don't roger that

don't roger that
image by dall.e 2

For legal reasons, let’s call him Roger. “Start teaching your daughters that raising a family is WAYYY more fulfilling,” wrote Roger, “rewarding and valuable than slaving away your life behind a desk…”. This was his comment on a LinkedIn post in which one woman detailed how her pregnancy was affecting her ability to work. In that post’s caption, she calls for a better examination of “the cruel standards we have subjected women to” – a line which rubbed Roger the wrong way because he used it in question form as his comment’s opening statement. I scoffed when I first read Roger’s views and I will tell you why. Before that, let me explain why this particular comment caught my eye… I was looking for it.

The moment I began reading this young woman’s post, I knew almost immediately that there would be at least one person who would disagree. It is common. Natural. Even encouraged. I am very much against collective thinking, so I enjoy engaging in debate about the very fundamental issues affecting us all. Women’s health matters indeed affect us all because, in one way or another, we all come into being through women’s bodies. I understand that this statement will become increasingly untrue with the advancement of technology, yet in the meantime, we cannot deny the disproportionate role that women play in procreation. This is perhaps why and how in many societies (and I am tempted to say all) women are often the primary caretakers of children. I can assert this as a fact at least in my own tribal community. Even before industrialization, that is, when going to “work” and offices and compartments were introduced, it felt as if women were still left behind. When trains, cars, and aeroplanes came into the scene, women were left behind. When formal schooling became a thing, young girls were left behind. But… let us look at these notions more closely. Is it really accurate to say that not being able to enrol in formal education or to stir a wheel in a motor metal box is being left behind? In comparison to what exactly is this race being ran? Does being left at home to care for young children equate to being the lesser of the partners in a house? Certainly not.

There is a great responsibility and pride in being the chief moulder of a little human’s character and being. It is without a doubt one of the most important tasks one can commit to, that is, to shape the reality within which a young person grows while keeping in one’s mind that the little one will not always be young. It is also not a simple task, yet millions of women are told that being released from the expectations of child-rearing is in some sense… f r e e i n g. How?

Unless I missed the memo when this new wave of feminism began, I believe that true women’s freedom comes with letting women make choices that they deem to be best for themselves. I, on my good days, hope to become a mother. When asked by one of my friends what I would do after completing my university studies, I told her I wanted to get married and have kids. She laughed and replied, “Seriously, what do you really want to do?”


It is my own choosing that my principal role on this earth, within the handful of years I have left, will be caring for children, not just my own. Because child rearing is not (and should not be) a one-party activity. It is a social effort in which everyone has to chip in. In the context of my potential future family, I choose to chip in about, say, fifty-five per cent, and I expect my future husband to chip in the rest. Nevertheless, that is entirely up to him to hold his end of the bargain on top of probably enjoying his male bonus from having kids in ways that I may not be able to relate to. In this day and age of Alpha males and Andrew Tates, I am simply not guaranteed this. No matter how long I daydream of a man that will wake up in the middle of the night to give the baby a warm bottle of milk as I catch some sleep, a man who will adjust his schedule in order to help with rocking the baby to sleep after I breastfeed her, a man that can wipe her butt after she poops, and remembers to throw her clothes in the washing machine… No matter how much I want to believe this man exists, a part of me still doubts whether these expectations are realistic. The other part of me, the more sensible one, knows that these men exist… they are rare… but still present. Yet who do we have to blame for our present scarcity of strong men, that is, men that have comprehended how equally precieux a father’s role is in a child’s life as that of a mother?

I hate when people blame “society” because that is too abstract of a villain. Too intangible to throw fists at and yell out my frustrations with our current means of child-rearing. So perhaps we can blame our ancestors who collectively decided that being a man meant doing “manly” things that did not involve quieting a baby or taking her for a walk. My only question is this, what was the logic behind this decision? How is it possible that all these varying communities from different parts of the world, who at a time, had no means for expeditious communication, how did all of them decide that child-rearing was primarily women’s role? My assumption is that it was simply biological. A child grows in a woman’s womb, comes out through a woman’s vagina, sucks on a woman’s breasts, and often says “Mama” or some version of it as her first words. So naturally, everything that has to do with child-rearing has to be the mother’s job? Did we agree to this reasoning? Certainly not. If we did, then why would we bring up the issue of gender equality in rearing responsibilities? Is it possible that some of us were dissatisfied with only child-rearing? Is it possible that like famous men of the past who had the ability to indulge in natural philosophy, biology, art, mathematics, and astronomy, women too, want the same freedom to explore other interests outside of singing lullabies, warming milk bottles, and washing diapers and the precious feet of “breadwinners” coming back home from their day’s work? Is it possible that for some of us, raising a family is not the most fulfilling, rewarding, and valuable way to spend our time? If God created men to be able to fulfil different purposes, how is it that he created an entire gender just to fulfil one duty: to raise a family?

What bothers me about this kind of thinking, the one that is possibly behind Roger’s comment, is not that it is sexist (it is). Rather, it annoys me mainly because it is simply a weak argument. It is his call to start teaching (I think he means indoctrinating), young girls, what should feel fulfilling to them. No one taught me that writing should feel good, but I discovered it through my own curiosity. I never needed someone to explain to me that Haagen Dazs’ strawberry cheesecake is undoubtedly the best ice-cream flavour in the world, instead, I found this rock-hard fact after raking through tens of ice-cream buckets in the past twenty-some years of my life. Roger’s, dare I say, foolish, argument is completely against the principle of self-activity that has enriched my life and that of many successful women. The very principle that underlies modern education systems. Children, and therefore humans, thrive when they can decide for themselves what it is that empowers them to be self-respecting individuals in whatever society they belong to. And, to further tear Roger’s absurd narrative, is it just little girls who need to be “taught” what their purpose is? Is there something that we need to teach little boys, or are they born scient in all that entails being a man? Certainly not. My experience tells me otherwise. Yet for men like Roger, women are somehow neither intelligent nor cognizant enough, to figure out their role in the world unless they are passed on a piece of advice that their mothers, grandmothers, and aunts were told by men: that a woman’s life is only as precious as her ability to raise a perfect little family.