Over the weekend, I stumbled upon an interesting read from a Kenyan magazine that wondered if women were the new men.

In the article, Victor Okwaro painted an over-exaggerated picture of a hard-charging, aggressive, financially savvy, well-educated woman that didn’t need a man for anything outside of the bedroom. It seems the “independent black women” trope has spread all the way to the Motherland and some men throughout the diaspora are having issues with women stepping up and taking on roles traditionally set aside for men.

Okwaro writes:

This is a new era…It’s the era of the woman in charge. The aggressive, man eating woman who takes no prisoners. The woman on top.

It may seem exaggerated but look around you. It won’t take you long to spot the ladies that I’m talking about-confident, tough, smart, aggressive, successful, in managerial positions, directors on multi-national boards, marketing or brand managers, making lots more money than men, including their own husbands. It’s now common place to find the wife earning two or three times more than her husband. The power base has shifted, and now its common place to find the man having no choice but to accept his position as ceremonial ‘head of the house’. 

We see these powerful women everywhere; in traffic driving the biggest and flashiest SUV’s you could imagine. Oh, and if you’re expecting her to give way on the road you have another thing coming. She drives just as rough as the matatu drivers, maybe worse. She has learnt well, too well actually. She has road rage, and when she throws out obscene hand gestures and shouts out invectives in traffic, you better move out of her way, or experience the wrath of a woman who doesn’t give a (bleep)…

This goes on for three pages.

Though the article comes off as pretty hyperbolic, it mirrors many of the conversations I’ve had with men and women over the past year.

As a daughter of the post-civil rights/feminism movements, I don’t particularly subscribe to strict gender roles. In relationships, I feel each person has to find their place in the partnership and do what works best for them.

For example, while I may cook a meal, that doesn’t mean I will also be responsible for all of the housework or tend to my (future) husband’s every whim while he sits and watches the game. After all, I want to see the game too. My ideal relationship is a partnership in which we both pull our weight and support each other.

Like me, many millennial women want to be on a team, not be dictated to. But some of our male counterparts aren’t feeling it. They want to be the head, be in charge, and stick closely to the rigid gender roles of our grandparents’ era because it makes them feel, well, manly.

But is this necessary?

Do we need to continue traditional gender roles ensure that relationships run smoothly or are they merely antiquated ideas we fall back on in order to assuage the male ego (or use to our advantage as women)?

Speak on it Clutchettes and Gents! 

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  • victor

    Hi, i’m Victor Okwaro, the author of the Kenyan article in question-it’s interesting to see the reactions, opinions and discourse on it, and i appreciate all the feedback, whether positive or negative-the article was actually not meant to be a heavy, serious article, it was supposed to be light-hearted and funny, and not really a serious investigation of gender roles-I wanted people to laugh and say ‘yes, i know someone like that’ .
    It is true though, especially in Africa, that it is still a male dominated society, and women still have a long way to go before they can really claim equality, so that is not in question-but lets agree that some of the ladies in the article do exist and i’m sure we all know someone like them whether in Africa or the first world-the picture i painted
    in the article was exaggerated in the article for emphasis.
    The point though was that for women to be able to compete with men in corporate’s, business and in society in general, they have increasingly become more like men, for them to get ahead and compete on the same level-now whether this is a good thing or bad thing, people can decide for themselves and see what works for them like many have said above-In African cities especially, there is now a clash between traditional roles that are expected of women (home making, cooking, mother, etc) and modern roles that they have now at work/society/socially-i think there definitely has to be a balance, and indeed there are plenty of powerful women who are able balance these career, relationship and family roles with ease, and kudos to them.
    thanks again to Britni Danielle for highlighting my article, and to all for your comments and responses

  • paul

    Pah!

    it seems it’s not just the “strong independent black woman” that america has exported to Kenya, it seem that uncle tom careerism has arrived there also.

    Wonder how many ordinary Kenyans are being sold out so that Kenya’s tom class can have SUVs and strong independent black women sitting on the boards of multi-nationals?

    pfft!

    What a load of rubbish.

    More black people tryna act white and being about 30 years late in the white they’re tryna act –

    as usual.

    These “women on the rise bucking gender roles” discussions are old, stupid and boring, and don’t ring true in the age austerity that has seen 100s of1000s of women lose their jobs in the ongoing attack on public sector services, an employment area where women tend to cluster.

    I’m guessing this is even worse in Kenya.

    sheesh!

    All this distraction crap these people write to make it seem like we’re in good times.

    smh!