Sometimes it appears as if much progress have been made in the quest for gender equality and for women in the society to be recognized as something other than sex objects. Then once in a while, we receive shockers like an intended president of a country bragging about groping women and an actual president of a country saying his wife belongs in the kitchen and bedroom. It’s the 21st century, but the last time I checked, women still earn 76 cents for every dollar men earn. What I don’t understand is why we have to have this disparity in the first place. Why do women have to struggle in the first place to be treated as equals?
How incredulous is it that some men still believe that a woman’s place is in the kitchen? In response to a question posed to him about the political party his wife belongs to, the president of the federal republic of Nigeria said, “I don’t know which party my wife belongs to, but she belongs to my kitchen and my living room and the other room”. If the president of a country thinks this way about his wife, what’s to be expected of the male citizens of his country? Is this a reflection on the majority of men in Nigeria or is the younger and educated sect developing a different mindset about women? I certainly hope so. Nigeria is one of the most civilized countries in Africa. Nigerians in the world are known for being highly educated people. It’s quite shameful for the president of such a country to make a sexist and offensive joke.
A conversation about this ensued in my living room with my parents and siblings. My brother asked, can a woman ever become the president in Nigeria, and I answered yes why not? To which my parents responded, it is not possible, they would never allow it. I didn’t ask, but I wondered who the “they” are. Are the “they” sexist men? Or are “they” women who succumb to being objectified? Who are the “they” who would not allow a woman to become the president of Nigeria? Then I turned the focus to America, the world leader. If America is having such a hard time making a woman the president, why should I expect that miracle to happen in Nigeria? We can choose to look at it however we want, but there’s no denying that half of the difficulty Hillary is facing in becoming a president stems from the fact that she’s a woman, the email scandal aside. And the fact that Americans are tolerating Trump is because he’s a man. I still haven’t wrapped my mind around what qualifies Trump to be a president.
But this post is not about Trump but about an actual president who is displaying a very Trump-like behavior. President Buhari was caught making a sexist remark about his wife and he calls it a joke. This sort of joke is just not acceptable! It is this perception that women belong in the kitchen and the bedroom that we have been trying so hard to fight for years. Making light of it is undermining the fight for gender equality. For too long, women have been treated as second class citizens. In almost every sector in society, they are denied the opportunities and benefits their male counterparts have access to. Marriage, an institution that is supposed to protect, shield and value women, has been turned into an avenue for the abuse, misuse, and mistreatment of women. According to UN Women, 1 in 3 women still experience physical or sexual violence, mostly by an intimate partner. So in light of all these, for a president to openly degrade his wife is quite disappointing. This is a wake-up call for us to look into those gender issues that have been swept under the rug. There’s need for a reexamination of how much progress we claim to have made when it comes to gender equality.