So, you’re not going to change your last name??

So, you’re not going to change your last name??

Some months ago, I wrote about a question that I get quite often when I mention that I am a feminist. I do get a lot of FAQs about feminism so I decided to answer those questions on my blog. More often than not, the questions are rife with misconceptions about feminism; the asker is usually an anti-feminist trying rather poorly to be a smart ass. I rarely get questions from people who are genuinely curious about feminism ideology and politics so my answers are usually very sarcastic. However, I’m going to assume the people reading my blog are willing to learn about feminism so I am going to properly answer the questions and share my little knowledge.

[Disclaimer Alert: I am NOT a feminist scholar but I’ve read a lot of books on the feminist political movement.]

The second most frequently asked question that I receive after declaring myself a feminist is “So, you’re not going to change your last name?”. I suspect I get this question a lot because Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, who is my best friend (in my head) and the most popular Nigerian feminist, didn’t change her last name. So, a lot of people incorrectly assume that feminism is against a married woman changing her last name to her husband’s. Feminism is NOT against women changing their last names to their husband’s BUT, it against the system/society that requires married women to change their last names and vehemently criticises them for refusing to do so (Just look at how many people criticise Chimamanda for not changing her last name). Feminists want women to be able to choose if they want to keep their surname or change their last name to their husband’s BUT that choice should be free from socio-cultural and religious pressure because when people are pressured into making certain decisions/choices, then that isn’t really a choice.

Am I going to change my last name? As I have stated in a previous post, I’m not keen on getting married; I’m fine being a spinster for the rest of my life. If I do get married, I will not change my last name. I will not change my last name because I am very attached to it. My father died when I was very young and I don’t remember much of him but he left me his last name; a name that I am proud of because of his integrity, a name that is respected in my state because of his love and respect for his people. I love my name because it is very harmonious and inspiring and I have accomplished a lot with my name(If I do say so myself) so I am going to keep it.

Sidebar: I may hyphenate my last name depending on how cool my intended’s last name is or how much it rhymes it mine. When I was in Germany, I met a guy whose surname is “Von Bismarck” (I think I had a crush on him just because of his surname); I wouldn’t mind hyphenating with that name at all.

Women can be sexist too

So, I haven’t posted in a while because my school has resumed so I have less free time now but I shall make an effort to publish posts fortnightly unless I have midterms and projects.

This short post was prompted by a long comment that I made on a BellaNaija post a while ago (Yes, I comment on BellaNaija posts- make fun of me if you want). The post was about the negative reactions that Dabota Lawson got for congratulating Melania Trump on Donald Trump’s win. There were several comments by women critiquing Dabota’s congratulatory message/shout out to Melania on Instagram. In response to the negative comments by women, one commenter decided to type “Women shaming each other. Okay”. I wrote an epistle as a reply to that comment but the basic gist of my reply was that “women supporting each other” is not what feminism about.

Somewhere along the line, someone decided that the definition of feminism is women supporting each other which is incorrect and even a hindrance to the achievement of feminism goals. Once again, feminism is a political movement that aims to establish political, economic, personal and social rights for women. Women can be classist, racist or sexist, so denouncing the problematic acts of women is not antithetical to feminism. [By giving a shoot out to Melania Trump, Dabota was indirectly endorsing Trump, a man who is an unapologetic KKK and Neo-Nazi sympathiser and the criticism she got for it was not unwarranted. So, in that instance, feminists did not owe Dabota our support.]

Women are raised to view each other as competition for male attention in our male dominated society and so it is refreshing to see women not tearing each other down. I also acknowledge that “women supporting each other” is a tool for accomplishing feminism aims because men often overlook the competence of women in the workplace and society in general (gender bias is real) and so it is usually left up to women in positions of power to give other women a chance to shine but as I previously mentioned, women can be sexist too: For example, the women who perform FGM rituals on girls, the female landlords who refuse to rent houses to single ladies, the women who blame victims of rape and sexual assault and so on.

I strongly believe that all Nigerian women/girls have some form internalised sexism due to our upbringing but some of us are making a conscious effort to unlearn our internalised sexism but others have accepted it and now enforce it on other women.

It is the responsibility of feminists to denounce discrimination against women/girls regardless of the sex of the perpetrator.

Dear Anti-Feminists,

It recently occurred to me from reading the comment section of BellaNaija and from interacting with anti-feminists that many people are ill informed about the ideals of feminism. Just to clarify, feminism is a political movement that aims to establish political, economic, personal and social rights for women. From my discussions, I believe a lot of people who oppose feminism learn about feminism from anti-feminists; they don’t even know the ideals of the movement that they so vehemently reject. It is ok to oppose any political movement or ideology but it isn’t very intelligent not to know the actual ideals of the movement that you oppose.

Nigerians often use the excuse of culture and religion to dismiss feminism as a foreign ideology/movement. I simply ask those “keepers of culture” who are somehow Christian/Muslim (Yes, Christianity & Islam that are used as a basis to reject feminism are also an imported ideologies/systems) to read about Queen Amina of Zaria, Nana Asma’u and Emotan. Before the Europeans invaded our lands and forced their culture and religion on us, they were women who dared to be more that what society told them they could/ should be, there were women who fought against their subjugation; we all have that one ancestor that ran away from home to escape an arranged marriage. So, feminism is really not that foreign to Nigeria, also PSA: Culture is not static; it is subject to change. When evidence shows that certain cultural practices are dangerous or offer no benefit they should be dropped.

I hope people will stop using that “It is not our culture” argument from now on but even if it is a foreign movement what is wrong with that?? Nigeria has adopted several foreign beliefs and systems; democracy (even though Nigeria is democratic in name only – that is a topic for another day), religion and our current formal education system were all adopted from foreign countries. If a belief or system being foreign is basis enough for rejection then I suggest we close all the churches and mosques in Nigeria (No, Right?). Nigerians are willing to accept foreign ideologies and systems so why is feminism the exception?? I wish the people who use this shaky argument as an excuse will just be honest about why they don’t support the movement.

Another group of ill-informed people often reject feminism because they think feminist are trying to be men (Huge Sigh). First of all, Feminists are not trying to be men!!!!!!!!!!!!!! We just want equal rights as men; We want girls to be sent to school just like boys, we want women to earn the same salary as male coworkers at the same level, we want to be able to rent an apartment even though we are single or even get medical treatment without a husband’s permission.

Secondly, we acknowledge that there are biological sex differences between males and females that cannot be changed but we don’t want those differences to be used as justification for hindering our rights especially since it has been proven that those differences do not make women/girls any less capable than men/boys. We have breasts and we menstruate but how exactly does that make me unsuitable to inherit my parent’s properties/ go to school/ earn as much as male coworkers and so on. (It doesn’t)

The last group of people I am going to address in this post are the “My mother is in charge of my household so there is no need for feminism” people. This group of people claim that there is no need for a feminist movement because they haven’t personally experienced gender discrimination (Selfish much). To them I reply “Congratulations, you are one of the lucky ones”. These people remind me of people who defend PHCN [Power Holding Company of Nigeria] because they’ve had somewhat constant electricity for a week even though the rest of the country is experiencing serious power shortages. It is undeniable that there are women/girls who are denied certain rights and forced undergo certain inhumane acts like FGM and child marriage just because they are girls and it is unbelievable and quite sickening, that people will dismiss the movement that aims to protect the affected women/girls just because they aren’t personally affected.

I believe this post is going to have a second part because I have heard so many fallacious arguments against feminism that can’t be addressed in one post.

PSA: Pleases stop calling FGM “female circumcision” because it minimises the cruel and inhumane nature of FGM. The clitoris and sometimes the entire vulva is removed and the victims experience severe psychological trauma and most times physical pain and bleeding during sex for the rest of their lives. Male circumcision although unnecessary is still unharmful and it doesn’t affect the function of the penis.

Happy New Year

Happy New Year

Hello, everyone, I’ve haven’t posted anything in a while and I apologise for that. The semester was coming to an end and I had a tonne of four projects to hand in; it was so bad that I spent my entire Christmas day finishing a project & preparing a presentation. The semester is over now so I have more free time. I’m so glad the semester is over, I felt it would never end.

I also have some bad news; so, Netflix in their infinite wisdom decided to cancel Marco Polo but keep making Adam Sandler movies and more comedy specials (2016 is without a doubt, the year of the upside down). I was so devastated when I heard the news that I almost cried. I’m just praying that the show gets picked up by Amazon Prime or heck, even HBO. The only news that brought out of my depression sink was the Attack on Titan Season 2 Trailer. I have been waiting almost 2 years for the 2nd season of AoT to be released and it is finally coming out in April 2017.

Happy New Year everyone. I hope everyone had a wonderful 2016 and is having a blast today. I’ve never been big on New Year’s celebrations because guys think that every girl is fair game and people are usually extremely inebriated and I’ve learnt that being around drunk people is only fun when you are drunk too and I don’t drink so that’s that.

I’m also not a New Year’s Resolutions person because I believe that people shouldn’t wait until a New Year to make positive changes in their lives but I understand that symbolism of starting a new on a New Year. I don’t have a New Year’s Resolution per say but this year, I aim to continue my minimalism journey. I decided to own less stuff when I was returning from Germany. Guys, my suitcases were so heavy that I thought my arms were going to come out of their sockets. When I finally settled down and unpacked my luggage, I realised that I didn’t even wear half the clothes in my suitcases. Apparently, this issue is not peculiar to me; research has shown that most people only wear 20% of their wardrobe.

After realising that I was stuck on the capitalism & materialism train, I decided to control my spending & shopping habits; Guys, I have an excel spreadsheet where I create my monthly budget and track my spending. (It’s that serious).  I started in September 2016 and I would say I’ve been successful so far. The urge to buy beautiful clothes has not disappeared; occasionally, I do happen upon an item of clothing that I really want to buy but I ask myself if I’m really going to wear it and the answer is usually “No”. I don’t go out much and when I do, it’s usually a T-shirt & Jeans kinda affair.

Even though I’m controlling my shopping habits, I have my eyes on a pair of Puma velvet creepers by Rihanna. Those shoes are beautiful and very comfortable from what I hear but they aren’t cheap though (A pair costs $150). I’m planning on buying one as a birthday gift to myself, hopefully by then I’ve would have saved enough money to buy a pair or two ( Oh, in case anyone wants to buy me a pair as a Christmas/New Year’s gift, I wear size 41 EU and my preferred colour is olive-green: Thank you in advance).

Happy New Year once again and I hope everyone has an awesome & fulfilling 2017.

Beware of the male feminist

Beware of the male feminist

Before you start writing your essays to tell me that male feminist exist, let me start off my saying that I believe men can and should support gender equality in society. This post isn’t denying the existence of men who support gender equality so don’t bother typing.

I decided to write about this after I had a conversation with a male acquaintance. We were discussing marriage (for someone who doesn’t necessarily want to get marriage, I do have a lot of conversations about marriage) and he said he wanted to marry a strong independent woman. Because I’ve heard that ‘wash’ a lot, I decided to ask what exactly he meant by a strong independent woman. He said he wanted a wife who worked and earned her own money and he doesn’t want a woman who would ask him for money to buy frivolous things like human hair and Oh, he doesn’t want a housemaid. I then asked if he would be fine with sharing the household chores with his wife since she would be working and he doesn’t want to hire help. He said no because it’s the woman’s duty to take care of the house (surprise surprise………not).

I wasn’t surprised at all by his position because I’ve met a lot of guys that claim to want a strong independent woman/feminist but are vehemently against the idea of sharing household chores with their wives because apparently sweeping reduces the amount of testosterone in their bodies (insert side-eye emoji). Beware of those guys who claim to be feminist just to get girls. They know that most Nigerian ladies are becoming more aware of gender injustices and they pretend to care about gender inequality just to get into our pants or marry us. When a gentleman tells you he wants a strong independent woman, ask him what exactly he means by that because I guarantee that 9 out of 10 times, he means a superwoman feminist. As I have mentioned in a previous post, I don’t subscribe to that brand of feminism because I think it’s same old socio-cultural expectations of women in a brand new enticing package. Even though women help men bring resources home, they are still expected to be in charge of all of the household duties.

[Sidebar: Why do Nigerian men claim to hate weave so much but still go after the ladies with weave?? I think they actually like weave but they don’t want to have to buy weave for their significant other(s).]

So, when are you getting married? Part 2

So, when are you getting married? Part 2

I always knew that one day I would find my people. I knew it would take time but I knew hoped that it would eventually happen. No guys, I’m not adopted but a lot of times, I feel like I was born in the wrong country. I love my country but my personal values and opinions are very contrary to the values and opinions held by most Nigerians that I know and have encountered online (hence the blog name “Odd Naija Girl”). When I’m just being myself, people think I’m trying to be controversial just for the sake of it. So, when I say “my people”, I mean Nigerians that have values and opinions that are similar to mine. One of my fellow ‘aliens’ is Yagazie Emezi whom I’m embarrassed to say, I just recently learnt about. We are so alike it’s not even funny: she is a photographer, has natural hair and likes white boys (Hellooo, that is me).

I decided to check out her YouTube channel after I watched one of her interviews. She has over 60 videos on her channel but the one that made me realise that we were cut from the same cloth was titled “I REALLY Don’t Want Children”. In that video, she talks about not being sure if she wants to have kids and the reaction she gets from people when she is vocal about that uncertainty. The reactions she gets from people are completely identical to the reactions I get from people when I’m honest about not wanting children. The one response she didn’t mention was the “I’ll pray for you” (I get that a lot).

I school abroad so people say that I’ve been influenced by foreigners. Firstly, I lived in Nigeria till I was 17 and anyone who was close to me in secondary school, knows that I’ve always expressed unwillingness to have children: so, no foreign influence here. Secondly, I study in Turkey which is a very religious and traditional country and recently, the president of Turkey stated that women who don’t have children are incomplete. He didn’t even differentiate between voluntary and involuntary childlessness. So where exactly am I getting influenced from again?? (Nowhere – in case you were still wondering).

When I say, I don’t want to get married or have children, I’m not saying it’s never going to happen (I’m a ‘never say never’ kind of person), I’m just saying I’m fine being a spinster; I’m not going to let family and society pressure me into getting married. My main goal in life is happiness/fulfilment and there are different ways to achieve happiness/fulfilment. I am self-aware enough to know that my route to happiness/fulfilment is not linked to marriage and childbearing. I want to become a philanthropist and be part of the team that helps Nigeria become great; those are the dreams that keep me awake at night.

I think another reason why I’m turned off marriage is because I honestly believe marriage is a prison for women because of the power dynamics: the men hold all the power. Every day, we hear messages telling women to submit to their husbands and so on and I don’t want to submit to anyone. I want my marriage to be a partnership between equals; every decision will be made after discussions between both parties. I don’t want my husband to be a parent figure to me. Most Nigerian guys/men want a submissive wife so in their eyes, I’m not “wife material”.

Oh, one other interesting comment I hear when I say I don’t want children is “Try and see”. I’m sorry, are we talking about clothes or children? Try and see?!?! A child CANNOT be returned if you don’t like having one and most importantly, it is irresponsible to have a child JUST because society expects you to have one several. I once heard someone encourage a woman to have more than one child in case her child dies. WTF, I know I’m morbid af but even I don’t think about the possible death of a child and besides, the death of a child is always tragic regardless of how many children one has. Seriously, I wonder how many people would get married and have children if there was no socio-cultural expectation pressure to do so: Are people really getting married because they want to or because they are expected to?????

Even though I’ve never been crazy about marriage and children, I do want a wedding though. I mean, those wedding photos on Bella Naija weddings got me wanting a wedding. The weddings are beautiful and the bride gets to be princess/queen for a day, who doesn’t want that?

In conclusion, we as people should be careful not to assume that everybody wants the life that we want and we should also try not to make people feel broken or incomplete JUST because they don’t want the life that we want.

Cynophobe Alert

Cynophobe Alert

I was attacked by a neighbour’s dog when I was a child and ever since that incident, I have been afraid of dogs. In Nigeria, it was very easy to avoid dogs because Nigerians aren’t big pet owners; most dogs are owned for security purposes alone (which makes them even scarier) so avoiding dogs was no problem. When I moved to Istanbul, I encountered dogs in my university campus. There are so many dogs in the campus: seriously, I believe my campus is a dog shelter. I was scared at first but my fears were assuaged when I realised that the dogs only barked and ran after moving vehicles so I was in the clear. After I moved into a dormitory on the university campus, I did become slightly irritated by the dogs because they bark at night and very early in the morning thus disturbing my precious sleep (sleep is my first love) but I wasn’t afraid of them.

On the 16th of September 2016, I was moving from one dormitory to another. Sidebar: Being a foreign student who stays in a dorm in Turkey is not easy because some dorms close for summer break so you may have to move into another dorm during that period. As a foreign student, all your luggage is with you, it’s not like the Turkish students who go home during breaks/weekends to drop their winter clothes and pick up their summer clothes and vice versa. Foreign students can’t afford to do that (maybe some can but I’m not one of those) so we must move into another dorm with all our heavy luggage (sigh!!!! and insert sad and tired face emojis). I believe that is why all my suitcases have expired before their prime: a suitcase I just bought last year is already dead; the wheels are the first to go ofc (I wonder if I get them fixed somewhere………..)

On this day, I was pulling my very heavy suitcase and the suitcase was making a very irritating noise because the wheels are pretty much non-existent. I guess the sound was irritating the dogs as well because they started barking viciously at me. Their barking was so loud that a security guard had to come out and try to calm them down. The guard told me the dogs wouldn’t do anything to me, they were just barking at the sounds from my suitcase. I was scared but I continued pulling my suitcase. As I continued on my way, the dogs started running towards me while barking. Now, I was very scared: I thought they were going to attack/kill me (I’m obviously very dramatic). The guard tried to calm them down while I continued walking but these dogs did not settle down. I just stopped moving and a car driver who had witnessed the entire episode decided to give me a ride to my dorm. I usually don’t take rides from strangers but I wasn’t ready to be attacked by dogs. I jumped into the car and I was dropped off in front of my dorm. Sidebar 2: People animal lovers always say dogs are more afraid of you than you are of them. If that was true, then why did these dogs bark and run towards me. You don’t run towards something/someone that you are afraid of, you run away from it (well, unless you’re a white girl in a horror movie). My experience has definitely laid that fallacy to rest.

I was very grateful to the car driver and I was very impressed when he didn’t ask for my number. I was impressed because usually when a man does a woman/girl a favour, they usually ask for a phone number in return. That is why I’m very unwilling to receive help from guys because I know 9 out 10 times, they will ask for my number. The driver was very good-looking though and I have more respect for him knowing he did me a solid without expecting anything in return (thumbs up to you sir): I guess good Samaritans do still exist.

Later in the day, I had to go to the grocery store and I went out of my dorm. When I saw two dogs close by, I ran back to my dorm: I was obviously still traumatised by the earlier episode. I had to calm myself down and find the courage to go to the store because I had nothing to eat and I was very hungry (food is my second love). When I finally had the courage to go to the store, the dogs had moved (THANK GOD) so I didn’t encounter any dogs on my way to and from the store.

My fear of dogs is cemented now. It is so bad that I don’t think I can be friends or date a person who owns a dog.