16 Nov We need a man to be the matai
My father turned 80 earlier this year. Getting older has only made him more wiley and more in tune with how to navigate communications with his fia feminist daughter…and I leave their house everyday shaking my head because he’s won again.
Like this convo.
Dad – Did you see this newspaper article about my village? They got funding to make a marine reserve and do an eco-tourism venture.
Me – That’s nice.
Dad – I need some beach fales built on our family land so we can make the most of this venture. Do you and your husband want to build some fales? For free? And be part of it?
Me – No Dad. We don’t have any spare money lying around to build beach fales.
Dad – I’ll ask your husband if he has any money for fales.
Me, righteously – But his money is my money. We’re a couple. A team. We have a joint account. So if I say there’s no money, why would he have some money for beach fales? You’re being a bit sexist.
Dad – No I’m not. You’re trying to be the boss of your husband. He has his own mind. I can ask him for his opinion.
Me – Sure. Okay.
*Long pause while my Dad cranks up his crafty calculating…*
Dad – I’ve been thinking about giving your husband a matai title. Do you think he wants one?
Me – Why would you offer him one?! He’s not your child. I’m sitting right here. I’m your daughter. I’m a member of this aiga. Why don’t you ask ME if I want a matai title?
Dad – But we need a man.
Me, outraged – HOW CAN YOU SAY THAT TO ME DAD?! YOU RAISED ME TO BE A FEMINIST, TO BELIEVE IN EQUALITY. WOMEN CAN BE MATAI TOO!
Dad, not bothered at all – It’s got nothing to do with equality. We need a man, your husband, to be a matai because he knows how to build beach fales. Can you build beach fales?
Me, still spluttering – No. But that’s not the point here.
Dad – Yes it is. I need beach fales. Your husband can build them. If he’s a matai then he will come be part of our village and our aiga and work together, and build me some beach fales. Besides, do you even want to have a matai title?
Me – No.
Dad, shaking his head at my vasti’ness – So why are you getting mad for? You don’t want it.
I have no words.
*My Dad walks off muttering about daughters who don’t know how to build beach fales, and don’t want to be matai, but still want to be the boss of other people being matai and building beach fales…*