In our current world in which women shoulder domestic, corporate and political responsibilities, those who still view the birth of girls with such subconscious disdain have a lot of sociological re-learning to do. The human society does not function by our rigid posturing or prejudiced delusions anymore.
An acquaintance called to report his friend to me.
In anger he said, “I don’t understand why people are so unnecessarily insensitive!”
I asked, “what’s the problem and how can I help?”
His story went this way: “I sat down jeje on my own when my friend called and screamed on the phone, saying: ‘rejoice with me!!!’
So I asked my friend, ‘Hey Baba, kilo shele?’ (What’s happening).
My friend said his wife just delivered a baby. I then asked, ‘Wow, male or female?’ Excitedly, he said: ‘Oh, my brother, we have a bouncing baby girl.’
And I told him, ‘You better be stronger next time, because me, nah boys a born full ground.’ Akin, can you believe he said I was stupid and hung up on me!?”
So I asked him, “Ok, I get your point. So, what do you need me to do?”
He said “Talk to him, that was very immature behaviour.”
For real, I cringed, listening to the abrasive and condescending dismissal of who he calls his friend. I was disgusted at such harebrained thoughtlessness, which must have dampened the morale of his friend who called to share good news with him. Even as I listened without interrupting him, I knew there was a disconnect with me and the values I think are permissible in human relationships. This seemed like the case of an adult who either wasn’t well raised, or who failed to raise himself, going forward. I decided that I was not going to be his consolatory fallback person or a tool for the validation of an unbridled ego.
So, in response, I said, “I have heard you and I shall be telling you the truth, bearing in mind that your friend is not on this call to defend himself. I think you were fatally wrong. Call him and apologise. You were grossly insensitive and reckless. First, he shared good news with you and you ought to have celebrated with him. Two, your behaviour indicates telltale signs of how gender-based subjugation and in fact, persecution begin. This is my take in all candour and I hope you heed it”.
We’ve known each other back to our school days, and so he took some liberty to be pugnacious. He said to me, “What do you mean? Just a comment and he should be this childish because he born woman? Na ‘im go first born? What’s even more annoying is that my phone was on speaker and my family heard as he called me stupid. To think I didn’t even know his wife was pregnant… What kind of behaviour is that?”
I realised here, that he missed the point and was doubling down with crass idiocy. So, I got firmer and said:
“If you don’t get it that you were insensitive, then you have a problem of bellicosity syndrome you need to heal from. Two, if you’re dismissing your friend’s exciting news based on gender-based myopia, then how are you raising your own boys that you proudly taunted him with? To indulge in gender stereotyping or become gender bullies? Three, if you think in this century, that ‘working harder’ is what leads to male procreation, then you’ve missed the basic learning in the biological concept of X and Y chromosomes in sex. I insist you were wrong and you should call your friend to apologise”.
He said I was taking sides and that he wouldn’t.
…my delightful congratulations to Adeola Ogunmola Sowemimo, the first Nigerian female to fly the Boeing 787 Dreamliner of Qatar Airways, and the first Nigerian female Pilot to fly the Boeing 767 aircraft across the Atlantic Ocean. Chauvinistic Nigerian men flying Qatar Airways or connecting their flights through Doha would have their misogynist hearts in her “feminine” hands.
Therefore, just as his friend did, I hung up the phone too, but not before telling him that I was sorry and I really had to go. But because I didn’t wait for his response, technically you could say I hung up on him. As much as I struggled with how that feels in acceptable standards, I found his irrational indignation very disconcerting and clearly untenable. I didn’t want to shout and thus opted for the rather unfortunate discomfort of truncating the conversation from my end.
Two days later, he called to ask why I hung up on him? I told him, “because I learn to walk away from toxic, unproductive conversations with people who can hurt others and still dismiss every nudge that they were wrong”.
He said he didn’t even want to call me back, but his wife insisted that he called back and “settle this with Mr. Akin, as not many would tell you the truth”. I told him, “thank Madam for me but go first and settle with this your friend that I don’t even know, and by the way, “take some lessons from that your wife, he might be your last hope for redemption.”
Apart from such unhinged behaviour that casts a shadow over women, one more thing jumped at me in all of this. That line where he said, “He didn’t even tell me his wife was pregnant anyway!”
Such audacious puerile feeling of entitlement should no longer have a space in relationships of today. People deserve their rights to what they want to share because you have no idea what anyone is dealing with, and or why they’ll choose to keep certain things under wraps till it turns to good news for them to share.
Don’t begrudge your loved ones over issues they choose to be self-effacing about. Friendship with anyone does not connote a right to their privacy. It is rather a function of a combination of love, loyalty, understanding, but most of all, mutual respect.
Also, there is an urgent need to begin to reappraise our cultural and belief systems. In the submission of O.O Familusi, in “African Culture and the Status of Women”, in Journal of Pan African Studies, March 2012, “The cultural and gender problem which African women have been facing dates back to their birth, as in many homes the birth of a baby girl does not receive the kind of enthusiastic reception that is usually given to that of a baby boy. Thus, a woman is somebody treated with inferiority right from birth.”
In our current world in which women shoulder domestic, corporate and political responsibilities, those who still view the birth of girls with such subconscious disdain have a lot of sociological re-learning to do. The human society does not function by our rigid posturing or prejudiced delusions anymore. It does by our grasp of the elevated appreciation of humanity from the cognitive mastery of technology, rare intellect and groundbreaking milestones in science, arts, economics and medicine. This is irrespective of gender.
This explains why this article cannot be concluded without my delightful congratulations to Adeola Ogunmola Sowemimo, the first Nigerian female to fly the Boeing 787 Dreamliner of Qatar Airways, and the first Nigerian female Pilot to fly the Boeing 767 aircraft across the Atlantic Ocean. Chauvinistic Nigerian men flying Qatar Airways or connecting their flights through Doha would have their misogynist hearts in her “feminine” hands. You must love a baby girl!
Akin Fadeyi is the founder, Akin Fadeyi Foundation.