Nigerian, Male, & Emasculated

The idea of emasculation is a funny thing. It is based on the idea that men are not adequately following the guidelines of being male in a patriarchal system. It thus ends up with men being hurt by the structures they set up to control others. Also, when men cannot meet the patriarchal standards, they feel no sense of worth, leading them to double down on other tropes, (almost always toxic ones), reinforcing the same standards that drove them to feel worthless in the first place.

It is a nuanced problem that should be tackled. For now, this article focuses on how men taking care of their children beyond a certain low bar is not ‘masculine’. Men are allowed a lot of leeway in caring for their children (and nephews/nieces). People will say it is good a man is babysitting his children without irony. They are his children, it should not be some sort of outlying behavior to care for them. Men are openly lauded as heroes for taking care of their own children in public. A man learns to change diapers and the response is gladness plus genuine surprise at this basic and routine action. What is most nefarious is that this appreciation is from women, and it further allows him and other men to keep the bar low. If all he has to do is take the children out once a month, then why bother to go the extra mile and stay up when Baby Efe has a fever or is stuck on a homework problem? Why does he have to bother to do his equal parenting share?

The other end of this phenomenon is when a man is a fully active parent. Doing the school runs, cooking, cleaning, teaching all day on any level approaching the mother. He is seen as weak, lazy and ‘jobless.’ Which of course actively lowers the bar. Women will say, sure he is a good husband/father, but he would be even better if he did less at home and made more money with that time he spends at home. While men will just say he is weak and even effeminate (as though the latter is a bad thing).

Both extremes lead to men being simultaneously encouraged to be passive parents and leave all house keeping/child care on the mother, while also discouraging the same men from doing more even if they want to. I think on the part of women it is a reaction to seeing motherhood/wifedom as the pinnacle of their existence, and any woman that does ‘less’ while her partner does his part means she is abnormal and potentially irrelevant. When as a woman, you have spent your entire life being told that these domestic duties are your primary role on Earth, then any evidence that a man can do it as well as you makes you feel less important.

Another reason why things remain the same is that men just do not want to be called out. If other men start pulling their weight in their own homes and being active, the observer mens own wives will see how happy these active men’s wives are, and begin to demand better treatment from their own husbands. Which is just a headache for the observer men. Thus they all quietly agree to undermine any man that challenges the status quo while denigrating the women that do demand better and benefit from it.

That might be fine for many of you. For me it is a problem that is not only bad for these men being mocked, it is bad for their wives, who will have to pick up the slack. It is also bad for their sons and daughters who will internalize what they see and continue the cycle. 

By: Anonymous


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