By Charles E. Uche Esq & Hyeladzira J. Mshelia
In the view of Socrates, intellectualism allows that “one will do what is right or best just as soon as one truly understands what is right or best.” The virtue is a purely intellectual matter, since virtue and knowledge are familial relatives, which a person accrues and improves with dedication to reason.
Thus, the aim of this article is to make people understand what is right and best, so they can be better in respect to the “gender problem”.
I, recently, read a piquant novella by Chimamanda N. Adichie “We Should All Be Feminists”. With instrumentality of the book, I mirrored our society, cultures, laws, and so forth, as well as my relationship with women and found institutionalised and inherent flaws. These flaws usually require a consciousness to be conspicuous or be noticed. A consciousness which many men fail to have because of “male privilege”. An ignorant privilege.
Just a few weeks ago, a Northern representative in the House of Representatives Chamber, ignorantly commented that women should be allowed to succeed, given opportunities, but not too much and his wife depends on him. As he said this, I anxiously waited for the Speaker of the House to call him to order for the comment. I was disappointed when he let it pass. Albeit, the disappointment was short-lived as soon as I remembered the sad reality that Nigeria is a nation that mostly regards women in general as chattels; and whose laws and cultural practises are oppressive to the feminine gender. A typical example is section 55 (1)(d) of the Penal Code which permits a husband to beat his wife for the purpose of correcting her. Interestingly, the Violence Against Persons Prohibition (VAPP) Act of 2015 prohibits and penalize spousal battery, but not spousal rape.
The relationship between gender and violence is intricate. Different roles and behaviours of females and males, children as well as adults, are shaped and reinforced by gender norms within society. Often gender inequalities increase the tendency of women to be susceptible to violence and abuses. For instance, traditional beliefs and social norms portray that men have a right to control women and unfortunately, this preconditioning also hinders the ability of affected women to come out of abusive situations or seek support. It’s interesting to see a wide range of bilateral, multilateral, philanthropic, and civil society actors – such as Connected Development [CODE] – working towards tackling barbaric social norms that deny girls of the right to education, women of the right to ambition and rape culture. CODE is also advocating for an end to Gender Based Violence in Nigeria.
I had in mind to write an elaborate appraisal of Ms. Adichie’s work vis-à-vis other contemporary issues affecting the female gender in Nigeria, and demonstrating how I am occasionally guilty of this “ignorant bias” as a young male.
In addition to reading Adichie’s “Dear Ijeawele or A Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions”, I’ll attempt to make a much more succinct article on the entire issue.
Without much ado, here are ten (10) points from the book that need imbibing:
- Feminism arises from a “consciousness” of being; and Men can be feminists too.
- In the quest for equality, men who adopt a hands-off approach; who bask in the comfort of “male privilege” are tacitly promoting misogyny, patriarchy and androcentrism.
- Men (and women) must be “actively” thinking about, noticing and discussing gender problems (in the family, work place, cultures, laws, etc) with hopes of devising solutions to them.
- The reorientation of the mind, especially in the upbringing of our kids is crucial to tackling the gender problem. To decry gender-specific roles and expectations, we cannot raise boys to be hard and stoic in order to be a “Man” and girls to be soft and courteous.
- The fact that males have more testosterone level and thus, are physically stronger than females does not make females the “weaker vessels”.
- We don’t live in the stone “survivor of the fittest” age anymore where the physically-stronger exercises dominance over the less physically-stronger. Women don’t need the “protection” or “approval” of men.
- A person’s qualifications, ability to be innovative, creative, intelligent and hard-working should be largely instrumental to constructing his/her way to success(regardless of sex).
- Bottom/seductive power is not true power. It is just having the “free road” to the person who wields true power. Women must seek to develop themselves and wield that true power.
- Women should be true to themselves, challenge themselves, aim above Mt. Everest (there’s nothing like being “too successful/intimidating) and never be afraid of shattering the fragile ego and bloated self-worth of ignorant weak men.
- We should all be Feminists. In its undiluted, unadulterated, egalitarianism sense as it pertains to social, political and economic status of sexes.
And to conclude, while Chimamanda’s views on equality and feminism may not necessarily be the standard or all-embracing, she, however, raised and discussed solid points which both sexes must reflect upon as we seek to establish a society where no one is a “Second Class citizen”, as Buchi Emecheta wrote. Hence, we (men and women, alike) must all unlearn the centuries-long gender bias we’ve internalized while growing up; and seek to learn proper sex relations in the path to equality of sexes.
This piece was first published on 22nd March, 2018