A heavily pregnant Nigerian athlete, Aminat Idrees, has won Taekwondo gold medal following her victory at the ongoing National Sports Festival in Benin City tagged Edo 2020.
In relation to the development, Nigerians have had mixed reactions that should have us asking, “For a people who deeply assert that women have nurturing on lock, how come we don’t seem to trust them when they make decisions about their bodies, in pregnancy or otherwise?” The answer is important for various reasons.
26-year-old Aminat Idrees, who is 8 months pregnant won in the Mixed Poomsae Taekwondo category. The mother-to-be said in an interview with CNN that she had been training before she got pregnant, and pregnancy made no difference. Rightly so.
“Taekwondo has two branches,” she said while explaining why the decision she made did not endanger her pregnancy, “the combat sport and Poomsae – which is a form of exercise, just displaying hand and leg technique in Taekwondo.”
That she needed to explain her decision, which the organising committee also buttressed by mentioning that Aminat Idrees was certified and cleared to participate, is a confirmation of a known fact that is often dismissed as a hysterical untruth. It is that women are constantly policed. Often in ways men never have to experience.
From the way women speak, to how they dress and even how they carry their bodies through the various phases of life.
Shouldn’t it be enough that she knows what is best for her and her baby if indeed we trust women to deliver on the gender roles being constantly imposed on them by an unforgiving patriarchal society?
It is not enough however, because patriarchy isn’t about a necessary delineations of society for things most suited to different human groups. It is about upholding male dominance and part of that involves ensuring that men have a say over every inch of the lives of women and other marginalised groups.
It is not enough to say a woman’s place is in the kitchen and the other room. Also, it is not enough to say women must be decorous – prefect and untouched and saintly. The power of dominance is not complete until every decision made by a woman is duly scrutinised and approved by the male gaze.
All of these begs the question, “do we trust women to handle their ‘womanly duties’ or not?” Because if the answer is no, then demolishing the patriarchy is ever more necessary, so women can choose to ditch responsibilities that will box them in and fly with the wind, in much the same way men can, without suffering the vicious corrective blows of the patriarchy.