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Oba Banwo: I am A Man & I am A Feminist

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I live in an era in which every one has a voice, and every movement has its advocates. The continued fight for equal rights of racial minorities, LGBT advocacy and equality, the fight for democracy in dictator-ruled regions, the demand for the right to education in impoverished nations-all of these have gained much traction in my generation. However, for many, one movement in particular has taken the forefront- the fight for equality of men and women, also known as Feminism.

The concept is simple- that all women and men should be regarded as equals, and treated as such. Yet, to my confusion, it is a topic of much debate, and is subject to much vitriol by media outlets, influential members of society, and your Regular Joes out there. I am confused because some people insist that women are the weaker sex- emotionally, mentally and professionally- and can be reduced to simple beings that are ruled by their “raging hormones” and “turbid emotional states”. I am confused, because some people view women as just holding vessels for a vagina, and can be conquered at any time by a suitable man, like game during hunting season. I am confused, because some people believe that young girls are not deserving of the same educational and professional opportunities that young boys are, and can be sold like merchandise, in the name of marriage, to the highest bidder. I am confused, because some people believe that women are not deserving of the same accolades and wages, despite performing the same quality and quantity of work as their male peers. And I am confused, because in 2014, some people believe that a woman does not possess the mental acuity, steely resolve and level-headedness to become President of her own country, despite demonstrating a higher level of competency.

And now, my state of confusion has been overcome by a fit of rage. And this fit of rage has caused me to point fingers. Yes, I’m looking at you all, my male peers who claim to have an advanced level of thinking that women and men are equals, yet in private, express their true feelings of mockery for the cause- shame on you. Shame on those men that claim that because a woman is scantily clad, she is “asking to be raped”. Shame on those men who raise their sons to be dominant and powerful in society, but raise their daughters to be subservient by “doing as they are told”. Shame on those men that cannot engage with women in an intellectual argument, but instead cop out by concluding that “she must be on her period”- NO, she is not on her period; she is, however, a complex interplay of emotions, hormones, thoughts, and feelings- a complexity that extends far beyond your comprehension, you simple minded twit. Shame on those men that cannot handle female success and the fact that women are equal competitors, so instead resort to down-playing their accomplishments by making crass jokes about their femininity. And as a black man, I say shame on other black men that scoff at the thought of feminism, when they, of all people, should be sympathetic to the plight of people that are down-trodden and regarded as less than human because of an inherent physical characteristic.

But there will be no double standards in this piece, certainly not; because just as many men are guilty of these transgressions, so are many women. Shame on those women that put down other women for fighting for their cause, and claim ‘they are over-reacting” and excuse misogynistic behaviour by saying “that’s just the way men are”. Shame on those women that mock other forms of feminism, because they believe only their approach is correct, and everything else is just “overt sexuality”. Shame on those women that instead of joining the fight, they look down on feminists, and regard them as “angry, butch, lesbians who can’t find husbands”. Shame on those women who choose the route of complacency in this issue, while a 16 year old is being shot in the head in Pakistan for fighting about this SAME issue. And shame on those women, that despite the leaps and bounds that have been made on behalf of them in the workplace, shirk their assigned duties by claiming “But I’m a girl!!!”.

Now call me crazy for believing that men and women should be treated as equals, but I learned from my mother that a woman can act like a boss, and BE THE BOSS. I learned from my mother, that despite being born in colonized Nigeria- a time when feminism was not even a concept- a woman can walk into a room full of men, and demand attention and respect; that a woman does not cower at the opinion of weak minded misogynists, but instead stands her ground; and that a woman can be an executive at the workplace, but still set time apart to be a loving mother and wife. And I learned from my father, that a man, a true man, not only allows his wife to do all these things, but respects her opinion when she expresses it, and lets her do her own thing, and be her own person. So again, forgive me if I am crazy, but I am of the firm opinion that a woman can do anything, and I mean ANYTHING, that a man can do. A feminist is a person who believes in the social, political and economic equality of the sexes, and I, Oba Banwo, am a feminist.

Photo Credit: Dreamstime | Bobby Flowers

Oba Banwo is a Nigerian living in Canada. While he does not claim to be a writer, he finds writing as the best way to express his feelings on Nigeria, and life in Canada.

44 Comments

  1. Ima

    November 14, 2014 at 8:22 am

    A thousand likes, Oba. Well said. I’m a feminist, and I’m proud!

  2. neppeeee

    November 14, 2014 at 8:28 am

    Oba you are such a good man full of wisdom.. You sound exactly like my husbands and brothers. If only we had people who could think like this, then this world would be a better place…

  3. Surely

    November 14, 2014 at 8:32 am

    Oba, you’re a reasonable person and I wish more men and women in Nigeria were like you… Feminism make sense die! The only women that are against it is os they can collect money from men and expect marriage from them. And d men against it is because they want to continue to enslave women mentally and financially…. FYI the bible and quran claim that ALL humans are equal in the eyes of God/Allah (for the religious ones)…

  4. Truth Teller

    November 14, 2014 at 8:51 am

    I believe this writer deserves a warm hug, wow! Gender equality is one if the most misunderstood concepts in modern Africa and it’s because the traditions and cultures of our people favour the male gender, most of which make no sense and should be abolished.

    The moment gender equality is mentioned, most people automatically assume it’s in the context of marriage , and women are trying to take the place of their husbands -wrong! Well, let’s talk about that first then. For most people, there are guidelines ( which is religion,and we are a very religious nation).
    Most religions endorse the man as the head of the home, but that doesn’t give him any license to be haughty, someone that can’t be corrected, mean, a dictator etc… Even the headship of a man comes with his own responsibilities not just ‘woman, submit to me’. All this is in the context of a marriage and can’t even apply to everyone because some people don’t even believe in religion or God, so they have other guidelines.

    Now in the African society I believe mothers have a lot of responsibility to take in terms of how their sons turn out to be. I don’t believe in raising boys that will be watching cartoons while their sisters are in the kitchen, or playing video games while their sisters are doing domestic chores.. I don’t. No one is saying make the boy a sissy, but he should never be raised to feel superior to a girl simply because he, without a choice if his own was born male.
    It will take another type of grace for a boy that feels superior as a child to have a different mindset as an adult. I hear heartbreaking comments like ‘after all, you’re just a mere girl’, or ‘na woman’ or ‘ I have your type and will treat you the way I want to’ e.t.c

    The bottom line is this, most ( and I say most, not all) men ( particularly African men) believe women are but mere objects that belong to the kitchen and labour room, that shouldn’t aspire to have certain dreams and goals, and would do anything to limit them especially when they know women are more competent than them in certain fields…. Just because they’re female!

    We MUST teach our sons to respect women, we MUST teach our daughters to do the same. It will take a while but a new crop of men will eventually emerge.

    Women and Men ought to be accorded the same rights economically, politically, educationally etc., that’s what we’re fighting for.

    • like

      November 14, 2014 at 9:50 am

      Thank you! Oba Banwo thank you too. The koko is forget gender roles when raising your kids. Equally should begin at home.

    • PD Young Billionaire

      November 15, 2014 at 2:31 am

      1000 likes!!

  5. bruno

    November 14, 2014 at 9:05 am

    The feminist issue is hot right now, so everyone is claiming they are a feminist just to jump on the bandwagon and so they can look cool. Its just like gay advocacy, all of a sudden everybody supports gay rights and everyone is gay friendly, just so they can look cool and edgy and forward, but in reality they hate gay people.

    Mr oba bawon, if I tell u to change ur surname to your wife’s maiden name, can u do it, if I tell u to stay home and take care of the kids while ur wife goes out to work, can u do it, the answer is NO. Pls u are not a feminist.

    • ekalor

      November 14, 2014 at 9:36 am

      You totally missed the point of this article…

    • Ms Geeky 30

      November 14, 2014 at 9:59 am

      Exactly! Thank you ekalor!

    • Yemisi

      November 14, 2014 at 9:44 am

      Your view on some matters are just senseless. How do you think? You read and comprehended in a silly way.
      So staying at home to take care of the kids is the only definiton of him been a feminist? Only in your world.

      You need to learn to read and comprehend. In the last paragraph he defined who a feminist is saying it is someone that believes in the social, political and economic equality of the sexes. “His own definition”

      Well, oba banwo if only dat is the general definition of a feminist. I prefer your definition to some other activists out deir.

    • Surely

      November 15, 2014 at 10:50 am

      Oba’s definition is the same in most places… stop making excuses for not standing up for what’s right. As a Nigerian, do you deny that identity because of the bad name some have given it? Abeg shift…

    • Daisy

      November 14, 2014 at 9:47 am

      This is where you have got it wrong, what has having to be treated equally got to do with changing name? If he changes his name and abuses his wife to what end is that? Feminism is about the tangible result of seeing that discrimination does not exist due to sex and gender roles not trivial things like name change.
      On your second example, are you suggesting that women should not work outside the home? What if the man works from home and pulls in the same income? Some countries make provision for Paternity Leave so it might actually happen that the wife goes to work during this time and the husband remains home. Does this mean he’s not in support of equality of the sexes? You don’t understand what feminism and gender equality is, there’s no shame in that, you can read about it. It will sure broaden you mind and subsequently thinking.

    • Surely

      November 15, 2014 at 10:48 am

      You are quite stupid oh, Bruno. The issue is anyone who wants to change their name to the other’s should do so WILLINGLY not as amateur of tradition or compulsion. If a man wants to change to his wife’s why not? But a woman does NOT have to change hers…

  6. Ms Geeky 30

    November 14, 2014 at 9:30 am

    Oba Banwo = A real man full of widom. Right here is a man that has my respect without even having to try. A person who truly deserves to be known by the noun ‘MAN’.

  7. BlueEyed

    November 14, 2014 at 10:22 am

    Well said Mr Oba. One thing I’d like to say is that as much as fathers should raise forward thinkers so also should mothers, now I say this because you hear of mothers who Instil the need for excessive masculinity in their sons and perpetuate the whole male stereotype, I mean one commenter on BN mentioned how disappointed she was at her husband for crying in front of her, in her words “isn’t he a man”? “Crying is for women”, imagine a son growing under that type of mother, born with an emotional gene but yet grows up to believe that crying is for women hence women are weak.

  8. jess

    November 14, 2014 at 10:28 am

    Good piece Oba! Coming from the spiritual angle I stumbled across a video clip by pastor Chris Oyakhilome speaking about how women are ‘created for the man and how God created everything and called it good before he created woman’! I was appalled that a man of God would stand in public and practically tell women not to think much of themselves – they are created to serve a man, to be a help – meet for him.
    Women in that congregation were nodding their heads in agreement and raising hands.
    Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm, when will we women in Africa and Nigeria believe that we are strong and not below the man.?

    • slice

      November 14, 2014 at 3:19 pm

      i’m not a Chris O supporter but i’ve heard that preaching all too often from difft pastors and I can tell you the idea is not to bring women down but to force men to get off their arses and work and that’s why women nod in agreement went it’s preached. there are many men who don’t want to work and pastors like to say God did not create a woman to provide for the house …..

    • Surely

      November 15, 2014 at 10:52 am

      You’re clearly a Chirs Oyakhilome supporter. That message was pure hatred towards women

  9. bruno

    November 14, 2014 at 11:32 am

    One dimensional brain that’s what many of u people have. I think its only chimaamanda that will understand my comment.

    Feminists are people who stand up against sexism,

    Reverse gender roles, if u are a true feminist mr oba,

    why must the woman change her surname, why can’t the man change his surname,is it because the woman is lesser? Etc I can give more and more examples.

    Many of u people are shallow and u believe feminism is about equal pay and equal rights etc. It is deeper than that. Dunces.

    PS. pls I’m not commenting for anybody, if u don’t like my comments, pls move along, I don’t even know u, but u know me. Its not personal

    • tunmi

      November 14, 2014 at 5:21 pm

      I have to…I see your point. Why doesn’t the man take on his wife’s name? Why isn’t that option even available. I remember a post about chimamanda talking about how in precolonial days, children took on their mother’s name. I really am curious about gender equality in precolonial days. But Bruno raises an important question, it has never been brought to the table that men could/should/ought to take on their wives’ name.

  10. great piece

    November 14, 2014 at 11:47 am

    a person who supports feminism. Not only a WOMAN but everybody. Equality of the sexes.
    Here is my view women if you hit a man first you should get hit back. Shikenah. That is what equality brings.

  11. bruno

    November 14, 2014 at 12:01 pm

    Ladies,When u have gotten married suggest to ur feminist husband that u don’t want to change ur last name,instead u want him to change his last name and let’s see what ur “feminist” husband will say about that.

    Bunch of dummies

    • Idomagirl

      November 14, 2014 at 12:35 pm

      You are calling people ‘bunch of dummies’? The irony is killing me. Your idiocy has blinded you to the fact that LOTS of women get married and still hold on to their last names, but please carry on speaking from your rectum as usual. And also if a woman gets married and in exercising her agency decides to take her husband’s last name, it doesn’t in anyway diminish her feminism.

      I’m so sick of small-minded cretins like you who constantly reduce feminism and insist on making it about marriage at every single turn. The writer listed at least two serious problems facing women today, but all of that flew over your head. In a world where girls are still getting shot or bathe with acid or sold off into marriage instead of getting an education, you think last names are important in the grand scheme of things? If you don’t have anything constructive to add to the conversation don’t comment.

    • Tudbee

      November 14, 2014 at 8:03 pm

      Standing ovation for you. It irks me when I see such comments depicting their level of intelligence. Like you said out of every issue stated it boils down to marriage for her. I guess unmarried women have no value as far as she’s concerned. And of course she has to resort to name calling because she can’t engage in an intellectual argument.

    • D

      November 14, 2014 at 4:22 pm

      I still keep my maiden name after so many years of marriage and never has my husband suggested that I change it. Infact, most of our investments are in my name (Maiden), he insists on this, for the ones we both have our names on, it is my maiden name although my husband will never refer to himself as a feminist ( I don’t think he has even thought about it). All he does his appreciate his wife and supports her in every way. There are many men that do not need their wives changing last names to validate them anymore. I think you should be checking those you hang out with. I have a few friends who are married to Nigerian men like I am that have husbands like mine so I know I am not an exception to the rule, There are many men who are comfortable, very comfortable helping around the house today and that includes the kitchen. I know we still have ways to go when it comes to some men accepting and encouraging women strengths but to generalize in this way says a lot.

    • soso

      November 14, 2014 at 11:40 pm

      You are the biggest dummy here. A feminist man doesn’t have to change his surname to his wife’s won but can let her keep hers if she wishes to.

    • Surely

      November 15, 2014 at 10:58 am

      not “let her” but respect whatever decision SHE makes

  12. GummyBear

    November 14, 2014 at 12:16 pm

    God Bless you! This is honestly such an amazingly written article. I love the fact that it is addressed to both sexes as each have dismissed the need to discuss or advocate female rights!

  13. bruno

    November 14, 2014 at 12:52 pm

    I am not against feminism, at all, I am just attacking people who like to jump on bandwagons and think its cool to call themselves names like feminist, and pro gay etc. In reality these people can not practice what they preach, in reality this man that is claiming to be a feminist still believes the kitchen is a woman’s office, and still believes a woman can not move nigeria forward if she becomes the president etc. Its bullshit.

    I’m so glad some people can see what I’m saying. Feminism is not only about equal pay in the office etc its about breaking gender roles like women are suppose to change their surname when they get married. Kitchen is a woman’s offfice, etc.

    • Idomagirl

      November 14, 2014 at 1:08 pm

      Okay then. Noted.

    • benny

      November 14, 2014 at 1:43 pm

      Write ur own gender equality article instead of dragging another’s down. It is that simple. The shock value act is wearing thin…

    • D

      November 14, 2014 at 2:36 pm

      Just out of curiosity…Bruno do you know this Oba person personally??? Because if you don’t you seem to have assumed a whole lot about him and you are speaking like it is a fact, that is, you know him personally. If you don’t then you might want to rethink the way you phrase your statements and if you do, well, I guess he should feel free to be honest with himself. You can say you are not certain that he will be willing to take on his wife’s maiden name or that he is comfortable in the kitchen but to speak with such certainty without having proof as to his character is very an inappropriate. Many men these days are becoming comfortable in the kitchen and with who they are that the thought of having a strong and succesful wife does not make them uncomfortable.

  14. Uju

    November 14, 2014 at 3:11 pm

    Yes!!!!!
    Preach it!!!
    I agree with everything in this article.
    You’re a correct person!

  15. omoibo

    November 14, 2014 at 3:21 pm

    Feminism: the advocacy of women’s rights on the grounds of political, social, and economic equality to men

    At Oba, you have clearly articulated your view point but at the end of the day feminism is a matter of opinion based on who you are speaking with and how it is interpreted.
    We live in a world that is not black & white, everything is relative and open to interpretation including feminism, like the saying goes one man’s meat is another man’s poison.
    I believe in the equality of the genders, but here is where I find it a bit self-serving, when we pick and choose when to pull out the feminist card. This is my opinion

  16. tunmi

    November 14, 2014 at 5:28 pm

    On a side note, this reminds me of the issues I have heard when it comes to men and women in work settings. It tends to go like this: woman offers idea or raises isssue, it gets ignored by a largely male-dominated room. Man offers same idea or raises same issue, the room applauds and acknowledges.

    Women have written about this issue on BN and it has never received such major support like this. There are always comments of how women truly don’t know what they want (when and when not to use feminism), whether is is truly needed, overflogging of topic, this one has come again, etc. Even of note, I have read of other users complaining of having to read about these topics. But the other gender presents it and the comments are different. This is mere observation.

    I am glad that more and more Nigerians are being thoroughly educated on this matter, and that it is cutting across genders. We will always need allies and we truly need all people to be feminists, to advocate for equal opportunities for both girls and boys, men and women. So kudos to this article, and let us keep having these discussions.

    • Doxa

      November 15, 2014 at 8:01 pm

      Tunmi God bless you. If a woman writes on BN about Feminism, it’s an over-flogged issue. When a guy writes, it gets resounding applause.
      Well, maybe, just maybe it’s because he addressed both genders. Maybe, I leave it at that.

  17. abla kay

    November 14, 2014 at 7:44 pm

    I’m constantly made to feel bad *to say the least* for identifying as a feminist. As though i were trying to be a man or have committed some grave sin. Its so refreshing to read an article like this. Thank you.

  18. akinwumi

    November 14, 2014 at 10:14 pm

    All I can conclude from your argument is; you are molested and bullied when you are a kid, and you’re one of those guys who can’t stand on their opinion. only looking for a way to be heard in the society by going with the trend in the society. I pity your mentality look at the way you are using abuse word to drive in your point! better go and look for better things to dedicate your time to and be the man once….

    • Ms Geeky 30

      November 15, 2014 at 8:48 am

      That you think that your comment is an appropriate response to this well written, thought out article says it all. I think you need to go back, re-read the article and then come back with valid cogent arguments that refute the points made in the article.
      Oh wait! We might be waiting a long time for that….

  19. soso

    November 14, 2014 at 11:41 pm

    @Bruno, true feminism is not about gender role reversal it is about equality. The message is EQUALITY not female chauvinism . You have totally missed the point dude.

  20. ade

    November 16, 2014 at 5:14 am

    while I believe in the equality of both gender, I find it troublesome when people use terms that are troublesome to convey their ideas. Mostimes, it run contrary to what they are trying to preach. Word like misogynist is troublesome in the context which it was used. Most importantly, I personally find the word feminist troublesome ( and before you call me all sort of names and all, wait a second and asked yourself how does the word come to be?) Why the word feminist? Why not equalist? Why not masculinist? Why not genderist?
    Just like Bruno said, it seems like the cool thing to say this days. Must you tag yourself feminist before you believe in gender equality? Must you tag yourself feminist before you know how to respect and treat women just like you would like to be treated? I wonder why the likes of Martin Luther King Jr. does not refer to himself or developed a concept such as African-Americanist? I wonder why the likes of Kwame Nkrumah, Thomas Sankara Isiodre, Julius Nyerere, Zik of Africa, Obafemi Awolowo, Steve Biko, Mrs Funmilayo Ransom Kuti, Patrice Lumumba and a whole a lot of other prominents sons and daughter never referred to themselves as Africanist?
    In my own opinion, term such as feminist will continue to be a troublesome term because it sets the tone of hatred, disrespect and misconception of the gender issue. It set the idea of “we versus them” This I believe is the real problem society have to really face and find solution to

    PS: don’t bring religion into this discussion if you gonna respond to my comment because that will simply not help.
    Thanks.
    Love you guys by the way lol

    • DG Caraff

      November 17, 2014 at 12:32 am

      Why do you think the word “misogynist’ was troublesome in that context?

  21. Lady in the white scarf

    November 18, 2014 at 8:48 am

    This is a progressive, timeless piece. A ray of hope and extremely inspiring. I’m proud of this kind of thinking.

  22. Nigerian Lady

    December 25, 2014 at 2:27 am

    Oba, I do not know you, but I will look for you! I will find you, and I will marry you.

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