07 February 2006

To cook or not to cook - a womans dilemma

I have just finished reading an article in True Love magazine titled 'Desperate Housewives' (love the show on ABC by the way though the second season is proving to be a bit of a let down. No I don't get ABC in nigeria ;)). Basicaly 3 30-something year old young ladies share their marriage experiences so far. One of them had an interesting account. While dating her husband, he had no qualms about cooking meals for them to eat at his house, once they got marriage, his cooking skills 'just dissappeared'! Back from work, he heads for the bedroom to change then comes out and announces that he is hungry. 'Will you eat bread?' she asks 'no' he says!

First off I wouldn't have offered anything. If you do not have an option of at least two hot meals for an African man back from work (hunting deer, killing snakes, moving boulders the size of Olumo rock, take your pick) the best thing is to feign MP (menstral pain) and go to bed, or the next best thing, ensure he gets home before you! But offering him bread, I think thats worse than not offering him anything at all. His in-laws would have a field day tearing you apart at the family meeting, not to mention providing his friends the next gossip topic at the weekly/daily drink up at the local beer parlor.

Something which strikes me here though is the fact that her husbands' cooking skills deserted him the minute he got married. I am sure he was aware she wasn't 'kitchen friendly' (her words not mine) before they married, whats wrong with him continuing to cook after they got married? I asked this question of a friend (she is a sweetheart, and constantly complaining that i am too 'oyinbo', I also suspect she fears I will never marry at this rate!) and she was like this would work abroad, but not in Nigeria i.e. wake up and smell the coffee! I am asking myself, is this the reason why Nigerian men marry, to have someone cook and clean for them among a host of other things? I believe strongly in the role of a woman as outlined in the bible (basically I am a helpmate), I think my issue with all this its your job to cook, clean etc wahala is that it seems I am expected to do them as opposed to being appreciated that I do them. Another friend says its a culture thing. Hmmm. This precedence you people are hanging on to was set in a completely different environment. Back in the day it was clearly defined - It was the man's job to bring home the (insert your substitute for bacon), it was the womans job to cook it. Nowadays, its a combined job bringing the (insert your substitute for bacon) home, why can't it be a tag-team effort to cook? I really am not asking for a role reversal, I don't mind really working and looking after my family, I just want my partner to appreciate what I am doing and help out, the way I see it a person who wants to help really shouldn't be concerned about whose job it is to do what. And it would be nice if you guys at the beer parlor would not call him 'pussy whipped' just cos you dropped by our place and saw him heating water for coffee (I love Folgers!), or vacuuming the carpet!

I don't mean to toot my own horn, but when it comes to cooking - beep beep!!!


Adekeye O said...

I am not a desperate housewives fan. Ithink they are crazy! I find that most married men I know cook and love it! though it does not replace their wives cooking. It's the type of man. The type that can't cook or can and suddenly decides he's not anymore " smell a rat"

uknaija said...

It's not just the guys at the beer parlour....it's also your sisters who will say "Come o you are not a good Christian wife why are you swapping roles", "Are you sure this your husband is a real man sef" and so on.....

adefunke said...

Yup, them too, don't forget the mothers-in-law, sisters-in-law, etc. Actually its our society as a whole. I have a dear friend who insists that the African woman is not ready for liberation, sometimes I agree with him!

Na Me joo said...

Well . . . as I discussed with a friend . . it all boils down to a guy knowing what he's about
For most Naija men, its not so much a partnership issue but an ownership issue (hence the comment, I need to find a nice girl that would make me a nice wife)
for most naija women, the seem to want to take care of their men too much(by this, I mean spoil them rotten i.e. dont cook, dont clean, etc.)
Now when u spoil smebody . . . man or child. . . then u shouldnt complain when they act accordingly i.e. lose their culinary skills, or any other relevant skills

Now . . . with all dat being said, most naija men seem to find all these domestic duties as necessary evils that one must perform as a single man and avoid as a married man
Rare is the man who knows what he's about enuff to continue to assist domestically . . and to follow up on the Funke's comment "It doesnt seem u women are ready for liberation"

Also what is liberation sef . . . help me out here?

adefunke said...

I am going to pretend like you really don't know. Here's the dictonary meaning (Merriam-Webster):

Pronunciation: "li-b&-'rA-sh&n
Function: noun
1 : the act of liberating : the state of being liberated
2 : a movement seeking equal rights and status for a group eg women's liberation
- lib·er·a·tion·ist /-sh(&-)nist/ noun

Na Me joo said...

so what happens when the liberatees dont really act like they want to be liberated . .. ehn? . . i.e. spoil men rotten . . . ehn?

adefunke said...

I don't think we should hide under the umbrella of stereotyping especially when dealing with relationships. Even though I have certain beliefs when it comes to Nigerian men for example, I still get to know them on an individual basis, see if the fit my perceived stereotype or not. Likewise with the liberation thing, some sista's want it, some don't. You owe it to yourself to first know what you are about then decide which type of sister you want then go for it! You can be sure my boys will be brought up doing everything by themselves!

Na Me joo said...

Not stereotypx/generalisation, most Nig men are a certain way . . or or two of them here and there are different . . . . same goes for Nig women
so as I said earlier it boils down to the issue of knowing oneself and deciding whether we want to fit with the stereotype or not
A lot of men & women dont even have the guts to go against the norm - hence my comment of the "liberatees not wanting liberation" :)

Ore said...

Well, unfortunately, I can see what tio is getting at. It seems like many Nigerian women don't want this "liberation" thing.

I think that this is all stemming from fear - fear of being seen as a bad wife, girlfriend or mother. And until women can let go of that and work with their partners to decide on an arrangement that works for them, this supposed perception will remain.

But, at the end of the day, I guess there are some women who prefer this subservient role. Different strokes ......

adefunke said...

I agree with ore. I really think its really all about u, knowing what you want, having the guts to stand up for whatever that is and finding that person who appreciates u just the way u are.

I used to think I needed to change people I meet, u know to like accept the idea of a 'liberated woman' (for lack of a better description!). Increasingly I have come to appreciate and realise that we are all different people. There is a yoruba saying which goes 'mo iwa fun oni wa lon je ore', this basically means appreciating a person for whom they are equals true friendship.

I guess this is why I am not of the 'liberate the african female' school of thought. Liberation the way I see it is a personal decision, I can't force it on you if you are not ready. However I will respect your right to chose to live your life whichever way u deem fit, please respect my rights to do the very same!

So if you come to my house and find my husband stiring the soup while I am sifting the 'elubo', let the only thot in your head be 'gosh please let me be invited to eat!'

Epictetus said...

My problem is not with "liberation" as a concept. Neither is it with the "act of being liberated". How about the pre-liberation state? What is it? I'm loth to imagine that household chores define the broadest boundaries of this state. For indeed, I can conceive of a liberated woman enjoying (and executing) these chores. As I can equally conceive of a "liberated man" finding excuses for not doing them. "Liberation" must then consist of something different: a quality thing; and not the quantity issues around which this debate has played.

Na Me joo said...

Regardx the quality vs. quantity issues of this discussion, "chores" as they are described by "BBW" are some of the things that define quality - without them there is no debate

Note: look at all the naija men dat are very unsatisfied bcos their wives dont cook and look @ all the new liberated naija woman that are now somewhat disappointed bcos their husbands have now stopped cooking among other things - I believe the performance vs. nonperformance of these chores is a real issue toward maintaining satisfaction.

Now I realize that this is a rather simplistic approach toward explaining marital rlshps but is the survival/quality of any rlshp not built a lot of these lil/simple things?

Now I like to cook and clean the house and do all those quantity things that bigbadwolf (BBW) mentioned. I like to think of myself as being reasonably open (re: Liberated). But then again am an unmarried man that has to eat (and eat well) and keep his house clean - A least I try ;) . . .i.e. I have no choice

The question is will I continue to do these things when married - mebbe/mebbe not depends on circumstances, gimme a few mins let me quickly get married and I will let u know.:)

adefunke said...

It appears my point is finally getting across! Its not the act in itself thats the issue, my partner may never have to lift a finger in our home; its me knowing that its something you can do and do gladly.

Epictetus said...

By all means, lets agree individual responses to the "chores" question, as a part of our definition of "liberation". But methinks this is but a triffling part of the definition. What (if any) is the difference between a "liberated" and an "incarcerated" (is this the opposite of "liberated"?) woman? Is the liberated woman likelier to wait for her male companion to hold the door for her to pass through? Would she be holding out her spliff for her "man" to light for her? What's her take on child rearing? Is she Fela's "Lady"? And are we fair in assuming that all men (narrowly speaking) are born free? Anyone for liberating the Nigerian male from the burden of machismo?

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