The initial reaction from many people when I inform them of the fact that I am a feminist is flabbergast . Personally, I don’t understand the shock. I did go to an ALL girls high school whose motto is :
A school of excellence where girls are leading courageously, exploring their unique potential confidently and serving the world compassionately.
It’s probably because of my introverted nature. I am shy and a little bit socially awkward ( who isn’t at times) but surely those characteristics do not translate into my being a literal doormat.
The word feminist has such negative connotations in Africa, especially among traditional African people. A feminist in Africa is a descriptive adjective for a woman who a) has no aspirations towards marriage b) is a lesbian ( or as my aunt would call it, “otherwise inclined”) and is c) a free woman ( that means she wants to sleep around ).
At eighteen years of age, I have not yet amassed enough knowledge to say that I truly understand the full meaning of what being a feminist is but some of what I have learnt has come from the great talent that is Chimanmanda Ngozi Adiche.
Last year, whilst in my matric year ( the final year of high school ) , I stumbled across her TedX Talk on YouTube. I say stumbled because I was not really supposed to be on YouTube. I was actually meant to be ardently preparing for my then upcoming June examinations. A ten minute study break transformed into an existential two hour long hiatus from my books during which I began to seriously ponder the events of my life leading up to that moment .
Her talk pretty much changed my life. I remember nodding my head enthusiastically as she spoke, I could relate to everything she was discussing ! I paused the video at one moment to clutch my fragile heart ,which was beating with intense vigor and renewed excitement, and thank the heavens for the rare cosmic alignment that had allowed me to stumble upon this video.
At that time I had been finding it difficult to come to a conclusion on who I really was in terms of feminism. I was incredibly unsure of how to assert my feminism. I was aware of the basic concepts of feminism ( equal opportunities in education, job and better treatment in general etc.) but what I lacked was the essence of feminism. Listening to Chimanmanda in her flawless English-Nigerian accent made me realise that I was everything that she had described and I had the potential to become so much more.
I came to the realization that feminism should be about a lot more than burning bras and protesting on streets ( my initial view of feminism) . Feminism should be an intrinsic quality that is taught to EVERYONE ( guys included) so that one day we can boast about living in a world that is truly free and presents all it’s members, regardless of their gender ,with equal opportunities.
This is my favourite part of the talk :
What if, in raising children, we focus on ability, instead of gender? What if, in raising children, we focus on interest, instead of gender? I know a family who have a son and a daughter, both of whom are brilliant at school, who are wonderful, lovely children. When the boy is hungry, the parents say to the girl, “Go and cook [noodles] for your brother.” Now, the girl doesn’t particularly like to cook [noodles], but she’s a girl, and so she has to. Now, what if the parents, from the beginning, taught both the boy and the girl to cook [noodles]? Cooking, by the way is a very useful skill for a boy to have. I’ve never thought it made sense to leave such a crucial thing, the ability to nourish one’s self, in the hands of others. [applause]
This encapsulated the concept of feminism it’s entirety. Feminism should start at home and not just be taught to girls but also to their brothers. It is my aspiration to widen the narrow minded view that my family has on feminism. I will start my campaign at home and hopefully it will become a revolution.
And because I love GIFs . . .
Spoken like a true foodie !
( The irony in this lies in the fact that I am not the best cook in the world but that’s not because i’m a feminist. I have minimal instinct when it comes to the creation of food. )
Lots Of Lily Love ❤ (LOLL)