I am a feminist. Not the bra-burning type, but the questioning type. I question the norms, the prejudices, the lies shrouded in wrappings labelled as truth and the assumptions. When someone says that a wife should do this and that, I question that.
“What about the husband? It takes two tango, yes? So what are the rules for husbands?”
People react in a very interesting way when I question their long-held believes about marriage.
“And…are you married?” This question pops up, usually from my fellow women, when I say that it is ridiculous that a wife should be expected to put up with impunity enjoyed by her husband, but the same is not extended to her.
For example, if a man gets into an adulterous relationship, the wife is expected to swallow the bitterness and hang on. And not complain. A wife only has to think of an illicit affair and she will be castigated and vilified. Someone once told me that a wife should wash her husband’s inner wear.
“That’s just disgusting. We all learnt how to wash ourselves and our underwear at five years.”
“And…are you married?” they asked, giving my wedding band a keener look.
“What about the husband? Is he expected to wash mine?”
As it turns out, no, he is not expected to do anything for me, leave alone to wash my inner wear. He is not expected to cook for me, serve me, massage me, prepare my bath water, and treat my side of the family well.
He is not expected to stay slim and attractive, a great parent and most definitely, he is not expected to be a superman. All the things I am expected to do if I am to be considered a good wife.
“Wives are the ones that make a marriage work or fail,” said a clergy man during a wedding ceremony that I recently attended back in the village. “Seriously? Is that biblical, cultural or according to the modern school of thought?” I asked my husband, who was clapping along with the rest of the crowd. “The husband is the head of his wife, his home,” continued the priest. “Shouldn’t then the buck stop with the boss?” I asked my husband, who ignored my question, so I turned to my neighbour on the left, a middle-aged woman. “If the husband is the head, shouldn’t it then mean that he has a bigger burden to make the marriage work?”
She looked at me for a moment.
“Are you married?”
“Yes I am.”
She sighed. I wondered whether she was disappointed by my response.
“A wife has to put up with a lot of…garbage.”
Her use of the last word surprised me. She looked too proper to know such a word. She agreed with a lot of what the priest preached; the common teachings about marriage. I questioned most of it.
Mostly, because it sounded chauvinistic, shallow and most definitely not grounded on the biblical teachings, never mind that he had the Holy Book open.
I question the overused statements and quips that give the woman the most responsibilities for making a marriage work, while excusing everything about the man.
I question it when people give a woman unsavoury labels for her behaviour, mostly for her sexual choices, while the man involved with her gets at most a frown, if not a pat on the back.
Instead of men and women of the cloth coming out boldly and telling the truth about the tonnes of responsibility that come with the headship role of a husband, they shroud it under deceitful statements that make husbands expect semi-god treatments from their wives.