Daughters: the catalyst for women empowerment
There are a lot of changes people go through as parents chiefly attributed to the need to set an example to one’s offspring. Moreover, a parenthood places us on a pedestal and thus sets off a chain reaction to be better human beings. In as much as I would appreciate a set of prospective parents as guinea pigs for this study, I will have to settle for using the internet as a source of data from which i am bound to get unconvincing answers.
“Words are ,of course, the most powerful drug used by mankind” Rudyard Kipling
Is it possible to ascertain the effect of parenthood on gender roles? As a keen reader Biko’s blog, I don’t see any other source for articles that span the time before parenthood and after parenthood. The 355 articles found on the blog as at this writing will form the corpus to be analysed. Similarly, Potentash’s brilliant series: single lady in Nairobi and Owaah’s articles will be used as a control on the assumption that none of the contributors to the series are parents.
It is a woman’s world
Beginning with Potentash’s articles, the gender roles can be described from the top verbs used after both genders and to compare the relative use of the verbs towards each gender.
Men beat, push and chose while women text, smile, remember and explain. Clearly, based on the number of verbs used for each gender women play more roles while men show more aggressive behavior and play supporting roles.
The men in Biko’s articles hear, move, drive and insist as the women coo (like doves?), threaten, sneer, help, beg and approve. Confirming that indeed men play aggressive roles in the two sets of articles from what is assumed are two different writers.
It is worth considering that in as much as Biko hosts various guests on his blog, their effect on the gender roles is subdued by the sheer number of those published by Biko himself. Identifying and taking out guest articles confirmed this thesis.
The Child Effect on Biko’s Articles
Before fatherhood, men could feel, call, talk, sit, drive, laugh, hear and stare while women dictated, brought, adopted and smiled. Clearly, women had more action oriented roles than men who played, to use the euphemism, more selfish roles.
After his daughter’s birth, women in Biko’s articles beamed, insisted, smiled and giggled while men nodded, grew, answered, bought and drove roles that were hitherto women’s. These roles performed by men are more service oriented than before which means women have been empowered by, let’s assume, the birth of his daughter.
A son is born
But this balances out after the birth of his son as women cry and miss even though they still approve and abandon because men look, make, call,carry and buy (at the rate before the daughter was born).
There are no conclusive evidence that these changes are attributable to the births of his daughter and son but absent other events and explanations it is a plausible conclusion. Furthermore and more importantly, there are fewer articles available since his son was born and this might skew the results.
Furthermore, there’s further confirmation of men aggression from Owaahh’s articles in which men play the major roles and women the supporting ones. This can be seen from men committing, attacking , rushing, claiming and fleeing while women barricade, marry, refuse and stop.
Caution is advised in interpretation as context is not very clear from this analysis but it opens up a discussion on the parallels of blogging to real life in that can we expect the men in owaahh’s articles to play more supporting roles as soon as he expects and gets a child. This is left to the imagination!
Finally, a number of Owaahh’s articles are about historical events which paints a grim picture on the roles men have historically played.
“Perhaps the central finding of behavioral economics is that most of us are overconfident when we make predictions.” Nate Silver.
Both writers perceive men as aggressors and women as victims but in Biko’s case there’s a period in which men’s aggression is reduced and men do better literally. There’s an obvious need to check this against writings by a female writer to see whether there’s a correction, as seen above, when they get a son on the assumption that children of the opposite gender to the parent have the same effect.
“No man means all he says, and yet very few say all they mean, for words are slippery and thought is viscous.” ― Henry Adams
R language was used for data collection, data mining and reporting. Reference is made to David Robinson’s brilliant article on gender plots.