“I’m not a feminist, I support human rights”, these were the words of my female colleague yesterday. Err first of all, what???
Why do people act like feminism is at least a bad word and definitely a disease. Without any connotations, the definition of feminism, according to Merriam Webster Dictionary, is the theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes; organized activity on behalf of women’s rights and interests. What could possibly be found wrong with this ideology, more importantly as a woman, how can you not champion this term ?!
To be honest, many people don’t know the meaning of feminism but simply jump on the bandwagon for the sake of crucifying the brilliant Nigerian writer and feminism advocate, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. No, my dear just because you want a man to open the door for you, doesn’t mean you can shun the whole concept of feminism. By all means, if he’s happy to, let him get that door. Without feminism that many women, and some men, fought for centuries for, you won’t be literate and would have been considered “on the shelf” aka too old for love/ marriage at the age of 23!
The need for feminism is glaring in every aspect of life. It’s in the small things that annoy you, and if they don’t, should, when you’re at work, in school, at the club, party, with family members etc. It’s in the way you’re harassed for marriage, sexually harassed on the road and at work, told to behave a certain way because it’s feminine and “what men like” which eventually takes away your right to decide what your interests are, therefore, making you one of the endless women who disappear into their husbands, and later their children, without ever discovering their true identity.
Take for example this incident with a well meaning but provoked shuttle driver on my way home. So, I’m tired and my ulcer was giving me a bit of a hard time, ergo, minding my business on 100%. There’s a man in the bus and he was rude to the driver; they exchange words but mostly the passenger is just yelling all kinds of things but nobody else interferes. Only for the driver to go “you’re so rude, look at the way you’re talking to me. Very rude man, when you no be WOMAN, Na WOMAN dey talk like that.” *insert meme face* Ahan, see me see trouble. The statement, reasonably, ticked me off. I’m not going to take that sitting down, there’s no reason for women to be insulted, we’ve done nothing to deserve it, after all, there were women in the bus who weren’t rude to him, there were even men who weren’t rude- just that one guy! And so I reply the driver because the passenger had reached his bus stop and was walking away already.
“Sooo (in typical Nigerian I’m about to challenge you fashion), he’s rude for talking to you that way but you don’t think that statement you just made is rude to women?” The mood in the bus immediately changed, I can tell he feels bad now because he gets quiet but I press on or how else will he really learn? ” Why did you have to bring women into it, you don’t think that’s offensive?” At this point, he apologizes while the rest of the passengers were still silent, so I let him ponder that and went quiet again. This driver is probably a nice guy -to his friends- who’s used to tagging women with pettiness, rudeness and if in any altercation with a woman would have been quick to call her “ashewo” because, of course, a woman who can dare to exchange words with a man and have money or drive a car must be a prostitute. How dare she be a hardworker, struggling in Lagos traffic, “like a man” and not be in a kitchen somewhere!
I’ve been in different situations of this sort, many of which, I’m ashamed to say that I said nothing. I simply took it as one of those things that society condones and will make you seem like a trouble maker, but if no one speaks up then how will things change. So tell me again that you haven’t been through situations like this before; where your only crime is being female and you’re called “emotional” or “hormonal” and frankly taken advantage of. Society condescends to women or attributes pettiness to women not, usually, because of the particular actions of a woman but traits that a man is displaying that “makes” him a woman.
Do you want to know the most baffling thing about these people that detest “feminists” because of Chimamanda Adichie? They’ve not read a single book of hers, probably don’t read at all ( which is sad for this write-up). They’ve probably seen one or two interviews cut out of context and placed on social media and this of course makes them experts. This makes women desperate to be noticed by men and eager not to be seen as “difficult” or “stubborn” to immediately renounce everything feminism.
One last thing, I want feminism not for women, although that’s very important, but for men. Your partner should be exactly that, a partner . Not a simpering girl who you have to provide EVERYTHING for and still deal with her superficial insecurities. Maybe if so much responsibility wasn’t dubbed with “being a MAN” many men won’t be so depressed and struggling without daring to show emotions so they aren’t seen as “weak” or called a woman.