Feminism is one of the most important yet misunderstood movements of the 21st century. In a country like Nigeria where patriachy is embedded in our culture, there is a negative stigma around feminism. The moment the word “feminism” comes up in discussion, the atmosphere switches up from calm and relaxed to tensed.
I grew up in Ibadan, a big but local city just outside Lagos. Anyone that is of the Yoruba tribe can relate to the fact that our tribe revolves around deep levels of patriarchy. Growing up as the only girl in a family of traditional men, I was brought up and taught the culture of women submitting to men, women staying invisible on important matters and only being involved in situations when food needs to be made or the environment needs to be cleaned.
the advocacy of women’s rights on the ground of the equality of the sexes.
My mother who grew up in a traditional and royal Yoruba family was very accustomed to this culture that it was extended to me by default. When it was time to cook for the family, she called only me to the kitchen and left my brothers out of it. When it was time to clean the house, only my name was called. If I tried to express my discomfort with the situation, I was faced with the “is that how you will behave in your husband’s house?” phrase.
While I found this frustrating and unfair, I accepted this as my reality and took whatever lessons I could learn from the situation. Though my mother’s input was required on important matters that had to do with the family and household, it was the norm for my father to always have the final say on these topics. It was normal to laugh and make jokes when a woman stands up to a position of power in her home or the society. This was fully my reality until I moved out of my parent’s home to further my education in the UK.
All we ask for as women, is to be seen and treated as a whole human being rather than a subset of the man.
I used to think that the equality of genders was far-fetched as I was taught that women were created “from the rib of Adam”, basically a subset of a whole person. However, I am very grateful that my parents were privileged to give me this level of exposure because this phase of my life was when my eyes started to open to the abnormalities of misogyny and unfairness of patriarchy.
As I started growing into an adult, forming my own opinions, stances and individuality; I wanted to be know for my identity, personality, strengths and weaknesses as a person and in a way that I can add value to my surroundings and the society. Rather, I started to face the challenged reality of being pushed aside on important topics and being called upon for domestic chores. My eyes started to really open up to the bigoted petty phrase; “it’s a man’s world”.
The feminist movement campaigns for women’s right earn fair wages, to stand on a pedestal in political positions, to have equal rights in a marriage, at work and in schools. It is crazy that we still have to fight for the rights to our own bodies on cases relating to domestic violence, pregnancy, rape and sexual harassment and I don’t think this should be the reality. Traditional gender roles encourage patriarchy, meanwhile I personally do not think life should be that complex. All we ask for as women, is to be seen and treated as a whole human being rather than a subset of the man.
My place as a woman is everywhere and any path I choose as an individual.
I have big hopes and dreams to live a fruitful and happy life. It is devastating to accept that part of the issues I would have to face to achieve my dreams is fighting to be seen as an equal human being rather than a subordinate.
One thing I am sure about though, is that I am not going to live in fear, shame or accept a mediocre life just because the society has told me that I am incapable to assume certain roles or make certain decisions as a woman.
My place as a woman is everywhere and any path I choose as an individual. I have a right to my own decision, mistakes and for my voice to be heard. I hope that I can discover and build opportunities to act on my stance for equal rights; I hope that my voice can be a little contribution for my mothers, grandmothers and future generation of daughters.
This is why I am a feminist.