Feminism is one of those issues and topics that deserves serious thinking and deliberation not the annoying ‘I-know-everything’ attitude Nigerians seem to possess naturally from birth. I am Nigerian, an avid reader and watcher of news and it wasn’t till today that I thought I had enough knowledge backing to stand for or against feminism. I’m not forcing you to acquiesce with me but at least read and try to reason with me.
Firstly, I don’t think its news to anyone reading that Feminism has been abused — a consequence every issue that enters Nigerian space suffers. Feminism according to the dictionary means,
A doctrine that advocates equal rights for women.
Curt and simple. But some extremists make Feminism look like it means a woman can marry a man and control him as long as she’s the bread winner or has the right to equally divide the household duties if they both win the bread. The former is a traditional abomination except by personal decision and the latter a personal decision between man and wife, not a norm.
At this point let me digress to the Bible. God created a man and it was good but then decided after some time that It wasn’t good for the man to be alone (note the bold-italics). So what did he do? He formed the woman from the man. By divine ordination a man is naturally stronger than a woman but God created the woman to be a partner not a slave (note italics again). So the idea women carry that they can get married and do less house chores if they earn money turning their husbands into ‘House-Husbands’ is wrong and is another branch of Extremism — one of the world’s greatest problems right now. The idea that a wife is a slave and subordinate to a man is also a lie and a result of lack of proper orientation as I will soon explain. That out of the way, let me continue.
My thinking on this topic was further spurred by a recent event. It was Girls Brigade Sunday in Church and the service leader made some remarks. She said something like,
“These beautiful girls standing before you…these are future Governors wives, future Presidents wives”
Then later on the girls sang a song their anthem or something like that and the lyrics said something like,
“A woman as a wife,
A woman as a Mother,
A woman as a Vision”
This got me thinking. I had a Eureka moment there listening to those girls ranging from ages 3–20 and the women reciting this. The problem we have in Nigeria and Africa is lack of proper orientation. Why do we teach our girls to be wives and mothers and Governors wives and not achievers?
Allow me to borrow from the bible again. Prov. 22:6 says,
Point your kids in the right direction — when they’re old they won’t be lost (NIV)
Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it (MSG)
This verse goes to say that orientation is key and vital. Unfortunately we have been giving our children in Africa the wrong orientation. What do I mean?
When we teach our girls to be wives and mothers and our sons to be predators and masters we are being extremely wrong!
Like I said from the start, a wife is a partner not a slave. She deserves respect. I am not in any way saying we shouldn’t teach our daughters to be wives and mothers, but we should also teach them to be ambitious and successful. I get excited when I remember that the Deputy Secretary General of the United Nations is a woman and not just any woman a black woman and not just black, a Nigerian. This is proof that our women have substance and deserve education and opportunities equally with men. They deserve every right a male child deserves.
I have been following the ONE Campaign closely and it advocates Female Education but female education is almost useless in a society that already has the norms and values wrong. It is more important to orientate our females well from Primary School level first as Successful Professionals then wives and mothers and then Education can come after that. When we do this, half the problem will be solved. What’s the other half?
Orientating females isn’t the end, we need to orientate the males too. I wish the Boys Brigade too sang a song and told themselves,
“A man as a husband,
A man as a father,
A man as a vision”.
Why do we have so many broken marriages rising in Africa? Because the generation of women who were denied education and were made to believe marriage was their only profession deserving the same protection a man would give his job has passed away and a new generation of women is rising — women who have ambition and won’t let themselves be trampled the way the generation before them did. Our men need to be told from birth that they are future husbands and fathers. Marriage shouldn’t be a compulsory for females and optional for males, both should be taught to give it the same relevance.
Our boys should be taught to be good fathers and husbands. To treat women with respect. When I was 3 almost 4, my mother gave birth and I recall that day, my father looked me straight in the eye and warned me never to lay a finger on my sister. That was the beginning of female respect for me. I took that warning with so much seriousness I once remember a resounding knock my mother gave me for letting my sister disrespect me when I was 8 or so. All boys should be given that orientation.
In conclusion, I hope I have convinced you that orientation is the answer to gender inequality. I’m just a young man with a crazy imagination and a laptop but I believe I’ve done the topic justice. I won’t call myself a feminist, I think I prefer to be Humanist concerned with equal rights for all; male and female, black and white everywhere. Ciao .