Friday, November 16, 2012

We Are Not Here For Your Pleasure...

“Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything." 

Ummmmm… I need to let this one sink in!

So a few months ago, after coming to my brother’s house to pick up my 2 “monster-angels” after work, I asked my son who came in their kitchen to look inside the pots on the stove a couple questions. It went something like this:

“Did you have diner already? Are you hungry?”
He quickly answered, “Yes I’m hungry and no I haven’t.”

I kept doing whatever it was I was doing in the kitchen and after a few minutes I realized that my son had left the kitchen, although I couldn't recall him fixing himself a plate…

“Baby did you fix yourself something to eat? Didn't you just say you were hungry?” I asked him as I found him sitting in front of the TV in the living room

“Oh… I thought you were going to fix my plate…” He replied…  

Naaaaah, I just didn't hear that… He has to be joking, right? Was it an episode of “Prank my mom” that someone set me up on? Well no… My little man is actually sitting down, oblivious and we are staring at each other. The whole time I was thinking, “My son just lost his everlasting mind!” And he was just there, with an innocent look that says “did you hear me mom?”

“Get your butt up and go fix your plate now!”
“Its okay mom, I’m not hungry anymore” (is he trying to guilt trip me? Really!!!)
“I said NOW!”

Is this what our little ones are learning when seeing women doing nice things for the men in their life? I know my sister-in-law (90% of the time) fixes my brother’s plate and my children’s plates because of a habit she doesn't mind having. I also, will fix their plates (more often than I would fix the hubby’s) however; that doesn't mean that it is a duty and an expected obligation.

So let’s fast forward to this weekend. I was having a great time with one of my favorite couples, “NicMuiks” (a nickname given to my cousin and her hubby – a combination of their first names, like “Brangelina”) who were in town for my brother’s 50th birthday celebration. As usual, there were good times, us teasing each other, laughs and smiles, never ending conversations, storytelling, and drinking. Then, all of a sudden we’re in this convo about how times have changed. We’re suddenly talking about how today’s woman is not the dedicated woman she used to be back in the days, and how “emancipation” has apparently changed things. WHAT!? And apparently, how today’s woman has forgotten where her place in society (and family dynamic) is. She has chosen to not recall when she is supposed to speak, eat, or display any brain activity… And while the hubby and my cousin’s hubby relentlessly continued to ruffle our feathers, he actually remembers a story that leaves me speechless and had me wondering if we will ever escape “the inferior species” label we were so graciously given…

I’m going to try and remember the story as best as I can, but trust… you will get the gist of it… So, my cousin’s-hubby’s-brother had a “traditional” engagement ceremony where the father of the bride to be wasn't present for the event as he was home in Africa. He was represented by his brother and the rest of his family who at the time lived in Europe. At some point (after the ceremony) a video of the festivity was brought to the father. Everyone was sitting down - watching, commenting, and enjoying watching the event when all of a sudden the father’s voice rose up, while asking to slightly rewind the tape; to which someone quickly obliged. He looked at the rewinded part and all of the sudden a look of disappointment came over his face. He right away called his daughter and asked, “What is this? How can you let this happen?” He was referring to part of the footage where his daughter’s new fiancé reached out and fixed himself a drink. The patriarch was ashamed and highly upset that his new son-in-law to be was seen serving himself a beverage during an event that was supposed to honor him (follow me here…his daughter’s engagement however her fiancé was the one being honored…yes!).
This is a true story which happened within the past five to six years… This is a true representation of the culture that surrounded me while growing up. Culture can change, culture are meant to evolve and this is one of those I wouldn't mind seeing move forward instead of staying at a standstill...

Back in the Stone Ages, history has women being generally viewed as being inferior to men; a view commonly accepted by both men and women. Women were taught at a very young age how to behave and the importance of being obedient to their husbands; quiet and humble. But I’m talking about the 21st century… I’m talking about right now… I’m talking about the perception that society has about us women.
Aren't the days of food gathering and hunting over? Aren't the days of child-bearing, child-rearing, and being wife-and-maid in your own home (as the sole responsibility of a woman) over? Haven’t men realized that you don’t need big muscles any more to do their work but an educated brain? Aren't the days when women were considered being primarily put here to be submissive over? Aren't the days when we were merely the other side of the coin gone? 

Napoleon said, “Give me good mothers and I will give you a good nation.”…
We (no matter what class standing we belonged to in society) would be expected to be good housewives and experts in anticipatory service for our male counterparts. The main responsibility of a woman is to preserve the human race. As a mother, we have a very unique stand; we bring up children with extreme care. The first school of a child, all that he/she learns is from the mother’s mouth, while sitting on the lap of his/her mother. It is quite true that great men had great mothers. The progress of a nation depends upon the way the mothers bring up their children. While Women played a very vital role in human progress and had a significant place in the society for that reason, it is even still more than often, always in the background of men.

Men and woman have been rightly compared to the wheels of the same carriage. We are not inferior to men; we are capable of handling and sharing all of life’s responsibilities and while we do it, we also preserve our compassionate, nurturing side that makes us natural at being considerate of other people.
But considerate doesn't translate to being a servant, at least not in my book. "Serving" anyone isn't any instinct of mine. I try to be a good hostess when others are in my home, but that's because it's polite. I enjoy, at times, fixing (for the ones in my household) their plates or getting their drinks. And when I do, it’s because I feel like doing it and not because it’s a duty; an obligation of the female gender. In my home, it has to be a give and take... We are considerate of each other, serve each other, and help each other... Because it's the right thing to do and it is how you treat people you care about. You do this to make life easier at a particular moment for your loved one(s). I serve because I love and not because it’s a requirement in “wifey-hood”, “motherhood”, “sisterhood”, or any “hood” we can come up with! I can recognize when I’m being taken advantage of, when my kindness is being taken for granted and trust I can nip it in the bud just as quickly, as the thought of the expectation is being formed in one’s brain!

While I enjoy bringing ease, support, and comfort to my loved ones, it is unfathomable to me to accept that today’s society still believes that we (women) were put here on earth for the mere simple reason to be of service to the men in our lives…
I’m not here for your pleasure! This includes viewing pleasure, entertainment, physical/mental enjoyment, and any other act that makes us into toys for your amusement. I’m here for both of our pleasures, I’m here because I love and want the best for us.
Let’s make sure we teach that no one is entitled to anything from another human being and to keep expectations to the reciprocity of what we are willing to give! Servitude is a mutual benefit and not a one way action…

No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.
~Eleanor Roosevelt




  1. My name is Muika. I am Rose’s cousin. We are both originally from Congo. I work fulltime; I have a 10 year old daughter and a dog. I was born and raised in Congo in an “interracial” family. I have been married to Nico for 13 years. He was born and raised in Congo and also in an interracial family. Both our mothers are from Belgium and fathers from Congo, more precisely from the region of Kasai. The Kasai is culturally known to be a patriarchal society.
    Growing up, both our occidental mothers seemed to be happy and content in a society where it was common for men to gather around the table and entertain the guests while women do all the cooking and preparations. It was uncommon for men to help with the dishes or in the kitchen. It was customary for our mothers to serve their visitors and their husband. We did see on very rare occasions our fathers helping with the kitchen and even serving our mothers, but only when there were no friends or family around.
    So, you can see that my husband and I are two different individuals, different genders but raised in similar homes with the same culture. That being said, my husband and I don’t have the same take on the issue raised by Rose.
    It took me a few years to understand that my husband appreciates, feels proud, likes, feels happy, enjoys, ….when I serve him. However, it did not come naturally with me. I still have to make the effort.
    But, most days, I do make the effort. You want to know why? Because I realize that it is important to him. To him, it is a sign of love, sometimes respect and honor. And it does not stop just with the serving. It is about all the little things that mean a lot to him, simple things, things that may seem nothing to someone else.
    Like having his smoothie waiting in the fridge when he comes back from the gym, having his clothes clean and hanging in his closet, having the house tidy and clean when he gets home….
    Rose, it is simply cultural.

    1. Hi Muiks :)
      Will you be surprise if I said that I appreciate and agree with your comment? Well I do!

      I think somewhere along reading this post my point got missed (or maybe wasn’t clear enough) in the mist of my humorous take on the 2 stories I described…
      Here are the few differences between me and you:
      • My parents are not interracial couple, they were /are both from Kasai
      • My husband is American

      While I was primarily raised in Belgium, my parents did a wonderful job instilling in us the culture they were raised and believed in. The way of life you are describing is one they lived/live and is also one that brought that same sense of honor and pride (you mentioned while talking about your hubby) in their lives.
      As I shared with Nics, culture is very important… culture is necessary to ones life as it gives direction and ground to who we ultimately will be. However I believe that we have to be very careful to draw the line between “expected obligations” because culture dictates it and “caring actions” because we enjoy following some aspects of the culture.
      Today’s time, circumstances, years have evolve around us so ultimately we also have to evolve and adjust what we were taught to match today society while maintaining the core of who we are.

      My husband is American, his culture is definitely different than mine however does that mean that he doesn’t appreciate being asked “what he would like to eat on a particular evening?”, Having his plate ready and warm for him, having fresh juice waiting for him (even if he doesn’t drink it most of the time)… Of course he appreciates it and this simply because it shows that I care, love him and what him to be comfortable however for me it doesn’t come as an effort (when I do it) because I do it sometime just as an habit or when I feel like making sure he knows he is special and appreciate. I am not obligated to “serve him” when I do it I enjoy doing it and it certainly doesn’t make me less than a person…

      Culture is one thing (a very important component of who we are)…hiding behind the culture as an excuse for every expectation one may have is another…

  2. Being born and raised in Congo with both parents from Kasai which shape me into the person I am along with having the opportunity to travel the world and experience different culture influenced the way I act and think.

    Yes I still serve my husband (most of the time), the kids,everybody that comes in my home and that for all the reasons you both mentioned -love, care, culture, habit and convenience,...-
    We have to remember why our fathers were expecting so much from our mothers; it is because most of the time mothers were home taking care of the kids and household duties while they were out earning a living.
    But now the situation has change, with both parents earning a living and being out of the house, and because of that the culture is changing too.



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