‘Luoye my friend, this morning greeted me with “HAPPY INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY”, and it triggered a conversation, that left him wondering thus – “In this era of gender fluidity, Is it still necessary to celebrate a gender based day?” We thereafter went further to dissect the ramifications of this day as it relates to women issues, and the rave of the moment, FEMINISM. I know what today is, I am also aware that today is also set aside to mark #ADayWithoutAWoman with several programs, including peaceful demonstrations in some parts of the world, but I had no desire to react by writing about any of that, at least not by blogging, even if I’d allow some soundbites and microyarns on Facebook and Twitter.
My intention not to write wasn’t because I thought women or issues relating to them is unimportant, but because I didn’t want to belabour the importance, or come up short from the beautifully crafted pieces that will be devoted to this day, especially by the female folk. Even as I write this I wonder if I shouldn’t just sit back and digest the different offerings from interested and uninterested parties that will be lending their voices for and against the many notions that’ll be on the table today. I’m compelled to write this because there comes a stage in life when it will be considered rude not to air ones views about certain germane issues, especially those on which the survival of our civilization depends.
Growing up, I couldn’t understand why women got special days, in the name of MOTHER’S DAY apart from several other days by several church denominations devoted to women. I was also envious of the way mothers got sang about by singers and musicians, like the father contributed nothing to their well-being before they became stars, making me take a personal liking for Luther Vandross’ “DANCE WITH MY FATHER” in retaliation for the slight, and in solidarity with my father and father’s worldwide, though I know I’ve stronger affinity with my mother than my now late Dad. With time, as I began to understand the challenges women have to pass through and overcome, just for being female I came to be empathic and would rather they had all the days of the year dedicated to them if possible.
Unfortunately, I can’t say that I feel the same way any longer, and I can put all of that down to the new craze in town, FEMINISM. Like everything that comes to Nigeria, the version that’s come here, apart from not been domesticated, is a farce and mostly upheld by women who haven’t been successful in their marriages (and by this I am not implying that women should remain in an abusive marriage or one that’s not working, rather it’s exploiting that as an excuse to promote so called “feminism” is what I have issues with), or haven’t managed to make relationships with men work, or want an umbrella to hide their preference for independence (in no-strings-attached relationships with men, or even women, as the case may be) and explain away their single motherhood, after having a child(ren) outside wedlock. It also provides cover for tomboys, Women whose anger at perceived male privilege leave them testy to and at anything that has to do with males, so called societal liberals who receive highs just from challenging dogma and societal norms and expectations.
Unfortunately, many of these women forget that African traditional societies empowered the womenfolk even before the coming of the Europeans, whose women at the time did virtually nothing as wives, except when in servile occupations only, because they belonged to that class. Even the insular Northern Nigeria where women seem to be the worse off, had at several times, women of influence, enough to even affect the course of history, of which Amina of Zaria easily comes to mind. Talk more the more enlightened South with giant strides achieved by women such as Mrs. Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti, amongst other socio-econo-politically agile women of the precolonial, colonial and post-colonial Nigerian era, even before suffragette became an issue in the western world.
Nigerian feminists have sacrificed advocacy for main sexual and reproductive health and rights issues, that used to bother on FEMALE GENITAL MUTILATION, RAPE, CHILD MARRIAGES, GIRL CHILD EDUCATION (of which the maxim “Educate a woman and you educate a whole village” is a well known and widely accepted African belief), DOMESTIC VIOLENCE etc, on the altar of NUDITY a la Kim K., #WifeNotCook (and the likes trending on Twitter), Having Car Doors Opened for them, Paying for Tabs during Outings, Promoting the right for women to be unbridled in verbally abusing a man who must quietly accept that and the occasional physical attack that may follow, or else his conduct will be considered ungentlemanly, even in putting up a defence to stave off the barrage of attacks that’s led to deaths in some celebrated cases in Nigeria, one even involving even a female lawyer, and so on. In the pursuit for equality with men (a crisis that’s western and not even a situation needing to be addressed in Nigeria, once the female in question is qualified), traditional responsibilities for which even the female anatomy was built to accommodate are now considered anathema by feminists, whom society must now make exceptions for, besides the commonsensical GENDER SENSITIVITY and BALANCE that’s been the hallmark of societies, many of which are blamed for putting down the woman, yet have managed to produce female prime ministers and presidents, over the so called proponents whose women couldn’t even fathom a female president, hence deny the brave ones amongst them (who have managed to scale several hurdles, break ceilings even to present themselves as candidates) their vote during elections.
So you then find these Nigerian feminists, pursuing an agenda that’s alien to even the women they purport to be speaking for, just because they want to please the foreign audience, including and most especially donors and financiers. And just because of speaking commissions and honorarium they pervert our society, such that a girl will not know how to cook because her mother hasn’t taught her, but will know how to “give head” and you wonder where and how she learnt that. Sometimes, I wonder which Nigeria some of these feminists talk or write about, especially when they are abroad, when they do the same thing they accuse the western media and writers of doing in regards to Africa in terms of the DANGERS OF THE SINGLE STORY, by not situating their stories in the context and environment where they (are likely to) occur, instead of generalizing and painting the whole scene with the same brush.
I have a mother who never called herself a feminist but contributed her income as a teacher to my father’s to run the family, did about almost everything for us growing, even with our Dad there. I have sisters who are all engaged at different levels of gainful employment in the formal and informal sectors. A wife who is as much as a businesswoman as well as a homemaker. And so far in my short stay on earth, come across many females, as friends, lovers, even business partners, who are independent minded go-getters, who pick the tab at dinners but never claim to be feminists, while I’ve seen the exact opposite in a few women whose very existence is at the instance and mercy of a man, to whom they are sold into whoredom privately, but come to the public to chant “feminism”. It is to the former (like majority of people out there whose lives would’ve been worse off without the women in their lives), who understand that males and females are built or fashioned to complement each other, that I doff my hat and salute on this International Women’s Day. *sips Al-Iksir*