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Dear Vim Lady Of Sugar Dem Ministry   
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Dear Vim Lady,

Bravo! I just read that you're ‘Sugaring' us (men) on February 14 by cooking some yummy foods for us to come and enjoy at the forecourt of Joy FM. You do all ma’am! I like the fact that women are also invited, not to eat, but to serve us the food and clean after us. Isn't that awesome! Isn't that what our culture teaches us?

Isn't that what the Bible even teaches? I’m actually impressed that Joy FM would lend their forecourt to this ‘useful initiative’. I guess it shows that the Multimedia organisation supports your belief that women ought to ‘sugar’ men, whatever that means. Do you plan to do something to celebrate the incredible female music talent whose precious life was cut short by a road accident last Friday?

Don't you think we should focus the discussion surrounding her death on the scientific reasons why the accident occurred (after proper investigations of road conditions, speed, and others have been conducted) instead of the emphasis on spirituality? Well, may Ebony’s beautiful soul find eternal rest. Amen!

But those #PEPPER DEM MINISTRIES; haven't we all been upset by some of their prescriptions! What abomination! How could they expect that men should not see cooking and household chores as the duty of the woman? They surely want to break down families. That's the more reason for your “SUGAR DEM GH" to match them boot-for-boot as you suggested on or Facebook wall. You're on a good cause.

Talking of breaking down families though, my mind wanders to the royal decision by the rulers of Saudi Arabia to allow women to drive (cars) beginning in June 2018. That victory didn't come easy. You see, some 47 women organised the first protest in 1990 against the ban on women driving. Several women have gone to jail for it and suffered job losses and other consequences. Guess the reasoning behind the ban!

“Some said that it was inappropriate in Saudi culture for women to drive, or that male drivers would not know how to handle having women in cars next to them. Others argued that allowing women to drive would lead to promiscuity and the collapse of the Saudi family. One cleric claimed — with no evidence — that driving harmed women’s ovaries.”

And you know what! Many Saudi women believe the reasoning and actively or passively support the ban on womenfolk driving. But some far-sighted women fought and delivered the victory. In some 50 years down the line, it would be taken for granted as a regular “right" for a woman to obtain a driving licence. Oh, and I forgot to add that Saudi women, until now, had to get the permission of a MAN, even their own son, before they could travel out of Saudi Arabia and to do many other things? That's right! Power to the men!!

Pardon my wandering, Vim Lady, and let’s come home. As I write this, my wife is taking a whole year off work to nurse our new baby. My wife cooks for us, cleans, and sees to our laundry. I believe in marriage and family, but you will get my issue soon.

My wife attended Achimota School, went on to study for a Bachelor's degree and pursued a Masters degree. When she's not handling the cooking, cleaning, and laundry, I do them. My dad taught me to do all that. While growing up, I saw my dad cook, clean, wash, and bath his kids. My dad was a School Teacher and my mum, a trader.

My dad still cooks at 66, he’s happy to do it. My mum was just fortunate in her day, I think. Having grown in a home where her dad, my grandfather, handled most of the cooking, it would have been a struggle to accept that her husband wouldn't enter the kitchen- simply because he's a man.

Just like me and my wife, I don't think anyone can provide a blanket prescription of how couples should organise their marriages and homes. However, we can together look at what's human, what's fair, and what's even godly.

REALLY, THE FOCUS OF THE DEBATE SHOULD NOT AND HAS NEVER BEEN ON COOKING. I don't think the #PEPPER DEM squad have so much of an issue with a woman cooking and doing household chores, or do they? If a woman happens to marry a man whose parents didn't train him to cook, (as most parents unfortunately do to boys still) it may be the way to organise a family to have the wife do that, if she knows how to cook.

The focus of #PDM is on more important issues than just COOKING. Of course, it's understandable why you and others would debase their campaign and centre it on an issue as seemingly petty as cooking. Without that, you would struggle to make any tenable arguments against the campaign points of the #PDM which are:

• Opening up more spaces for women to pursue their dreams

• Reducing the insistence for women to do household chores alone so they could be freed up to participate more in society - economically, politically, etc

• Flipping the script so men realise the inhumanity of many of their actions towards women.

• Bringing up the broad issue of male privilege so families can start re-orienting themselves, bringing up boys better than the current age men were brought up, and giving girls a better chance to contribute fully to families and society

Last Tuesday night, an Osofo Maame at a Church of Pentecost had a session with young ladies in the Church. She sought to teach them how to be good wives when they do marry. She made reference to the over-used Ephesians 5:23 text: “Women submit to your own husbands….”. She went to say some very interesting things:

• “a woman is lucky if her husband chooses to help with house chores but he is not obliged so to do

• “a virtuous woman is one who works hard to contribute to the upkeep of the home financially

• “a virtuous woman should be able to wake up at 4am (while her husband sleeps), take care of household chores, prepare her kids for school, prepare breakfast for her husband, and still make it to work on time” I surely don't envy this virtuous woman. Do you? You see, many Osofo Maame’s and Pastors have turned the Bible into the source of all misogyny, wrongfully.

Who do they never quote EPHESIANS 5:21 - “SUBMIT ONE TO THE OTHER IN REVERENCE TO CHRIST”? Why don't they ever teach that husbands are supposed to submit to wives and wives to husbands? Why don't they ever teach that the Adam and Eve marriage setting cannot apply now when women work the same hours as their wives?

Why don't they teach that Paul’s advice in 1 Timothy about young women staying at home to make babies and take care of the home cannot apply when a woman works the same hours as her husband and contributes financially to the home?

Why don't they teach that a man, being the “head" (which I hope to address another time), must lead in all things including household chores? Why don't they teach love- fellow feeling? You see, if you love your woman and you know that she has blood running through her veins just like you, wouldn't you be considerate with the demands you make of her? Afia, do you believe a woman’s ambitions should end on the day she marries? Are a woman’s dreams still valid when she becomes a wife? Or you think that she must cut her dreams short to become a “Helper”? Do remind me that we will deal with the issue of “Helper" another, okay?

The other day, a woman who operates a hairdressing salon was having a good business day. She had several customers waiting on her to fix their hair. Then her husband called her China phone…”I’m back from work so come and serve me some food". Her plea that she had customers waiting and that she had food in the refrigerator didn't mean much to the husband. She had to stop work and go take care of her husband. Her business could suffer for all he cared. He married her and is entitled to be served.

There are working women who have to make it home after an 8-hour work day (just like their husbands) to prepare “FRESH FOOD" for their hungry husbands. He, on the other hand, can choose to watch a soccer game after work or stay on WhatsApp Groups and Facebook. After all, he's a MAN and She, a WOMAN. I have actually heard it said that men can't cook, men can't clean, men can't scrub. Really? Oh yes, the men who cook at restaurants and hotels are not men. How about the men who clean toilets at the malls and offices in Ghana and elsewhere? Huh?

My friend, Isaac, lives in Texas, USA. He can't simply live with the fact that Ghanaian men still have such crude expectations of their working wives, and women are actually going out to advertise themselves with “I can cook, I can clean, I love to wash clothes with my hands" as their marriage pitches. For him, the household bills and chores are all a shared responsibility. He sees Ghanaian couples living in the USA making this work and wonders why this should make it as a public debate point.

You see, Vim Lady, I always disagreed with Louise Carol (Ph.D) on the need for this #PDM campaign. I believed it was unnecessary because the days of unreasonable expectations and abuse of women in marriages were no more with us. I believed it was unpopular to hold servile opinions of women anymore. I was so wrong. Most men still believe that when they marry a woman, they have hired a cook, a washer, a cleaner, a baby producer. And many women (by the way they have been socialised, sadly) accept that definition of what they transform into, when they marry.

They accept that their dreams don't matter, they don't matter, and they're in marriage to submit to a man….even to the peril of their very lives. What #PDM is fighting is not the issue of cooking for a MAN. Their focus is on the crude mindset which suppresses and keeps women from reaching their dreams. They’re fighting the mindset which makes it unacceptable for a woman to have time off household chores so she can attend training programmes to advance in her career.

They're advancing a cause against the socialization of girls to accept that they’re born not to dream and to achieve greatness. And of course, they’re against your servile appreciation of women as clearly seen in your “MEN COME AND EAT, WOMEN COME AND SERVE” event on Vals day. We can talk of the Indra Nooyi’s of this world whose lives did not have to end because they married and built families. There are too many women whose big dreams die with them in the name of societal norm.

Do you remember the “SEND THE GIRL CHILD TO SCHOOL" campaign. I wonder whether you and the several women who are advancing clearly retrogressive arguments against women empowerment would be in the public space today but for the concerted campaign of women before you. You see, it was seen as anti-social and anti-family to send the girl child to school. She was supposed to stay home and get trained to be a wife. It's understandable that when a duck has been caged for so long, it struggles to move too far even when set out of the bounds of her cage. So it's totally okay that we're spending time on this. Also remember that if we do not disagree with girls going to school, we shouldn’t disagree with all that they could become by going to school. We need to create all the spaces that can make their education fully meaningful.

I reckon that Ghanaians play a lot and joke with many important issues to gain popularity. I do hope, however, that you've carefully considered your standpoint against women who are challenging negative social constructs and pushing the boundaries for the advancement of women’s recognition in families and national life. I wonder what you'd want to be remembered for as the history is written. You have such a powerful voice in the media. You may choose, as you usually do to people you disagree with, to denigrate me on your radio programme. Or you could sit down and carefully think again about the stand you're taking in preserving what's definitely a social construct which has to be buried. In the past, women were thought not to be intelligent enough for many professions. Scientific researches have proven that women have IQs just as high as men, if not higher. In the past, society resorted to pray about malaria, cholera, and many other diseases which are cured with simple pills today. We can push society farther forward in many other ways, including the advancement of women and their rights. We can't let “behind every successful man, there's a woman" stay as it is beyond our generation. Let's flip it that “behind every successful woman too is a great man”.

How many women are CEO’s of media organisations? Do you know? Do you aspire to, mayhap, become a media CEO one day?

I will make time to visit you at your office to speak with you some more.

Enjoy the day! And Happy #Sugaring day on Vals day.

By Ben Ohemeng-Baah.

[email protected]
Source: ghanaweb.com

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