The Poor Treatment of Childless Women in The Nigerian society

By Ozumi Aliu Abdul

(dedicated to a friend and sister who put to bed just last Monday after ten years of marriage.)

Without a mendacious spewing, the comparison in the football parlance where Barcelona and Real Madrid Kingpins, Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo have been dominating the game’s individual topmost accolade (Ballon D’Or) for the best performer yearly would have been a direct replica of the scenario in Mass Communication Department where Dr. Jimoh has been boringly being the recipient of the department’s best lecturer award consecutively for many years now in the male category.
In the case of Lionel Messi and Christiano Ronaldo, they ‘duopolize’ the Ballon D’Or; if Messi doesn’t win it, you are almost sure Ronald will clinch the prize, and the closest any other nominee can come is to play a third fiddle to these two football great; making other football players either the “nearlies” or the spectators of the ward that ordinarily any other player of the round leather game has the equal chance to win.
It is fast becoming so boring to the pundit and religious lovers of the world’s most popular game, with the Award’ berth almost predictable for the following year even on the day it is won. This frustration had seen some of them in bellicosity and monomania craving for Manuel Nuer of Bayern Munichen, who had an excellent outing with the German National Team during the 2014 World Cup to scoop the coveted individual award in order to break the Messi and Ronaldo’s years long hegemony.
But to be frank, no chicanery can favour any other player ahead of these two players (Messi and Ronaldo) for now, because they have set and are still setting the bar so high twinned with the wizardry they bring on to the field of play week in, week out which have relegated  other players to the spectators’ role of the game’s coveted individual award. Simply put, other players either fail or refuse to step up their games to match what the duo brings to the table.
In the case of Dr. Jimoh of Mass Communication, it is a different case scenario in its entirety; he monopolizes the annual best lecturer in the male category of the department without always serious contenders; always giving the nearest contender to him a landslide margin which does not always give a room or chance for manipulation in favour of his closest rival in order to bridge his dominance of the award, like Messi and Ronaldo in the football clime. It is also by every passing year becoming so boring to students who themselves nominate the best lecturer. What a paradox! Whether other male lecturers for this category fail or refuse to step up their games in the lecturing business of the department I don’t know. Please don’t drag me into answering that; I demur my judgement and keep my cards close to my chest.
But my zealot and gamut beliefs about Dr. Jimoh are that, he is a teacher and not a lecturer, an aggressive researcher and a bibliophile. He is such a lecturer whose teaching style (not lecturing) would always send students into frenetic hysteria, forcing them to become  ‘Oliver Twists,’ who always demand for more hours for the delivery of his teachings. Waw! What a seismic change Dr. Jimoh has rang into the psyche of students who always at either  by 55th or 57th  minutes of an hour lecture of  other lectures always murmur ‘time up’ in discontinuation of the lectures.
Dr. Jimoh’s classes are so demystifying and simplifying that he doesn’t need overseas examples as suffices to buttress his points, but rather example within the class or within our immediate environments.
I would like to borrow a salvo from one of his classes, where he taught the arbitrary meanings (signifier) of words and the constructed meanings the (signified), a sub-topic in semiotics as an illustrative angle in this piece.
The word “Woman” arbitrarily and denotatively means a ‘female adult person’ but connotatively and constructively means different thing entirely to different individuals and social group. It is a different stroke for different folks.
Among the young folk, women are chicks, Babes, Geshi, Omoge, Yarinya and so on, with all these constructed definitions of the gender singularly pointing to sexual objectification with the meanings beneath them; deep lying structure according to Avram Noam Chomsky.
Oh woman! So priceless and craftily carved out of the great well defined sculptor with suppleness. Woman so highly placed as a producer by God and with special abilities for reproduction.
Highly calculative reasoning brain for nurturing men and women to greatness, even the wisest, the strongest and wealthiest Kings are woman’s products. The Obamas, the Buharis, the Jonathans the Obasanjos, the Gowons, the Hollandes, the Camerons etc are all women’s products.
The precious gold, the sparkling diamond and even the glittering silver compared to women have no worth. Then what prices can be paid for woman?
The travails of women are often connected to the ignorance of men towards them; we have and are still having women rights activists and feminist who advocate against issues such as rape, battery and molestation, injustice and harmful traditional practice on widows among others.
One issue that has not been well attended to is that of discrimination towards childless women and the treatment meted out to them. Once a woman gets married, the expectation from her family and in-laws is that she conceives after the first few months of marriage. Once that time passes with no sign of pregnancy, begrudging questions begin to spring up, family members begin to get unnecessarily worked up. Before you know it external members of the family begin to pay unwelcome visits, giving their own piece of advice as they come. The marriage that was supposed to be the affair of two people soon become a marriage of the entire extended family and the woman become the centre of attention and discussion.
This event occurs over a given period of time and if a woman last between 18 to 24 months in a marriage without getting pregnant, labels such as “the barren one”, “the bad egg” or  ‘the fruitless tree of the family” are given to her. Insults begin to fly from all direction as her mother in-law reminds her of how productive she was during her child-bearing years.
But, little do they know that firstly, it is possible that the couple might have had a family plan concerning the spacing of childbirth.
Secondly, people often forget that even when a couple have no children, it is possible that the fault might come from the man and not the woman.  And even if the fault is from the woman, is it not God that gives children? Or is it that God made a roll-call for those who wanted to have children and some women chose not to be on the queue?
These women want to have children more than their in-laws could ever understand. There are couples today who have lasted 25 to 30 years without matrimonial kids, but they are still happy because they understand and support each other, and their love is big and strong enough to accommodate adopted kids.
The reality thereof is, instead of chastising these women, they should rather be encouraged, supported and taken care of in every way because if childlessness is “wrong”, discriminating against the childless doesn’t make it any “right” either.     


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