Do You Know You Can Groom Your Boys To Respect Women? By Emeka Oparah

Emeka Oparah
A couple (that’s two, ladies and gentlemen) of days ago, Tito, my soon-to-be-6-year-old son, ran to me crying. When I asked him why he was crying, he told me Muna, his twin sister, hit him. Their mom, who rushed out immediately she heard his cries, was like “is that why you’re crying? What did you do when she hit you?” And my boy said, “but mom, Dad warned me never to ever hit Muna!”
I was so proud of my boy-and myself! Then, I called Muna and asked her why she hit her brother. She told one story. I asked her to apologise to Tito immediately. She gave her brother a loving hug as she said “sorry Tito”. And Tito went “that’s ok, Muna!” And they zoomed off playfully. Innocent little angels! I was thoroughly moved-and particularly delighted.
What happened there was a clear manifestation of the inculcation of a family culture and tradition. Growing up, I used to beat (or rather fight with) my immediate younger sister a lot. She was rude!!! My father then left a “fatwa” that he would “kill” me, if I ever fought (or beat) her again, no matter the provocation.
He told me only a weak man hits a woman. My responsibility was to protect my sister at all times-and not to ever hit her. Sensing she might want to exploit the order, he also told my sister (in my presence) that while he won’t tolerate bullying by, he also won’t tolerate blackmail by her. So, she should be very careful. That was the exact same message I passed on to Tito-and Muna. I recall also telling my boy never to threaten her quietly because that’s still bullying even worse-psychological abuse, if you may.
Train up your child, they say, the way you want him or her to be when fully grown up. I dare say beyond what I told Tito, he-and indeed no one-can ever catch me alive hitting or abusing any woman for that matter much less my wife. It’s a no-no!
Trust me, most guys who are abusive of women or who look down on them or generally display misogynist, condescending, disrespectful attitude toward the womenfolk learnt from home. Or they were not discouraged from such behaviours from home.
When you see men talking down on women or sending them on demeaning and condescending errands in the office or objectifying their sex, it’s because they don’t know any better. They are genetically and culturally sexist and misogynistic. Short and simple!
And this is the role of parents, particularly fathers. If you’re a father, know it that your son(s) will emulate your character and behaviours. So, you must be especially careful what you do or say in their presence. I need not here dilate on the excellences of such an attitude because the results and consequences are all too familiar.
My brother, if your own father didn’t groom you, now you know. You can’t give what you don’t have doesn’t mean you can have it. It’s not a curse, please! It doesn’t necessarily have to come from your father in any event. You can learn by reading or watching or both. The world is a school. Isn’t it?
The underlying principles evident in this piece can easily be adapted to the work place.
For instance, why would you pick on a woman to organize lunch for office meetings, because she’s a woman? Let her volunteer, like a sister or mother.
Now, I’m not advocating lowering the standards of performance because the staff concerned is a woman. No. That in itself is disrespectful. The issue of child-birth, antenatal, maternity, motherhood, even monthly period can be managed with respect and dignity. I believe the Employee Handbooks are lucid on those and more-including recruitment, promotions, transfers, etc.
Men must respect women and recognize their capacity, capabilities and, most importantly, their equality with men. By the way, how many men are better than Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, for instance? How many?
Guys, let’s respect women! I actually fear them. Join me, if you can, so your days on this earth may be long. Thank you!!!
*This piece is based on a private conversation I had yesterday with a female friend, who’s lived through physician and emotional abuse both at home and at her workplace.


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