By Rebecca Mulungi and Maxine Kampire
Norah Kizito, a lady in her 40s, is the marketing manager at one of the big apartments in Kampala. However, despite the
career success, her marriage has had to suffer.
After achieving all she had, she needed someone to spend her life with. What she had thought of as a fairy tale, turned sour after he started demanding more than she could give. The husband expected her to perform all her duties as a wife. He started wondering why she had hired a maid.
“I felt like I had signed up for a nannies job, looking after a grown up man,” she laments. After the possibility of becoming astay- at-home mother was not plausible, the constant clashes with her husband led to a separation. Upon hearing Kizito’s story, the first thing that will come to many a man, is to apportion the blame on the emancipation movement. Some men think that the society is void of submissive women because they have all brought into the propaganda of emancipation. So, it is possible for a woman to have a delicate balance of emancipation and submission?
Jackie Asiimwe, a woman activist, believes that emancipation is not all about having a powerful job and being successful. She says an emancipated woman is one who knows her worth. Asiimwe says the whole concept of emancipation is being misunderstood and looked at as something negative and yet it is not.
Alex Otim disagrees with the activists’ view, adding that there is more to emancipation than the simple explanation. He says it is about giving women more power and therefore an emancipated woman cannot be submissive.
“Emancipation is getting power and submission is giving the power up. Women cannot have it both ways,” he says. That is why there is growing discontent and argument among men for the old-fashioned view that a woman’s place is in the kitchen. However, Asiimwe explains that men have misunderstood submission, the way women have misunderstood emancipation.
“People think submission is having no say in a marriage yet that is subjugation. Some societies want to put women back to subjugation and that is why they keep chorusing things expected of women. Submission, on the other hand, is the recognition of authority,” Asiimwe explains. She adds that people who want to have their own way of doing things, just have to work it out with their husbands and find what works for both of them. Asiimwe sees every relationship as a unique case and so what one man looks at as submission, the other sees it differently. For example, some men do not mind doing their own laundry, while the outsides onlookers look at the wife as rebellious.
However, Samuel Kiyingi, a lawyer believes that there are some duties of a woman, instilled by culture which cannot be avoided and have to be done. “When a woman gets married, she will have to adhere to these rules” argues Kiyingi. He thinks that women emancipation and submissiveness can co-exist. He opines that people have actually misunderstood the women emancipation concept, which they take up irrespective of the surrounding.
“I believe that a woman can be a boss at work and earn a lot, but come back home and perform her wifely duties.” He notes
that maintaining that it does not make women less emancipated. Kiyingi advises men to accept change and embrace women’s role by agreeing to share responsibilities. Simon Kasirye thinks women are sometimes to blame for these misconceptions. “The problem is with women, who bring all their emancipation home and try to control the husband or try to rival him as the head of the family,” he says.
Kasirye also believes that there should be a balance in the marriage: “When your wife is tired, you can help her with some of the work, but not that you do it as she sits. It should be a partnership,” he emphasizes.
Fiona Nuwera believes that God gave men natural leadership. Although a woman is successful outside the home, the man has the power over her in the family. Women know it. The problem is with men and their mentality. “Men also have to liberate their minds and stop expecting too much. There must be a balance,” she says.
Lois Ochieng, a counseling psychologist at Healing Talk Counseling Services, also reasons that everybody on this earth submits and there is nothing wrong with submission. “It will be next to impossible if a man loves his wife as he loves his own body and the wife fails to submit to him,” she says. This means that men too have an obligation to love their wives and the submission will follow naturally. Besides, when a woman submits, it does not mean that she is stupid, less of a human being or inferior to man.