Wednesday, 8 May 2013

MUST READ: Designed to be Under A Man

By Adedoyin Adeniji
I’ve always thought of writing about my view on feminism but every time I picked up my pen or started typing, I would stop and ask myself “what am I going to say that is different from what other feminists have said?” or “what difference will my opinion make?” but today as I was doing my usual “blog-tour” – the term I use to describe the moment when I check my favorite blogs for new posts and updates I stumbled upon a post on Linda Ikeji’s blog. This propelled me to voice out my thought notwithstanding what difference it will make (but I hope it will make a difference). Continue...

Apparently Monalisa Chinda, a Nollywood actress had reportedly stated that she is “designed to be under a man”. The title of the post is “I am designed to be under a man”- actress Monalisa Chinda. Before jumping to conclusions, I decided to read the entire article and see what it was about, and I did. I discovered that she was referring to how she would like to re-marry and how she wasn’t exactly a huge fan of single parenting. I scrolled down to the comments section to see if any other reader had spotted the flaw with that statement “I am designed under a man”. Alas only a few did. Of the few that did only about three of them called her out for such a statement. The remainder encouraged her for being, in their words, an honest woman who knows her place in life is under a man.

I was terribly disappointed and upset that majority of Nigerians are still repressed under the notion that “men are better than women”. As angered as I was, I left the page and logged on to my Facebook where I saw a video that my friend had posted of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie talking about feminism. I was happy to hear her discuss this issue and I could relate with most of the things she said. I remember a time in my Gap Year Program when I had to research on Feminism. I found that certain Africans relate feminist to man-haters, troublesome women, women who have been brain-washed by Western education, bitter-women, and women who are unmarried. If you notice in my descriptions, all their “definitions” are related to women. This is another proof of gender inequality in our country, Nigeria. In their opinion, only women could/can be involved in such ‘nonsense’ even though there are certain men who are feminist and believe in gender equality. These hateful words only refer to the women. It is truly sad.

As I ponder on this issue, I remember a joke I saw somewhere on the internet, it goes “The first time a woman was allowed to think for herself, she destroyed her husband and created problems”. This joke refers to Eve the first woman (according to the bible) and how she fell for the Serpent’s temptation, ate from the forbidden fruit, and fed her husband the forbidden fruit thereby causing her and her husband’s banishment from the Garden of Eden. In other words, a woman’s thinking is bound to lead to disaster. What a cruel and unfair judgment. Women have contributed a lot of things to the world that we live in today.

Our society encourages this demeaning thought; feeds upon it, lives on it. We thrive on dehumanizing women. Women are nothing more than objects; possessions. A woman should be seen but not heard. In schools, you have debates like “who is better? A man or a woman?” “Are men smarter than women?” Debates like this which do nothing but further the thought that one gender is superior to the next and in most cases the result is that a man is supposedly smarter than a woman. Once while reading up on Women in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) fields, I stumbled upon this article. The author of this article gave her reason for why there were more men than women in STEM fields. According to her, one reason is that men are encouraged from a young age to pursue such interests but not women. She says “parents buy toys that are science and technology related for their songs but buy dolls for girls” indirectly building the thought in these children that more tedious and strenuous and innovative work is for boys and not girls.

I cannot talk about this issue and not mention instances of rape. A woman is raped in Nigeria, and next thing you hear people say “it’s her fault, she tempted him”, “what was she doing alone in an unsafe place with boys?” “Why was she wearing such an indecent attire?” Sure, we can ask these questions but I want to know “is that an excuse for such an animalistic and inhumane act?” Even when it’s the other way around, a girl raping a boy; the fault is not the boy’s. It is the girl’s – she is spoilt, wayward and evil that’s why she did it. When a woman is the victim, she is abused even though she already has enough trauma from such a terrible experience. When she is the perpetrator she is also abused. I have this discussion with friends, read people’s opinions on such issue and there is this interesting analogy someone gave. The person said “if you have a Porsche or a Rover or a well-furnished apartment and you were attacked by robbers, can we say it is your fault? Why were you driving a Porsche? Why do you have a well-furnished and beautiful apartment? Didn’t you know it will attract the robbers?

I could list several other unfair circumstances where women have been treated unequally to men but I think most of us already know them. The problem is that we choose to ignore them. It is not important, it is our culture, things have always been like that, it will stir up trouble are among the excuses we give.

I disagree with the notion that I as a woman am designed to be “under” a man. If Monalisa chooses to believe that then let her but I am sad when I think of the little girls who think of her as a role-model that will read that article and think the same because they don’t know better. Or the boys that will read it and believe that women belong under men. The word under is synonymous to “beneath”. I refuse to accept such a derogatory statement. I would have preferred it if she had used “with” or “beside”. I do not believe any sex is better than the other. A woman does not belong “under” a man and vice-versa. We are equal! It is time we start, believing this!

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