We taught our boys and men that women are not only the fairer sex but also the weaker sex. We taught them that women are playthings to look at, stare at, and ogle. We taught them that they had a right to inspect every inch of a woman’s body and shout from across the street about every unspeakable act they’d like to use this woman’s body for.
We taught them that they can hit their sisters, wives and daughters. Their hand across a woman’s cheek was a favour done to the woman. To discipline them. Teach them a lesson. “She’s too young to have a boyfriend,” he says, pulling her by her hair. “But you were out there having sex when you were younger than I am,” she thinks.
We taught our men to measure our value. A good wife is one that obeys her husband. Is at his beck and call. Looks away when he sleeps with other women. A good wife is one that keeps the food warm for when he staggers home at 2 in the morning. Brought with her a good dowry. Is a virgin until her wedding night.
We taught them to cover up with excuses, to make it the woman’s fault. “But she was wearing a short dress. What could I do?” “If I was good-looking or rich, she’d consider it a compliment. I can’t help the way I am.” “She needs to know how to take a joke.” “Women never mean it when they say no. They have a secret language. No means yes.”
We taught them that their responsibilities were limited to money matters. Earn a salary and give a portion of it to pay the bills and buy the groceries. We taught them it was okay for them not to take on any responsibilities or tend to any chores around the house as long as they paid a bill or two. The washing, cooking, cleaning, sweeping, tidying up. Those were jobs women were meant to do.
We taught them that a woman’s role at home didn’t change even when the cost of living meant that both men and women had to work. She would be paid lesser than a man. Her job wouldn’t be as important her husband’s. And she’d come home to her second job. Take care of the kids. Cook. Clean. Wash the clothes. Iron them. The men come home and sit in front of the TV with a glass of arrack. “Here, make something for the bite,” they shout.
We taught our boys and men to be lazy pigs that know they can raise their voice and silence us, raise their hand and silence us. We taught our boys and men that they are entitled and privileged. We taught our men to be everything but kind and respectful.