Are Nigerian Senators Misogynists?

Merely two weeks ago, the whole world gathered and joined in celebration of the woman. There were encomiums poured on women and their greatness. For the most part, we all agreed that woman was worthy of celebration as far as she is the first black woman to reach the moon, or the first woman to get an Ivy League degree, or the first woman to become the head of a corporation, or the first woman to become president etc. Look, these are great achievement however you cut it. But as long as we keep having only "firsts" for women, as long as we keep expecting women to be extraordinary before we can praise them, we are failing in terms of gender equality. The true mark of equality is when you hire a woman not because she's extraordinary, but because she's good enough. When it becomes the norm that a woman heads a country, when it's the norm that a woman heads a corporation (again, not because she's an ivy-leaguer), that's when we are getting somewhere.

So no, I wasn't surprised the Nigerian Senate didn't pass the Gender Equality and Opportunity Bill. Let's be honest many Nigerians don't believe men and women are equal. I have seen some less-than-smart WOMEN banish feminism. They wonder why some of us "turn everything to feminism".

Just accept your place, they say.

Or why can't you accept some us don't want to be independent?

Why can't you accept some of us love the warmth of a man on our beds?

Why can't you accept some of us want to be taken care of?

But those are nonsensical statements. The only thing feminists want is that men and women are treated as EQUAL members of the society, which we are. Are we different? Of course; biology is annoyingly unfair to women anyway. But does that make us the less or weaker of both sexes? ABSOLUTELY NOT. I have seen strong men. But I have also seen strong women. I have seen mediocre men. But I have also seen mediocre women. Equality of men and women doesn't disprove your need to want to be taken care of. Feminism, like I always say is about choice. Feminism is about understanding that if a woman CHOOSES to be a homemaker, bravo. If she then CHANGES her mind to become a Rocket Scientist, bravo. As far as it is her choice, it is valid.

This bill that the barbaric legislators refused to pass would have protected millions of girls and women. It would have ensured that women can inherit properties of their late fathers and husbands. This bill would have given some dignity to women mourning their husbands. In the first place, some of these women were put in such vulnerable positions after the demise of their fathers/husbands, because no one thought to empower and educate a woman. Millions of girls are still being denied good education because they are female. I can understand their fear though. Armed with education, a person can change the world; they can defy every odd. So, what's not to fear huh?

Some cultures in Nigeria still insist on shaving a woman's head after the passing of her husband. Sometimes, well educated men are just as ignorant; they display as much folly as some of their uneducated counterparts. To these people, culture is the high and mighty. Culture is everything. Culture is god. Had Mary Slessor placed as much emphasis on barbaric cultures, millions of twins would have been slaughtered. And for what? Culture. Religion. What breaks my heart even more is that some of these misogynists (who are not restricted to just men, by the way) have daughters. But they are so egoistical and threatened, that they would rather see women treated unjustly (forever) than create a better future for their daughters/nieces. Which way, Nigeria? Which way?

As far as I am concerned the men who are silent on gender inequality matters are just as terrible as the Senators who throw away a gender equality bill. They are just as terrible as people who propagate gender inequality. Simply because, he who keeps quiet in the face of injustice has chosen the side of the oppressor.

I listened to a man of God say authoritatively (albeit indirectly) the other day that it was okay for a man to rape his wife, and I shuddered. I shuddered because I know a pastor's word is gold in Nigeria. I shuddered because I felt like we were many steps backwards. I am afraid of the world my unborn daughter(s) and niece(s) would be born into. I am afraid because many Nigerian women and men still think that until you have a male child, you really haven't procreated. I am afraid. And you should be too. We are in 2016 and if we have leaders who think that approximately 50% of the country's population don't matter, then let's show them just how much we matter by refusing to vote for them. I love social media activism, but I'm genuinely sick of hashtags. I am desperate for real action. You know how to start that? We vote. Vote them out. Run for office. Do everything you can to remind them that in the words of Valerie Jarrett*, "When women succeed, Nigeria succeeds."

Remember Betty Irabor's words "Whether the bill on gender equality is passed or not...there is no stopping the woman. Her sun can not be dimmed."

No, it can't.



*Valerie Jarrett is a Senior Advisor to President Obama. Her actual words were: "When women succeed, America succeeds." I tweaked it to fit Nigeria, but it is no less true. Educate a girl, and you are educating the world.

P.S: Happy Easter, everyone! Remember that Christ died so we can be set free :-)

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