In a typical Nigerian home, the man is seen as the head of the family because he is supposed to be the breadwinner. Many, many years ago, women stayed home while the men go out to work to bring back the bacon for the woman to cook it. This has been the man’s role for thousands of years, until now.
We know the tables are turning now, and women are fast becoming the breadwinners in the family, however the traditional family, with men as the “leaders” and women as the “nurturers,” is still very common. This means the man is seen as the authority on all important decisions.
It is a thing of pride for a man to be seen as the one who provides for the family. However, when the woman becomes the provider, there is a sense of guilt that usually comes with it. Many Nigerian women lie and cover up the fact that they are breadwinners to protect the ego of their husbands. Why? Because the society we live in, makes her feel guilty that she earns more money than her husband.
She feels guilty for buying a car for herself. She tells whoever cares to know that her husband bought it for her, so she won’t be seen as the bad wife and a financially independent woman. You see, a good and humble wife should not buy a car for herself when the husband doesn’t have one and even if she does, she has to shout at the top of your lungs that her husband bought it for her.
Even Tiwa Savage, with all her exposure wasn’t speared from this cultural menace. I remember her interview, after she had that brouhaha with her husband. She followed the cultural norm of trying to be “the good wife” in her marriage. She said;
“I wanted people to believe this story that TJ is the head of the house, he’s the one that takes care of me, I wanted people to believe that and I wanted him to feel like a man, so I covered up so many times. He doesn’t want people to really know that I am the breadwinner. As a woman I want him to be the breadwinner too. I don’t want people to look down on my man. I want to pretend and lie that he is the one paying for things and buying me all these fancy things. I want to pretend that I am the little queen and my husband is taking care of me.”
Why should people look down on a man whose wife earns more than he does? Why must the man always be the breadwinner? Because our society believes that men should control women. A lot of Nigerian men say when a woman is financially independent it is difficult to CONTROL her.
Men also struggle with the cultural beliefs that husbands should always be the main breadwinner in the family. This cultural belief puts an inordinate amount of pressure on men to conform to this stereotype. That is why most men feel insecure and inadequate if, and when the wife becomes the breadwinner.
It isn’t a big deal if a woman earns more than the husband. The big deal is when the man is doing nothing at all to support his wife.
The wife should not be out all day working hard to provide for the family and then still come back home to clean the house, fix dinner, do the dishes and still take care of the kids. Meanwhile, the husband has been home all day doing nothing, simply because our culture ascribes the role of housekeeping to the woman (they conveniently forget the cultural role of the man being the sole provider in that scenario). That is not fair, and when she gets angry and snaps they say it’s because she is the breadwinner.
With the immense pressure on men to be providers and women earning more than their husbands, it is crucial to do away with the traditional roles ascribed to men and women and have an egalitarian perspective on how we view the family unit.
If the woman is the one who brings home the bacon, then the husband should be able and ready to fry it up in a pan.