Africa: Gender Roles

A male friend of mine who would kill me if I used his real name on here who shall remain nameless likes to call me a man hater.  Teases me about my “higher education” and bossiness.  What can I say.  I’ve been very lucky to get some good education (even from the Catholics – thank god for the Jesuits.); and yeah, I’m kinda bossy (only because sh*t needs to get done).  BUT, I’m not a man hater.  Never have been, never will be.

I’m not June cleaver, but I could be. Find me a man who can make enough money to support me and my lifestyle and I’ll be happy to cook you a few meals and have a drink ready for you when you get home.

When I lived in Samoa, “dated” in Samoa and eventually got married in Samoa, it was a lot different than it would have been in the US.  While it is complicated no matter where you were, I actually found it refreshing at times to fall into a more “traditional” gender role (gasp!).  Maybe because things seemed more equitable there than in the US.  Boys are taught to cook from a young age (at least in terms of the umu and the saka), they do the heavier housework (at least my ex did) and I enjoyed cooking in the evenings (what else was I gonna do when I got home from work)?!

So this discussion today with my man-friend got me wondering about things in Tanzania in terms of gender.  I remember being young and dumb and a feminist and heading off to Samoa thinking I knew a lot (now I’m just old and dumb and a feminist) about how things should be.  Notsomuch.

So, I’m hopeful with this trip, that I’ll be a lot more open-minded…. or at least I’ll try.  I was doing some research today and came across this site, and the UNFPA’s site in Tanzania in order to get a better idea of the issues.  Things like FGM, “development,” HIV/AIDS are all pretty darn complicated… I’ve got opinions on all of them, but maybe I’ll save those for some later posts.  What I do know, is that Tanzania has signed CEDAW, and the US still hasn’t gotten around to that…

Thoughts?  Gender roles for you at home?  Abroad?  Better/worse than the US?  Talk to me people!!


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