Ethel Abban’s thoughts …Gender today, an ingrained injustice


Gender is an uncomfortable conversation to have in this dispensation. I am not a gender expert and so I’m however trying to unlearn many lessons that have internalised as I grow.

Shaykh Azhar Nasser’s once tweeted:“Teach your daughter economic independence so in the future, she can have a partner, not a master; Teach your son to do housework so in the future, he can have a partner, not a servant.”

So, I sit and recall the days my parents forced me to wash my brother’s plate after I have served him to eat, with the notion that I am a girl. Most often than not, I am asked to do almost all of the chores with the same disheartening reason, so I question myself today, was I born with household chores gene or it’s a social construct made long before my existence?

I am not saying it is wrong to have performed such duties but what would have happened if I was given an aid by my brother? Deep into their reason, they said I will do same when I marry, hence, a motivation for me to do it for reasons of conversancy before the due time. Well, good intentions though!

This answers the disservice rendered by husbands in their marriages, expecting their wives to do almost everything in the house because they see no fault in that. Do we blame them? Not at all! But rather skew towards the orientation of our dear parents.

One more thing which I believe has been a rhetorical question to most of us is, why do we prefer males to hold main positions with females as their subordinates? Let’s not even gear towards the corporate world.

Think of it, from primary to university, class prefects/ course representatives, males as the head are mostly preferable.

Please don’t try buttressing this by saying, God created males as head. This, I indisputably admit, but should society accord the highest positions to men even when it suits a woman, resulting to patriarchy?

Gone are the days when physical strength were the criteria for leadership roles but as it is now, thank goodness it is intellectualism which doesn’t accord attributes only to males but all.

A man is likely as a woman to be intelligent, creative and innovative hence, such recognition should be rightfully accorded. And this makes me say, children should be nurtured based on abilities and interests and not gender roles.

I once chanced upon a video on Instagram and I was so elated knowing the topic to be treated. “Gender equality”. The topic was, but to my utmost surprise, the worse ever as one of the panelists said “you are a foolish man if you support gender equality”. And I simply say, we have evolved but our ideologies on gender hasn’t.

These are some reasons why we see huge number of females in schools but “the higher you go, the fewer they are” as said by a Kenyan Noble Peace Laureate, Wangari Maathai. And I wonder why it isn’t strange to have 49.6 percent of the world population as females, yet most positions of power and prestige are occupied by men. A questionable premise!

How could I have forgotten? A girl is requested to be ambitious but not too ambitious. Why so? Suitors will be intimidated. And I can only ask, what’s the accurate measurement for too ambitious? Society now defines delayed marriages of female adults as gross failure but that of males as just a delay in meeting the right woman.

Did I just hear that I am gender biased? I am spreading wings but you know, the little truthful things sting the most.

Well, just to break the ice on whether or not I am gender biased, a great disservice is also done to males by dwindling their humanity in their upbringing stages by defining masculinity in a very myopic frame which by chance puts them in some sort of a cage.

Males are expected to flee from fear, weakness and vulnerability and meet the standards of a “true man” or “hard guy”, how funny. Can we also defang masculinity from money already? Most parents just can’t decipher why their male children are likely to steal monies whiles society expect them to pay bills (eg. on dates)

Imagine how happier the world will be without the world weighing gender roles. Indeed, gender, as it functions today, is an ingrained injustice.

The writer is a student of the Ghana Institute of Journalism (GIJ)

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