meant for us. When you think about it, that is the truth. We fight either because we’re defending a right or because we want to despoil somebody else or, in other words, violate their right.

    With that in mind it is easier to understand why men, for instance, get up in arms when someone comes to their door with a wrecking ball like feminism does. No man would like to be stripped of his masculinity anymore than any woman would love to lose their feminity. So, when either is threatened the defences kick in. It’s really that simple.

    Needless to say, I’m not one of those who are willing to accept that feminism or any, erm, unnatural philosophy is here to stay. As long as something is wrong with it, I’ll fight a philosophy until I’m either dead or it’s gone.

    Hi, Timi. Long time! 🙂

    Like

    • uju December 3, 2014 / 9:13 pm

      “Why do we fight anyway? An old-timer named James said that it’s because we want things that aren’t meant for us. When you think about it, that is the truth. We fight either because we’re defending a right or because we want to despoil somebody else or, in other words, violate their right”

      What exactly is this ‘right’ you speak of? Because it sounds a lot like a sense of entitlement…..

      Like

      • Odii December 3, 2014 / 9:39 pm

        I was speaking generally. Human beings go to war either to defend a right or to violate one. And of course a right is an entitlement, what else would it be?

        Like

      • uju December 3, 2014 / 10:03 pm

        But who/what gave them this entitlement?

        Like

      • Odii December 3, 2014 / 10:43 pm

        About the sense of entitlement…

        Your blog signifies that you’re a Christian. You know that I’m one too. So the question is a difficult one to make sense of.

        Who/what gives human beings any rights? How do we have a right to life? To own property? To pursue fulfillment? To seek healthy relationships? To not be harmfully exploited? Etc. Christians naturally think we have the rights we do because God gave them to us.

        I won’t speak for anybody else.

        Like

      • uju December 4, 2014 / 8:19 am

        The point I was trying to make was, not everyone actually subscribes to Christianity and its views. So how do we coexist with them knowing the differences in our fundamentals?

        Like

  16. livelytwist December 3, 2014 / 7:41 pm

    “Also because life and relationships do not come with a universally recognized manual, nor are people wired equally, we can each afford to work with trials and errors until we come to a place of rest.”

    Well said, in my opinion, Uju. Things are changing, times are changing, we would be wise to relinquish our current mindsets and explore what adjustments are needed. Yes, so much has been dumped in the bag, but we can sift through to find what works for us.

    Liked by 3 people

    • uju December 3, 2014 / 9:15 pm

      Ah Tlmi, but change comes with a lot of mental resistance. And maybe fear too…

      Liked by 2 people

  17. weight2lose2013 December 3, 2014 / 5:35 pm

    So sad. Change comes slowly and I hope that it changes soon in your country. I lived alone before getting married, so I was accustomed to doing the cooking, cleaning and laundry. I still do it today and don’t consider it a gender specific function, whatever that is.

    Liked by 1 person

    • uju December 3, 2014 / 9:18 pm

      You are a rare man, so much so I wonder if you’re African.
      There are people here who believe that once a family unit has been set up, certain roles should traditionally fall on either spouse, and possibly never be revisited by the other.

      Women automatically own cooking, cleaning and laundry. Men own….whatever men own outside paper chasing.
      Hence it is wise to develop a sudden amnesia as to how to handle said tasks.

      Liked by 1 person

      • weight2lose2013 December 3, 2014 / 9:23 pm

        I am from the Northeast of the US. Here’s my routine every day after work. I fold a load of laundry, put another one in, clean the dishes from the day, and start dinner. Whoever gets home first does this, and it’s only because I’m home first that I do it. I don’t think that I’m any less of a man for doing it. I just think that if everyone helps, then raising a family becomes much easier.

        Liked by 2 people

      • uju December 3, 2014 / 9:36 pm

        Well now that’s impressive.
        What we have here are men who come home early, put up their feet and wait for wifey to come home(whenever that happens) to put food on the table.
        Their argument? “if you do these things for her, she’ll begin to take you for granted.”
        In their favour though, I feel the men may feel/have felt slighted by the women in their lives.

        It all boils down to actions and reactions.

        It’s nice that you don’t mind getting into things when you can, and you never lose sight of the big picture: The family.

        I take it your wife doesn’t respect you any less?

        Like

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