On how to treat women 

My good friend roughseas wrote this post about women in the news. Since I have been writing about Africa or my ancestors, I think this might be relevant.  It is from Luo customs and practices by Shadrack Malo. He writes about division of labour thus

The man builds and establishes a home. He puts up the fences. He constructs the houses, tends the cattle, makes the ropes for tying cows and goats. He milks the cows and goes after cattle raiders.

The woman cooks, plasters the house and floor, keeps the house clean, churns the milk, collects firewood and fetches water.

In cooking, a woman serves the food anyway she wants. The man eats whatever he is served.

The woman has exclusive rights over the house. Matters in the home or homestead are in the hands of the woman. There is nothing a man can do without consulting his wife. 

Things have not been like this for a while now. As far as I can tell, the rain started beating us when the white man came to civilize the African! What a shame. 


About makagutu

As Onyango Makagutu I am Kenyan, as far as I am a man, I am a citizen of the world

39 thoughts on “On how to treat women 

  1. Ubi Dubium says:

    “…the rain started beating us”

    That’s a new idiom for me! Do you know where it comes from?

    Liked by 1 person

  2. In what ways did the marriage come to be? You have me curious as to the ways of courting.

    Liked by 1 person

    • makagutu says:

      It was an elaborate affair.
      A son who felt he was ready for marriage asked for permission from the parents.
      A go between was appointed. This could be an aunt.
      If for example the boy had identified a girl, the go between investigated to discover information about the girl’s family. The girl also had a go between.
      Initial interviews were arranged by the go betweens.
      The boy proposed. If proposal was accepted by the girl, the go between informed her parents. Her parents then asked to meet the man which was a sign they had no objection. Some gifts exchanged hands.
      A date was agreed on when the girl would be taken from her home. When this was done, she would stay for 2 or 3 days then go back home.
      The marriage was confirmed at which point bride-wealth would begin to be sent.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. This marital division of labor worked. Each had their assigned roles and duties. Life was simpler back then, and it’s way too complex now.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I’m going to cook a chicken for supper, somewhere along the line that all got scrambled for I and my wife.


  5. Scottie says:

    Grand! I find this very progressive. I have known couples not this progressive right here in Florida in this age. Hugs

    Liked by 1 person

  6. atheistsmeow says:

    The more I read, the more outraged I feel about this white xian bs ruining so many societies, world wide!
    Its beyond shameful!

    Liked by 2 people

  7. This all sounds great to me except the milking the cows bit. I’d have to have the wife do that. I tried to milk a cow once as a kid and got kicked in the face because, as I later learned, it wasn’t a cow I was trying to milk but a bull. Live ‘n learn.

    Liked by 5 people

  8. Do/did the Luo do any crops? And who took care of the children?


  9. It’s interesting people don’t much like talking about issues dealing with women. I wonder what that says? Unimportant, or they might get it wrong?

    Anyway my view this an interesting division. A bit rigis, I’m all for flexibility in relationships. Rigidity and assigned roles tends to reinforce gender stereotypes which in turn reinforces patriarchy ergo, not good for women. But as others have said, that was then and for many of us life is far different. So long as I don’t have to go shopping. That’s my one rigid rule.

    Liked by 1 person

    • makagutu says:

      Very interesting way of looking at it.
      Hard question you ask up there. I think maybe fear to be wrong or ignorance.
      I think I am flexible


      • Interestingly, there is an article in the Guardian by Owen Jones looking at the violence report and saying men need to counteract it and speak out. But the comments are amazing. Total denial of the problem. And so many comments have been removed by a moderator. Clearly Guardian readers have no issues arguing about women/sexism/misogyny. And just dismissing rape, assault, DV, child abuse, murder. Which is why we have a problem when people just dismiss it or talk about the men, because, they are more important after all.


        • makagutu says:

          That’s a shame but does seem to be a trend in human affairs.
          I see the same happen when a minority raises an issue, the rest go what about us!


          • Yes. It’s a classic way to dismiss minority groups of whatever type. What about the men, what about white lives matter, what about rich people living in suburbia struggling to fund their lifestyle while funding illegal immigrant dimestic staff etc etc.

            Yet another article bemoans the lack of funding for refuges in the UK and points out violence against women is increasing while it is decreasing against men. We are talking about violence against half the population and nobody cares.


          • makagutu says:

            You and I will agree that some people care. You care. I do and many others that we know. We are just not big enough to make a big impact. Here I recall an anonymous story of a person who sought to change the world and realised too late that the only place they could be guaranteed of success is starting with themselves. If we change both in speech and deed, we are likely to influence others. It is slow. And painful. But we will have done our part.

            Liked by 2 people

  10. Swarn Gill says:

    Good example mak. Of course it’s best, when in a relationship, that responsibilities are shared, and your example is certainly that. However, as RS says above rigidity can sometimes be dangerous, because when we are pegged into certain roles we of course lose a certain bit of freedom, but it also pre-suppose that one gender is only good at one role and not the other. They might be good at both, a man might be more capable running the household, and the woman out working. Having assigned roles also makes it easy for a society to suddenly devalue that role. Sometimes these things can even happen inorganically I imagine. For instance in a capitalist society where money is valued over other things, a woman who stays at home to watch the children automatically has less value because she makes none. How often now and in the past have we heard the phrase “just a housewife”? Hell even I devalued myself this summer. I am fortunate as a professor to have the summer off, and so I got to stay home and watch my son full time. I loved it, but when people asked me what I did during the summer I would catch myself saying “Oh I just stayed home and took care of my son.” Just!? It was effort and it was important, and I loved it! So I think a lot of time it’s less about what roles are assigned to a gender, but the value we place on them in society. And how we view someone who doesn’t want that role and wants to take a different role. In a relationship as long as the two people are happy not playing traditional roles, that should be fine and we shouldn’t think any less of either of them.


    • makagutu says:

      Hi SG!
      While I agree that rigidity may make promote stereotypes, in this particular scenario I don’t see how that could have been possible. For example, the issue of establishing a home. The woman had no land where she was married. She only acquired land given her by the husband. It made sense that the husband established the home. I am not blind to the question of why were they not given land at their places of birth? That is one question I would like to have an answer to.
      The second point of devaluing someone or some work could also not arise. Each of the duties seems to me to have been essential to the proper functioning of the home. If any was neglected, we would have a dysfunctional home.

      Liked by 3 people

      • Swarn Gill says:

        I agree with you, and I’m not questioning actually the scenario you provided in terms of equality and the way gender was viewed, only just in a general sense how strictly defining roles can sometimes lead to a harmful situation over the broader stroke of time perhaps. My grandparents had fairly traditional roles, and they were just busy hardworking people and had little time to really worry about issues of gender and I know my grandfather very much valued my grandmother, just as my grandfather very much valued her. In general we tend to be happy in our jobs when we feel we are valued, and so even in more traditional relationship roles, I think we can find happiness when we feel that our partner and society values that role.

        In a sense valuing the role, and not the gender that does it is the key. Taking care of children is an important role, we should value it, it shouldn’t matter who the primary caregiver is. To me your example sounds more like that sort of situation where it was “these things have to be done, this is how it’s going to divided and all of the things have equal value”.

        Liked by 1 person

  11. shelldigger says:

    For a long time I have felt that defining gender roles is B.S. A good couple should be able to share the work however it needs to get done. A woman should no more shy away from “guy stuff” anymore than a guy should shy away from “girl stuff’.

    Many times I’ve heard redneck men proclaim “They ain’t doing any wimmens work” I believe any guy who fears his masculinity is at risk for doing “wimmens work” has already lost. They are just too stupid to see that.

    If a guys masculinity is in danger from doing some laundry or the dishes, that masculinity was feeble at best, to begin with.

    Liked by 3 people

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