Breaking Free. Feminine to human and gender be damned!

What does it mean to be female? Is it the shapely curves, the pretty face, hair or probably the genitals?

Over time females have been described as insatiable, catty, clingy, difficult, malicious, chatty and the list goes on.

Most females spend their lives trying to find their place in the world and feeling second to males. Most of us females, live with these feelings and grow up to realize that this is the norm and it’s just the way the world is.

The idea of females being lesser beings in strength, mind, academics, workplaces, decision making and in so many other areas, is deeply rooted and goes a long way back.

In Nigeria, females are shackled down by three major factors:

1) Religion

2) Traditions

3) Family

Religion, Tradition and Family have the greatest influences on society and these factors form connections between every individual, in any community or city in Nigeria.

I’m a Christian and I believe that there are many fine points of Christianity which leads the followers to live decent lives. However, I lose my patience with men who constantly quote scriptures to assert their rights over women.

1 Corinthians 11:3–16 — But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman [is] the man; and the head of Christ [is] God.

1 Timothy 2:11–15 — Let a woman learn quietly with all submissiveness. I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet. For Adam was formed first, then Eve; and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor. Yet she will be saved through childbearing — if they continue in faith and love and holiness, with self-control.

I believe that a leader doesn’t need to announce or make his authority known. Everyone knows he’s a leader and acknowledges him through his actions. That’s what it means to be a head or leader and not a dictator.

Some men forcefully subdue women by raising their voices, using verbal abuse and by brute force, just because they have stronger bodies. But what I’d like to know is this, if children are subdued because they’re small and women because they’re weaker, then who subdues the man? Does he get to run wild and bully everyone smaller in size?

Traditions are the bedrock of most communities and they make up our culture or way of life. But not all traditions are humane and I believe we can do without a few of them.

In 2014, Nigeria’s Supreme Court annulled the Igbo custom that bans a daughter from inheriting her father’s estate. This was a great step forward for women in the igbo culture. I’m from the southern part of Nigeria, Ijaw to be specific and at a time this custom made me a little biased towards the Igbo land. When I was younger, I decided not to get involved with an Igbo man, due to this unfavorable custom.

But this problem of female segregation doesn’t exist in only the Igbo lands, it’s in every part of Nigeria. Female children are always treated differently. Some regions of my state (Bayelsa), still practice female genital mutilation (female circumcision) even though this custom has been outlawed. According to this custom, female circumcision is believed to make females less promiscuous.

I was also directly affected by a demeaning custom from my community. While I was still a teenager, I lost my mother and was told that I had to shave my head bald, as part of the mourning custom of the land. I don’t regret disobeying and totally rejecting the custom which was imposed on me. I couldn’t understand the relevance of the custom or how it would pacify me in my time of grief, and I also wondered why this custom only applied to females (daughters and widows).

Who makes up these laws concerning women and why aren’t there any of these suffocating laws for men? What happens to the males who are promiscuous too and why are the females put on the spot light? We females need to question all the norms keeping us imprisoned and break free.

Almost everyone wants to build a family and it’s true that family is the starting point of every civilization. If you really want to know a man, then the best place to observe him, is in his home with his family. Many wives and daughters usually have a feeling of being caged and not having enough room to achieve what they want in life.

Growing up as a daughter, I can’t say I actually enjoyed my childhood. I had few friends from school, didn’t associate with neighbors and had no visitors. I couldn’t go out or visit anyone either. While my brothers had lots of friends, visitors and freedom to move around at will. I believed that this segregation was probably because I was still very young and felt I would be allowed a bit of those privileges when I grew up. But I was totally wrong and felt even more caged as a teenager.

This precaution was supposedly meant for my protection against pregnancy, rape and diseases. But I grew up to find this totally unreasonable. I had lost a major part of my social life and found myself struggling to fit into society.

As I matured and went through University and began to express myself more. I made more female friends and was appalled by some of their relationships with males. I had a friend who was constantly beaten by her boyfriend. While some other females who were married, complained about their husbands either being promiscuous or not letting them have a career.

I also met females who had to train themselves through school or seek help from other relatives and outsiders because their fathers only saw it fit to give their sons proper education. The reason for this discrimination was because their fathers felt, only the sons would carry the family name and that an expensive education would be wasted on a female, who would be married out of the family in the end.

Why should females have to live in bondage from infancy to adulthood? There’s no justification for this whatsoever and it usually boils down to our influence from family and the society. Even taking a walk on the streets sometimes draws unwanted attention to females. I get pulled, yelled at and even verbally abused, just because I won’t yield to offensive advances from males.

So what’s the way out of this? If the society won’t change then we should make ourselves stronger and bridge that gap between the genders. The change should start in our minds. Everyone is entitled to their own opinions, but we shouldn’t let anyone make us feel like lesser beings.

Let’s spread the word. If you’ve got a daughter then let her know that she’s strong and she’s not second to any male. We’re humans too, so gender be damned!

Thanks a lot for reading!