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Men as Breadwinners: The biggest illusion of the 21st century.

By Mduduzi Ndzingi

Women cut down a huge tree that blocks the sun from reaching their garden. Johannesburg 2017. PIC: Mdu Ndzingi

The concept that men should be providers in a household is one of the biggest scams that have ever been paraded by a capitalist system.

What it ultimately means, in today’s time, is that a man must do everything in their powers to secure a good paying job and keep it. He should, in an effort to keep his job, make sure that he does not put himself in a compromising position where he could lose the security of a good income. This subsequently prevents men, some of them very capable individuals, from taking the risks of confronting an unjust system, unjust laws and unjust policies.

The concept is so deeply entrenched in our consciousness that even most women accept it as a standard practice. It’s not uncommon to see jokes flying around on social media about how a man’s salary is meant to take care of a household, while a woman’s salary takes care of her personal needs.

The problem with this is that, as a result, men have become less and less brave. Their wings have been clipped, so to speak. This is of course easily achievable because no man wants to be useless and incapable of providing for his family. At the same time, he must be seen to be a good provider by ensuring that his family has a descent home, while he drives a descent car and sends his children to a descent school. This can be labeled as the ‘invisible chains’ which exist only in the mind of the oppressed.

In these days it’s rare to see a man who is brave enough to call out the system for what it is, except of course for politicians who, in most cases, lurch on to the naivety of their constituencies by advancing populist agendas.  Men, today have all been reduced to being the “collaborators in their own oppression” – to borrow from Sandile Memela who mentions this in his book titled ‘His Master’s Voice’.

The result of this can be seen in workplaces, where, even under the most unfair and gruesome conditions, men keep their views to themselves for fear of victimization.

Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, Chief Albert Luthuli, in his book, ‘Let my people go’, highlights this when he specifically gives credit to his wife, Nokukhanya Luthuli, for supporting him as he committed his life to the fight against the oppression of black people by a ruthless Apartheid government.

Even the legacy of Nelson Mandela is nothing without a mention of his then wife, probably the most resilient woman this country has ever produced, one whom we owe with everything that we have, the resilient Winnie Nomzamo Madikizela Mandela, who ensured that his sacrifices were not in vain.

The fact that at this day and age there are very few men who would have the courage to sacrifice all in the name of fairness and justice is proof that the system has achieved its goals and managed to suppress any possibility of retaliation from a black man.

Take for instance the two recent events where media workers – considering that the media is one of the most influential institutions of our time – have made an attempt to express their dissatisfaction with the working conditions. Both TISO Blackstar and SABC strikes were largely headed by women. This clearly shows that women are, perhaps, in a better position compared to men. It means that, even though they (women) face the same levels of victimization as their male colleagues, at least they are willing to put their heads on the block, in the hope that they can at least go home where their husbands can act as the much needed cushion in the event that they get retrenched or ostracized.

Lastly, it is a known fact that in the olden age women used to work side by side with their husbands when it comes to taking care of a household. The idea of a stay at home wife who spends her days doing hair and nails, while the husband sweats the whole day making sure that there is food to put on the table, is fairly new.

Black women need to understand that if black men are going to be successful in defeating the oppressive capitalist system and eventually get back to how things are meant to be, where Africans can enjoy and have control of the riches of their continent, men will have to be supported and, in fact, encouraged to take the risk of confronting all manner of injustice whenever it rears its ugly head.

One thought on “Men as Breadwinners: The biggest illusion of the 21st century.

  1. Well thought out and beautifully written piece. Quite profound. You .ake a revolutionary point: men are volunteer slaves to live up to the myth of being providers

    I did not know you write so well. Keep writing.

    Found the piece disturbing in the point it makes and enriching at the same time.

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