I have an elder brother whom I am very close to and who I love so much but a lot of times, we have really heated arguments and we fight. Family members in the process of settling these fights always tell me how I should be calm since I am a girl and would one day go to my husband’s house and all those things Nigerian relatives always say to their daughters.
The thing is I am quite strong headed and I don’t subscribe to doing things just because someone older than me insists that I should do them. I think that is really restrictive for the human mind and as such, I like to understand why exactly I should do what anybody wants me to do. If the reason doesn’t sit well with me, there’s a ninety percent chance that I won’t do what whoever asked me to do, irrespective of who he or she is.
Most people don’t understand this or rather, don’t accept that I should be this assertive about what I want to do and the reason they’re quick to mention is my gender. In other words, I shouldn’t be strong headed because I am female and my ‘husband’ or his family members would have a problem with it.
In the scale of sensible reasons, this is probably the dumbest I have heard. I don’t believe that my behavioural wrongs should be determined by what some random people would perceive as a problem. I have no issue with being corrected, where I have a problem is when the basis of their correction is my gender. If you have a problem with how I behave because I am female, please take several seats!
As I write this, I am reminded of a few very interesting experiences, one happened to me and the other to a friend of mine. At a book fair in a female hall in a university, an educated male bookseller engaged my friend in a conversation, the summary of which is that higher education is not for females because a degree is not needed to cook, to have children and to raise them. Of course, my highly intellectual friend was pretty disgusted with his reasoning and later, we had a lengthy discussion about how far we are from gender equality in our country.
Anyone who knows me well would know that I do not think I am a feminist and the reason is not far-fetched. I do not subscribe to the popular view of what feminism is. The society views feminists as old angry women who hate men and think the world should consist of just females. Misandry which is hatred towards men is always confused with feminism; feminism is the theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes. While I am very quick to admit that most times in terms of physical strength, males are more superior and while I do not subscribe to the “whatever a man can do, a woman can do better” saying, I do believe and strongly uphold that gender should not be a strong criteria for a lot of things. What I always advocate is quite simple: if as a female I believe I can do something, then my sex should not stand in my way, it shouldn’t be a basis for my disqualification; give me the same opportunities a man has, test me with the same standards, and let the better person win. In essence, I believe in equity and if this makes me a feminist, then so be it! Feminist: a person who believes in feminism, and tries to achieve change that helps women to get equal opportunities and treatment.
The point I am trying to make is that as the world changes, we ought to move with the changing times. We cannot afford to be static therefore, it is very wrong to train girl children to stop or learn certain behaviours just on the basis of their femaleness. It is wrong to try to control or manipulate their dreams, to tell them what they can or cannot be, to decide their fates based on their gender. Let it not be the basis for correction, let correction be motivated by the desire to make them better persons for themselves and not for the almighty future husband. To me, this is common sense and not something that needs to be spelt out word for word but as I have learned, what is so obvious to me isn’t always glaring to the people around me. So while I think this is not a feminist post, maybe it really is and maybe the greater discos should be on how society’s mind-set can be changed to see that gender is another classification method and that at the heart of it all, we are all equal and should therefore be treated the same.
P.S: While this post has focused mainly on feminism in respect to women, it is important to point out that the issue of feminism is significantly influenced by men too and it also affects their lives. As such, I would really like to hear what guys think about feminism in our society.
Written By DOYINSOLA OYELEYE