Have you read Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s new essay on feminism: Dear Ijeawele, or a Femininst Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions ? If you haven’t, rush to her Facebook page right now and get on reading. Inspired by Adichie’s manifesto, I wanted to share my thoughts on the two points that resonated the most with me.
- You either are or you are not
There is no “kinda”, “maybe”, “potentially”. Adichie highlights that fact through my most favorite quote from her essay:”Being a feminist is like being pregnant. You either are or you are not”.
Many claim to be feminist but behave differently on certain matters. My friend’s husband recently got promoted and transferred to a new city. Her mom argued that a woman must follow her husband because “he is the man”. She is one the strongest “self proclaimed” feminist I know; ready to yell and protest for women’s rights to equality to whoever wants to hear it. So how does that align with the idea that a woman despite her successful career must follow her husband “because he is the lead”. Let’s be clear, I am not judging women who chose to give up on their careers and support their significant others. I respect the move when it is a personal choice. And maybe hopefully, the man would consider moving for his woman if or when opportunities are inverse. I criticize when it is a move fueled by the idea that the female is expected to follow the male. Let it be a common decision, not a rule because it is written nowhere but some unfair perception of the world. We want to believe in equality, yet some are so conditioned to gender role that they never realize how unfair their standards are.
2. On mastery on cooking
I wrote the post We Should all be Feminists, furious after a friend of mine associated a “proper” African woman with the knowledge of cooking. More shocking was when I asked my ex-roommate whether he cooked the diner I found him shoving down his throat, and he replied “what are your girls going to do, if I take on your tasks?”. Three years later my eyes are still rolling as I type this. I wish I had Adichie’s answer to those statements at the time: “The knowledge of cooking does not come pre-installed in a vagina” (fingers snapping left right). Can I get an Amen for the lady?
Stop expecting that a “proper” woman is made up of cooking skills. Let’s stop attributing cooking to any genders for that matter. It is a skill we all have the ability to learn and excel at. So please Challey, don’t expect her to cook your meatballs, foutou, moin-moin the way your mama does. You can learn how to make your own kele wele, jolof rice or whatever you fancy. No it’s not her job to have your meal ready on your table when you come home. She should do it because she wants to and not because of some bankrupt conception of gender roles in the marriage.