I am tired. Completely exhausted. I have tried to ignore people when they make ignorant comments about feminism, crack jokes intended to belittle the movement, or just generally treat it as a worthless endeavour embarked upon by worthless women who don’t know that the only thing that can make them worth something is a man. It hurts more when these statements come from women, because I expect their first hand experience in dealing with sexism to make them automatic feminists, but I guess that the system of patriarchy makes this inherently impossible and ignorance also plays a huge part in this. Although, ignorance is not an admissible defence under the law, I have decided to try and educate people. I’m writing this article with the hope that, someone is going to read it and understand what feminism and what feminists are fighting for.
I was casually scrolling down my timeline when I saw this tweet:
My immediate reaction was anger. I was angry that someone took a whole movement fighting for the emancipation and equality of women all over the world and reduced it to asking men out on dates and proposing to them. I hate that people take feminism and reduce it to such trivial things. Most of my rage stemmed from the fact that, earlier this week I was walking on the streets of Yaba, minding my own business and a man grabbed my breasts and said ‘I like your breasts’. He did not just touch it, he grabbed it like he had the right to and proceeded to tell me he liked it. I felt so helpless because he was surrounded by other men who laughed and cheered him on. One of them even said, ‘If say na me grab am, I go squeeze am well well’. I felt helpless, very helpless. There was nothing I could do. They were about five hefty men and I was afraid that if I did anything else they would harm me. So I quietly walked away without saying anything. Those men think they have a right to women’s bodies, and they believe that they can use women as they please. Is it not crazy that there is no system in place to help women that fall victim to this kind of assault daily? Yet someone takes my beloved feminism and reduces it to going on dates and paying for them.
Then I realised, we still have a long way to go in educating people about what feminism is and isn’t.
Before I proceed, I would like to define the following terms in the most simple way possible.
Equality — The state of being equal, especially in status, rights, or opportunities.
Feminism- The advocacy of women’s rights on the ground of the equality of the sexes.
Choice- An act of choosing between two or more possibilities.
All forms of feminism are valid, and each woman has the right to express herself in anyway she wants to as long as she is being offered the same rights and opportunities that members of the opposite sex are.
Feminism is as simple as A B C. We want to be treated exactly the same way that men are. Accorded the same respect, given the same opportunities. Fundamentally, the feminist movement is the same thing, whether liberal feminist, radical feminist, womanist or post feminist. We want women to be free to express themselves whichever way they choose to without being limited in any way or form. We want women to be given the opportunity to choose what they want to be. If a woman decides to be a housewife, we want it to be her choice. Her decision. You can only make a choice when you have several options. I’ll illustrate. When a woman chooses to be a housewife, we want her to have the opportunity to be involved in the workforce at any point in time, and be given equal pay. We want her to have the opportunity to be involved in politics. Heck, we want her to have the opportunity to go to space if she so desires, without anyone batting an eyelid and asking who will cook for her husband while she’s in Mars advancing humanity. Whatever she chooses from these options is her own decision to make. If she then decides that baking cookies and taking care of the home is her thing, fantastic! Feminists are not against that. We are against women being reduced to domestic beings and forced to be that without their choices being taken into consideration. What feminists are fighting for is that every woman in the world be afforded the same opportunities that her male counterparts are, before makes her choice. You should also bear in mind that a woman can choose more than one option. We demand to be given the opportunity to eat all we want from the buffet of life.
You see, I get really confused when people label feminists as angry.
According to Wikipedia, ‘In 2002, the combined gross enrollment for primary, secondary and tertiary schools for female was 57% compared to 71% for males.This translates into fewer women in certain economic fields as well. The percentages of female workers in some selected professions were as follow: architects, 2.4%, quantity surveyors, 3.5%, lawyers/jurists, 25.4%, lecturers, 11.8%, obstetricians and gynecologists, 8.4%, pediatricians.’
In 2016, female children in Nigeria still do not have the same access to educational opportunities that their male counterparts have, and the President goes ahead to tell us that his wife belongs in the kitchen. WHY SHOULD WE NOT BE ANGRY? IS IT NOT ENOUGH REASON TO BE MAD?
Women still get systematically left out of the workplace and suffer workplace discrimination. Women are regarded as unsuitable employees because they get pregnant and have to take paid maternity leaves which is deemed as unprofitable for employers, so they’d rather not employ women. Women are being paid less than the men they occupy similar roles to in organisations because ‘men have more responsibility’.
Child marriage is still prevalent in Nigeria. The Emir of Katsina recently kidnapped a 14 year old, a child that has been a teenager for just a year, married her and has termed the marriage ‘irrevocable’. If the Emir can do such a thing brazenly, imagine what the illiterate men in the North are doing. Practicing paedophilia openly and going scot free.
Women that are raped in Nigeria are still shamed. The system just does not help. There have been less than 18 convicted rape cases in the history of our legal system. People’s first instinct is to protect the rapist and his ‘reputation’.
There is a high level of domestic abuse in Nigeria, and although the Lagos state government has put laws in place to protect women against this, how many other states have?
Every single day in Nigeria, great injustice is done to women. But someone thinks that feminism is about who pays for dates and who cooks in the home.
All we ask is to be treated the same way that Nigerian men are and afforded the same respect and opportunities that they are. I do not want to be shamed about my sexuality when boys my age are not. I do not want to be asked questions like ‘how do you manage boys and school’ when I get awards for high academic performance.
I DEMAND TO BE TREATED LIKE A HUMAN BEING AND NOTHING LESS, AND I WILL FIGHT FOR OTHER WOMEN TO BE TREATED THE SAME.
I am a feminist and I am angry. I will not stop being angry until I am given the proper treatment that I deserve, and women all over Nigeria are given the same treatment regardless of their socioeconomic backgrounds.