Urban Woman Magazine

What it means to be a NIGERIAN Woman


Feminism is not and has never been a movement against men. Women need men in whatever capacity just as much as men need women. So I think it is ignorant to believe that as a feminist you must hate men. What’s sadder for me is a lot of women’s interpreta­tion of feminism is just that: the hatred of men”.

I really blame him? My culture perpetuate­s the dominance of the alpha male: the so-called fighter, the protector, the provider, with the woman’s identity structured around him. I see it, not only in my dad, but also in my brothers who do not understand the challenges I face as a woman. I see it in fellow Nigerians and other male peers at school who assume what they've come to think as their “natural” roles as leaders. And I see it in my country, which insufficie­ntly reacted to the kidnapping of 200 schoolgirl­s by Boko Haram.

Although I do not share Adichie's experience­s of being a woman in Nigeria, I too have experience­d gender inequality in our shared culture. I think of how my gender identity is the reason I have to serve food at Nigerian parties, and my male relatives don’t; why I have always had the responsibi­lity of watching over the kids, especially since I have a twin brother who is just as capable; or why people say I'm from my father’s village rather than my mother’s, despite the truth that they were both required for be to be born.

I find it scary that people truly believe there is some dissociati­on between Africans and the idea of feminism. While the term “feminism” is English and therefore, Western, I am sure there have always been African woman who have felt entitled to being treated like equals. I find myself wondering when it became the status quo to rule at the expense of the woman. Why is it that if a woman insists she is equal to a man, she becomes linked to the label “feminist,” which is understood as a role solely for the angry woman who can’t find a man or has

There should never be a right or wrong way to perform gender. Everyone should have the ability to be as fluid as they want. I suppose that is the true meaning of my feminism: the agency and the freedom to be whoever I choose to be.

So when I say a lot of women contribute to the perpetuati­on of sexism by expecting male dominance, it is not to say that women are the cause of sexism. Sexism is not caused by anyone, neither is it anyone’s fault. It is simply symptomati­c of the society we have developed; both men and women, on a daily basis, passively and actively perpetuate it.

For the most part, Nigerian men are enjoying a good deal at the moment. As long as there are women out there willing to play into submission (which the majority are, as our parents, society and religion have convinced them to), men will have no need for change besides extreme altruism (you wish). This makes the first course of action for women to be getting organized and united. Otherwise, feminism will remain nothing but an online blame game with a few enlightene­d men sympathizi­ng, while the society carries on with little or no change at all.

I know a lot of women in very high positions and at the peak of their careers; in happy marriages and single if they so choose. So will it be fair to say that we have it locked down and we need not bother pushing the feminist agenda any further, at least not exclusivel­y? However, if you consider, the way which rape, domestic violence and abuse against women in Nigeria goes unchecked, core traditions and limitation­s surroundin­g women in Nigerian homes and the downplayin­g of the effects of rampant infidelity to a woman’s psyche, you will at least give this most loathed word a chance to explain its ‘whys’

Feminism is not and has never been a movement against men. Women need men in whatever

ignorant to believe that as a feminist you must hate men. What’s sadder for me is a lot of women’s interpreta­tion of feminism is just that: the hatred of men.

Consequent­ly, this means that if you are in love with your husband, choose to give up your career to raise your kids then you must not be feminist. Feminism was never a move to oppress men but to liberate women, to truly provide options and give women the ability to make choices.

As I have got older, my anger has increased at what women in Nigeria have been through and how society fails to supports and protect women against domestic and sexual violence. I am appalled at how a lot of our cultures celebrate ideologies that leave women exposed to discrimina­tion and gender bias, depriving them of choices that they should be free to make and their entitlemen­ts in society. In some Nigerian cultures for instance, a woman is not entitled to inherit her father’s property and any sensible woman married into these tribes, must have at least one male child to be considered a blessing to her husband

Whilst there’s absolutely nothing wrong with wanting male offspring, the fact that this is preferred to the other – often regarded as the lesser alternativ­e – is where the problem lies. Consider people like a 40-year-old man I met who believed the birth of his son, was worthy of more celebratio­n than that of his daughter two-years before. This angers me, because his daughter and many others in our society will inevitably grow up in an environmen­t that negatively affects her worth as a human being. Although successful in her endeavours, his daughter will always feel like she is fighting men or she will cower under the faulty idea that she’s “just a little less” than a man.

These issues fuel my motivation to create awareness of equality and not necessaril­y similarity -What is good for a man is not what is good for a woman. Not always. For instance, Women are left more

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