Emasculation and gender: Part Two …equality a progressive step for both sexes

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LAST week I touched a few nerves as I started the journey of re-visiting manhood.
It’s a very difficult thing to do as a woman because certain men feel threatened.
However, I do not blame them because that is how they were raised by us women who were made ‘gatekeepers’ of culture in a way.
When I write about gender, it is not to say that all culture in Zimbabwe is bad.
We have very good traditions that we often forget when we are in the mode of wanting to protect patriarchy which is (male domination).
We protect patriarchy because we do not want to rock the boat and we fail to see the bigger picture.
Our culture never looked at women as inferior, but tapped into the strengths they have and actually ensured they were protected from different forms of violence.
I will explore this issue in the next series.
For now, let us continue on the issue of gender and emasculation.
According to one male writer, Elvin Koljstard, traditionally patriarchal men rightly feel threatened by increased equality for both genders.
I say rightly because it’s correct that the society many feminists want to build is one where there’s no place for them.
Gender is viewed as less of a political term because it encapsulates both sexes.
However, the heart of gender is to create an equal playing field for both men and women.
I want to pose a question to you dear reader: Why do you feel threatened by the thought of equality?
Many people tend to think it is only the man who does not believe in equality, but women have also been equally raised to believe they are less of human beings because they were ‘taken from man’s rib’ and therefore, are inferior.
This, I believe, is a wrong perception and misinterpretation of scripture!
Last week we touched on one stereotype of being a ‘bread winner’ and how this is causing many divorces because men who are either earning less or not working at all feel that they are of a submissive form of masculinity and this causes serious problems which can only be resolved by counselling among other things.
Another stereotype is that real men must have weak, subordinate women.
Last week I was highly offended by an article which stated that men should avoid marrying nurses, lawyers and police officers.
It was clearly written by a man who feels threatened and emasculated by the idea of having an educated woman.
However, most important is that President Robert Mugabe has been advocating the emancipation of women and their education and introduced affirmative action in universities so that more women could become self-empowered.
Below is a snippet from the article titled, ‘Why you should not marry these women: Nurses, police women; lawyers; TV news anchors and politicians’. (https://www.myzimbabwe.co.zw/news/6423-why-you-should-not-marry-these-women-nurses-policewomen-lawyers-tv-news-anchors-and-politicians.html) :
“When it comes to good wives, there are careers you should not consider marrying women from.
“There are shocking reasons why policewomen, TV news anchors, nurses, lawyers and politicians don’t make good wives.
“A police woman carries so much power that when her husband tries to raise a hand, he is told: ‘Unless you want to rot in jail’.
“It is very hard to tame a policewoman, unless you have some authority that can neutralise her powers.”
The writer went on about how he felt threatened by different women and it was angering, but at the same time saddening because the poor man is clearly an individual who believes women are animals that need to be tamed.
This is the reality that educated women face everyday and for some, it seems like a crime to have gone to school.
What this man failed to see is the connection between education of women and better survival rates for children below the age of five.
A woman who has attained Ordinary Level is two times more likely to be able to have her child survive beyond the age of five.
What more one who went to college and studied to become a nurse or lawyer!
I always say to people that culture is dynamic and has never been stagnant.
Our own elders say, ‘Kare haagari arikare’ showing how our customs also change with the times.
Men and women need to learn that equality is not a step towards ‘war’ between the sexes, but a progressive step that benefits all.
Therefore the so-called traditional man needs to wake up and stop feeling sorry for himself or that he is no longer a man, but realise that he is more of a man when he sees woman not only as an equal, but also as a fellow human being.
This will not kill anyone, but will help the nation progress!

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