Thursday, October 05, 2006

The boy who learned to cook

I recently made a new friend from Kenya. He knows how to cook, being taught by his mother from a young age how to not only cook, but also wash dishes and generally make himself helpful around the house. When he was a small boy, he thought nothing of this, because for him this was normal. When he became older, however, and played with other boys, he realised this was far from normal. He realised the other boys had to do none of these things. Instead, the women and girls of the house did everything. He questioned the wisdom of his mother's approach, and began to rebel. One day his mother sat him, his three brothers and two sisters down and had a talk with them. She pointed out that as there were only two girls, and four boys, it was unfair to expect the girls to do all the work for the boys. She had a valid point there, my friend had to admit. But we all know that inequity is often insufficient motivation to change people's personal behaviours, especially if it involves them doing extra work. She then asked the children if one day they might like to be married.

"Of course!", replied all the children.

She said to the boys, "What do you think of a situation where one day you come home and you are hungry. There is a lot of food in the house, but you do not know how to prepare it. Imagine some reason why your wife cannot prepare the food for you. Maybe she is not there, or maybe she is not feeling well. How would you feel that all that food was sitting there, and you could do nothing?"

The boys admitted avoiding such a situation would be a good thing.

Then came the clincher. She asked the boys if they wanted to grow up to be real men.

"Of course!", replied the boys.

"Imagine if you cannot cook," she continued. "You can see that your wife can make all kinds of demands from you. She could say 'I want this and I want that, and if you want dinner, you have to do it for me'. If you are totally dependent on her for your food, she can do that. Do you want to be controlled by her? Do you think you would be a real man if she controlled your life like that?"

My friend learned to cook and clean. His mother is a clever woman.


Sana said...

Very clever indeed, but maybe she made them learn to cook and clean for the wrong reasons? Did she really break any gender barriers or did she reinforce them?
Then again, she got the job done....

skankhunt42 said...
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