THE HAND THAT ROCKS THE CRADLE RULES THE WORLD

THERESA OKPOKWU
Posted November 2, 2012 from Nigeria

If you are the caretaker of children, you may be more familiar with this fact since, probably, you will have faced questions from these children about the differences between boys and girls. Perhaps you’ve had to teach a child about what is appropriate for boys and girls to do, or not to do, within your society. Often the first question asked about a newborn infant is, “Is it a girl or a boy?” Children are often treated differently based on sex from the very moment they are born. Indeed, with new technologies that permit the identification of a foetus’s sex prior to birth, different – and discriminatory – treatment may begin even earlier. At birth the male child is not different from the female child in behavioural pattern. He openly shows his affection just like the female child. Over time, we (adults), begin to introduce gender discrimination and attitudes to them. We pick toys that connote this discrimination. For the boy child, we buy toys such as guns; cars etc for them and buy dolls and cooking toys for the girl thereby unconsciously teaching them what we perceive as the right way for a boy to behave and what part that the girl should toll. We the mothers are actually guilty of this crime. For instance, I never taught of buying garden tools for my daughter when she was growing up but I have bought her dolls, kitchen stuffs and even medicals toys as a little girl. All these are unconsciously teaching her that as a girl, she is the caregiver. Have you ever taught of buying a toy car or gun for your girl child? I’m sure that if you are asked to pick a career for her you never will want her to be a cab driver or cab station owner; probably you would not want her to be a crime fighter too just because you think these professions are for males. As a little girl I never knew that there were male nurses. I just assume that the profession was exclusively for the females. Even in my country today, there aren’t many male nurses. I have come across only a few. Masculinity and femininity are characteristics, habits, traits, behaviours, thoughts, beliefs, and ways of being in the world that are commonly believed to belong to men and women respectively within a given society. For instance, physical strength is a trait commonly believed to belong to men more than women, while the ability to empathize emotionally is a trait commonly ascribed to women. In some Western intellectual traditions, men have historically been characterized as logical, while women are portrayed as intuitive. . Sex/gender socialization is all about how to be a boy or girl and how to be a man or woman. The dominant ideologies of masculinity expect men/boys to be independent, dominant, invulnerable aggressors and providers, strong and virile. The dominant ideologies of femininity expect women/girls to be subordinate, obedient and dependent; passive in sexual relations; virgins, chaste and monogamous; and privilege motherhood as the primary reason for having sex. What were the reasons, if any, behind this rule about why boys and girls are different, or why they could or could not do particular things? Did the rule make sense to you as a young girl growing up? Does it make sense to you today as an adult female?

I am an advocate of behavioural change as a means of ending gender violence and I believe that dominant ideologies can be changed. I know, surely, from my own life experience, that the effort to treat people equally is anything but simple. People are individuals; no two are exactly alike. Even genetically identical twins raised within the same family will develop different personalities, different skills, different strengths and weaknesses over time. If you have children, you know how hard it is to treat them equally at all times. Yet this may be precisely what they demand of us: they want the same number of gifts, the same privileges, identical amounts and expressions of our love and time. As women I know that we have the opportunity to bring up the children equally. Encouraging them to respect individual differences and never to use their strength as a weapon of oppression; women have an advantage over men in grooming the children right because our influence over them is absolute especially within the first trimester years, they spend greater time of their waking moments with us and they will become what we train them to be. The image of themselves that they develop and carry is based on what they were told repeatedly during their formative years. If they were supportive words then it helps to boost their self esteem and value in later years. If they are words of affirmation it can help provide a solid, positive foundation for their thinking. Let’s help them see others through the eyes of gender equality and not through the eyes of a male superiority over the females.

Ending Gender-Based Violence 2012

Comments 13

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Merlin James
Nov 08, 2012
Nov 08, 2012

You have chosen a good title for the post. Great. It talks about the reality as plain as it is.

Keep sharing.

Much love.

THERESA OKPOKWU
Nov 09, 2012
Nov 09, 2012

Thanks my sister. I enjoy your posting too.

THERESA OKPOKWU
Nov 10, 2012
Nov 10, 2012

Thanks my sister. Im encouraged. Lots of hugs and kisses to you, kids, mum and sisters. All sisters fighting against gender violence in india

binapatel33
Nov 19, 2012
Nov 19, 2012

Thank you for sharing your story. I really like the way you think! I agree gender discrimination is a stigma created by society and cultures. Unfortunately it continues to exist and spread each generation based on the clothes we wear, how we act, our body movements, etc. Have you heard of metrosexuals? It is a term that many men use to identify themselves with in the west because they shave their bodies, use blow dryers to dry their hair, etc. These men are not gay, they are "clean cut" and so they are called metrosexuals. This is something new but a good way to narrow the gender gap.

THERESA OKPOKWU
Nov 20, 2012
Nov 20, 2012

Thank you dear sister, metrosexual , i really dont know much about them but i have heard about it, i will study about their ideaology. I will link up with the website group whynot to know what it is about.

binapatel33
Nov 20, 2012
Nov 20, 2012

Yes metrosexual is a new fashion statement if anything for guys who are not homosexuals but like to have "proper" things like females. It's very interesting.

Group WhyNot is my own firm. I teach and practice conflict resolution to corporations and organizations. It is my passion and truly enjoy it. If you want we can perhaps do a seminar on skype, where I can do a presentation for you and your colleagues on conflict resolution?

If you want please tell me what type of issues you face most often in your community, anything that has conflicts (it can be anything)and I can put a powerpoint presentation on how to resolve conflict. It will be my compliments.

Please let me know. It will be a pleasure to do it! :)

Bina

THERESA OKPOKWU
Nov 26, 2012
Nov 26, 2012

Thank you Bina, I really do want. We will plan it after this festive period. xmas and new year is always a busy time for us in Nigeria.

Pushpa Achanta
Nov 21, 2012
Nov 21, 2012

Dear Tessie,

Thanks for articulating this critical, universal truth about gender specific socialization. We must begin by teaching boys to accept women and girls as humans.

Hope you'll continue voicing your vital thoughts and ideas.

Warmth and love, Pushpa

THERESA OKPOKWU
Nov 26, 2012
Nov 26, 2012

thank you Pushpa, I really believe that if gender violence must end, then male and female differences must be accepted and respected. the key is a change in our behavioural pattern is essential towards each other.

binapatel33
Dec 10, 2012
Dec 10, 2012

Thank you sounds good!

THERESA OKPOKWU
Dec 18, 2012
Dec 18, 2012

saying you are welcome sounds even better my sis. looking forward to our seminar come jan! take care.

binapatel33
Dec 18, 2012
Dec 18, 2012

Yes, I can't wait. You tell me what days/time you are available and we can set up something through skype. Also, what topics do you want me to discuss? I can start with the basics of communication, and how communication can be used as a tool to help women in your town/network develop. How does that sound?

THERESA OKPOKWU
Dec 18, 2012
Dec 18, 2012

it sounds greeat................................................ thank you