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What a Woman Can Do

Posted by By Eki Igbinedion on 2004/08/26 | Views: 1064 |

What a Woman Can Do


The cultural bridge-gapping amplified by globalization has promoted a symbiosis of values in today's world. Of all the values at the table of an emerging global culture, none has been more susceptible to cultural mutation and transformation as the values of womanhood.

The cultural bridge-gapping amplified by globalization has promoted a symbiosis of values in today's world. Of all the values at the table of an emerging global culture, none has been more susceptible to cultural mutation and transformation as the values of womanhood.

Ever since Freud and his disciples interpreted the woman as the construct of phallic excitement, the idea of womanhood has suffered so much abuse. At the mention of the female sex, what is brought to relief is a conjure of prejudices which portray the woman as inferior, weak, subordinate, docile, and in an extreme sense, evil. While female enlightenment and a renewed cultural awareness about the woman's role in society have attempted to stem overt display of sex discrimination, this Freudian revolution seems to have provided justification for the chauvinistic tendencies of certain religious fanatics and bigots. It has also given pep and gusto to the shrewd commercial activities of businessmen in a highly competitive global economy.

The result is that, today, the industrial world has made the woman the veritable guinea-pig of world's marketing laboratory. The woman is the emblem of the new slave trade, through women trafficking. She is the advertising label of today's industrial plantation. Everyday, her relevance is construed through salacious glamorisation and exploitation of her anatomy. But is this all a woman should be known for? Where is the woman the co-creator with God? Where is the woman the food provider'? Where is the woman the peace maker?

A contemplative examination of the totality of the woman expresses her indispensability and value to society. A woman should not just be subsumed in the generalisation about homosapiens, but also considered in her own right. This is because salient facts about her biological make up have been found to be contributory to behavioural pattern. A Swiss scholar once posited that the woman's anatomy determines her role. The fact that she is created with an inner space-a womb - and full warm bosom with breasts, suggests a natural role- demand that is geared towards nurturing, comforting, feeding, giving succour, protection and safety.

In this anatomically determined role, she implicitly, in the words of renowned expert in personality excellence, Dr. Violet Arene, in "The Chief Hostess of Mankind." said: "The woman is mankind's first caterer, first teacher and first moulder or nurturer. She is the moral compass of society, and the very foundation on which society's moral edifices are constructed. Little wonder then, the adage: 'The hand that rocks the cradle, rules the world'."

However, the woman's role does not just end with the domestic environment. On the larger social plain, without prejudices to the male folk, especially in the African culture, the woman is the food provider. Her natural domestic role as nurturer is given public social value through her unrivalled participation in the food production process. Has anyone wondered that the staple goods in many communities of the developing world are produced and provided for by women? In Nigeria, it can only be imagined the level of malnutrition that would plague the nation were women not to produce garri in the south and tuwo in the north. This also includes the fuel - firewood - used by majority of women in the rural communities.

In one study carried out by the Food and Agriculture Organisation, an agency of the United Nations Organisation, a great percentage of the staple food production for majority of the rural population in developing nations comes from women. Ben Jackson, a world development activist, in his book 'Poverty and the Planet' alluded to this when he explained that even though local food production seems to be ignored as a measure of economic growth (GNP), "much of it (is) carried out by women (from collecting wood to growing food for the family to eat)."

Apart from food production, the woman is also a peace-maker. In wars and situations of emergency, she bears the brunt and scars of mindless destruction and decimation of the human stock. To keep society going, she must make peace with the enemy, not only for the sustenance of her children, but also for mutual dependence with other suffering peoples. Witness the courage and determination of the women of Darfur in Sudan, struggling resolutely to sustain society amidst sorrow, tears and blood. Witness the scene of a malnourished Somalian mother on the brink of expired existence, feeding her own for the sake of peace. In all of these scenarios, women are the sacrifices for peace; in wars perpetrated and fuelled by men.

Though patriarchal societies have viewed these roles as inferior to the aggressive, dominating role- demand of manhood, today's woman should view each of these roles as flowers in her garden of dignity. In themselves, each of these roles is an empowering agent, just as it is a challenge.

Motherhood, as the natural role of the woman, is not just a biological characteristic, it is a social responsibility of utmost value with rights and privileges. Moreover, it is complemented by such qualities as charm, grace, caring, beauty, tenderness, elegance and delectability, just as it is actualised by resilience and firmness. Consequently, attaining the level of excellence in womanhood requires the total acceptance and proud accomplishment of the role-demand of womanhood.

This role is never inferior to any other; it is second to none, and can never be bracketed away. This role-demand, which gives value to the female species, is not rooted in, and is even opposed to any category of sexism- whether benevolent sexism, in which case 'special consideration' is given to women to improve their existential lot; or benign sexism, which suggests a demonstration of niceness to the woman owing to her membership of a 'biologically disadvantaged' group; or malignant sexism, which outrightly condemns women.

This role-demand is also opposed to extreme doctrinaire on gender equality where it will be posited" that there are no sex differences; therefore advocacy for equal rights must be extended to advocacy for equal results or outcome" This is not true womanhood; it does not present a true picture of the woman.

True womanhood affirms the differences in biological characteristics of the male sex and the female sex. It also affirms that these characteristics are the exclusive determinants of the differences in roles between the two sexes. The woman will always have a womb as her anatomic endowment. She will always be loftily and elegantly built to reflect her social role of caring and nurturing. The man will always parade a penile structure, and be grossly built. However, in spite of these irreducible differences, true womanhood affirms a gender equality that is based on sociological and psychological realities. This is made visible, when in times of trials and tribulations, the man hangs on the woman for solace, strength and support. All times when the moral strength of the man wanes in his household, the fine toughness of the woman springs forth to create the most desired buffer At such times, masculinity will crumble like a pack of cards to let in the feminine grace which gives hope. Above all, when there is spiritual emptiness and lurking danger, the woman rises to the occasion to uplift the man with her spiritual vitality.

It is this seeming incongruent mix of caring, love, spiritual vitality, toughness, charm, elegance, perseverance and grace, that the authentic African culture intricately weaves together as the enviable qualities, with which woman gives value to society.


*Mrs Igbinedion is wife of Edo State governor and Initiator of Idia Renaissance

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Comments (3)

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Abieyuwa(Edo, Nigeria)says...

Otasowie means evening life is better than morning life. There is an error in your “evening life is better than evening life”?

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Naija g(Houston, Minnesota, US)says...

Sokari doesn’t mean joy. Joy is Biobela. Go to the village and ask the meaning of the name.

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Fay(Katy, Texas, US)says...

Actually translates to bravehearted.