Saturday, March 7, 2009

The Male-Child Preference Syndrome

Some of the families I am going to refer to in this post are known personally by me so I will be discreet and mention no names. I happened to know a family that with the financial situation of their family, they cannot afford to have more than 2 children. These 2 children of course would be able to have all they need as children. They would have being very comfortable but their parents saw to it that they weren’t. They were all 8 in numbers because their parents kept looking for a male-child that will:
1. Continue with the family name
2. Inherent their property
3. help them conform to the cultural beliefs
So, they ended with 8 girls that are sent to low-standard schools and eat the crumbles their family can offer… Yet, they still lamented that they didn’t have a boy-child.
One of my numerous cousins though educated and influential ended up with 2 wives because he wanted a boy. The first wife made a boy on her 5th delivery but cousin was already hooked up with another woman. This excuse of taking a second wife is still not clear to me till today. Because as a science student that he was, he needed not be told that it takes his X and Y chromosomes to make either a girl or a boy to start with. Yet, he took a second wife.

This lady that I admire so much married into an Igbo family. On her first pregnancy, she was worried sick that she should have a boy because this will make her feet to be firmly rooted in her husband’s place. She said whatever it takes…She gave in to the demands of her husbands family. She prayed, she was desperate for a boy-child. How will she be able to love the child if she turns out to be a girl. The girl-child will be seing as the one "who ruined her life". I want to assume.
I will try to spare us some bad stories of how girl-child has suffered cruel fate just because they were girls. I was thrilled to discover a family of seven boys looking for a girl-child. The man took a second wife because he wanted a female child. The reason? Someone to help in the kitchen!
This is the fate of some innocent female children born and unborn. A female child is desired by some for wrong reason while some just want to stick to the traditional role of male-child is more important and it’s a must to have…

This wrong mentality has destroyed many homes, has made so many home poverty ridden, led to complicated health history of women from too many labours and made so many women unhappy. I know that the custodian of this cultural preservations are both women and men. Mother –in-laws and father-in-laws. And those that should have no say in the marriage. In this 21st century, it baffles me that we still talk about male preference even when traditional roles are being reversed, even when it’s glaring that no child regardless his/her gender or sex should be treated as inferior, some still find it pleasurable to choose the path of “male-child preference”.

I believe it’s time to wake up. I believe it’s time to count our blessings. It’s time to appreciate the children that come our ways and see them as blessings. It’s time not to make the mistake that Muhmmed Ali made when they asked him the number of children he had and he said “1 boy and 8 mistakes”. The only child that makes us remember Muhammed Ali today happens to be one of his “mistakes” has he referred to his daughters.
This is post is dedicated to all girl-child out there that are born into this kind of situation. I know and believe that no matter what you face today, you will be a blessing to this generation. Just believe you are not a mistake and that you are not less important than a male-child.

HAPPY INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY!

38 comments:

Afrobabe said...

Firsttttttttttttttttttt


I know a family of 5 girls and one boy...the boy is a theif and a rapist...thier senior sister, my friend is the one taking care of her parents now even though the father was always quick to point out to her that she would end up a prostitute...

Onyeka said...

Stories like this never fail to baffle me, the ignorance of it all. I have a friend too who is in a family of 4 girls, and she told me once that when the last girl was born her mother didn't even want to hold her at first cos she hadn't turned out to be a boy. It's distressing. What's so special about a boy child?

In my house we're just 2 girls. On many occasions, people will ask me, 'you're just two girls? and your father is happy with that?' And I asked them, why wouldn't he be? Two working women that are now helping to pay the bills and support the home? Why should my father be upset about something as silly as a family name? Doesn't he have other relatives? Can't women inherit property?

I wish people will realize this. But it seems we are still years away from not thinking girls are inferior. And with this deeply cultural society where people are still so reluctant to let go of outdated and ridiculous values... sigh.

poeticallytinted said...

A friend of mine is pregnant and is afraid to check out the sex of the baby because according to her she wants it to be a boy. When i asked why she replied "nothing, i just want it to be a boy". It's distressing when people who should know better go ahead and propagate the myth that a boy is better than a girl. My friend is educated, articulate, career-driven, even insisted on keeping her maiden name but still secretly longs to have a male child first! How ridiculous. It's funny when women do this to themselves, will my friend love her baby if it turns out to be a girl? That is the question of the day isn't it? She'll probably feel she has failed in a certain way. I don't understand it. I never have. I am female, i wonder how i would have felt if I knew my birth was a "dissappointment" for my mother.

StandTall-The Activist said...

Afrobabe: What a different perspective and it's true. A lot of these boys end up being a disappointment and still... How can your friend's dad keep insulting her like that? That's bad

Onyeka: Just imagine. They want your dad to have a boy at all cost. What is even wrong with women keep their surnames?

Poeticallytinted: You are right it baffles me when women do this to themselves. I think it's boils down to the system we are in. Remember the disgusting "mama na boy" advert by MTN? That is one way to remind the society how important male child is...

O'Dee said...

You have blogged on a very important issue.

I still dont get thereason behind such beliefs.

Parakeet said...

Again you're on point. God bless you abundantly. This nonsense must stop. My uncle was married for 11 years and had 8 miscarriages before they finally had their one and only child who is a girl. You think that kind of family will not be grateful for even having a child at all. Some people dont even know how to count their blessings.

I just hope Nija can move on from this nonsense practice. If you look at the West today you'd think they never practiced it but they did too back in the 14th century. See how far we still have to go?

Writefreak said...

Hmmm...i hear you and a lot of times i wonder what the crap is about!
Children are gifts from God are to be treasured whether male or female.

pink-satin said...

I know so many stories..is it from my cousin who had 8 girl including twins...or my mum's friend with 5 girls!!!and it shocks me that it often is the educated one..and most of the time it is pressure from outside...extended family(more like gbeborun family), ...I have an uncle now with 2 girls and he has stopped there, he is like what more does he want!!May God help us be content with whatever gender he gives us!While, i would like two have both genders but i am not going to stretch my Va jay jay looking for boy or girl!!

Smaragd said...

very good point Standtall! i cant even shout ni...

Smaragd said...

i think we have a mutual friend ma'am, a certain someone whose birthday it was on the 27th february, went to ife, ur set i guess...

Anonymous said...

This is a distressing issue that you raise Standtall. I remember noticing and being upset by the disparity in treatment of girl and boy children when i was little. Fortunately my family was not like that but i definitely observed this growing up in Naija and i still see it in some Nigerian families abroad. It manifests in a variety of ways too from the chores girls and boys are expected to help with at home to the careers they are expected to choose.

When i was younger (early teens i think) i always thought that if i had children i'd prefer to have a boy first rather than subject a girl to the burden of the responsibilities of being a first daughter. Now i understand that such cultural norms are not inevitable and that you have the capacity to shape your family the way you see fit.

Courtney said...

Thank you SO MUCH for being a voice for these girls, born or unborn.

you have a wonderful gift of storytelling and presenting the issues.

Keep it up!

Tigeress said...

waow, this is a great post! It's still a shame that women are still blamed for not bearing male children. All children are a blessing. When a parent exholts a child over another- such parent is a foolish person- and will later on reap the seed of his/her foolishness.

It also goes for parents who show favouritism.

Sting said...

We are 8 girls and one boy in my family cos my dad wanted a boy so bad. My mom finally had him and his twin sister. Then my step mom decided she wanted to try one more time to see if she will have a boy also, but she had a girl.

My highly desired brother thinks it was a stupid thing to do, so i'm sure he will not be following in my dads foot steps.

Temite said...

hmmmmmmmm well it is funny but I think it is an excuse to take a new wife. This men sha...and the women to sef...i dont know for them. in fact - mscheeeeeeeeeeeew. Catch you laters Standy!

mike said...

this post needs to be publicized, these things happen in our society. you explored the marrow of a failing society. its worth a second read

simplegal said...

You are on point as usual Standtall. I know of a family where the mum had 5 girls and the dad bailed. Years later, when he found out his girls were successful he tried to get back into the picture. His youngest daughter refused to talk to him and left him all embarrassed in our school parking lot.

It truly is time for some men to realize that they determine the sex and stop trying to blame everything on women. I also hate how women always seem to be assigned certain roles...it's time for us to move forward as a society and leave this backward way of thinking behind!

FineBoy Agbero said...

Ignorance. Nothin else.
Girls are even better than boys towards their parents. My sisters are closer to my dad than we boys... If the poor man had only boys, he'd probably be dead of neglect!

I wont mind 12 girls as children; that's if i want 12 chidlren to start with, not bcos i keep tryin to get a darned stubborn boy!

And I'm back from my short leave of absence. Blogville, take note.

Zena said...

I can give you countless stories of how right you are with this male heir rubbish

My mother wasn't good enough because she had 4 girls,

Her mother wasn't good enough because she had 8 girls, meanwhile her husband took another wife and had 3 boys, 3 useless boys, my mother and her sisters, the women who wouldn't amount to much are all Doctors and settled, where as their half brothers...

My classmates mother had 9 girls and a boy and like Afrobabe, the boy is in the black axe gang and has been a source of unhappiness to the father who beat his wife everyday, demanding a male child.

It's an excuse to take a new wife but its also a deeply rooted complex that the female child means nothing...its sad

Zena said...

they forget it was their mother, a male child that nursed them, comforted them and sowed her everything into being their mothers

Bibi said...

you are absolutely right. i know countless families who refuse to just let it be and accept that any child be it a boy or a girl is as good as any. sex has nothing to do with it. ignorance is the issue. but the amazing thing is that this is just prominent in Nigeria. not as much in other African countries. i know a number of Africans who don't give a s*** about sex of their child. i'm a first timer but i will definitely be back. like what i see

Ms Sula said...

I truly wonder where this custom of valuing a male-child originated from... What was the underlying concept behind it.

I have always loved the sourate in the Quran that says "A couple that has fathered 4 girls already has a place in heaven"

People don't realize that girls take better care of their parents. They never go away. My grandma has 4 kids, 2 boys and 2 girls. My daddy is the oldest. My grandma loves my dad's the most (even if he denies it :)) But who do you think is always at my grandma's house? Yup! Her daughters!

I think in my culture it's not as prevalent because we have a matriarchal inheritance lineage... Kids don't inherit from their father but their uncles (which is a whole other can of worms in itself).

My mom has 4 girls and I don't think she's done too bad for herself! :D

Grahamn Kracker said...

So where are all these boy children supposed to come from, without the girl children?

Our first child was a boy, but I would have been just as thrilled had it been a girl. Our second and third were also boys. While three kids seemed like enough, life just was not quite full without a girl and then she came as number 4.

So we figured that was it but then number 5 squeaked in and she was a girl too. And how these daughters have filled out my life!

Buttercup said...

Muhammed Ali said that???? What the hell..

I know a family of 7girls..thankfully, they r comfortable..

I just wish people wud let go of (stupid)traditions already!

Rita said...

Ours is a family of 6 girls and 1 boy. While my parents, especially my dad, valued each and everyone of his daughters, his people did not. That love and value dad placed on us is what made we girls human beings in life.

A child is a gift from God. We are only male or female physically. What we are inside has no gender.

Thank you very much for this post.

bumight said...

standtall, you hit close to home. coming from an Abigirl family myself, thankfully we were never mistreated or anything. I think my dad secretly (who am i kidding?) wants a male child, but nobody cares! LOL! momsie is making sure that whenever pple see her girls, they'll pray to have female children like that - and guess what? THEY ALREADY ARE!

wordmerchant said...

Its sad but it still happens to this day. We can't even call it ignorance anymore because its university degree holders that have now taken this baton and are running with it

Very sad...

SOLOMONSYDELLE said...

Greta post, Standtall. I came here on Sunday looking for an IWD post (thought I was the only one who put one up, lol). I clearly just missed this.

Hope all is well, my sista.

doug said...

Hmm...unfortunately this isn't likely to go away anytime soon. I guess its directly related to the matter of women losing their names when they get married. So sad.

Shubby Doo said...

i know a family member that is constantly giving birth to girls...when she was told that number 3 was again a girl...she cried...she now has 4 girls...i doubt she will stop until she has a boy...pressure is not from her family...not from her husband...but she feels it from society & his family...i'm like wtf?!!!

Robyn said...

sincerely
its been like a month with me not readin a post from you.
did u throw me out.(fingers crossed)-
anyways i come from a family of 7mostly gals (wonderful women).
hey if i had come third maybe my parents would have let go on lookin for a boy but
thank God i came last cos they are amazing women.

Geebee said...

The rate at which couples, especially in Africa prefer male children make the female children look unimportant and this is a most narrow-minded judgment. . . Funny enough in my family, we are all boys. I have two brothers and sometimes I wonder what it would feel like to have a sister. Nonetheless I always hoped I’ll have two or three male children and that’s it . . . not until I had a daughter and somehow that whole biased reasoning automatically disappeared. Daughters can be so adorable and mean much more than sons sometimes. The bias is totally unnecessary.

Enkay said...

I would personally love to have both boy and girl children. Not because anyone is better than the other but for the sake of spicing things up. Now if I have only girl children, great! And if I have only boy children, great too!

No one gender is better than the other.
My parents learned this the hard way. Their first 5 children were girls and my grand mom insisted that my dad get another wife. Thank God he stood against it!

If you ask me, it's the height of ignorance to think that the gender of the children born is dependent on the woman!

Somehow though, I think things are changing in Nigeria. Maybe because of the economy but more and more families are sticking to a max of 2 or 3 kids. All girls or not.

I have started again with my long comments!! Sorry! lol!

StandTall-The Activist said...

O’Dee: Thanks. No justifiable reason for this. People just surprise me with their funny beliefs.

Parakeet: Your uncle story reminds me of a friend’s. She was operated on for fibroid. She had her only daughter thru operation. She nearly died and now her husband family are pressurizing her for a boy!


Writefreak: I wonder why people forget so quickly that children are gift from God. O su mi o


Pink-satin: You are right. The so called educated people do this a lot too. Are they really educated? That is the question. And like you, I am not stretching my Va Jay Jay looking for either boy or girl…


Smaragd: Abi o


Anonymous: “Now i understand that such cultural norms are not inevitable and that you have the capacity to shape your family the way you see fit”. You just capture my point in that statement. God bless your soul

Courtney: Thanks to you. I am sure we are all doing something about various issues that need change in different ways…


Tigress: You statement shows that your name is true. Tigress is a no nonsense taker


Sting: I am sure you got a step mum for that purpose of having a boy… To even think your brother question this belief, that’s something.



Temite: Just an excuse really


Mike: Thanks. Perhaps I should submit it to one of our newspapers


Simplegal: If I had a papa like that, he should not bother cuz I will be ready to cut his head off! Nonsense


FBA: Welcome Back! It’s okay really if you just want a large family not because you want a darn “Stubborn boy” like you put it


Zena: I am truly dumb founded after reading your comment. What a shame to these men and whoever support their barbaric act


Bibi: Thanks for stopping by Bibi. I am sure I have being on yoru blog before. In India and China for example, cuz of the limitation they place on having plenty kids, they now check to see if it’s a girl or a boy. If it’s a girl, they abort, if it’s a boy, they keep and now either China or India is over populated with boys and they are worried.


Ms. Sula: This is a very good insight to this issue. I would have loved to know more about this Inheritance culture you mentioned…


GK: I am sure you didn’t make 5 kids just because you want a girl child (lol). Not that I am judging but it will be good to know if you just want up to 5 or you on you did it to get the girls (lol)


Buttercup: When I read it that Muhammed Ali said that. I wanted to go and fight him right away. And you are right, people need to let go of this stupidity


Rita: I am happy to hear your dad valued all of you equally. I am sure you had a terrific childhood

Bumight: Lol at your choice of word “Abigirl”. Your dad must be proud of you all not to have mentioned it aloud that he “might” like to have a boy. And yes, Momma must be proud of you all


Wordmerchant: It’s really sad…


SSD: All is well dearie. I have not being consistent since my return from India with my blogging duties. I really have a lot to do, God help me


Doug: Well, there is nothing “unfortunate” about that to me. If people will bloody reading meanings thing like name change, it will give us peace. Men are quick to even forget their wives changed her name after marrying them and it bothers them to have daughters that will do same. Besides, must a woman change her name? Where did this stem from?


Shubby Doo: Trully WTF. I doubt if I will blink a tear after having 4 girls. Anyone that this bothers should go to hell



Robyn: How have you being? It’s being a while and I didn’t cut you off. Perhaps you having not being doing your blog round. I hope you just don’t value your sisters cuz they pamper you a lot like cook for you, wash for you and prevent you from doing nothing. Convince me, tell me more



Geebee: You can say that again. The biase is Totally unnecessary…


Enkay: You always have the floor and I don’t think your comments are ever long enough. They are always interesting and intellectually constructed. And like you said, the economy situation is making some people sit up while some still have not learnt

Writefreak said...

My sister i tell you, it's a tiring saga!
My mum had us three girls first, then the boys came and they gave my first brother the name Oluwole (the choice child has come)...my sisters and i still tease our parents about it...what happened to us girls? Its just hilarious...my mum said she'd have stopped at 3...

How're you doing dear?

blazingdaola said...

male,female ,dont matter to me i just love em.tnx for the write up sis!

Favoured Girl said...

This topic gets me mad all the time, when I hear stories like this. My parents had three daughters and they were absolutely fine with that, but I know of other families where girls treated like they were half a human being.

My friend recently got married and got pregnant and suddenly her in-laws were all in her face, demanding that she should produce a baby boy. I was like WTH! In this day and age??

This past Christmas when I was in Nigeria on holiday, my sister and I went to church and some IDIOT had the audacity to give testimony that all his brothers have given birth to daughters but thank God his wife recently gave birth to a boy! My sister and I just looked at each other and hissed.

It's so sad that many cultures still exalt one sex above the other. It has nothing to do with how a person will turn out in life. I think it's time we start removing such backward thinking from our minds. A child is a child, whether boy or girl.

Dian Oktari said...

talking about stupid mentality of nigerian....sorry to says so...thats the fact. they have not only change their mind,but they have to change their whole brain!

My Passion, my focus, the change that I want to see in the world - is my propellent factor.

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