My husband does the lion’s share of the cooking in our house. I can cook, but he’s the better culinary artist. He grows and uses his own herbs in his dishes. Our family has developed a palette that demands more than salt and pepper to satiate our food lusts as a result. I consider this a good thing, us being so blessed to have a true chef in the house. All of my female friends and relations can attest to that.
My husband can also cut grass. And so can I. Growing up, my father didn’t play that nonsensical gender role game. If you wanted to be a home owner (with a yard) some day, you needed to know how to cut your own grass. I was responsible for mowing the lawn every Saturday. Lawn mowing isn’t “man’s work”. It’s maintenance around your own home.
We are both capable of doing laundry, though I hate folding.
My husband can do hair. Or at least, he can grease the girls’ scalps, brush it and put it in a neat bun. Doing hair isn’t “woman’s work”. It’s a necessary part of keeping one’s own children looking well groomed.
I can wash my own car with a bucket and sponge.
My husband can polish a dining room table until it glitters.
I can fix a broken chain on the kids’ bikes.
My husband can sew the hook end eye back onto gowns that have been used far too frequently for princess play.
We have no “gender roles” in our home…just tasks that require a capable adult for completion. We each have our own competencies, which frequently overlap. For us, this is a good thing. It means our home will not fall to pieces in the absence of one parent. It means each of us – my husband and I – have greater opportunities to achieve self-actualization. Because we a liberated from so-called gendered labor, we have more freedom to pursue interests and improve ourselves as human beings. Period.
It’s difficult to believe, but the conversation in the country of my birth has de-evolved further with regards to gender roles and whether a married woman should or should not cook for her husband or whether that act constitutes “slavery”. One of the reasons Ghana is lagging so far behind in its development is because there is little urgency in getting all hands on deck to catapult the nation forward. We have brilliant female athletes who have been discouraged from striving harder because they’re bodies will “look too muscular and make them unattractive for marriage.” We have budding female politicians who run for student government at our universities only to have posters plastered all over campus from boys who swear on their last breath that they will never let some “girl who bleeds with her nasty menstrual blood rule over” them. We have girls who have had to drop courses because of sexual harassment, and told in lectures that all their work is for nothing. “After all, you’re just going to end up becoming a housewife anyway.”
This list goes on.
We have millions of people who believe these lies. We have corporate sponsors who fund events to propagate these damaging stereotypes, promoting messaging that says women have a specific, narrow space. A space where a woman can never be fully human or explore anything about what it means to be a mate beyond COOKING.
#PepperDemMinistries, who I support, has never once said that a woman cannot/should not work in the home to raise or support families. All that they have said is that women OUGHT TO HAVE A CHOICE. A woman’s life and ambitions ought not end after “I do”. We have all seen far too many women leave the work force or sacrifice their genius after marriage for the sake of their husband’s ego or extended family expectations. Trust me, there is no more bitter a woman who carries the regrets of unfulfilled hopes and dreams.
To all the bold, intelligent, ambitious ladies – young and old – reading this: Marriage is a good thing… if you find a mate to match your mountain. Avoid men whose morals shift depending on geography. Seek a mate who values your determination and will support it. Reciprocate in kind. Marriage is for capable adults…not boys and girls who still require raising. Your husband is not your father, nor are you his mother. Marriage is a union of equals, wherein two parties submit themselves one to another. Don’t let anyone convince you otherwise.