“It two men are fighting and the wife of one of them comes to rescue her husband from his assailant, and she reaches out and seizes him by his private parts, you shall cut off her hand. Show her no pity”—Deuteronomy 25: 11-12.
What is it about women that provokes and entitles any man to ‘put them in their place’? Is it because they are men with wombs (wombmen) or they are women to a fault? What is the woman’s place, anyway? We put them in the kitchen and they came out shouting unpaid care work. We put them to work and they cried work-life balance. We put them in politics and they yelled inequality at the highest decibels.
We sent them back to Eden and they charged at nature for their double jeopardy. So, we resolved to work together as equals in one society regulated by norms and values, and it has been worse ever since. That is when patriarchy and discrimination opened the floodgates for sexual harassment. Now, we have ‘Me too.’ And oh, that one?
Irbard’s bad news
Only last week, fine boy, John Dumelo, was a predator for hugging university ladies in their rooms and giving them chocolates on Valentine’s Day. Citi FM broadcast journalist, Nana Ama Agyemang Asante, exploited the fragile masculinity of the actor, criticising the innocent gesture as gross. We have been very careful of hugs on account of Nana Ama’s over-exacting and pedantic appreciation of the presence of men in women spaces. Men are very vulnerable (fragile masculinity) in the environment of women. You have no defence when she cries rape. That is a woman’s world, so don’t go there.
The opposite of fragile masculinity is toxic masculinity, and that is what security expert, Irbard Ibrahim, typifies, especially relating to his comments last week that sought to justify why a man may batter an insolent and insulting wife. Toxic Masculinity establishes the dominant position of men, projecting them as extremely violent, unemotional and sexually aggressive. Unfortunately, this form of insane behaviour has the backing of both the Bible and the Quran. The Bible recommends cutting the hand of a wife.
Justifying his position, Irbard quotes from Qur’an Chapter 4 Verse 34:
“Men are in charge of women by what Allah has given one over the other and what they spend [on the women] from their wealth. So righteous women are devoutly obedient, guarding in [the husband’s] absence what Allah would have them guard (their chastity). But those [wives] from whom you fear arrogance – [first] advise them; [then if they persist], forsake them in bed; and [finally], strike them. But if they obey you [once more], seek no means against them. Indeed, Allah is ever Exalted and Grand.”
Like Nana Ama Asante, Irbard dug his own hell in cyber space, attracting pure fire, brimstone and feminist missiles from all directions. He was advised to stick to security matters, cross-border migration and political party vigilantism where he commands some expertise and leave matters of religion and women to Imams and gender advocates. Some even suggested he might not be married so he has no logos, pathos and ethos to talk about insolent wives. A few social media commentators agreed with Irbard’s prognosis, questioning the attitudes of women who copy blindly from other cultures.
Frankly, what options are available to a man whose wife insults and slaps his mother in his presence? The 21st century may have its faults, but it has also given us a lot of options. You don’t need to get married in the first place. That is one option. But if you must, you can marry another man. That is another. Other options exist in robots, sex toys and forced celibacy, except that you should be very catholic about the third option. And these days, being catholic could be sexy (literally) such as the present issues Pope Francis is dealing with. And oh, there is always divorce, separation, or happy depression.
By the way, why would a wife insult her mother-in-law in the presence of her husband? Immediately, some suppositions and assumptions become operative. One, she may have gotten used to insulting her husband; she only tipped the boundaries this time when she extended the insults to the person who gave him birth. Two, the man (Irbard describes him as okotobonku) has lost control at home and is unable to exert any influence in shaping the conduct of his wife and children. Third, the woman may be the principal breadwinner of the family and may be overwhelmed by domestic pressures, including an overbearing and fastidious mother in-law who may not be aware of her sacrifices. Fourth, there is such a thing as a bad wife.
Some mothers in-law
In the snowy winters of London, I witnessed a sorry domestic battle between my friend’s wife and her mother in-law whom she dragged out of the house to freeze in the zero temperatures. Her crime? She had invaded her daughter in-law’s kitchen. Wearing only bathroom slippers and no warm clothing, the 65-year-old sobbed in the cold, banging the door and begging her daughter in-law to allow her back in. She didn’t get her in until her son (in my company) arrived in the house. He is your quintessential gentleman with appreciable equanimity, but I saw my friend explode with anger and fiery rage. He slapped his wife. Things had reached a tipping point. She packed out the next day.
Domestic violence has reached epidemic levels. Dinah Adiko, a fierce critic of gender-based violence, has very little patience for men whose testosterone cloud their thinking and dictate their actions. Better an okotobonku than a predator who strikes a woman with justifiable provocation. It is cowardice to misinterpret the socially ascribed role of men as leaders to mistreat a woman. That is toxic, and the modern man must have nothing to do with it. Similarly, whatever feminism teaches women, abusing your mother in-law is a depraved form of toxic femininity. Finally, all women must agree with Archbishop Duncan-Williams that being a wife is a privilege–a privilege made possible by the man who married you. And that is final.