To kick off the new year, I sat down and ate pretty much all the leftovers in my house. And during the following food coma, I came up with an idea for a new column- Naked Tuesdays!
Despite the name, there sadly will not be any nudity involved. Naked Tuesdays is going to be a bare, open look into what it’s like being a woman in Nigeria. And no, despite the title of this particular piece it won’t be about feminism alone- but I can’t deny that the word will probably come up often.
So I’ve been thinking about feminism a lot recently. During one of the many, many family lunches I had to endure this Christmas, I was chatting with my aunt and we were talking about my work. I was telling her all the juicy details and she was really smiling, nodding, taking it all in. Or so I thought. After about 5 minutes she went “Ehn, but when are you going to quit this place and focus on marriage?” I was confused and asked “Why do I have to be unemployed to get married?”
“My dear,” was her response, “Don’t let anyone fool you- it is hard to have a family and have a job. At some point, you will have to make a choice.”
I said I didn’t agree. And so she hit me with “Oh yeah, I forgot, you’re a feminist.”
I have home training and I love my aunt, so somehow I managed to resist the urge to pour my bowl of pepper soup over her. But I was fuming. I get these kind of remarks all the time. I act a certain way or behave a certain way cos I’m ‘feminist’. And it’s made me realize- we have no idea what feminism is in this country!
This point was reaffirmed through social media. Whenever I see people going at it on Twitter about feminism it’s usually because of something trivial like a girl saying she won’t cook for her husband. So let me make this clear now- COOKING OR NOT COOKING, IT HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH FEMINISM!
Feminism is defined as “the advocacy of women’s rights on the ground of the equality of the sexes”. Or more simply put, I just wanna be able to do the same s*** guys do. Equal pay, equal respect, equal everything.
Nigerian’s seem to stay missing the point. They see it as ‘women are trying to be better than men’ or ‘these ones want to be men’ or ‘they just don’t want to do their womanly duties.’ NO. I’m not trying to say I don’t need help with heavy things, I’m not trying to say I don’t want my boyfriend to perv on me in my freakum dress and I’m definitely not trying to say I don’t want to be a girl. I just want to be respected the same way men are. Why is that so hard to understand!?
I’m hoping this is the year when Nigerians stop shouting about feminism and try to actually understand it. It has nothing to do with values- no one is trying to say go out and treat men like scum. Feminism is simply about equality. And here’s hoping 2017 will be the year people get that.
Written by Tamara Aihie