For the past few weeks, there has been an almost fixed schedule at home. My cousin and I leave early for work and return later in the day, leaving my sister to maintain the home because my mother sort of retired from housekeeping a while ago and my brother is technically, well… unavailable.
Tired after work a couple of days ago, the dirty dishes in the kitchen didn’t make any sense to me at all. But not to worry, my brother was home :). And so I went to bed. And woke up. With the dishes the same way I left them. And boy, wasn’t my mother upset! I allowed her to vent that morning while I prepared my one-line defense in my head. Thankfully, she didn’t mention my future husband and my in-laws even though she mentioned shame and put part of the blame on my university. When she was done, I blurted out: “I told Pappy to do it”.
She paused for a second. Looked exasperated in the next and then softened thereafter.
In our house, boys don’t do dishes. So stop relying on him.
I froze. I literally did. What in heaven’s name did that mean? Let me just give you a breakdown on the way things are run at my home so this makes more sense. Even though recently, car washing became a thing for my brother, anyone pretty much can be summoned to wash cars. Everyone, except my brother, scrubs. Everyone, except my brother, does errands without persuasion, excuses and complaining. Everyone, but mostly my brother weeds the house.
So practically, the rest of us, ladies, do everything, whiles my brother weeds and washes cars (sometimes). Which is so much work that he cannot do dishes and every other thing in home management.
As you may rightly guess, I ended up doing the dishes that morning and so I was late for work. But that didn’t bother me because it opened my eyes to the reason some men have become the way they are.
They grew up in environments that taught them to be half people – humans who could neither clean nor feed themselves but could raise a hand at the ones who fed them and cleaned because they had been taught to be authoritative and demand respect in any case. (So maybe the abuse is an extreme case and wouldn’t apply to all cases and that’s okay.)
I promise this isn’t a backlash on boys who can’t do chores or mothers who have raised and/or are raising their boys like this. It’s a plea. Because I am tired of seeing boys who think that they need a girlfriend or a wife mainly because they can neither do their laundry nor clean their house. Because I am tired of seeing men who expect equal financial contributions from their women and still expect to eat home-cooked breakfast, snack, lunch, and dinner. Because I am tired of seeing boys who haven’t become men by accepting responsibility but expect that women all over the world, who have been brought up to take care of themselves, to submit to their authority and their judgment when they are not even sure of who they are themselves.
I agree with Bishop TD Jakes when he says that being a man is tough. I think Clique 116 isn’t crazy when they dedicate an album ‘Man Up’ to publicizing what men ought to prioritize in their lives amidst their struggles. We understand; but you can’t slack. Nor can you give up.
I believe that our societies wouldn’t do well with half-men who look for whole-women as complements for the wrong reasons. We need full men who are attractive because they can survive without us, men who will not beat us up to make up for their insecurities and low self-esteem.
We need men who did dishes when they were young, can do dishes even now and are aware that that will not make them less masculine than they are.
Men-in-the-making, please don’t let us wait forever.