Let me say that again do not blame the woman, blame the sperm count. Recently, I stumbled on a page on Instagram owned by a popular Nigerian socialite and self-acclaimed relationship counsellor. Just at the time I found the page, there were lots of talks and conversations going on there regarding some sensitive marital issues, one of which is the issue of DNA testing.
So, as the story goes, a man who has been married for 17years reported his wife to the police when he discovered that his three children were not fathered by him. According to the story, he discovered this when he followed the advice of his friend to carry out a DNA test before processing documents for their relocation to the USA. They had the children after their eight years in marriage. The man is suing the wife for deceit and extortion. He said the wife subjected him to taking care of children for another man. So, this brings me to the point of asking, what kind of pressure did this woman face that made her go that far? Yes, being unfaithful is against the standards at least in this territory but, what if, just what if, the woman did it to save her marriage, or isn’t that what women are instructed to do in this part of the world? This is only one person’s story and on a steady increase rate, there are many stories like this every other day and only the woman gets to be blamed for it. How about we begin to blame the sperm count?
So, just for reminders, it takes the output of a man and a woman to produce an offspring. This is basic biology. And just as many things in nature, these functions sometimes have some defects and the parties involved might not be able to perform them. However, the sad part is that in this part of the world, when a man and woman decide to have children and they experience some difficulties in conceiving or having children, the woman gets the bulk of the blame. No doubt the word barren is searched for more than the word impotent.
Stigmatization of Childless Women
Talking about stigmatization of women having difficulties conceiving and ignoring their male partners, the proof of this is so evident in our Nigerian churches. Services are constantly held for barren women but it sounds like a taboo for the men. What happened to the impotent husbands or the partners with low sperm count? Or they do not need miracles to resurrect their dead by-products also?
Growing up in Nigeria, there were many cases of women who were sent packing from their marriages. A great number of these women went through lots of terrible experiences because of their inability to conceive. As for my Igbo brothers, when their wives cannot conceive they refer to her as a man and go as far as saying they cannot be married to their fellow men. The woman is blamed for the childless situation of the marriage and sent packing. Most times, the men are never subjected to medical checkups to be sure they are alright. Because just as the culture implies, a man is the head of the family and is always without a fault. So, if the woman cannot conceive, she should be sent home. What if we took some time to check if the man can impregnate a woman? What if the problem has nothing to do with the woman?
Women are Responsible for Keeping their families together.
I am sure the opinion that it is the role of a woman to keep her family and her man together is no longer new to many of us. In fact, that was a topic for a youth seminar in one church I know last year. So, by popular opinion, if the marriage doesn’t work it is the woman’s fault. When young women are fed with this during their formation years, they grow up being people that seek for validation for a seemingly “working marriage”. So, it is not new to find a lot of women striving even at their own discomfort, trying to salvage their marriage. Most times with men who are not even ready or sensible enough to make a choice. In a society deeply biased on the issues of marriages talk more of childless marriages, (if the couple want to have children), the woman is tasked to producing children “for her husband” or she will be termed not woman enough.
As a result of the pressure to satisfy the man and save her marriage all in the name of “a woman keeps her home”, women are pressured and pushed into some difficult positions. Yes, the man in the beginning story has the right to be mad, but what if we take a minute to think about the woman? Oh, she was able to be impregnated by another man? I thought she was the problem? If she was the reason for the childless marriage, how come another man was able to do the job? Or is the man waiting for God to tell him he was the reason the woman could not conceive?
Do not blame the woman, blame the sperm count
There is no way to completely emphasize with the woman in this story and so many other women facing similar challenges. To some extent, she has saved her marriage just as she was expected to. How she did it is not supposed to be a problem. Personally, I should think the man should be grateful for the gift of fatherhood. If only he was open minded, he would have known she only got a sperm donor to sort things out and gave him the gift of being a father. I mean, if he were that capable, they wouldn’t have spent eight years calling the woman a fellow man.
Not to say that being unfaithful and hiding secrets in a marriage situation is the new cool, but, how about we quit blaming woemn and begin blaming the sperm count.