New babies are the biggest threat to the planet, so some unified system is necessary for controlling them. Our faith in humans using their reason to handle this is turning out badly and shaming them isn’t working anymore. It’s time to hand it over to science. Time has come to definitively outsource the entire child-bearing value chain to tubes and conical flasks.
It would be Elon Musk’s new pasttime, after he finalizes our relocation to Mars. Jeff Bezos would make sure newborns are delivered via Go just before those who made the order return from work. Being the future of choice, these human packages will come with a pre-programmed feature that gives the baby options to accept the receiver as a parent or not. Pfizer and GSK will sort out the technicalities of matching eggs with heads, and we will cheer to it as human progress.
For now, our sign of human progress is that we have passed the stage of appreciating anything for its sake, without failing to assess it through the lens of uncovering a potentially offended other. The more public you are, the stricter the scrutiny, and the broader the reverberation. So Anthony Joshua’s 2017 interview with British magazine, GQ, was flagged recently for the boxer’s apparent double standard on parenting for males and females. Joshua, who relates deeply with his Nigerian roots, explains that he is stricter with his niece because “one day you will be someone’s wife, you have to learn family morals”.
It was, to the judges of the internet, a testament to misogyny. There are expositions on why his misogyny should not have come as a surprise. By glossing over everything his little niece could possibly be just to highlight her destiny as a wife, the heavyweight puncher boxed the poor lass into a social expectation that takes away her agency and independence to determine her future, it has been said. He has, by consequence, stripped her of humanity, rendering her as just another starter kit with a shelf-life for some man’s family-making intentions, if and when he wants.
This is now misogyny, no longer the typical meaning which describes it as having contempt for or holding prejudices against women. A dislike, hatred or contempt for something literally means not thinking anything good of it and actively standing in the way of any objective goods coming to it. It could have been imaginable at some point in history that wishing a girl to be someone’s wife would be considered an objective good, inasmuch as this “someone” was also trained to be someone’s husband one day, but apparently, this no longer holds. Maybe we need to go back through the feeds on this issue to check if the anger was at Joshua wishing her marriage when she was already headed to some convent. But if that were so, many who carried the matter will have remained focused on BBNaija or continued analyzing events from Rihanna’s thirtieth birthday.
It’s a growing trend with many riding with the band-wagon, but the skewing of words out of their original meanings to express woke rage is not necessarily something people are doing out of error. Conversations around Joshua’s comments have involved persons who access Google and who surely have the ability to differentiate between a grown man’s idea of raising a responsible girl child and some men’s clear aversion for and mistreatment of women for being women. What we have, instead, are conscious efforts to deliberately shame and cancel the minutest differential in the presentation of men and women roles, specifically in associating women to family roles without doing exactly the same for men. It is now officially punishable to express sexist sentiments in Belgium, so the movement is yielding fruit. Keeping the pace and blurring the lines between obvious verbal harassment and behavioural prescriptions, there may come a day when Anthony Joshua would be called in for questioning for comments such as the one on his niece.
You are hereby arrested for wishing this girl to be a wife.
Maybe he could have cut in a word about being strict on his niece so she could occupy Number 10 someday, or perhaps the sin was in saying Joseph, his son, has the freedom to be his own man. However, Joshua’s opinion, when not taken with a mindset enchanted by iconoclastic schemas that obsess about dismantling material essence, should be imbalanced parental morality, but never misogyny.
Women and men can be many things, but only one can bear children. This ability, a unique one consistent through time, was not gained by human genius. Edison did not create it after many failures, neither was it a fallout from one of Marie Curie’s absorbed moments with radioactive dust. Childbearing, child caring (at least for the first six months of exclusive breastfeeding) and the consequent homemaking that comes with both, are not socially constructed roles. They are con-sequential, mandatory accidents, each of which has made ALL of history, from scientific inventions to box office records, possible.
Perhaps the outrage is that Joshua’s comment is a categorical imperative of organized society at its ideal, when mention of a woman as wife means (1) there is marriage between a man and woman, and (2) it is open to children, not (3) a terminable arrangement between two persons for “fun” and company, with contraception oiling the wheel. In the times when Joshua’s family morals matter, everything has its place and essence. What matters isn’t the freedom of man and wife to simultaneously work the mine and the ivory tower, but that a family would be made and that everyone is happy. Happy families mean peaceful society, and in peace we have progress.
Women can be and have been many things, but it has never been less womanly to become wife. Wives do bear children, and have to do the initial caring. A woman who has four children in her lifetime will have spent a minimum of 5 conscious years in child care, 15 months per child, about the same time it takes to acquire first degree in engineering. Yet, no engineer – not even Musk – is as good at their job as women are at caring for their children. And they can still work, earn and travel the world. And in the time when they have seen enough of the world and choose to slow down, they will have well-bred children and bustling grand children, to whom her family values will have been transferred by other wives, for the furtherance of society.
But it could be different, if this arrangement is deemed not to provide maximum freedom and equality for women. Those five years and all the “wife” name-calling that come with them, could – should – be retrieved to add to the years required to match men at the top. In that case, Musk and Bezos and all of Big Corp will take over. They, no more women, will be the architects of history and the moulders of society. What that would mean is that when future generations hear songs like Nico Mbarga’s ‘Sweet Mother’ or Mayorkun emphasizing “your mama born you”, they will shriek at how we managed to be so primitive and cruel to burden women with childbearing, when they cozily arrived earth without stress, thanks to companies which have now come up to accelerate more women on their boards.
While their names go up on walls and begin letterheads, will those future women feel anxious when they choose to make orders, wondering whether the package will say yes or no?
It used to be us saying yes, “be it to me”, and shaping history.