While growing up, I had a constant inner struggle as I kept hearing about the expectations of women. That struggle has now transformed and instead of keeping it contained within, I am now much more vocal about my objections.
I really rail against the consistent and persistent way in which women are told who they should be, what they should be, how they should do it, when they should be and where they should be. The role of a woman is constantly being defined - by the family, by community elders, by a range of people and most influentially by religious leaders.
And in all these definitions there is a distinct emphasis on “what a good woman is”.
What bothers me most is how different faiths will sermonise on the expectations of women in their different roles. A good mother will nurture, a good daughter will obey, a good sister will care for and a good woman will serve her community. Women are constantly reminded of how they are expected to retain their “goodness” and at the heart of all this “goodness” is servitude.
Women are constantly reminded about their roles and behaviour. What a good mother is and how she behaves. What being a good wife means and how she can preserve her marriage. She has to be a dutiful daughter by treating her parents in a particular way. My objection is that men are not reminded about their roles and their behaviour as constantly and as consistently. In fact, men are continually reminded about their superiority over women merely because women are continually reminded of their servitude.
The result is that society frowns upon any woman who does not conform to these perceived roles while men feel they can disown their children, neglect their parents, dishonour their wives and well they are still men. It’s enough to be just that and their flaws, as detrimental as they are, may be are acceptable.
Men and women have to honour and respect each other - this task should be equally incumbent upon both sexes.
The views expressed in this blog are those of the author exclusively and do not in any form or manner represent the views of RAU.