My eldest child is a male and he is 14 years old. I observed that he was saving every dime that comes his way and when I asked what he was saving for and if I could be of help; all he said was that he needed to buy a few things and the joy of buying them is knowing that he gave up some pleasures to get them. Unknown to me, he was saving for my birthday gifts. On my birthday in July, he gave me a package of various gifts amongst which is a plaque that can be hung on the wall. The inscription reads:
MOTHER JOB DESCRIPTION
CHAFFUER: provides taxi service 24 hours of the day
MAID: keeps all rooms in the house spotless
LAUNDRESS: do all washing and ironing daily
CHEF: cooks all meals that everybody enjoys
BANKER: lends money to everyone without expecting to get any back
NURSE: heal all cuts, bruises, scrapes and feelings
REFEREE: be available to referee all games and fights
No pay BUT plenty of HUGS and KISSES always
This gift is one I will always cherish because to me, it serves as a reminder of my importance in the life of my loved ones. If I play such vital rules in their lives then I have a great influence over them and as such, I am accountable to a large extend on the type of adults they become in future.
We are taught how to be men and women in much less direct or violent ways and in all kinds of situations that seemingly have nothing to do with sex or gender. A male child is been taught as soon as he can comprehend that it is unmanly to cry when in pain. As years run by, he realises that a man that openly show is love to his wife is regarded as a weakling (in my country – Nigeria, he will be called “woman wrapper”- that is, the cloth that women tie round their waist hilarious isn’t it?). He watches his Father and he realises that the man is regarded as the disciplinarian of the home; he maintains a stern front when with the kids (he does this by keeping his distance). The hugs and kisses are reserved for the woman while all the child gets from the father is “good well done” when he does something right. Our sons are taught that women are more emotional than men and therefore better suited to raising children and doing household tasks that involve caretaking, while men on the other hand are more rational than women and therefore more qualified to handle money and better suited to providing economic support by working outside the home and maintaining discipline in the family.
Consider your experiences in school growing up - Did you attend school in same-sex or mixed-sex settings, or both? Do you remember whether boys and girls were treated similarly or differently in relationship to education in your society? What was the ratio of boys bully to that of the girls? Perhaps the way we are taught to read (by whom, in what places) – or whether or not we are taught to read at all – will depend on whether we are girls or boys in our societies.
Almost all of what we learn about how to be a woman or a man is learned implicitly rather than explicitly. This is called “Gender socialization” and it is reinforced repetitively as we go about our daily lives and observe the rewards and punishments others receive for behaving in gender-appropriate or gender- in appropriate manner.
I believe that children irrespective of their sexes should be allowed to display their emotions. This does not make the boys less male. They are humans and have feelings so why bottled then up? I teach my boys that maleness has nothing to do with how they display their affections but rather on how considerate they are towards the other sex knowing that they are physically weaker than the males. I have two boys. I remember how I used to quarrel with their dad when my first son was about 2 years about how I encourage him to display his emotions. He will always accuse me of trying to turn the boy into a sissy because I encourage him to hug and kiss when happy and allow his tears to pour when unhappy or in pain.
The fact that so many men are raised to believe they are inherently more likely to be violent than women rather than be as emotional as women can lead societies, families, and individuals to excuse male violence when it does occur. The expression “boys will be boys” reflects this sort of attitude toward male behaviour that would otherwise be deemed socially unacceptable. I believe that for there to be an end to gender violence then there must be a behavioural change in men. Our sons must be encouraged to be affectionate not only in the bedrooms but everywhere!!!!!!!!!!!!!!