Author Archives: Malaka

Untitled: A Story from Anita Erskine’s Facebook Wall.

Photo credit: Google +

Photo credit: Google +

After dropping my kids off at school, I was driving away when I saw a young man in my rear view mirror. He was running toward the car and aggressively indicating with his hands that I stop. He eventually got to my window and politely apologized. I thought that was decent. So I became patient – allowing him to catch his breathe. He was carrying a stack of dailies, which he shifted uncomfortably from his right to left arm, so he could tap his right palm to his forehead in salutation to me. Raising my sunglasses from my eyes to my head, I wanted to be able to eyeball this stranger. He looked not more than 22 or 23. Tall. Lean. In a branded t-shirt. Then he said, “Please are you Madam Anita?”

I don’t like being called Madam but I let it go!

“I am please. Can I help you?”

It appears my ‘please’ touched a nerve. Soothing it and calming him down instantly.

Photo credit: Times of Man

Photo credit: Times of Man

“Madam please I have been seeing you every morning near this traffic light. Please I finished uni in June. I have been trying to get work. I have dropped over 100 CVs at numerous offices. Everywhere. Every time the secretary will say they don’t have any jobs. But I’ll still leave it. Last week, I got a call from a certain company in Dansoman. They deal in IT. I went for the interview but they said they are looking for a full time cleaner who will also be helping the secretary. But Madam I remember you sometime in April. When you were campaigning for the Vlisco program. And I remember you came to our hall and told us that we should be humble and smart when we finish school. So that we can get more chances. So I wanted to ask if you think this job offer is a good thing.”

By now I was smiling from ear to ear! Poor guy didn’t even know why. I must have seemed crazy! But truly THIS is what life is about!!!

“What did you study in school?” I asked.

“Madam please I studied Political Science,” he answered.

I paused for what may have been about 15 seconds. Looking at the steering wheel and hoping my response would somehow help this guy. And then I responded, “My first corporate job was as a Receptionist. It was the best I could get at the time. I had no work experience. But I knew the corporate world and getting into it was a vicious cycle. I told myself that if I could get in, I would be the very BEST I could be and leave the rest to fate I guess. I loved my work. Yes even with a university degree and graduating on the Dean’s Honor Roll. But I decided nothing would be below me. Funny enough I was such a great receptionist that people just called the office just to hear my voice! Long story short, I gave it my all. When it came time for the company to hire a Coordinator who would work directly for the CEO, guess where the H.R manager came to?”

I didn’t have to continue my story. He got the picture.

“Madam; I will take the job. And I will soon let you know how it is going. If you don’t mind, give me your email address. Maybe big people like you don’t like giving your phone numbers”

…Hahaha! I scribbled my email address on a piece of paper and handed it to him. He left the car and wandered off to continue selling his newspapers. I sincerely hope today is his last day at the traffic light!

*****

I absolutely love this story, and felt it was imperative to share it. I have never known much about Anita Erskine, even though she and I went to school together and were only one grade apart, but had I known she had this much compassion and wisdom, I would have made a better effort to get to know her better. Then again, I was a too-known teenager, so hubris most likely would have prevented me from befriending her.

The encounter Anita had with this young man is special in so many ways. So far it’s received 225 likes on her wall and numerous shares. The dynamics of this interaction are remarkable because they rarely happen in Ghana or in Africa at large. Celebrities (and a fair share of pseudo-celebs) generally seek to disassociate with the plebian population…not engage with it unless there is some transaction that is going to benefit the individual who occupies space in the higher caste. That Anita stopped her progress to engage in an in-depth conversation with a young man selling a newspaper is noteworthy, because few people are ignored with more vehemence than the guy selling the newspaper on any busy Accra thoroughfare. It’s hard, sweaty work with little return for all that effort. In addition to that, the general assumption is that the newspaper seller – like the chewing gum seller – is barely educated. But here we have a university graduate doing a menial task, despite his letters!

And that’s the other aspect I love about this story. Thousands of university graduates – and not just in Ghana – are sitting around waiting for something to happen. Waiting for someone to CALL THEM or GIVE them a job, rather than taking an opportunity, no matter how miniscule it may appear. When Marshall asked me to marry him, he was making $25K doing IT at a health billing facility. We shouldered the financial responsibility of our wedding (because neither of our parents contributed). I out-earned him by $10K, but rather than putting me in the position of paying for the majority of our wedding costs, he sold newspapers with the AJC for 6 months 3-4 days a week in addition to his regular job! Now he’s a sought after web designer for a Fortune 100 company.

I’m so grateful that Anita took the time to speak to this young man and to encourage him with her own experience. If you’re among the very privileged, you may find yourself airlifted to the top of the mountain of success; but the majority of us have to climb it from the bottom. The key to making it to the top is getting a foothold on the parts of that incline that are sure and secure, trusting in your endurance, seizing all opportunities to advance, no matter how small, and never losing faith. (It took me 4 hours to climb Table Mountain. This analogy means a lot to me!)

I too hope that this was this young man’s last day selling papers!

Happy Friday, one and all.

Lift Every Voice and Sing

Part of my hybrid upbringing was learning the “Black National Anthem”. As a child, I hated this separatist idea – that there were two Americas – that I was being indoctrinated with, but I dutifully learned the first stanza of the song as required and could sing it on demand.

The anthem is a song written as a poem by James Weldon Johnson in 1899 and set to music by his brother John Rosamond Johnson in 1900. It is a staple in every HBCU choir. With the events in Missouri, Florida, Ohio, California and New York, the verses are still as relevant today as they were when they were written 115 years ago. The fact is, there are indeed two Americas, and depending on what shade of brown you happen to find yourself on or what zip code you find your residence in, your America will look very different from someone else’s.

The song talks about hope that dies before its even born. For many people born to poverty and disadvantage – who by virtue of the circumstances of their birth find themselves trapped in the classroom to prison pipeline – this is a bitter reality. Nevertheless, this is their America. Hope dying before it is born plays out in different scenarios all over this country.

The song also talks about faith and how it will carry you through the dark times.

Some of you have never heard of the emotional roller coaster that is African American National Anthem. That’s okay! I am here for you.

 

Lift every voice and sing
Till earth and heaven ring,
Ring with the harmonies of liberty;
Let our rejoicing rise
High as the listening skies,
Let it resound loud as the rolling sea.
Sing a song full of the faith that the dark past has taught us,
Sing a song full of the hope that the present has brought us,
Facing the rising sun of our new day begun
Let us march on till victory is won.

Stony the road we trod,
Bitter the chastening rod,
Felt in the days when hope unborn had died;
Yet with a steady beat,
Have not our weary feet
Come to the place for which our fathers sighed?
We have come over a way that with tears has been watered,
We have come, treading our path through the blood of the slaughtered,
Out from the gloomy past,
Till now we stand at last
Where the white gleam of our bright star is cast.

God of our weary years,
God of our silent tears,
Thou who has brought us thus far on the way;
Thou who has by Thy might Led us into the light,
Keep us forever in the path, we pray.
Lest our feet stray from the places, our God, where we met Thee,
Lest, our hearts drunk with the wine of the world, we forget Thee;
Shadowed beneath Thy hand,
May we forever stand.
True to our God,
True to our native land.

 

Thoughts? Reactions?

Are You Ready to #TalkDirtyToMe?

You read the title. Look at where you mind went. Just because I write for a sex blog and had one, maybe twelve explicit scenes in a novel I wrote, you automatically assume this is going to be a naughty conversation. See your life! Ask the deity of your choice to forgive you for your rush to judgment!

naturemill-plus-automatic-kitchen-composter-1There are a couple of important things happening this week. The most pressing of those is that after a year of lusting, I will finally get to purchase a NatureMill kitchen composter. This is huge for a number of reasons:

  • I hate looking at decomposing food in the kitchen, even if it’s locked up in a steel bin
  • The smell of decomposing food makes me sick, right down to my toes
  • Hubby doesn’t always remember to take out the kitchen trash, which means I have occasion to come in contact with old spaghetti and egg remains. Composting means I only have to empty a bin of “dirt” in that event.
  • Composting is good for the Earth

I recognize that my last reason should have been number 1 on the list. Perhaps I’m not that altruistic. Jesus is still working on me.

The other thing that is happening today is a super cool conversation I’m having with Golda Addo – a woman I very much admire for her work in green innovation and social activism. Because I’m letting the Lord work on me, He has chosen this vessel (Ms. Addo), to Talking Dirty To Me and help me –and you, if you’ll be watching – understand the numerous ways we can positively impact our environment through a series of simple steps.

Ghana’s pollution problem is at near critical mass, as the government, citizenry and private stakeholders have all passed the buck on who is responsible for cleaning up. It’s a vicious cycle of blame and inefficiency that has left the country buried in filth. I have teamed up with Green Ghanaian to host a series of conversations on to explore ways that we can combat this trend and eventually reverse it, and the only way to do that is to dig up and face the filthy truth that Ghana is a dirty country.

Watch the show HERE at 2pm EST/ 6pm GMT

The health challenges that Ghana is facing has become a major concern to many of its citizens. I’m pleased that while I will be hosting this discussion, a team of Ghanaian bloggers, medical experts and sanitation experts will also be meeting in the city to tackle the very same issue. If you’re in the city, you can find the Hub location of follow @BloggingGhana for details on the event.

The Green Gospel is here my brethren! Will you hear the good word? Will you run swiftly to share it?! You can use the hashtag #TrashTalk on twitter to join in the conversation or submit a question/suggestion to my guest today. You will also be able to catch the segment on this link  later if you miss the live broadcast.

Even though the geographic focus of our conversations will be about Ghana, the methods and ideas shared can be replicated anywhere in the world. So don’t be afraid to watch and chime in my New Zealand readers!

Smooches!

Note: I got 3 hours of sleep last night. I’m so delirious right now. I can’t even think of a proper way to end this post… I WILL be looking crazy today.

Lessons on Accepting and Tolerating Domestic Violence Start Early for Little Girls

By now you’ve seen the Ray Rice video where the Ravens running back gets into an elevator with his fiancé, punches her unconscious and then drags her out of the elevator like trash. They have since tied the knot/jumped de broom/ whatever you want to call the fiasco when a woman marries her abuser.

rayIt’s easy to point fingers at Janay Palmer and ask yourself what on earth would possess her to legally bind herself to a man who has proven he is prone to violence and clearly lacks self-control. What further would compel her to join him on stage during a press conference and “admit” that she had some part to play in her own beating? Philosophers like DL Hughley might rationalize that it is because Ms. Palmer is a “thirsty bitch” who doesn’t want to mess up her money. The only person who can provide reasons why she is still with Ray Rice is Janay Palmer, and like many victims of domestic violence, those reasons become murkier with time.

“I don’t know why I stayed,” is the refrain you often hear from women who have escaped violent relationships. This will often be followed with a litany of justifications that include:

Love

Loyalty

The kids

 

As always, I never want to give the illusion that I am sitting in judgment of another woman in circumstances such as these. While I have never been in a physically abusive relationship, I was a willing participant in an emotional (and well documented) one for a year with Douche Bag. I even confessed to the MOM Squad to wanting to marry him at some point. I was enamored with his ‘potential’. If he just applied himself he could really BE something, I thought. But the man is an outright lost case… as his fiancé (with no engagement ring, and now, no wedding date) has come to discover. I wonder how long she’s going to let him live in her expansive house, rent free with access to as much free food and sex as his little heart desires? That will be for her to decide. Every woman has her line and her limits.

But what makes women so tolerant of abuse? The figures on domestic violence are murky, but it’s estimated that between 25-33% of all women will find themselves a victim of domestic abuse in some form. The abuse can take the form of psychosocial or emotional trauma, to routine beating and in some cases death.

It is my contention that people who abuse women –even female ones – seek out certain types of women. They look for women who are sweet, or have moderate-low self-esteem, or fiercely dependent, or confess to undying loyalty. A woman like that is easier to trap and control than your garden variety self-obsessed, highly ambitious gargoyle who would sooner burn their assailant alive than to let him/her touch her in a violent way. That’s not to say a person with an abusive personality wouldn’t try it; but the point of abuse is to establish control and women who are not easily controlled do not make convenient victims.

These ‘feminine’ qualities – the self-sacrificing and nurturing archetypes that women are raised to aspire to – are a hotbed for the virus that is an abusive personality. If not presented with a strong sense of balance, they do more to enable the abuser than to deter his or her behavior. It’s important that we talk about woman on woman abuse when we speak about domestic violence, because the face of lesbian domestic violence is often veiled. I have had two very good friends share with me the horror of having their partner stomp them in a parking lot or assault them at home. Whether it’s a man beating up a woman or same gendered abuse, the goal is the same: to assert dominance and to make your victim feel weak, afraid, and hopefully, too scared to leave.

These are emotions I will never tolerate as they relate to my girls.

My parents never talked to me about the intricacies of domestic violence. We never talked about the mechanics or the intention behind it. There was always a sense that they would “take care” of anybody that hurt us, but even in that messaging I found myself feeling more afraid and compassionate for the potential recipient of my parent’s wrath than I did for myself. I did and could not fathom that anyone would hurt me so severely that it would warrant such intense retaliation!

There are many conversations I will have to have with my girls including dating, choosing colleges, which market to buy their first home, why they should never accidentally put diesel in their engine that only takes unleaded…but I confess I never put domestic violence on the list. It’s scary to imagine, let alone discuss. Fortunately, a cartoon gave me the perfect segue to the topic.

jemI recently introduced the girls to JEM and they have been devouring the episodes like a pair of piranha. Like many other American girls, I loved the cartoon in the 80’s, memorized the theme song and wished I could be a star, just like Jem and the Holograms. I vaguely remember her having a boyfriend named Rio, but now that I am watching the cartoon as an adult, I am horrified! Rio as I have rediscovered, is in a 3-way relationship with Jem and Jerrica Benton (who are the same person). In one episode we all watched, Jerrica was on the verge of revealing to Rio that Jem was her secret identity. The burden was too much for her to bear, and Rio was screwing with her head, confessing to loving Jem AND Jerrica on separate occasions. Before she could confess, there was an altercation with some other people in the house and she changes her mind.

Furious because she won’t be forthcoming with him, Rio then storms off screaming at Jerrica and then KICKIN OVER HER FICUS before essentially telling her to screw herself. The girl just stood there and cried. I was beside myself with rage, because one day the dude is kicking down your plants, the next he’s kicking in your teeth…

“Girls!” I squawked. “Don’t you EVER let some dude come over to your house and kick your plants over. You hear me? That ain’t his house. That’s YOUR house. And you better not let me hear about you crying over it neither!”

This was followed by a chorus of “Yes, Mommy” accompanied with neck rolls and declarations of woe to befall any boy foolish enough to pull such a stunt. It was a start.

But now I know I have to have more meaningful discussions with my girls about relationships and abuse. With our children being sexualized through all forms of print and electronic media, I know it’s my duty as a mother to control or contribute as much as I can to that messaging. Not doing so would be irresponsible – like letting their little hands go and allowing them to wonder on that dark path I’ve traveled on myself, or to unconsciousness on an elevator floor.

The Supposed ‘Indignity’ of Pointing out the Advanced Female Form

Where my old ladies at!!!

My friends – and foes, for that matter – know that I used to be a monster on social media. I was a horrible person who would say horrific things in response to any slight, perceived or real. I was so vicious in my reprisals that I wouldn’t stop until my prey was left with one option: to apologize or block me. Once in a while, I would get my siblings to join me in the verbal assault. We would collectively castrate, eviscerate and utterly destroy any esteem our target possessed. Then we might snip and post the details of the conversation, displaying the scripted carnage like a corpse on a medieval battlefield. It would serve as a warning for anyone who attempted such folly against me and/or my clan in the future.

But that was years ago. I’m older now, so I walk away from online conflict. What’s the point, really? You say mean things to people online and then what? You get a cookie? Only kids want cookies for their efforts, and I am no child. I’m a fully grown woman with grey pubes and all. I call them my ‘racing stripes’; and I’ve earned them. Through fire and hell, I’ve earned each grey that majestically adorns my body.

Do I sound like a woman who has a problem with aging? In case it’s not apparent, let me categorically state that I AM NOT. The only thing that’s wrong with getting older is NOT getting older. If you’re not aging, you’re dead. Why then do men – and a fair share of women – make a big fuss about a woman’s advancement in age?

I’m 36. And when I’m 56 I’ll happily announce it then as well. When I’m 86, I won’t shy away from it. This is for two primary reasons:

  • Black don’t crack    and
  • I don’t give a crap

I got this foolishness in my email. What's cruel about living?

I got this foolishness in my email. What’s ‘cruel’ about experiencing time?

One of the most ridiculous rules in social etiquette is the idea that a woman should never be asked her age. What the hell is that? Actually, I know what the hell it is. There is a pervasive doctrine woven into the fabric of our collective consciousness that tells us as a women gets older, she loses value. As any woman over 40 will tell you, that’s nonsense. As women age, they don’t just get older – they get better. Nevertheless, there is a cadre of individuals who had this preposterous notion – that women should be ashamed to age – lodged into the little grey matter they possess and therefore seek to offer it as insult. I found myself locked in a skirmish (because the child in question does not possess the mental fortitude for me to consider him an intellectual foe) with one such individual this week.

A young man wrote an article condemning the cleanup efforts and present wave of social media campaigns urging citizens to tidy their environment this week. In his view, Ghanaians “love” to live in filth. His contention was that if they didn’t, they would naturally clean up their environment. (Anyone who has taken psych 101 understands the relationship between environment and learned behavior, but this is an ‘area boy’, so I wouldn’t want to tax him with the rigors of a psych course.) He ended the article with the condescending suggestion that instead of expending energy on campaigns that would come to no fruition, these folks should throw a party and invite him. I thought the article was stupid, and I said so. I didn’t comment on his blog. I didn’t seek him out to let him know how limited in his thinking he was. I made the comment on a friend’s wall, and he found it.

He proceeded to (try to) blast me.

My why so angry? Didn’t he know the rule of posting publicly? You put your thoughts out there and it’s free game for anyone to praise or disagree with. I just happened to disagree and restated where I thought he had missed it. THEN I told him his whole article was BS. That’s went he went into a swearing laced tirade and told me to “never read anything he had written ever again!” God he sounded like a toddler. Of course, I couldn’t let him go without a tap on the shoulder to express my displeasure. In turn, I calmly suggested he eat a sack of baby dicks. That’s when he struck with this comeback.

“Look at this old woman too!”

What? Was that it? Was that supposed to hurt my feelings? I chuckled and told him I’d whip his a** with my old lady cane and then rape him with it. The conversation ended with our mutual friend taking down the entire post and our exchange along with it. Apparently I hurt his little boy feelings, because he came to seek me out on twitter spoiling for a fight. I quelled the monster in me told him to stop trolling my timeline. I didn’t want to do what I am very capable of doing to him on such a public forum. To do so would be the essence of Black on Black crime.

I discussed his calling me an “old woman” and expecting that to silence me with a friend. It was very amusing, but she took it quite seriously.

“There is this notion that old women are useless…like a commodity that has a shelf life,” she said. “It’s really bad. You would never dis a man by calling him an “old man” and expect it to strike a chord.”

She had a point. And this isn’t just an ‘African’ notion…just an insipid one. Geraldo Rivera expressed similar sentiments when he said that all that a woman brings to a marriage “is her youth”. (No. Seriously.)

This idea that a woman’s ultimate worth is wrapped up in a tight twenty-something package is one of the weapons the GOP is planning to use against Hilary Clint if/when she runs for president.

“Remember y’all…Hilary’s an old gal and getting’ up there in age,” their attack ads will suggest in 2016.

HillaryClinton_2326613b

Ugh.

Now, if I weren’t as brilliant as I am, I suppose that I being called old would be truly injurious. Thank God and all the elves that I AM brilliant, and am intelligent enough to surround myself with folks who know that the only truly fascinating woman is one who has lived a long and storied life. Have you tried talking to the average 23 year old? I’ve had deeper conversations with an empty gold fish bowl.

You ask ANY woman: there is no substitute for the depth of knowledge you acquire when you cross thirty. The only thing I miss about 26 is my perky breasts and taut abs, but even those can be purchased. The store house of experience and wisdom that age has brought me, however, cannot.

So little boy, if you’re reading this, I just want you to know I can’t come outside and play right now… and don’t bother Miss Malaka with that ageism foolishness in the future. If you ever want to chat, get your mammy over here so I can have a chat with her crack. I read the things you say sometimes and feel like the most intelligent of you ended up as a brown stain on the mattress.

Chil’run. SMH.

 

What Are Your Marital Codes?

There are all kinds of marriages: Marriages of convenience, polygamous marriages, arranged marriages, marriages to the gods. Some people even marry their pets. Today we’re going to focus on plain ol’ dull, hetero-normal, missionary position, “What do you want to eat for dinner, bae?” marriage…if that’s alright with you, dear Reader.

I like reading (certain) articles and posts about other people’s marriages. I realize that couples are not obliged to share the most intimate moments of their lives or dish out advice about what has given their relationship such longevity (or robbed it of it), so I am appreciative when they do. One article I read when hubby and I were still in the early days of our marriage stuck with me. I can’t remember the source or the author, but the husband was talking about ways in which he and his wife kept the spark alive in their marital union, now that they were the parents of small kids.

Apparently, Barney kept their marriage spicy. Yes; that Barney.

Everything's better with a friend!

Everything’s better with a friend!

It has been scientifically proven that there is an inverse relationship between the perpetual presence of children in one’s home and sexual activity, and in order to overcome this calamity the couple in question developed a code to communicate the desire for spontaneous sex.

“Who wants to watch Barney?” his would ask in a sing-song voice, pausing in the middle of whatever she was doing.

“I do, I do!” their pre-school aged children would squeal.

Dad would then pop in the VHS and the couple would be guaranteed 20-30 minutes of undisturbed, sweaty intercourse. Everyone wins.

We got titanium wedding rings with etchings similar to the One Ring

We got titanium wedding rings with etchings similar to the One Ring

I thought it was SO COOL that this pair had created their own cipher to express their individual needs – something between just the two of them. I imagine that other couples do it as well. As Lord of The Rings and Star Trek fans, Marshall and I have developed our own marital code, which I will share with you now.

*Ahem*

“Hey babe. You want to go to Deep Space Nine?”

“Sure. I’d love to launch a Class -1 probe.”

“Oh. Hold on. You might have to wait until later. Shields are up, and we’re on red alert.”

“I’ll notify engineering. Would you like the replicator to get you some chocolate?”

See? We could have that conversation in front of the kids and no one gets mentally scarred for life.

We also have nonverbal and physical cues that we employ to convey an emotion. If Marshall does something he’s particularly proud of, he will assume this stance:

Celebrity Cityriker crotch 2

This aggressive crotch thrust says “I dominated over this obstacle. I made this problem my b!tch.”

In moments when my blood sugar is running low, I may request some elevenses after which some tasty num-nums will magically appear.

hobbit

Codes and code switching are an integral part of human interaction. Minorities are often compelled to code switch when they want to get a job or decent customer service in any hospitality environment, and friends often develop codes between each other. MX5’s and my code for expressing a need to catch up on current events, for example, rests in a one word query: Coffee?

We’ve been hardwired to believe that marriage is hard and that it takes work to make it succeed. Often, this is interpreted as marriage being something to avoid. After all, “hard work” doesn’t translate as “fun”, does it? But since when does anything worth having and protecting come easy? Developing a unique set of marital codes takes dedication and work, and I’m pretty proud of the crotch thrust, high fantasy, pseudo geek/nerdy cues we’ve created together.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to journey to Isengard and vanquish an ever present enemy. Never you mind what foe awaits me!

 

Have you developed any marital codes? Maybe you never plan on getting married, so have you developed codes with those closest to you? What genre inspires your codes? I bet you’re gonna go get you some codes now, huh? Yeah…I know.

What Responsibility Do Women Play in the Enforcement of Rigid Gender Roles We Buck Against?

*Note: I’m just asking a question! And yes, I do understand that this query is akin to the “pull your pants up and you won’t get shot” argument – but don’t get all catawampus before we’ve had a chance to talk about this now!*

 

godadsThis morning somebody –and I’m not saying who – posted this picture of a father and daughter on twitter with the hashtag #GoDads. It was pretty innocuous in my estimation, but a small cadre of women took some level of offence to it. To summarize, they said it was a “look and clap for me move”. My husband agreed, and said it was rather narcissistic. A man who has fathered a child shouldn’t be trumpeting about this small accomplishment when he has a duty as a parent to ensure his child’s welfare anyway. I agree with my husband’s sentiments and those of the group of women who felt an aversion to this post, however, I do understand the spirit in which the post was made.

The unknown father and daughter in this picture are at a clinic in Ghana. Ghanaian fathers, like the majority of African fathers are not known to be hands-on when it comes to parenting. They are providers and disciplinarians, and that is generally where the concept of Ghanaian fatherhood begins and ends. Of course, we have to give room for outliers like my own father, who told me that he didn’t want to be the type of dad whose children run from when from him there is news that’s he’s home. I’ve visited homes where this was absolutely the case. Daddy comes home, the kids would courtesy or salute, parrot their evening greeting to their father and then disappear. The picture referenced above says to me that there is a new vanguard of fathers who want to change this perception or reality.

In the course of the conversation that quickly became male vrs female, one of the respondents asserted that the only reason gender roles in Ghana haven’t changed is because women haven’t allowed them to. He gave an example of a man trying to wash his own bowl and being chased away by a woman. Sadly, I can see that happening. On Adventures, a reader described to her horror how her own sister facilitated archaic gender roles in her home. Her sister had a daughter and a son, both close in age. One afternoon her son said he was hungry, and his mother called for his sister to go make her brother noodles in the kitchen. Our reader stepped in, grabbing her nephew by the hand and firmly advocated that he be taught to make his OWN noodles; after all, boys are just as capable of cooking as girls are.

Photo Source: Bee's Blog

Photo Source: Bee’s Blog

Let’s pause and think about it. How many times is this same scenario repeated in some manner all over the country? We stop girls from climbing trees because girls don’t do that, or we tell boys they can’t help in the kitchen because it’s not done. Even when it comes down to something as mundane as pounding fufu, it’s expected that the boy will pound and the girl will turn. And if we’re completely honest, it’s usually women enforcing these gender roles.

Can we then be justified in our vexation when we find ourselves locked on the outside of parliament and boardroom deals when members of our own gender have socialized our boys-now-men to think that there are some things the female gender can’t do? At the same time, members of our own gender have raised us to believe that men just aren’t capable (or can’t be trusted) when it comes to the day to day matters in raising children. We mock men when they put on the baby’s diaper backwards, or make the formula too thick (or not thick enough), or sniff test a dirty pair of trousers and hastily put them on a child before sending him on stage for the church play because Dad didn’t think to set the clothes out the night before.

Kinna Likimani recently hosted a conversation surrounding gender issues as they relate to women in Ghana. One of the panelists made a poignant remark, stating that if we are going to get anywhere, we have to change certain cultural norms that are harmful, even if it means doing away with some traditions that people hold so dear. (Or hold on to for the privilege of power.)

If we are going to be serious about eliminating gender roles and bulldozing obstacles to a level playing field, we are all going to have to get comfortable with the concept of men doing certain “female” tasks and not just charging to the rescue when things have reached critical mass. This includes men functioning as stay-at-home-dads and working part time; bosses making an allowance for dads to be the first on call for when there’s a problem at school (I still don’t know why I am the FIRST person the school calls when there is a problem!); and a general expectation that men are just as responsible for the way his child turns out as a woman is.

What is the first thing we all say when a child acts out in public? Go ahead…say it with me:

Chile, where is your MOMMA??! She ain’t give you no home training, did she?

 

Hmmm. I suppose it’s hard to blame dad’s, when society’s default expectation for Black fatherhood is perpetual absenteeism.

Please, discuss ↓