What has gender got to do with Ebele and Bianca’s show of shame?

By Sandra Ijeoma Okoye

While war and the military have been recognized as being male-dominated, public fight cannot be said to be so as both genders usually engage in it. Therefore, fights between two females are rarely seen through a gender lens, compared to a fight between a female and a male. You might have wondered, “Why this line of thinking?”

This argument, no doubt, became compelling as someone I will not mention his name in this context, in reaction to the drama that ensued between the wife of the former governor of Anambra State, Mrs. Ebelechukwu Obiano and wife of late Chief Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu, Mrs. Bianca Ojukwu said they engaged in the public shame because they are women. I was utterly confused with his view as it seems difficult to reconcile the fact that both women engaged in the feud because they are women. If I may ask, what has gender got to do with the fight that undoubtedly drew people’s attention away from the successes recorded by former Governor Willie Obiano? Without any iota of exaggeration, it was an embarrassment that might had made Ojukwu to turn in his grave.

As if that was not enough, another reviewer of the fight who came across as a misogynist mockingly made reference to a play, “Our Wives Have Gone Mad” written by Joseph Ochie. For the sake of clarity, the play is a story of Wole, a husband of three women, Ojuola, Obidia, Amina, who returns home to be told by his servant Saeed that a young man, campaigning for the entrenchment of gender equality in their male-dominated society of Iloma, came to sensitize his wives.

The servant further tells him that the young scholar left a message for Wole with an instruction that, as everybody is expected to gather, Wole must allow his wives to come to the village square to discuss the fate of women as it relates to that of their male counterparts. Wole goes to the square with the hope of opposing the move for gender equality like his fellow men, but for reason unknown to no one, changes his mind and then supports the struggle for gender equality.

As providence would have it, he becomes the only qualified man to head the newly created council, which the Federal Government, according to the young man, promises to give people of Iloma if they should allow women to participate in the political system of the enclave. Wole tentatively, and in order to get power, accepts the proposed equality with the hope of suppressing his women at home as their culture dictates. Wole is wrong, as the eyes of his wives and the entire village women open like the eyes of Eve after she had eaten and given the forbidden fruit to her husband. Wole regrets his decision as his wives embrace Western culture, which sets them at liberty at the expense of their being at the beck and call of their husbands. The village women together rejoice in a triumphant ululation in the aftermath of that social reorganization to the disappointment of their husbands.

It is expedient to say at this juncture that as at the time of putting these thoughts into words that the widow of the late Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu, Bianca, has said that former First Lady of Anambra State, Ebele Obiano, was “clearly intoxicated” when the latter verbally attacked her at the inauguration of Prof. Chukwuma Soludo as governor of the state on Thursday.

Bianca was reported to have made this known in a statement on Friday, explaining that she slapped Ebele because she attempted to remove her (Bianca’s) head tie, an act she considered “a sacrilege to a titled matriarch such as myself in Igbo culture”.

“What struck me through the whole episode was the fact that she was clearly intoxicated. I was stunned by the stench of whisky in her breath at such an early hour of the day,” Bianca noted.

Against the foregoing backdrop, it is expedient to ask men who are laboring to stereotype women as cantankerous and shameless being if some men have not reacted in the foregoing manner at one open forum or the other. For instance, Nigerians had from one political dispensation to the other, for the umpteenth times, witnessed lawmakers fight in the hallow chambers without attracting sexist comment from anyone.

For instance, in 2010, a fight broke out in the Nigerian House of Representatives with a number of lawmakers sustaining injuries including a broken hand. Eleven members were then suspended indefinitely for alleged breach of the Legislative House Act.

The cause of the fight was traced to an alleged corruption scam levelled against the Speaker of the house, Dimeji Bankole, involving about 2.3 billion naira, or 12 million euros.

The House of Representatives at the time had been in recess and, shortly before it resumed, a group of lawmakers calling themselves “the Progressives” gave the Speaker two weeks to resign.

Upon the house’s resumption, all of the Progressives, led by Dino Melaye, were suspended indefinitely and ordered to leave the house. They refused.

Dispassionately looking at the forgoing scenarios, it is expedient to ask, “Was any woman involved as a major player? No!” The truth is that some men relish in stereotyping the women folk for no reason. If not for stereotype, what has being a woman got to do with the public shame exhibited at Awka during the inauguration of Prof. Charles Chukwuma Soludo as the governor of Anambra State? So, Nigeria has advanced to the stage where public show of shame is unashamedly exhibited by women!

Ostensibly to pooh-pooh the widely held view that women are cantankerous or rather troublesome, as some men are trying to argue based on the fight between Obiano’s wife and Ojukwu’s wife, It is germane to make reference to the literary work of Savala Nolan, an author and expert on gender issue who wrote, in a report she titled, “What Society Gets Wrong About the ‘Angry Black Woman’s Stereotype”. She wrote, “Close your eyes and picture an angry Black woman. It only took an instant to visualize her, right? The image is ready-made: one hand on her hip, one finger pointed in your face, head and neck swiveling. You can probably hear her Black English. She probably strikes you as intimidating. She’s overly sensitive and mannish. She’s easy to piss off and difficult to calm down. She’s aggressive and irrational, too loud and too much.

“She’s also not real. Let me repeat: The image of the angry Black woman (ABW) that surfaced so easily in your mind is as fake as a fairy tale. She’s imaginary, but she’s by no means an accident. She — the trope — is meant to control and undermine Black women, to punish us when we express even slight and reasonable indignation, pain, or irritation (let alone rage), and to protect a status quo in which Black women and girls are often treated as interchangeable, irrational problems instead of human beings with very reasonable complaints”.

Be that as it may, I am in this piece urging Nigerians, particularly the menfolk to refrain from seeing anything that does not go down portray Nigeria in good light as the collective handiwork of women. Let’s say any gender can misbehave at any point in time; irrespective of his or her status. If not for anything, down trodden Nigerians were able to have the basis to argue that a governor can bicker with his wife, and even fight with children separating them. It equally shows that a governor’s wife can sip glass of whisky to the extent of getting soaked, and get frontally hugged by anyone under the pretense of making peace. To wrap up my view, permit me to ask again, “What has being a woman got to do with Ebele Obiano’s And Bianca’s Show of Shame?

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