Over the weekend, I stumbled upon an interesting read from a Kenyan magazine that wondered if women were the new men.

In the article, Victor Okwaro painted an over-exaggerated picture of a hard-charging, aggressive, financially savvy, well-educated woman that didn’t need a man for anything outside of the bedroom. It seems the “independent black women” trope has spread all the way to the Motherland and some men throughout the diaspora are having issues with women stepping up and taking on roles traditionally set aside for men.

Okwaro writes:

This is a new era…It’s the era of the woman in charge. The aggressive, man eating woman who takes no prisoners. The woman on top.

It may seem exaggerated but look around you. It won’t take you long to spot the ladies that I’m talking about-confident, tough, smart, aggressive, successful, in managerial positions, directors on multi-national boards, marketing or brand managers, making lots more money than men, including their own husbands. It’s now common place to find the wife earning two or three times more than her husband. The power base has shifted, and now its common place to find the man having no choice but to accept his position as ceremonial ‘head of the house’. 

We see these powerful women everywhere; in traffic driving the biggest and flashiest SUV’s you could imagine. Oh, and if you’re expecting her to give way on the road you have another thing coming. She drives just as rough as the matatu drivers, maybe worse. She has learnt well, too well actually. She has road rage, and when she throws out obscene hand gestures and shouts out invectives in traffic, you better move out of her way, or experience the wrath of a woman who doesn’t give a (bleep)…

This goes on for three pages.

Though the article comes off as pretty hyperbolic, it mirrors many of the conversations I’ve had with men and women over the past year.

As a daughter of the post-civil rights/feminism movements, I don’t particularly subscribe to strict gender roles. In relationships, I feel each person has to find their place in the partnership and do what works best for them.

For example, while I may cook a meal, that doesn’t mean I will also be responsible for all of the housework or tend to my (future) husband’s every whim while he sits and watches the game. After all, I want to see the game too. My ideal relationship is a partnership in which we both pull our weight and support each other.

Like me, many millennial women want to be on a team, not be dictated to. But some of our male counterparts aren’t feeling it. They want to be the head, be in charge, and stick closely to the rigid gender roles of our grandparents’ era because it makes them feel, well, manly.

But is this necessary?

Do we need to continue traditional gender roles ensure that relationships run smoothly or are they merely antiquated ideas we fall back on in order to assuage the male ego (or use to our advantage as women)?

Speak on it Clutchettes and Gents! 

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