"What wrong with yuh?" Yuh iza girl or wha?" For some strange reason, as Sasha said the words to her 6-year-old son, her mind flickered back to her beloved father as he belted out a sermon from the podium of his small church.
It was small back then, just a tent and some rented chairs, not the mega structure it would become. Sasha was perhaps just about her son's age when, with pure delight on her face, she looked up from the first row with awe and admiration at her father preaching to an enthralled congregation.
"The man is the head of the house!" Sasha, felt her mother, on whose lap she was sitting, take a sharp breath. What Sasha did not know, and never found out, was how uncomfortable her mother was with this biblical edict.
Coming from a good Christian background, Sasha's mother tried to 'obey' the teachings of the bible, but to her it sounded sexist and counter to everything she had learned in school. But her days of reading about Gloria Steinem and the woman's movement in America were long passed, so she relaxed once more.
She was now the perfect wife and mother. This was how Sasha knew her. In fact Sasha would readily describe her childhood this way as well, since seeing her mother and father in traditional husband and wife roles, was all she knew. Her mother cooked, cleaned and took care of her and her brother – a full- time housewife; her every need taken care of by the provider, her father, who went to work and did whatever he did, providing for his family; their roles distinct, never crossing paths.
"Only girls cry." Back to the present, as Sasha said it to her son, she knew why her father had popped into her head earlier. The situation was familiar to her and he had said these exact words to her brother when they were kids.
She and her brother were at play, and in a fit of rage the very young Sasha bit him.. But rather than be punished or at least admonished for her violent act against her younger sibling, her father instead revealed a life lesson to Sasha and her brother.
"Boys never hit girls."
Her father's words would haunt her brother his entire childhood as Sasha used them to full effect, bullying her brother every chance she had, even using physical violence against him, since in their house gender rules would never be broken. Sasha's brother, aware that he wasn't allowed to even cry, suffered silently.
Silence was the mood inside the car later that evening as well as Sasha, her husband Michael, and their son made their way back home from the park. That would not last.
Michael had been trying to ignore, to overlook, but he couldn't anymore, he had to find out.
"How did you get that bruise on your head son?" As Michael asked, the boy broke down and started to cry, telling his father about the little girl who pushed him down.
This upset Michael but what made him even angrier was Sasha's reply to their son's tear filled ramblings about the bully of a young girl.
"Don' be baby or else."
Michael's brow furrowed in confusion at the words, and he took his eyes off the road momentarily to look Sasha's way.
A long. pregnant pause ensued, finally broken by their son's pitiful words.
"Mummy hit me."
"What?!" Michael cried out as he pulled the car to the side of the road.
Sasha was herself upset and turned around to let her emotions loose on her son.
"And as soon as we get home you're gonna get some more. Tell tale on mummy? Do you feel daddy can do something about it? He dare not…Otherwise Grandpa would take away his job and where would he be then"
As she said the last words, Sasha turned back to face Michael, whose eyes fell as she reminded him of his reality.
Sasha was however not finished with humiliating Michael.
"You see, if he was a real man, he wouldn't have to depend on my father's generosity. He would be able to take care of his family like a REAL MAN SHOULD"
A tear formed in Michael's eye as he remembered his own childhood, but rather than feel any compassion for the effect her words were having on her husband, Sasha was instead spurred on. This is exactly how it was with her younger brother.
"A real man brings his wife flowers and candy for special occasions."
Michael got out the car to walk away, but Sasha did as well, all pretence that her words were for her son gone now. She was in full attack mode and Michael was in her cross hairs.
"A real man would know how to please his wife in bed!"
She had shouted it at the top of her lungs, so loud that the people who were standing on the main road waiting for transport heard.
A gasp, a snicker and even a guffaw followed. Each one seemed to fuel Michael's steps towards his petite wife.
His eyes burning red, his fists clenched, Michael stood before her a good foot taller than Sasha.
A deep breath exhaled, he opened his palm to reveal the car keys. He held them out for her to take.
He dropped the keys in her hands and turned to walk away but Sasha was not finished and lunged at him with the same keys cutting him across his face. He fell onto his back as he stumbled and she fell on him.
Backdropped by their son's wails, Sasha continued to hit and scratch Michael who all the while was trying to hold her off, for fear of breaking the golden rule of not hitting women. But when Sasha bit him on his chest, Michael was unable to control himself and tossed her off of him like a rag doll. Rushing over to her, he held her tight against the ground, trying to control her.
By that time a small crowd surrounded them which alerted a passing police vehicle. The officers got out and cleared a path through the crowd just in time to see the huge figure of Michael on top of the light framed Sasha.
The police later arrested and charged Michael for domestic abuse.
Abuse is not the exclusive domain of males, but throughout most of human existence the male was dominant, making male abuse more likely. Some gender parity has taken place since the last century or so increasing the ability for women to abuse their male counterparts. It is also from this historical context where RIGID GENDER ROLES find their roots. Religion and Tradition often 'encourage' inflexibility in the roles men and women have in a relationship. This rigidity often clash with the realities of the modern family, where roles have to be more fluid. Women work outside the home; men take care of kids and do housework. Male abusers of this type often expect women to stay at home to serve them. They see women as inferior to men, not as bright as; and unable to be a whole person without a relationship. Female abusers of this type expect their man to provide for their every need. They often shift the responsibility for their well-being onto their partners, sometimes heckling them for not being 'a real man' if the men show any weakness or emotion. Wanting to feel like a man or a woman in a relationship is understandable and healthy. Having little or no flexibility when it comes to the fluidity of those roles is often not.
Timothy Christopher P Nokio is the Author of A Man's Guide to Good Cheating…What Most Men want to Know…But What ALL Women Should Know and he can be contacted on FaceBook at Timothy Christopher P Nokio or at Fan Page Timothy Christopher P Nokio.