Day 403: The Great Gender Debate

By lara,

Yesterday, around noon, Eunice wandered into our apartment as we all sat around trying to work and talking instead.

She came to tell us we were invited to a lunch that we must attend that started in 5 minutes. She then mentioned that two new people were in town from the U.S. and that they would be in our apartment in less than 2 minutes, and could we please take care of them for the afternoon?

Of course, the 5 minutes before lunch became closer to an hour, as all work went on hold to take care of the new Americans. It turned out, of course, that Claire had been carrying on a lengthy email relationship with one of them, and that these recent college graduates were extremely nice and a wonderful dose of home.

We had a lively lunch, followed by an even livelier run as the kids became extra excited and nice and cute for the new wazungus. This is another development of new blood that is always welcome: the kids get cuter, though definitely more rambunctious.

I sat out on the run, but made popcorn to encourage the runners, and came home to news that we were also invited to an obligatory dinner. This was no problem at all, as our house is currently without food and because the dinner crew consisted solely of the “whited so invited” folks at Tumaini, and the most hip of the elders who work here, which includes Manager, Driver and Secretary (names obscured to protect the not-so-innocent).

After Lauren (our recent visitor from Nor-Cal) scared some of the new Americans with her encyclopedic knowledge of astrology, and her entirely Californian speech peppered with “dude” and “whack,” we entered into the age-old debate of who does more work: men or women.

The women started talking, but quickly realized we were all in agreement, and so sat back to watch the men prove our point for us.

Driver maintained it was men. He also maintained that the legends in Kenya of the abuses men suffered when women were in control hundreds of years ago were absolutely true, and that it was hard to be a man. He said women were the weaker sex, but could not quite explain why if this was true, it was always the women doing the harder work. According to him, the men’s jobs here are:

1. Feeding cows with the grasses women carry to the barns in 200 pound loads on their backs
2. Watching out for women
3. Talking to other men
4. Earning money. Even if your wife earns more than you, you are in charge of finances.
5. Security. This means that you must go to bed earlier than women so you are less tired. This allows you to wake up in the night if there are sounds in the house. It is also essential that you sleep in in the morning, so that you are rested enough should you ever have to get up in the night to protect the home.
6. Telling the woman if the tea is boiling over, or if the baby is crying.

He then recounted for us the time last summer that he helped his wife make dinner.

We women had a field day, he told me to stop making “you’re ridiculous” faces at him, and Manager and Secretary (both women) talked him into so many corners he was obliged to tell us that he was better off than his father. In that he knew how to make his own tea.

We were all quite proud of him. But quite grateful, nonetheless, for the wonderful driving services he does offer us. Without him, we would be lost and perhaps still in Nairobi.

1 comment:

Radioactive Jam said...

I've been in similar "men or women" debates, and after a while learned to not prove womens' points for them. I'm still waiting for the other men of the realm - "mendom" - to figure out that not insignificant bit of behavior; most guys just don't get it.
We might be hopeless.

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