Saturday, April 20, 2013.
I had a night out with a colleague yesterday, celebrating a client’s birthday. Somehow or the other, we got into an argument about feminism and gender roles – I have been called a feminist by many including friends and relations, and they often make it sound like a dirty word! Like feminism is a thing I absorbed from my studies as a lawyer and an avid reader.
Reading Chimamanda Adichie’s interview by Claire Cohen on the Telegraph UK has made me feel immensely proud to be a feminist. To hear (read) a fellow Nigerian and one of the many Writers I look up to proclaim to be a ‘fierce and happy feminist’ is awe-inspiring! Many women in Nigeria shy away from it.
Many people have advised me to NOT appear “too feminist”, lest I find my self a spinster for life. That is unsettling! If the man I love sees feminism as a flaw in me, then I need spectacles to re-examine the reasons why I love him.
I have these questions for those people who are against feminism:
To advocate for equal rights and treatment means being “too feminist”?!
To insist to be treated as a professional in the work place and not as a pretty woman with a hole to dig means being “too feminist”?!
To fight against domestic violence and use of our women as punching bags means being “too feminist”?!
To ask for equal appointments to Government jobs/positions means being “too feminist”?!
To ask that archaic and unjust Property Laws and Norms that deny the woman a right to inherit her parent’s property means being “too feminist?!
Well. Dang it! I am a feminist! Let’s drink to it, y’all! Because, I’m proud as a peacock to be called a feminist!
In fact, I think women fall short of their self-worth when they deny feminism. Whenever they shy away from the term “feminism”, they contribute to their own abuse. In Law, we call it “Contributory Negligence” – it’s a defense used by defaulters to avoid Tortious liability.
But today, I’m not just a feminist; I’m also a fair Judge. I will be taking a look at “Spousal Abuse” from the male and female perspective.
It was inspiring listening to a man talk of spousal abuse and how women do “abuse” men, too.
According to my colleague, women abuse men in many ways, but the men hush it up, because they don’t want to be seen as weak and incapable of taking the lead as the Head of the family. Some wives disrespect their husbands and harangue and nag them until they are forced to be silent or become wife-beaters. Now, this is an interesting perspective.
To the average man, being nagged, starved, openly insulted, criticized and disrespected by their wives, is Spousal Abuse. And, in-as-much-as I think its not as life threatening and degrading as the treatments/abuses meted out on many women, it is still spousal abuse, and wrong!
Also, according to Wikipedia, Domestic violence can take many forms, including physical aggression or assault (hitting, kicking, biting, shoving, restraining, slapping, throwing objects, battery), or threats…
However, my problem with African women is their acceptance of abuse as a form of punishment. In Nigeria, it is a norm, to say the least. When a man beats the wife, the first question people ask is “Onye ma nke omere?” – “Who knows what she did?”. That is erroneous! Men who abuse women do not have to have a reason to do so. Some men abuse women for the heck of it – because they are bullies and need someone to bully. Someone to make them feel like the Alpha male when they are depressed.
Did you also know that there’s something called “Honor Killing”? It is prevalent in Muslim Countries for instance Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Morocco, etc.
An honor killing is the homicide of a member of a family or social group by other members, due to the belief of the perpetrators that the victim has brought dishonor upon the family or community. Although these crimes are most often associated with the Middle East, they occur in other places too.
Human Rights Watch defines “honor killings” as follows:
Honor killings are acts of vengeance, usually death, committed by male family members against female family members, who are held to have brought dishonor upon the family. A woman can be targeted by (individuals within) her family for a variety of reasons, including: refusing to enter into an arranged marriage, being the victim of a sexual assault, seeking a divorce—even from an abusive husband—or (allegedly) committing adultery. The mere perception that a woman has behaved in a way that “dishonors” her family is sufficient to trigger an attack on her life.
Honor killing is domestic violence, targeted solely against women.
Will you say your execution is justified, if you were Hatun Sürücü, who was killed by her brother for not staying with the husband she was forced to marry, and of “living like a German”?
Women who take domestic violence as their due make me so so angry! It is NOT okay for him to lay a violent finger on you or threaten you or stalk you. Even if you cheated and he caught you red-handed, he is not God that he should take it upon himself to punish you. He has a recourse to the Law; The Matrimonial Causes Act 1973 cites adultery as a ground for divorce.
Dude, give yourself a break and get a divorce.
The problem with married couples sometimes, is they love their spouses more than themselves. That, my people, is a recipe for heartache, disappointment and pain. An estranged friend of mine once told me, instead of her husband to cheat on her, he should beat her. Apparently, she can take the abuse- after all, its just physical, but not the jealousy. I looked at her and I saw a psychologically flawed woman. A woman without self-respect or self-worth. Much like many women in Nigeria – even the educated ones.
I have said it, the man that will lay a damn finger on me has not been born. I will throw his sorry ass in jail before he could say “Jack Robinson”. If that makes me “too feminist”, I love feminism.
According to Wikipedia: The social acceptability of domestic violence differs by country. While in most developed countries domestic violence is considered unacceptable by most people, in many regions of the world the views are different: according to a UNICEF survey, the percentage of women aged 15–49 who think that a husband is justified in hitting or beating his wife under certain circumstances is, for example: 90% in Jordan, 85.6% in Guinea, 85.4% in Zambia, 85% in Sierra Leone, 81.2% in Laos, and 81% in Ethiopia.
Imagine the numbers?! Are these women alright?!
Seriously! How can a woman support her subjugation and abuse? Even if she did him wrong, he has NO right to lay a finger on her.
What are men so afraid of, anyway? When we mention feminism, they go haywire. The feminists are seen as emasculating figures who disrupt their happy existence. How is that? Because, they’ve created a world where they “enjoy” while women serve them.
Now, I ask, why are women always the ones that compromise? Is compromise a word lacking in the masculine dictionary? Why must we be the “compromisers”? A couple gets married and have a baby, the woman earns more but because it is not in our culture for a woman to the breadwinner she quits her six figure managerial job with Chevron Oil to be a house wife while the man continues his job at the Ministry which fetches far less than the woman earned. All because she might be seen to control him if she is the breadwinner? Nawaooo!
So, if you ask me, are women really the weaker sex, the answer is an emphatic yes!
We are weak not because we are slight in frame and lacking in muscle mass but because centuries of subjugation, abuse and intimidation by men have left us weak.
We are weak because the society makes us weak.
We are weak because we stay weak and do nothing to emancipate ourselves from perpetual ignorance, acceptance of second-rate standards and domestic abuse.
We are weak because we refuse to be feminists for fear of loneliness.
That is why we are the weaker sex.