As part of Bandeka’s PillowTalk feature, late last week we began featuring answers to the question, “Is it better for the relationship if your wife handles the household chores?” So I thought I would revisit the topic again – for those of you who haven’t been following my blog for long, I addressed this issue a few weeks ago in ‘What A Black Woman Has To Say About Submission, You Might Be Surprise‘. In the clip that I featured for that post, Shanel Cooper advised ladies that the best thing for their relationship is to assume the traditional roles of cooking, cleaning, and taking care of their man and home.
It would seem that this is a reoccurring sentiment from both sexes. In this BellaNaija article*, the same message is articulated by an African man: Women need to have an “appreciable level of domesticity.” Although things have changed since the ‘Stone Age’, and women do aspire to greater things outside of the home, the author TJ O’Karo says, “the truth [is] that women are supposed to be quite proficient [at cooking, supervising the home, raising kids, etc.].” To illustrate his point, he describes one scenario where this became an issue. I’ve paraphrased his account, and included my personal comments in bold:
Following NYSC**, one of the prettiest girls at camp moved into a house with me and a few friends from camp. An arrangement was made that everyone would contribute to food, and that the women would cook– I may be the only one to think that this arrangement was sexist. But in any case, this was their arrangement. The housemates discovered that the belle of the house couldn’t cook, and as a consequence of this, she lost her status among the men in the house. “The guys who were initially wowed by her beauty and charm, gradually began to gravitate towards the more domestic women in the house!” Before you make any quick judgments, the author also mentions that it wasn’t just about cooking, the belle also didn’t take care of her room, living area, the kitchen, and the guys, etc. Why she would need to take care of the latter is a little beyond me, but point taken- she was an untidy person. Eventually, the belle began to lose her swagger and confidence, which led to her change of heart: “she began to see reason as to why men would prefer domestically capable women and she began to put in an effort and changed.”
So are women supposed to balance work/school, social functions, friends, and taking care of their man and home (or the things “they are supposed to be naturally good at”? ERRR YES! They’re supposed to be Super Women, the author says. It just is what it is, [African] men REQUIRE their woman to perform traditional roles at home- and shockingly, the “extras” are just that, extras: a welcomed part of the package, but as an addition. <- TJ O’Karo’s words, not mine. [But note, men will still cheat on a super woman for no reason…but I digress]
If you haven’t checked out Bandeka.com recently, do so and view the responses that we have received from men. I’ve now highlighted three similar opinions, but am I overstating this pattern? Is a woman’s worth in a relationship really tied to her ability to cook and clean? Have we moved away from non-traditional roles in the household? And did this idea ever really take root in African households? Can someone make a strong argument that women shouldn’t assume the role of ‘running the house’- however this is defined?
Mr. O’Karo ends his article by saying, “a woman who isn’t domestic is like a man who can’t earn a living! A woman’s looks, charm, intelligence, and money can only take her so far with men; the same way a man’s looks and charm can only take him so far with a woman without any real source of income.” Something to think about.
*If page doesn’t open, refresh.
**National Youth Service Corps – Three week orientation for recent Nigerian graduates before they begin their one year of national service.