Patriarchy Drains Our Confidence
By Kloranne Kambou
Like some Westerners, a woman in my country — the Republic of Congo — may see a man as a financial plan.
Maybe that’s not surprising since our culture lifts men above women and gives us fewer opportunities.
When a woman births a boy she gains respect. He will become head of his own family — which he will rule and provide for. Only boys can pass on the heritage of their fathers.
Growing up, I saw women arise early to do laundry, cook, clean and work in the fields. Men slept as long as they wanted. When the men finally did wake up and come for breakfast, they were served first. They were also served first for every other meal.
If a group of women were sitting and talking and a man walked in — but there was no chair for him — a woman would stand and give him her seat.
At school girls swept floors and cleaned the classroom — while boys supervised us.
Boys who got high scores on exams won scholarships and were given prominent places in the front row. Girls were just congratulated.
I guess it’s no wonder that men are more likely to be hired for good paying jobs, and that women are less likely to even try. Men and women both grow up thinking that men are much better than women.
A Man Is Not a Financial Plan
So many women end up seeing a man as her financial plan.
For a price: She loses strength, autonomy, and an ability to cope. Or worse, when “he” then feels entitled to boss “her” around. And what if she loses him and his money?
A Congolese woman may even resort to “evil rituals,” sacrificing something to get something back. Maybe she will sacrifice the chance to have children in order to gain the notice of rich men in the Village. In the ritual, she puts some kind of herb all over her body — exactly as the priest orders, lest she die or be cursed for life.
Whether or not you believe in this magic, it’s sad that some young women are willing to take these sorts of risks and make these sorts of sacrifices.
Or, girls with money are more respected and popular. By the tender age of 16 some drop out of school and take partners for money, beautiful clothes and jewelry, and trips abroad.
And here’s another price: when women are denied opportunities, when they are told that they are inferior and inept, they may lose confidence in themselves and their abilities. So they may not even try.
It can be difficult to work to rise above it all. But rise, we must.
This was written by one of my students who gave me permission to post on my blog.
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Posted on September 18, 2015, in feminism, psychology, sexism, women and tagged Congo, feminism, psychology, sexism, women, working outside the home. Bookmark the permalink. 26 Comments.
” Seeing a man as a financial plan ” , I think is still a prevalent mind set here in the US as well , even though our culture accepts and supports that a woman is fully capable of taking care of herself . As a female we are still encouraged to get married and have children , and still become dependent on a male provider .
I decided early on , after watching so many people get divorced and often go through awful ( costly ) divorce battles , that all that , was not for me . I was raised to be independent anyway , so I see a man that is financially stable as just a bonus to the relationship , not to take advantage of him or become dependent on him. I ” would “ feel weaker and less confident if I became that way.
Good for you!
I definitely relate to the service of man before yourself portion of the post. When I was a child my mother always made it a point to make sure my brother was taken care of, and that meant at times I was serving him, whether it be making him food or cleaning up his clothes in the bathroom. My mother herself was always catering to the men in her life too. When her boyfriend came around she spent all of her energy making sure he was comfortable. As a child I thought that this was normal, to cater to others especially men, but as I got older I realized that this made my brother believe that he should be served and that I should be the server. I began to challenge this at once, and quit acting like I was at everyone’s beck and call. It somewhat upset the balance in my family, especially since I grew up in a Mexican household where the women tend to take care of the food and the cleaning. I don’t mind helping clean up cause I feel that out of respect you should lend a hand, I just don’t like that it is not instilled into the guys to help out, my brother has to be told by my father to wash his dishes, when he should just do it. This sort of behavior for anyone else who didn’t realize what it was doing, would breed a perfect domestic girl who cared for others at whim. Fortunately I was not that girl.
Thanks for sharing your story.
This kind of situation is quite usual in developing countries. In where I used to live, China, especially some rural areas, people still discard baby girls because they want boys. It is believed that males are who take charge of important things in the society, business, politics, etc. What’s really ridiculous is that some Chinese insist only males are able to “carry on the family line”, resulting from the culture that offspring take their father’s last names. And we know that in lots of countries, even developed ones like the USA, Japan, etc., women usually take their husbands’s last names. Unconsciously, women, given much less opportunities, become self-abased since companies, the government, etc. tend to hire men. What’s worse, a large number of women don’t work hard and indulge themselves because all they want is a husband to depend on, resulting in tragedies like young beautiful ladies seducing or being forced to seduce “successful males” thus breaking families.
It is true that we “must rise”. And we’ve already seen women rising in the world in different fields, which gives hope to numerous women.
Great post, and an equal relationship is truly making both sides better (a man needs a good woman and a woman needs a good man). Without the equality, as the article says, “She loses strength, autonomy, and an ability to cope.” and this is not good for anyone or the relationship.
The statement may be read to mean that man is many things more than merely a financial plan. It is the same with women, at least in present day societies when a good number of women are financially independent, not just appendages of their spouses.
Things are getting better in much of the world.Thanks!
By the way, the post I did last night had a broken link so I reposted — if you would like to make a quick comment, Because I had to get rid of the last post (plus your comment) and replace it.
This post can be so related with many Indian women..
Thanks for bringing that up. I’m always interested to hear about different cultures.
Patriarchy has done much harm to the confidence and condition of women. But, as has been said here, we have to rise and act in spite of all the adversities…..
And create a more just society that ends up being better for women and men, alike.
I agree. The only question is whether or not men will be allowed input for the blueprint.
What sort of input/blueprint are you talking about?
Everyone , regardless of gender , needs to be self reliant , there are also cases where in a hetero relationship , the man can rely on his ” missus ” to do tasks such as form filling / admin & certain household tasks. Having been independent from an early age that’s never been me…my ex wife was far too reliant on me & it was bearing this excess burden & being taken for granted / never appreciated that was the core reason for me ending my former marriage
That’s true. Women’s independence is good for both women and men. Men benefit because some of the burden is lifted off and because women are married them because they want to and not because they want her money. And women benefit because they’re more empowered, independent, and they’re more likely to want the guy for himself, not his money.
Absolutely !! We want to be valued for WHO we are , not as a ” product ” that provides goods & services , I felt more like a butler than a husband…was never a ” doormat ” , I suppose being former British Army , I can be a bit ” regimental ” about getting tasks done.
I am in total agreement. Frankly, I have little regard for men who like to bark, ” my wife does the laundry…my wife does the bill paying, my wife pick up my shirts from the cleaners…etc”
Like you I have been independent from age 17 when I left home for college…I never once asked my ex wife to “stop by the cleaners…..write a check to the landscaper…” I even cooked, picked our son up from school…..
I too was bearing a disproportionate share of the burden. But, I elected to just suck it up and do my duty. I honestly thought it was my duty – for better or worse. Too many years where I got hardly anything in exchange. Zippy.
All I can say is men and women need to own their s*&t!
Yep same here , started FT work @ 17 , then shortly after joined the British Army , I think I probably shot myself a bit with my ex , as I do have a military type attitude to getting things done. Lived on my own for quite a while before getting married , so it’s just second nature to just ” Get on with it !! “
‘A Man Is Not a Financial Plan’
I liked this take, it is correct and to be pondered.
otherwise women are at stake.
Thanks for your thoughts on this.
A teacher of mine refers to patriarchy as a kind of disease. And so often society blames women for making the choices that the day but that they are compelled to make because of the conditioning working in them as a result of patriarchy. So agree- the rising is hard but we must try for sure… and not beat ourselves up for it when some days the efforts don’t hit our mark.
Yeah, women and men can both internalize ideas that women are not as good as men, and it can end up hurting both women and men.
This is not so rare a phenomenon. In my senior year of college (late 70s) I was having a conversation with classmates about graduate school opportunities. Two women, obviously friends, giggled at the topic. I asked what their plans were, and they unabashedly announced they were there for their M.R. S. I was so dumb; I actually sat for a minute trying to figure out what Masters program would yield an M.R.S.
Yeah,it does still happen. First week of class I talk about this with my students and ask if they know of any women who do this sort of thing, and I get examples from them. Perhaps the inspiration for this paper.
And my grandma talked about observing this sort of thing in her own childhood. and by that I mean the men being fed first.
It’s not good for women or men. Women lose their confidence and don’t try. Men marry women who want their money more than the men, themselves.