It didn’t start today; this practice of blaming women for the fertility challenges of marriages, including the specificity of the sexes of offspring. The world has come a long way though in addressing these erroneous beliefs, from teachings in elementary biology to hard gynecological facts that overwhelmingly prove otherwise. But the stigmatisation of women along those lines continues to exist even in modern civilized society and among supposedly enlightened and educated people who should know better.
One institution that has, in the pretext of trying to help, unconsciously promoted this negative perception and stigmatisation of women is religion. I will limit this discourse to Christianity and indeed the Pentecostal brand of it which enjoys the headlines for its huge followership, as much as it does for its many absurdities the latest of which is the Forbes list recognition of some of her mega rich jet owning leaders.
Look around for church service fliers, crusade posters, newspaper insertions, billboards and broadcasts and you will find evidence at every turn of how our modern day Christianity is encouraging the stigmatisation of women. A list of afflictions the victims of who are always specially invited to these church services or miracle nights always have among others, people that may include visa applicants, life partner hunters and barren women. Besides the fact that the word ‘barren’ is a tad offensive and de-meaning, one wonders why there is never an inclusion of impotent men on the list.
This same scenario is seen when calls are made for special prayers during church services. We hear things like “women searching for the fruit of the womb”. This gives the impression that the responsibility for ensuring the availability of the elusive fruit of the womb is the woman’s’ and she alone deserves that needed spiritual help to make that search fruitful. By extension therefore, she is to be blamed for a protracted period of fruitlessness.
What we have therefore is a system that has unconsciously agreed that women by virtue of being the carriers of the child should also guarantee their formation. And thus in a situation where there is any delay or difficulty in this formation, and there needs to be spiritual intervention to change the couples fortune or at least provide some psychological succor, the woman is the automatic subject of such an exercise.
Common sense dictates that in situations that exist because of a problem domiciled in the man, or something both parties are not doing right, a million prayer session and gallons of anointing oil directed at the woman alone will not scratch off any babies from heaven except we are assuming that this is the immaculate conceptions age where babies are formed without any need for viable seminal input from a man.
Religion cannot exist exclusive of society. Indeed religion has a huge responsibility of shaping the peoples thoughts, beliefs and values, correcting fallacies and providing their adherents with the information and guidance to live more informed lives. It is therefore wrong and unfortunate for religion to neglect proven scientific evidence that point to the fact that men are also culpable, if I may use that word, for childless marriages and be advancing in the same breath, the age old traditionally held belief that stereotypes women and leaves them at the receiving end of all kinds of blames and stigmatisation.
This might seem insignificant, but an anomaly it is all the same and one which must be corrected for the well being of the people. Women, except where medically proven to be responsible, should no longer be singled out for spiritual exercises to help them conceive. We must stop printing and circulating posters, banners and other publicity materials that invite women to services because they are adjudged ‘barren’. Church leaders must begin to involve both couples in their various forms of intervention to solve childlessness and must as a matter of necessity advice them to seek medical help in addition to the spiritual help they get in church. Indeed, churches should begin to offer their members informed advice on going down the adoption lane when nature defiles both the prayers and the medical efforts.
Above all this, it is important that adherents break free from the seeming restrictions religion often shells them into and allow reason guide their choices. We can be both religious and realistic in our thinking. The men especially must (for their own good and the good of their marriage) quit the deception of having their wife do all the fasting and the vigils. It will be wise for them to honestly screen themselves medically to know if they instead, should be the ones doing the vigils.