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My Name is Afam & I am the Traditional Feminist

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I am a feminist. I believe that there should be economic, social and political equality between men and women, however my brand of feminism is tarnished. Quite remarkably, it is tarnished by the very thing that makes me a feminist in the first place; my history. There seems to be an unbreachable gap between the way I see the world and how it actually is. The human mind is so great that everything I encounter is filtered by my incredibly myopic and astigmatic lenses until it supports whatever delusions I entertain. For instance, it is widely known that the higher up you go in society the fewer women you find, and this is a little odd because there are slightly more women than there are men. 52% of the world’s population is female.

Traditional feminists will declare that this is evidence of the oppression and suppression of women by men.  In my mind this isn’t the case. In my mind, the only reason why women are not as well represented in the higher echelons of society is that they must not want to, for if they did, they would. I know this sounds like the most bizarre, most biased thing in all the world but bear with me, this is going somewhere. If you have already branded me a chauvinist twat then feel free to leave, or call me worse names. Both are equally acceptable, but I’d rather you stayed.

The reason I think like this finds itself in my upbringing. Like all of our upbringings mine strikes me as impossibly unique, that is not to say that it was in fact unique, but I impose my individuality on every experience I live through. It is important to me that it is completely differentiable from an identical experience, experienced by someone else. I realise that I used the word experience consecutively but I don’t think it can be said any better. My paternal grandmother was a single parent for most of her life. She had six children, and though my father very rarely speaks of his childhood, I can tell that it wasn’t very easy but that the only reason he and his siblings survived was her hard work. She was rewarded with his unwavering devotion. If there was anything she needed he got it, and every major decision he took went through her. Can you imagine what this must have looked like to me when I was 5 years old? The man I beheld as the incarnation of a Greek god deferred almost completely to his mother, my grandmother, a woman.

My mother, on the other hand had, and still has both her parents. Her father was a University professor and her mother worked in Chevron. Anyone who knows anything at all about academia, must know that people do not go into it for the money. And if you know anything about Nigerian oil, or even just oil and the seventies, it will be pretty simple for us to assume that she was the bread winner. My mother married my father, and they weren’t very wealthy. He worked out of their one bedroom apartment and she worked at an insurance company. They had my older brother, and she kept on working at the insurance company and my father moved to an office a few minutes away from their one bedroom apartment. They had me and she quit her job at the insurance company and started selling flowers, and designing gardens. From what I gather she didn’t like the long inflexible hours, and she wasn’t too comfortable with us being raised by the nanny. She wanted to be able to drop us off and pick us up from school. She wanted to be at PTA meetings and Sports days and open days. Over the years, her little flower arranging and garden designing business grew. While my father is still the breadwinner, my siblings and I know that everything that we could possibly need can be serviced by either parent. They both have the power.

If in my family, it was only my mother that had some sort of power maybe my views would be different; maybe I would have seen the world as some sort of machine that naturally places women underfoot and lobs men high into the skies but this isn’t the case. Her sister, and her cousins all stand as matriarchs in their own right. This is what I grew up with. As a result, I can say with complete certainty that it is not in my nature to think that women are any less than men, as I have seen several instances when they have been more.

Because of my seemingly unique upbringing (it must be unique for if it wasn’t everyone else would be like me) I believe in feminism, and I am a feminist, but when presented with examples of injustice I am not only genuinely surprised that these things happen but I am also quick to present other reasons why the perceived injustices may occur. If you say to me, “Afam, women are penalized in the work place because employers see them as baby bombs. If they get knocked up, you have to pay them during their maternity leave as well as pay for a replacement worker.” My mind literally looks for a reason why this could not possibly be the case before it grudgingly settles on the possibility that there may be some discrimination going on.

I fear that I am so feminist, that I have imposed my own version of equality on a world that remains unequal, thereby making me complicit in the inequity.

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Afam is the 23 year old man-child behind the blog: The Ramblings of a Mad Man. A self declared architect of words; he is a shameless advocator of self promotion. Follow him on Twitter.

23 Comments

  1. mama

    July 25, 2013 at 11:31 am

    dont understand this walahi?

    • observer

      July 25, 2013 at 12:14 pm

      thought it was me one……for a self proclaimed architect of words….he should hv been clearer bc he is almost neither here nor there…….

    • Bliss

      July 25, 2013 at 12:19 pm

      Well dude is a feminist, because of his unique upbringing. He also goes on to say that just because he is a feminist, doesn’t mean he accepts conspiracy theories believed to be propagated against women at face value. He invites everyone to be objective about a number of things, for example:
      1) “The higher you climb, the fewer women you find.” Is this in reality because the system is chauvinist or is that not enough women hustle hard enough to be on top. This point is neither here nor there for me, there’s the aristos that are just looking to have some rich guy pay their way, and there are the Judy Smiths, Condelezza Rice and Michelle Obamas of society who have had a relentless steady climb. This is not to say that there is no injustice against women in the system, but I suppose at the end of the day we are saying the same thing. If you determined enough, you will get there in spite of everything. Let’s face it, nobody gets a free ride in a free car. Even men face obstacles as they climb.
      2. I lost the second point and my time is up. Maybe I’ll circle right back to the article later in the day. Hope it helped mama!

    • Afam

      July 25, 2013 at 2:43 pm

      Tell me what it is that you do not understand and I’ll do my best to explain.

  2. mia

    July 25, 2013 at 12:39 pm

    he find it hard expressing his views simply but i got some stuffs off the piece.
    1. you are in charge of your happiness and everything you make out of life
    2. if you really want to climb to the echelon of your career, you can.
    3. stop making excuses that the men in your life won’t allow you get to the top of your career, if you a determined woman, you will rarely attract insecure losers who want you to lick their feet because you’re a woman.
    4. there are women who still have much more money than their spouses and the sun still rises in the East, everyday!
    5. you can get it, if only you want.

    i am a living testimony of most of these points, so i know you can!

  3. mimi

    July 25, 2013 at 12:56 pm

    I mean no offense but I feel the writer may have argued himself out of the point he was trying to make with the second to the last paragraph…

  4. Regina

    July 25, 2013 at 1:30 pm

    Women of Nigeria, did you hear Afam? You are not trying hard enough!!!!!! Now, this brilliant young man has illuminated the way for you with this powerful message.

    All you have to do is push past underage marriage and pregnancy, the lack of education for girls and young women, the sexual harassment in uni, the sexism at work where men are promoted above women over fears that they will eventually marry and leave to have children, institutionalised reasoning that women are should stay at home and take care of the children, fewer female (or for that matter males interested in) mentoring, sexual harassment in the workplace, insane targets for the marketing team comprised mostly of women because men feel that they are commodities to be displayed and bartered for an account, pay inequity because you either have a husband to pay for your things or you are not married and living in your father’s house. Being told how to dress, walk and talk and valued only for your attractiveness…

    I could mention more, but at this point I hope you have got the message. It is not as simple as you, from your male point of view. Did you even have a conversation with any woman before you landed with this…drivel? Do you understand how much more difficult younger women from even lower in the social strata have it difficult. There are stories that abound of women who are victimised (the prostitution trafficking to Europe comes readily to mind), and have no access to recourse. There are no institutions that protect and further the rights of women, as our senate laughable proved this last couple of weeks. There is a lot that goes into raising the status of women. It is extremely insulting to tell women that they are not trying hard enough.

    And guess what? Your mother is not representative of women who live in Ikoyi and VI much less the other 50 million plus scattered across the country.

    Onward, women soldiers! Our saviour has shown us the way…

    (PS take that shirt off and burn it. You don’t deserve to wear it).

    • Tunmi

      July 30, 2013 at 7:28 am

      Thank you!!!!!! The guy does not get it and I doubt he ever will until he actually talks to more women—different types of women.

  5. xoxo

    July 25, 2013 at 2:07 pm

    And not a single thing was understood!

  6. Mz Socially Awkward...

    July 25, 2013 at 2:09 pm

    No offence to the writer (although, I agree with what someone said about the last but 1 paragraph contradicting all you’ve laid out above)…. but is this meant to be a substitute for our usual “Thursday Hot Topic”? 🙁

    • Atoke

      July 25, 2013 at 2:20 pm

      Nope. That one is in the oven.

  7. Curious

    July 25, 2013 at 2:16 pm

    What a waste of MY time!

  8. Kemi

    July 25, 2013 at 2:24 pm

    He ends by saying that there must be some discrimination, but he has decided to be myopic about it. Everyone’s entitled to their opinion; and he’s stated his.

  9. Adaeze

    July 25, 2013 at 3:07 pm

    God bless you, Bliss! I get the point too. And I must say beautifully written piece. It resonated with me wella, except that the 2nd to last paragraph is uniquely open to all interpretations…

    I admit it’s true when he says women has all it takes to be up, up there. Why won’t they want it though?

    Women climbing ladders and shattering ceilings has revealed something that has not been noticed before. Money and power (as men are wont to think) do not fully define success. Well-being, wisdom, wonder(ability to), give-back are truly important too. And show how you love yourself enough to make life interesting. Our mothers said success is defined by your home and we didn’t fully understand. Home is where the heart sleeps. So, maybe woman refuses current definition of success and, climbing up, freely redefines it herself.

    Mo Abudu is doing just that, I think. Would you say she is not up, up there?

  10. Sugabelly

    July 25, 2013 at 10:24 pm

    And this post is dripping in male privilege and willful ignorance.

    Women just don’t want to succeed right??????????

    Tell that to women who are denied promotions or employment because managers feel that they should go and marry instead of throwing their weight around the work place.

    Tell that to women who are encouraged to sacrifice education and careers and dreams for marriage or sometimes threatened into making that sacrifice when they would have chosen otherwise if not under duress.

    This is the most ignorant post I have ever seen about feminism, full of derailment and denial of the lived realities of women in the world today, especially Nigerian women.

    Ugh

    • No Longus

      July 26, 2013 at 5:17 am

      Yes. A lot of women don’t want to succeed. In fact, an overwhelming majority would rather acquire all the education from elite schools all over the world, just to sit at home and manufacture babies for the likes of Sergie Brin, Larry Page, Mark Zuckerberg, or maybe Elon Musk.

    • Kemi

      July 26, 2013 at 6:10 am

      So what about the women who do succeed? Lets stop being negative and push hard. It is possible, and yes we can!

    • Afam

      July 26, 2013 at 11:52 am

      Maybe I could have said what I meant better, or maybe I couldn’t. I stand by it. It’s my baby, I like it, I liked writing it even more. I suppose, the first problem can be found with the title: “My Name is Afam & I am the Traditional Feminist”. While my name is indeed Afam, I am not the traditional feminist. I don’t even know that there is such a thing as the traditional feminist. If you read it, and I mean really read it, you would be able to tell that my version of feminism isn’t very feminist at all. In fact it’s horrible.

      “my brand of feminism is tarnished”

      The article could easily have been called how to be a rubbish feminist or how to be a chauvinist twat, but I said that.

      “If you have already branded me a chauvinist twat then feel free to leave, or call me worse names. Both are equally acceptable, but I’d rather you stayed.”

      I went on to describe my upbringing, and how it is that I have come to think the way I do. Reading it, you must have thought, “but he doesn’t actually support women’s rights. He’s a doubting Thomas!!” Yes, I don’t, and I am a doubting Thomas, but that was the point too. Now you’re thinking, “What a delusional arse! How does he get to call himself a feminist?” and yes, I agree with you, but I called myself delusional in the article.

      “The human mind is so great that everything I encounter is filtered by my incredibly myopic and astigmatic lenses until it supports whatever delusions I entertain.”

      Finally, I ended the article by saying,

      “I fear that I am so feminist, that I have imposed my own version of equality on a world that remains unequal, thereby making me complicit in the inequity.”

      That’s me saying how bad I am. I cannot explain that sentence without repeating it. I’ll only say that I used inequity and not inequality at the end because the inequality is also unfair. This was my way of saying, I’m wrong. My take on the issue isn’t right, and that if you are like me, believing that you support women’s rights and equality while doing nothing, questioning and rationalising every bit of evidence that proves it, then you are actually not in support of women’s rights.

      Yes, the women in my family did work incredibly hard to become matriarchs in their own right, but that’s not the same for every woman. I would be crazy, to assume that it was the same for every woman, but then again, I run a blog called “The Ramblings of a Madman” so I suppose it fits.

      I believe that a thorough examination of your stance on any issue is vital. This is an examination of my current position on feminism. I have identified that it isn’t a very good stance on feminism, but that’s okay. It’s okay because stances are incredibly ephemeral in nature. I have identified the problem, and I will fix the problem. Is this your problem too? If it is then fix it.

    • Bliss

      July 26, 2013 at 12:10 pm

      Dude. I was routing for you, now you have me confused. So you are a feminist or no? Btw I think your trance like form of writing will be totally suited for wepisodes or any type of series really like the HBO hit series Girls. . . It’s kinda random like that(in a good way).

  11. A-z

    July 26, 2013 at 10:26 am

    Kemi must be afam’s voltron lol. The crux of the matter is that, in trying to get his point across he lost most of us in his meandering about his upbringing rather than emphasise on feminism. B+ for effort though

  12. kemtee

    July 26, 2013 at 10:46 am

    OK. So all of this is your opinion. But one small advice about your style of writing: Keep It Simple.
    Your article was kinda tough to read; I had to reread a number of sentences more than twice, just to understand them. Architect of words? OK. Yes. But words are used to convey messages; so if you use them in a complex way; no one will get any meaning. And that defeats the very purpose of writing, not so??

    About feminism, you have it wrong Sir. Perhaps your mother didn’t have to prove herself to anyone because she chose the conventional role: sit-at-home/work-from-home mother. Other women find it very difficult to compete in the workplace. Very difficult. The system is against them. Your article makes it appear there’s nothing hindering women, like nothing hindered your mom.

    That said, it’s still possible to achieve what you want as a woman. Inspite of all the odds. You can become what you want, it’s just going to be harder for you than it is for your male counterparts. But like we say, nothing in life is easy.

  13. Bambam

    July 26, 2013 at 12:56 pm

    This is really well written, you don’t need to keep explaining yourself to readers. You started off by saying that you were about to state YOUR opinions on the issue, people don’t need to agree with you, and if your writing style is too challenging for some readers thats their problem, not yours.

    You believe in the ability of women to rise to the top, should they have the ambition to do so.
    You recognize that your views on this issue are flawed and have been tainted by the women that surrounded you growing up. You accept that there are probably situations out there where women are being held back due to discrimination, but you’re comfortable maintaining your myopic view on the issue.

    Keep up the good writing! xxxx

  14. kemtee

    July 28, 2013 at 3:41 pm

    Hehehehe @Bambam. I like the “military” style of the last clause in the first paragraph of your comment. lol

    The man is a writer, and he’s writing to be read. If a good number of readers can’t understand him, that should be a problem for him atink.

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