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Obianuju Ndaguba: Not Your Regular Type of Feminist

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dreamstime_m_813795I am a feminist!

Quite interestingly, in the past, I tried to play safe by not regarding my line of thoughts and essentially my actions as being feminist.

For not wanting to come across as having strong opinions which were and still remain random, I would even take offence if someone referred to me as a feminist.

Not only is the topic highly controversial, but the narratives are often misunderstood. I have a Kenyan friend who recently met a fellow researcher. She mentioned to him that her current research is on Feminism in Kenya, and my brother said and I quote, ‘I didn’t see feminism in Kenya, I only saw beautiful women in Mumbasa‘.

While this statement may come across as a joke, it made me wonder in what light people have deemed the notion of feminism to be. Arguably, words like: violent, selfish, irrational and so on are often associated with ‘feminism’ and ‘feminist movement’.

Although, we cannot separate feminism from gender ascribed roles, it summarily boils down to women being inferior to men. Feminism calls for fairness and equality. Men and women can be equal within the context of society.

This is how I interpret this: I teach my sons and daughters to give respect to whom respect is due, regardless of whether male or female. I teach my sons to respect women the same way my daughters should respect men. I would not restrict household chores to my daughters alone, knowing that even my sons ought to learn to cook, clean and take care of the home.

I would tell my sons, ‘crying does not make you weak’, and never insinuate that only women are allowed to express pain. If I say to my son, ‘be a man’, I will also say to my daughter ‘be a woman’ without the statement meaning because you are a woman, you are to tolerate any or everything a man (and probably, a woman) does to you.
Likewise, I accord respect to whom it is due, I deserve to be given all the opportunities that a male counterpart would enjoy, my choice to identify as a woman should not limit me in anyway possible and much more.

The problem is, we blame society for defining what becomes our life’s pattern without questioning who society really is. Gender ascribed roles, are sometimes misunderstood religious and cultural beliefs. If we acknowledge that culture is dynamic, why do we not allow it reflect in every facet of life? Man determines culture, then why hold on to value which are not in line with the changing world. Besides, if an issue is controversial, why don’t we address it? i.e The gender equality bill, and eventually move on with our lives.

As a disclaimer, I am in no way fighting for ‘woman’ rights. I am arguing for ‘human’ rights. People, in general should be given the same opportunities. Changing the wrong notion about feminism begins from the home. This is because boys become men, girls become women and are made to follow the patterns of society that exists.

One common argument often raised based on the subject is, ‘must a woman cook?”, I’m sure you would want to know how I feel about this? Well, this is my answer and would continue to remain my answer for a very long time, ‘responsibilities should be ascribed to who is better proficient in them’. It is, however, on this note that I would like to open the floor for discussion. What and who defines gender roles really?

Photo Credit: Bobby Flowers | Dreamstime.com

Obianuju has growing experience in Communications and PR. She has worked in communication across different industries. In 2017, Obianuju delivered a TED talk on "how communities can improve through radio". She writes about business, communication and gender-related issues.

36 Comments

  1. Lol

    August 17, 2016 at 6:49 pm

    This woman thinks just like me and I love it!!! So real!!!!!

    • Seriously

      August 18, 2016 at 2:07 am

      I see Nigerian women found a new thing to latch on. Let it rest already. Every conversation is about men yet y’all want to stay away from them.

    • bree

      August 18, 2016 at 10:39 am

      if you ppl like don’t cook for your husband because you are a feminist or new age woman, aunty Nkechi will cook for him and invite him over every evening for dinner.

  2. Weezy

    August 17, 2016 at 7:42 pm

    I agree with everything you wrote, but the title. How does this piece differentiate you from a “regular type of feminist”?

  3. chief

    August 17, 2016 at 8:01 pm

    You are nothing but ugly woven crying for special treatment.You deserves intense psychiatric treatment.There’s no discussion on feminism.You lost me where you said that your sons ought to learn to cook.Listen,Feminism is a virulent form of mad cow’s disease .it annoys me deeply at how you angry misandrists and bitter feminists are disrespectful to our African patriarchy society,This so called feminism has bred some narcissistic females.There is no equality,stop being delusional women,the more you angry feminists try to drag men down along your pathetic feminist path,the more dissent that you all will invite.Innately men’s are dominant and superior in all aspects,just let it go and stop trying to change what nature intended.I have found out that you feminists are mostly prude or ugly and your primary aim of feminists is destruction of patriarchy and superiority not equality..

    • Nahum

      August 17, 2016 at 8:36 pm

      ????? Chief oooo!!! You must have typed this nonsense after two bottles of stout. It’s ok, I know your type, you are a weak and unaccomplished man who is clinging on to patriarchy as the last form of “respect” you believe you deserve. You have nothing and you are nothing so you want to make yourself better by believing that women are beneath you. It’s ok… You are allowed to dream.

    • Xoxo

      August 17, 2016 at 10:22 pm

      Smh. Such vile comments coming out of your mind because a person has her own opinion. Please check yourself. You need some serious help. You’ll be alright in Jesus name

    • Egalitarian Christian

      August 17, 2016 at 10:38 pm

      I must say I find you refreshing, Chief. In the sense that most complementarians hide behind “we have different roles to play” when they say gender equality is impossible. Ask a complementarian “Why should only a woman cook?” or “Why should a woman do what her husband says?” Or “Why shouldn’t a woman have equal opportunities, why should a woman’s place be in the home, scrubbing and knitting whiles men should be given the opportunity to make their chchoices devoid of judgement?” And they all say “oh, the fact that men should be the head of women doesn’t mean she is inferior, just means she has different roles to play. That’s why gender equality is impossible.”

      Thank you, Chief, for being honest. Thank you for speaking the truth, which is that deep down, in your heart of hearts, you think women are inferior to men. Because you see, the truth is that deep down, most so called “complementarians” DO think women are inferior to men and are meant to be subservient. Even the female complementarians. Just that they do not have the balls to say so, so they sugar coat and talk about “roles.” “Oh the Bible says roles, oh in Islam there are roles.” At least you’re honest.

      I just want to say this though. You seem like you do not even want to try to truly understand the concepts of “gender equality” and “feminism.” If you were truly willing to put an end to your ignorance, you’d understand that “gender equality” has everything to do with “opportunity” and nothing to do with interchangeability.” Hopefully, someday, you will have female children if you already do not. Then when they experience marginalisation simply due to the fact that they have vaginas and not penises, maybe, just maybe, you will understand what we mean by “gender equality.”
      Galatians 3: 28; “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free. Nor is there male or female. For you are all one in Christ.”

  4. Muse

    August 17, 2016 at 8:05 pm

    IMO, I think you are an egalitarian and not a feminist.

    The society, generally, defines our roles. A lady is mocked and called evil names because she can’t cook, a man chooses to sit at home and he’s mocked because of “their” (the man and the husband) choice, our society determines our roles.

  5. Muse

    August 17, 2016 at 8:10 pm

    *the man and his wife

  6. minister of rant AkA Aderanti

    August 17, 2016 at 8:10 pm

    Must a woman cook? Vs must a man provide?

    Summary

    A woman doesn’t have to cook because she’s enlightened and a Man must provide. This is equality Abi, We have heard you.

    Please can we talk about real issues now. Recycling of the same topic every other day.

    Hian!!

  7. bruno

    August 17, 2016 at 8:22 pm

    dear obianuju, pls who pays the bills in ur house hold. cause u so called feminists when its time to pay bills u start saying it is the man’s job. a man must provide for the family etc. is he the only one living in the house, is he the only one using the generator, is he the only one that brought those kids into the world etc. an article featuring female naija celebs (adesua, mo cheddah, sika etc) one of them said she’s a feminist. equality of the sexes. the issue of paying bills was then asked and what did the dunce say “I dont want to take away a man purpose in life” . so men are put on this planet to be paying bills abi. thats their purpose abi.

    and pls stop telling ur son to be a man or ur daughter to be a woman. no matter ur intensions, it is bad. ur son is ur son and ur daughter is ur daughter. u are damaging them. thats a very bad habit most naija parents have. people are people there is no text book way of being a man or a woman.

  8. Paul Adeyemo

    August 17, 2016 at 8:46 pm

    Stupid writer with a flawed brain. Keep preaching your unrealistic gender equality. Yeye write up. Go and look for husband.

    • dee

      August 17, 2016 at 10:08 pm

      I don’t get your statement of “go and look for husband”….You think she needs a man?? Wake up Oga, this is 2016

    • Ikido

      August 18, 2016 at 3:00 pm

      Madam, yes she does need a man. Stop deceiving yaself.
      If you take a poll of 10 Single women in Nigeria about the issues they are most concerned about, 9 out of 10 would mention a Man.

  9. Muse

    August 17, 2016 at 8:52 pm

    Yes their primary aim is to destroy the patriarchy system and not equality, that’s why they are feminists and not egalitarians.

    BTW, these insults are for who exactly?? The author of this piece?? Haaa….. If I were in her shoes…

    This is a response to Chief

  10. FAXIE

    August 17, 2016 at 8:55 pm

    HIAN!!! In 2016 you people still don’t know the true meaning of feminism?? if you read into the meaning of feminism and notable feminists, you guys will know its not cooking, etc. or whatever you guys call feminism these days. Our society has totally missed the point of feminism and now using it to fight the opposite sex. True feminism is embracing our roles as women and not letting it define our achievements. SIMPLE

  11. tired

    August 17, 2016 at 8:59 pm

    I beg I am tired of this feminist thing! pls I beg just do u and let others do them. No need to define or explain yourself! Every body has become a feminist expert!
    I am a guy and I am all for gender equality! Reasons are simple. I have a younger sister and hope to have a daughter someday! I can’t pay pay the same school fees people who have male kids pay…and then when my child grows up u refuse to give her equal pay with her male counterpart just because she is a “woman”. I also wouldn’t tolerate anyone treating my sister as second class just bcs you are a “Man”. Even me as the eldest son, I contribute to house chores even my little sister who is the “last born” is there. I think the basic issues are simple, but we complicate things by trying to put a tag on it (“feminist”) .then we go ahead to argue who is or who is not a really feminist..or try to tell people how they should go about their feminism!!!!! Boring!!!!

  12. Spunky

    August 17, 2016 at 9:03 pm

    A real man does not shy away from his basic responsibilities. He’s known to be a provider, should protect his own…and so on. The question is, why do some ladies shy away from cooking and other domestic chores?! Sine when did cooking become a serious issue? You ask for equality…in what aspect? You want equality, what are you bringing to the table?

    • Xoxo

      August 17, 2016 at 10:19 pm

      Men provide for their families and women do too. The point is if I’m paying 50% of the bills and the man is paying 50% what is wrong in helping with the house chores? Don’t you live in the same house? Even if I’m not, what is wrong in helping out around the house just for the fun of it? I think the problem with most men and this gender equality is they are just too terrified that women can take care of the home and still bring sometimes much more than the man. Any man that sees himself as superior and goes on to act it out is only a little child scared of a woman that has the potential to be 100 times better than him. Truth is whether you like it or not women are already almost overtaking men. So you can either sit down and cry like a silly little child and keep deceiving yourself that you are superior or you can step up and treat the woman like your fellow male competitor

    • Mz_Danielz

      August 18, 2016 at 7:30 am

      50% of the bills? God forbid oh, any man that will marry me will provide 100% Biko. My ill only put in money into my children’s trust fund alongside hubby and help out in raaaare occasions . You people are the reason side-chick ism is on the rise. Men have too much money and too few responsibilities. Allow a man spoil you with money Biko, there’s s reason wives are called ‘oriaku’, eater of wealth. About this cooking and cleaning thing, get a maid and cook, our mothers had them.

    • Lisa

      August 17, 2016 at 11:04 pm

      As someone what’s gender equality, let me explain the aspects in which I want equality:
      1. I want to stop being viewed as just a sexual object. I do not want to study for years in school, look for a job for years and then get a job offer only to be told that i spite of my intellectual prowess, I will only get a job if I sleep with the oga at the top. Yes, men get sexually harrased too but you must admit that the rate of sexual harassment is higher amongst women.
      2. I would also love evil societal vices such as FGM, Marginalization of widows and Child Marriage to stop being perpetrated against women in rural communities. You must admit that women are usually the victims of these practices.
      3. I would also like to know why it is considered normal, complimentary even for a man to express himself in certain ways sexually and when a woman does it, it is taboo. For example, it is “normal” for men to be polygamous in some societies and it is a “felony” for women. Why is it normal for men to cheat, be promiscuous and exploit women sexually and when a woman does it, she is a “slut.”
      4. With regards to house chores I.e sweeping, cooking, etc, there is NOTHING wrong with a woman doing them voluntarily. But why must it be a “role?” Why must there be gender roles? What’s wrong if a man CHOOSES to perform household chores and a woman CHOOSES to pay the bills? Or why cant we all do both as and when it suits them? Why must African societies make it so taboo not to endorse gender roles?

      There. I’ve told you why I advocate for gender equality, but I can only speak for myself.

    • LEM

      August 18, 2016 at 8:44 am

      100 likes for your comment Lisa. This is what gender equality should be about. Not definining one specific role of a ‘man’ and a ‘woman’. There should be a choice in doing what suits you best.

    • Tosin

      August 19, 2016 at 11:56 pm

      100Likes for LEM too.
      Or as Terry G eloquently put it: #FreeMe

  13. Mr. Egghead

    August 17, 2016 at 10:51 pm

    I think feminism is now the new cool thing . . .just like sagging of trousers back in the day.
    Just do you sha . . . whatever gets your knickers untangled

    • Andy

      August 18, 2016 at 3:56 am

      Yeah. Thank God for the “new trend” that’s allowing women to further free themselves and men from shackles. Because of feminism you can find a woman who went to school, can get a job, can get equal pay and help you pay the bills. I know you and Paul are anti-feminist and you try to brush yours off as logic; but try to understand it. Thanks to this new trend, women are fighting rape blaming, gender roles, child marriage, mutilation and much more. Nigerian women NEED it. And I won’t blame you for being so dismissive and almost insulting of it, equality to the privileged….

    • ElessarisElendil

      August 18, 2016 at 2:45 pm

      *Sigh* Feminism didn’t free humans from nothing. The Industrial revolution did, freeing most of us from slavery at worst or the drudgery of farm work at best.

      I won’t even go for the low hanging fruit that every achievement granted to women was given them by men. EVERYTHING, but yeah, we’re the enemy. You guys should stop abeg, the struggle has never been between men and women but the commoners and rulers. Female rulers never gave a toss about female commoners, still don’t.

    • AceOfSpades

      August 18, 2016 at 6:28 am

      I swear it’s the new cool thing. Have you noticed the equality they seek is from men? You want a top person in office (a man) to look at you NOT as a sex object. Did it occur to you that it’s that man that is sick?

      You say the female pay should be same as male….did it occur that a position comes with its pay range which you accepted upon employment!

      Men sleep with women but women get tagged for doing same….why don’t you also find a tag for men who do it and then you can also choose not to date them because of their body count. That one is not any feminism abeg! Some women will be more than happy to be married to Danjuma and won’t even think about holding on to their names because He is a Danjuma!
      However you marry Olaniyi or Nwagbo or the likes, you suddenly think feminism allow you to hold on to your name! If Carolina had married Gbenro Ajibade, do you think she’ll change her surname???

      If Chimamanda had married Zukerberg, pls tell me she won’t change her name! She is a writer and needs more books sold. That name will sell her book and best believe she will change it hence where is the feminism she’s preaching!

      You people need to start talking about how to invent next life changing drugs, how to fund your project and build a space station and how the females you have in politics will shine so bright (something like fashola when he was a governor) that everyone will want her to become president! What you have at hand, try to maximize and make people see how important and strong you are instead of fighting fighting!

  14. Beard gang

    August 18, 2016 at 1:07 am

    i’d rather push for gender equality than feminism.

  15. chai latte

    August 18, 2016 at 2:36 am

    @Chief, i see your lobotomy was a success, good for you

  16. Firi

    August 18, 2016 at 10:10 am

    about this whole controversial feminism issue, i would like us to note that there are some things that cannot be changed. in the Bible, when Eve ate the forbidden fruit, God’s punishment was not only uneasy childbirth but also that man would always be superior to her and be head. yes, in our society today, it is overdone and some things need to be changed but we should know that man would always be the head over woman. God said so.

  17. Xoxo

    August 18, 2016 at 10:27 am

    @mz_danielz to each his own. My comment was not for you. That’s how I’ve decided to treat my relationship sharing everything with my man, even when money is included. The part you included side chick just made me weak cos I don’t understand its relevance to my comment. Good luck with the whole maid thing. In this era where most maids are seriously fighting for the spot of their madam you’re talking about getting a maid. When you’re ready you’ll take care of the house with your man before some maid just snatches him under your nose. Na that one dey pain pass cos you were under the same roof as it was happening. And Lisa, I’m seriously feeling your comment. You hit the nail right on the head?

  18. GraceOfGOD

    August 18, 2016 at 11:11 am

    @ Obianuju Ndaguba

    Good morning Madam. I just want to let you KNOW that your article is ONE of the BEST I have ever READ on the NET. MADAM I could IDENTIFY myself through you, I share the SAME view. I am a FEMINIST and many AROUND me can’t STAND that fact. I remember VIVIDLY when I wanted to have a COLLABORATION with two MEN, I told them from the ONSET that I was a FEMINIST just to AVOID certain ISSUES and ONCE I said that they STOPPED the COMMUNICATION. I was SURPRISED and SHOCKED about their CHANGE of BEHAVIOUR towards me. FEMINIST, that SINGLE word I mentioned ENDED the potential COLLABORATION. Reading your GREAT article I realise that they MUST have had a VERY BAD definition of the word FEMINIST or the FEMINISM movement. Like you RIGHTLY said FEMINISTS are NOT fighting MEN, it is ALL about having EQUAL CHANCES or better said OPPORTUNITIES in this SOCIETY. It is UNFAIR to RESTRAIN a HUMAN BEING just because of his/her GENDER. There are men who can cook more BETTER than some women and there is NOTHING WRONG with that FACT. It is ALL about the APTITUDES of EACH and EVERYONE of US. We have different SKILLS, different TALENTS and they are NOT RELATED to our GENDER. I am AWARE that the SOCIETY somehow BLACKLISTS FEMINISTS but I am READY to CARRY my CROSS, I am a FEMINIST and I would NOT change that FACT in order to be ACCEPTED. I do NOT CARE anymore, it is either they ACCEPT me the way I am or they LEAVE. It is all about JUSTICE, FAIRNESS. STOP the OPPRESSION, I am a WOMAN but before being a woman I am a HUMAN BEING just like ANY MAN out THERE. ENOUGH is ENOUGH. MADAM I am SORRY if I am too EMOTIONAL, it is just that I am TIRED of EXPLAINING myself to the WORLD, I did not CREATE myself. THANK YOU so MUCH for this BEAUTIFUL piece and may GOD bless and protect you INCLUDING all your BELOVED ones in JESUS name I prayed, amen 🙂 🙂 🙂

  19. Yummychickcummummy

    August 18, 2016 at 2:36 pm

    @beard gang…. I concur… Gender equality is the way.. Cos most pple confuse themselves with feminism….
    If we can do to others what we want done to us.. Life will b good.

    • Engoz

      August 18, 2016 at 6:33 pm

      Feminism and the movement for gender equality are one and the same. Gender equality and feminism requires that roles are not automatic because you happen to be a woman or man. It requires that no one is discouraged from any profession, chore, career choice or role by their biological sex.

  20. Mrs Opara

    August 19, 2016 at 3:02 pm

    if men were feminist; and women not feminist, the world especially Africa will be a better place. if only we recognize our selves as human first before the gender differences. A man and woman are equal before God and was made in his image (genesis1:27) but they have different roles; a man is the head(the source: servant leader) just like Christ and the woman is to willfully submit (total submission mathew 5:1-end)to her husband like the church submits to christ. By the way; i am a feminist but would never allow anybody especially my husband meddle with my kitchen or food. let’s face the real issue that women should fight against– women objectification.

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