Tag Archives: Feminism

A few words about my talk at this year’s SOAS Igbo Conference.

I often have to force myself to go to bed at night because it is at this time that my brain seems to want to be awake. This time, it is preoccupied with clarifications.

At the end of my talk titled ‘Different but Equal’ yesterday evening, a very nice professor from UNILAG approached me with her concerns. For one, she thought I was being general when I said that our culture is preoccupied with marriage, especially that of females and that women were often complicit in the mild coercion of other women in this vein.

“I never pushed any of my daughters to get married,” she said.

Later during a panel discussing Adichie’s ‘We Should All Be Feminists’ speech, she took the opportunity to reiterate her point, adding that she was ‘shocked at some of the things which people are saying here today’.

I take her point. I did say during my talk that it was a certain kind  of Igbo person, woman or man that I was referring to. Being in that lecture hall, at that conference, many of us already declared our interest in equality of the sexes. I was among my people. Perhaps, that did not come across clearly.

My own mother is very much like this professor. I was in my twenties when I married, armed with two degrees and a post-graduate diploma and my mother when I told her I was engaged said “But why do you need to marry now? What about your PhD?” or words to that effect.

However, this is my mother. This is the kind of person she is; a woman who believes that all women should aim to achieve their full potential before marriage – if they desire to get married, of course. And she is this way because her parents were the same. But this is not everyone’s reality, not in this generation or in our mothers’. This has certainly not been my reality with our Nigerian society in general and to assume that everyone is like my mother or like the aforementioned professor, would be very narrow-minded indeed.

Just because the truth makes us uncomfortable, does not make it any less true.

Secondly, I mentioned I had not – prior to my recent Nigeria trip – been home in six years. A friend, in jest, told me I should be ashamed of myself. Ha ha. I had my reasons, including a cancelled trip in 2012 due to ‘extenuating circumstances’ (ha ha again. There’s a show on telly right now). I would not have thought more of it if the lovely, worried, professor did not pick that up during her comment at panel as proof that I was out of touch with the times. “You need to ask us what we at home are doing,” she said.

Again, agreed. I hate to think that I implied that there was nothing being done by women at home with regards to feminism, womanism or whatever other ‘ism’ out there is being used to describe the movement for equality among the sexes.

But this is not the 1970s or 80s. Being away from home these days, no longer entails waiting weeks or months for a letter or sitting by the phone at an appointed time for a 3-minute phone call down a crackly line. no. Now, when we are not at home, we take home with us; a look on social media will reveal to you the general thought processes of people regarding anything you want to know. Social media is good like that. It cuts across all groups; gender, age and literacy. My entire family – bar one sister and I – still live and work in Nigeria. One is never more than a Whatsapp message away from what is happening. Anyone still in doubt of the power and effectiveness of social media in and amongst Nigerians, need only consider its impact on this year’s presidential elections.

Then of course, there are friends and family who travel to and from Nigeria frequently, of which my husband is one. This year alone, he’s been to Nigeria three times. It is pretty difficult to be as far removed as once was, from simply not being ‘on the ground’ in Nigeria. Not unless one is plagued by technophobia or is some sort of Luddite.

The number one topic at any gathering of the diaspora here? Nigeria.

Finally, I would hate if my talk came across as an attack on men and manhood. That was not my intention. I will reiterate: there are certain men who would give their right arm to uphold the status quo. You know them. They are the ‘This is not the done thing’ men or the ‘It is against our culture’ men or the men who try to use religion to justify their perceived superiority. Then, there are the ignorant ones, who have never really thought about it. They’ve never had to put themselves in the shoes of women because it just has not occurred to them at all. Out of this group you might eventually get resistance, understanding and change or just plain indifference.

Then there are the men, who are already getting it right. Those men were all at Igbo Conference yesterday and will be today. To those men, I say ‘Deeme’, you are on the right track.

I hope I have resolved any misunderstandings. Now my good people, you have the knife and the yam; you may cut it into whatever size is easy for you to digest.

Regards,

CE.

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I am giving up on writing.

Sometimes, you come across a story that makes you question everything you’re doing. Like, why are you alive? What are you doing wasting your life when you know you will never be as great? What is the point of toiling when all people want to read is ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’?

I have just come across one such story. I am in despair. This story wins all the awards ever invented and that will ever be invented in the future. I am going to hurl my laptop out of my third floor window after I put this post up because there is JUST NO POINT.

Here are eight reasons you should read this story:

1) It is a conservative Christian fanfic of Harry Potter: The author did not want her children to become witches so she decided to do her own. Hear her:  “Friends: this is exactly what I have been saying! Harry Potter has many good things about it; but it still has witchcraft; so my children cannot read it. BUT that is why I am writing this! So they can have all the adventure and good morals of the Harry Potter books without all that bad stuff that is bogging it down.”

2) Hagrid is a sexy, country evangelist .

3) For sentences such as this one: “Answer the door, Harry!” his Aunt Petunia, a career woman, barked from her armchair where she sat with her feet up.

4) For the words ‘Hogwarts School of Prayer and Miracles’.

5) Barack Obama is Voldemort.

6) No brooms or flying cars, just the awesomeness that is “Dear Lord, take us to Hogwarts!”

7) Her version of the Sorting Hat is P.R.I.C.E.L.E.S.S. You pesky Catholics and all your many sorting hats. Tsk, tsk!

8) Reverend Albus Dumbledore, his wife Minerva and Hermoine, his daughter.

9) The females, man: ‘Lovely, ladylike tears began to roll down her delicate, terrified face.’  ‘Hermione replied obediently with an innocent, girlish smile; and got to her feet; and smoothed out the skirt of her becoming, pink frock.’

10) The author randomly interjecting with her views: ‘It did not smell or taste like bacon. It missed that smokey, meaty taste that bacon is supposed to have. Instead, it tasted like vegetables blended together and died red. Yuck! Harry would take real bacon over that any day of the week.’ – And this when a character other than Harry is doing the eating. Harry has not even tasted the ‘bacon’.

BONUS

11) This image:

aattp.org
Holy Harry

Click here to read the whole story!

Like I said, I give up on this writing lark. The author takes all the biscuits.

Rage against the machine or ‘Who are you even doing, sef?’

One of the many benefits to being self-employed – and some months, not even that – is the freedom to do as you please. It’s harder with a toddler but basically you work in short bursts or long stretches, depending on the time you have. You might watch a bit of TV in between or work out, or have cereal for lunch. Or blog. Or even go all day without a shower because you’re waiting for a parcel. Like I am right now.

You have to watch your behaviour a lot though. You don’t want to be that person that conducts Skype meetings in your pyjamas or does  radio interviews over the phone while still in bed because pretty soon, you are that guy. You know, that guy; the one that you see on your way to work, going to the corner shop in a slanket .

That being said, it really is freeing. But it has got me thinking about how much of what we do is for other people, be they of the same sex or otherwise. I always used to say I dressed and groomed for myself and I believed it too. But how true could it possibly be when I am sitting here in a pair of joggers a size too small, an oversized cardie, no underwear to speak of and the most extraordinary amount of underarm hair I have ever grown in my life?

Yes, you heard me. I am free to grow disproportionate amounts of body hair. Call me Cousin It.  Not for me the folly of depilatory creams, waxing, buffing and whatever the newest hair removal torture is. Pah! Why should my body be under the control of society and accepted norms? Take that, society! In your face, literally and figuratively. I am saving money! Think of the bungalow I could be building in my village while you’re getting your eyebrows threaded, you pleb. 

Back when I used to work outside the house, I would leave my very unshaven legs out in the summer and get pitying looks on the bus or tube. White people looking at me, shaking their heads like “Whoever doth inflict  madness upon this poor child, may good fortune forever elude thee.”  The black grannies cursing my ‘rass’ for showing them up in front of white people, wishing this godforsaken country had access to koboko and no police. I’d sit there pretending not to notice, singing ‘God is good, he has done me well’ and hoping that no one would jump me before my stop. (You know, to drag me off to the nearest salon, get the mess on my legs fixed. Black grannies do not play.)

It was such a faff. And that was when I my features were aesthetically pleasing.  Now that I am grossly overweight I am sure they’d put aside their differences, light some torches and  chase me with off like Frankenstein’s monster. So I just sit at home, writing and growing my hair in silent rebellion.

Whatever, man. I am standing up for feminism. Or motherhood, whichever. Because God knows this whole mess started because I couldn’t find my razor one very busy morning.  And now I am just too lazy.

Help me.

Somebody? Anybody?

Sex Me Bad: Nollywood and ‘the Fairer Sex’.

Sex Me Bad by Violet Omojan Okokor

Forget the godawful title trying to be all Color Me Badd ‘I Wanna Sex You Up’, I think this book could make for interesting reading.

As someone who pulls her hair out at how BADLY Nollywood treats women (see here), it is refreshing to see that not only does someone else feel the way I do, but she has gone ahead to write a book about it! With facts! And stuff!

I’m still baffled as to why it came up in a search for Zulu Sofola’s works on Amazon – I had to go back and type the name of the book to get a clean link for you guys to click through to – but I am chalking this one up to fate today. I’ll let you know if it’s any good. There are no reviews on the Amazon at present so I am buying blind.