Quite recently, I met a friend who has three daughters. Guess what his headache was. He had been accosted by quite a number of ‘well-wishers’ who kept asking him when he was going to have a son. Weirdly, few even went further to advise him to get an extra wife if that would fetch him a son. Oh what a toxic mentality!
In this side of our world, right from the word go, a girl is made to understand a boy is not her co-equal. A boy is entitled to many privileges a girl is denied. As we grow up, the chasm between both genders widens even further. So many limitations are placed on the woman in so many aspects especially culturally. Our lopsided society is one that unusually favors the man.
We place a ransom on our daughters and call it bride price. When a woman’s husband is a flirt, we only call him a cheat. When that woman is a flirt, we call them a prostitute. We live in a society where it’s a norm for a man to be adulterous but a taboo for a woman to be same. We advise our young women not to dream too big lest it limits their chances of marriage.
It is only in this part of our world that we preach virginity as though it’s for women only. We encourage our women to do everything possible to keep a man no matter how ‘unkeepable’ he is. We teach them they are the tails and their husbands are their heads. We raise our daughters to be servants and our sons, kings.
It’s about time we raised our daughters as queens, not servants. If we are raising kings in our homes as sons today, they will need equally intelligent queens in their homes to rule tomorrow. If we are giving our sons as many opportunities as possible to become tomorrow’s leaders, our daughters should be given same opportunities because leadership is not gender-bias.
How we have been raised up to perceive women is how we grow up to treat them. Consciously or unconsciously, we assume that a man should be better in everything than a woman, forgetting that he was not born with an extra brain. When a couple is barren, for instance, we say the woman is barren. We have raised our men and women never to be at par.
Our daughters ought to be raised to have confident opinions. They should have a say on matters and be able to contribute positively to their world. We need to raise our daughters to be ambitious wives on a mission― women of purpose. They should have dreams and marriage should be one of those dreams, not their only dream.
Sometimes, submission is not the problem. The problem is the ambitionless man who sees every ambitious move by an ambitious woman as pride. Oftentimes, the problem is not even about a woman being a submissive wife. It’s about a man who was raised with the false entitlement of every woman being her servant. That is the problem!
While we teach our young women hundred ways to keep a man, we should be teaching our young men hundred and one ways to stay “keepable”. A man who doesn’t want to be kept cannot be bound by even the strongest of fetters. It will always be wrong to try keeping a man who has been raised to think that cheating is his rights.
As we teach our young men to dream, we should be daring our young women to dream even bigger. Great achievements are not restricted to particular genders. Our daughters should be African queens whose abilities should not be restricted to either the maternity ward or kitchen.
Even as we lecture our women on making their marriages work, we should be making our sons understand they should not be the work in their marriages. As we insist that our women should hold their families together, we should remind our men that it takes two to tango!
The narrative concerning our daughters should change. We should be that generation that raised great women who shattered society’s glass ceilings. Our daughters deserve as much respect as they are expected to give. That’s what royalty is about.
Our daughters are not secondhand human beings. They are not supposed to be people who never used their brains. They deserve every privilege and opportunity accorded any other being. Whatever is good (or not good) for others is definitely good (or not good) for them. Our daughters are queens!
If we raise our daughters as servants, they will only grow up to be adult servants. If we raise them to live all their lives serving everybody else except themselves, marriage will be their ultimate goal in life. Staying in an abusive marriage will be a norm for them.
However, if we raise them as queens, they run a home with the man. They become active participants in the family agenda, not mere spectators. If our daughters are indoctrinated as queens, they know that abuse in any form is highly unacceptable.
We need to raise women whose bravery will turn our society around― confident women― women who will not be a walkover for boxers who disguise themselves as husbands. We ought to raise queens who have a sense of purpose and direction in life― not those who will nod to everything that comes their way.
If you have a daughter today, you have a responsibility to raise a queen and not another servant of life.
The writer is a playwright and Chief Scribe of Scribe Communications, an Accra-based writing company (www.scribecommltd.com).