Who wears the pants? This famous question that used to cast aspersions on beta men has been overtaken by events. Ever since the first woman wore pants in the United States to fight for women’s voting rights, it has come to symbolise equal play, a reversal of gender dynamics. Many decades later, Batswana women wearing pants do not warrant a second look and even wearing the proverbial pants is losing its shock value. The modern professional Motswana woman often insists to be on top.
Dr Sethunya Mosime, senior Sociology lecturer at the University of Botswana says submission is greatly misunderstood. “Often time’s submission is rarely talked about because people feel it encourages gender inequality. Once the word submission is uttered people immediately think, tyranny, domineering, abuse and so many other negative things. Submission in the past is different from submission now. The modern woman fears submission because she imagines it’s a chance for her man to walk over her, to squash her ambitions and ideas and opinions. The 21st century is all about women empowerment. She feels that if she isn’t strong then men would take advantage of her. The modern wife feels that the concept of submission may have made sense for their mothers, but not so much now when the gender roles are blurred. Can the modern independent woman be a submissive wife?”
For most Batswana professional woman, the marital vow: “I, (Bride), take thee, (Groom), to be my wedded Husband; to have and to hold from this day forward, for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health; to love, cherish, and to OBEY, till death us do part, according to God’s holy ordinance; and thereto I give thee my troth.” is as perishable as the wedding day food. By the time the marriage ages past the honeymoon period the wedding vow is a distant memory along with the champagne and the cakes that were part of the ceremony. Even Christian professional women are quick to brush off the biblical verse: “Wives obey your husband,” as one of those relics of medieval times which have no place in the modern age.
In society, culturally defined positions and the designated status of men and women often result in the unwillingness to confront the issue of gender inequality. In a typical traditional marriage, the position and status of men and women differ. Back then in a marriage, the wife, as a sign of respect was forced to submit to her husband (although seemingly willingly) in almost every aspect of her life. That implied that she had no power whatsoever, she had to acquire her approval in everything she does. It also implied that the husband, as the authority figure has all the power and could make decisions without consulting her. Any sign of disapproval from the wife could be construed as not being sufficiently submissive. Today, many wonder if submission fits into modern marriages with many women opting to leave out the submission vow when they get married.
Tuduetso Mogale, a 27-year-old statistician in Gaborone is one such woman. The thought of being a submissive wife makes her cringe. She views submission as following whatever her husband decides without question, something that doesn’t sit well with her because she is an opinionated woman. .“I have a dominant personality. I was raised not to be afraid to speak up and not to be quick to back down. Submission is an outdated and irrelevant practice. There are many other women who liken submission to loss of free will.” She says submission is equivalent to being gagged ÔÇô unimaginable in modern society
Emisang Madikwe a Sales Representative at Builders World in Gaborone says submission these days is overrated. “In a typical African marriage, men would demand obedience from their wives because the basic role of the man being the breadwinner gave him that control. Nowadays that is not the case, women are now given equal opportunities in modern African societies, and the roles of both in the family have changed. They both contribute significantly to the running of the home. “He says it will be logically wrong for men to still demand complete obedience from the women folk.