Indiana Daily Student

Separate spheres operate between men and women in Ghana

Living as a female in the United States, I often take for granted how equally I am treated. Sure, there is the occasional sexist remark or rude gesture, but in general men treat me like an equal.

However, at the University of Ghana in Legon, men feel it’s their duty to hoot and holler at women merely for walking around campus.

I hear cat calls, whistles and rude comments shouted at me from the streets and the balconies of dorms. At first, I was very put off by it, but now I am starting to ignore it completely.

It is unfortunate that women and men exist in separate spheres here. Yes, women can do whatever they want in Ghana, but they will be doing it alone.

Most female students on campus are fairly wealthy, while the men come from a range of economic classes. This disparity means only a small fraction of the female population have access to education.

Male and female students here don’t hang out — ever. You either date someone or you are a friend in that you say “hi” to them when you see them. I often hang out with my male Ghanaian friends at their dorms and they’re very nice to me, but when I ask why I’m the only woman around them, they respond that Ghanaian girls just don’t hang out with guys.

The men also tell me they don’t understand Ghanaian women and are frustrated because the women don’t want to relate to men outside a full-fledged relationship. Though men and women seem to have great bonds with their own  sex, they don’t hang out with the opposite sex like college students in the United States.

Women and men here also do not show affection in public. Holding hands, kissing or, god forbid, making out is strictly against the moral code. Kissing is also not shown in Ghanaian films, so many people are unfamiliar with how to show such affection.

Instead, affection is saved for the bedroom. Also, many women date a man their age in addition to a sugar daddy, an older man, while men date one girl in public and many more on the side. Once people are married, the woman must always be faithful to her husband, but it is OK for the man to cheat as long as he is discreet.

Overall, men and women not only operate under different spheres but also under different moral standards.

It is sad that genders seem to have poor relations here. Men and women, in general, seem to be uncomfortable around each other.

As someone who has always had mostly male friends, it has taken me a while to explain to Ghanaian men that women and men can and should be friends with one another. I hope the future of male and female relations will be brighter, but for now the future looks pretty bleak to me.

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