I recently read an article (September 20, 2018) by Faima Bakar titled, “It is not a woman’s responsibility to make a man a better human being.” It hit me at an uncomfortable place, maybe because of where I am in my life right now.
The title, in itself, is so true and yet we’re taught that from such a gender age that we don’t even realize how imprinted it is on our psyche when we finally wander into our own relationships.
You hear about how some woman was credited with how she “turned her man around” and made him a good guy (didn’t Kirk Franklin say this when he was in deep do-do?). What kind of stress does this put on women to feel as though they are totally responsible for holding families together?
And if my kids are happy, my guy is happy, the dogs are happy, the in-laws are ecstatic–who gets the credit for that—not the woman, for sure, because the happiness of a family is almost always attributed to the husband (he provides well; head of the house).
In this article, Third Force (aka Naledi Mashishi) Tweeted: “Ariana Grande being blamed is [symptomatic] of a society where women are expected to be mothers, housekeepers, therapists, and rehab centers for the men they date.”There is all sorts of truth in this as with her other insightful questions about our role as nurturers. Men are entitled, societally enabled to be weak because they surround themselves with women who need to carry them no matter the strain on the woman’s own personal health and well-being.
When I hear about that age-old happy wife=happy life adage I not only shudder, I wonder, too, what message did I send to my boys when they were growing up with me as a single mother? Did I make it look as if they didn’t need to work hard to make their mates happy because I made it look easy—that I could do it all by myself? If my son doesn’t help his wife clean the kitchen, sweep, vacuum, clean the toilet or shower or sink or back porch or windows without being told or directed, is that because I didn’t teach him well, or because I did it all?
When a man walks into an already formed family and sees the woman run the whole shebang by herself, is he more likely to become enamored with what he sees as having nothing to do, no physical role to take on or “receive” and not give because… strong Black woman does it all?
The question in Faima Bakar’s article, “Why do we not push men to be more nurturing of relationships?” is more than valid. We already know that we (women) are almost solely responsible for teaching our male children to NOT abuse women because so many boys are reared without a strong male role model and teaching presence. Now we have more responsibilities to make them that ideal guy for some woman they pick?
And let us not overlook the “strong Black woman” image. So many times we hear about the “strong Black woman” and the positive impact she was on her family–her kids. I wonder, when I see my girls trying to “fix” some guy to be his better self, I wonder how much I’m to blame for this. Was it my role modeling? Did I subconsciously say one thing but modeled another?
Who teaches our boys who are reared in a majority female household to NOT be abusive and to nurture their relationships, and NOT treat them to mother their own children, be their personal therapists, or rehab them when they are broken? And, when our girls bring them home with that big smile on their faces because they found “the one,” and we see behind that temporary façade the brokenness shadowing in the eyes of these newly minted grown men, how do we disentangle the messiness that is soon to come before much damage is done to our girl children?
WTF is the role of the males in our society? Are we merely succor for them in their weaknesses? Or, are they just responsible for taking and making babies for us to raise? And, just as important, why are women blamed when they bail just to preserve their own sanity?
[BTW: If you think you’re the exception, please don’t post something self-serving. Let’s have a real discussion. Thanks]