My Unbecoming

My Unbecoming

I recently listened to a podcast in which the guest, a licensed psychotherapist, said therapy is about unbecoming rather becoming. She explained that when babies are born, they are clean slates but as they grow inside a particular society, they are conditioned through direct teaching/enforcement or subconscious learning, to conform to the dominant values of that society (social conditioning). The morals, values, and behaviours learnt through the conditioning can be beneficial, harmless or harmful to an individual or to the society. Therapy is about unlearning the harmful morals, values, and behaviours we have learnt from society.

When I was a little girl, I was the boldest, bravest and most adventurous girl that I knew (FYI, I knew a lot of people then). I would climb trees, ride bikes, try new food and speak up when I saw injustices, and just be my true self. I have been reminiscing a lot these days (major side effect of unemployment) and I am trying to figure out when exactly and why I lost those qualities. There is no exact moment because I realised that my evolution was gradual and subtle. There was no Big Bang; just a culmination of small events that resulted in my change.

Looking back, I think the first event that initiated the evolution was my fall from a tree. One afternoon, when I was climbing a tree, I climbed onto a branch which seemed sturdy to my 6-year-old self. Turns out you can’t really trust the judgement of 6-year olds when it comes to safety because the branch fell off while I was on it (Yikes). The tree wasn’t really close to my house, but my screams were heard from my house and my family ran to me. Needless to say, after that day, I never climbed trees again. I learnt to fear that day and became way less adventurous but not less stubborn though (insert devil face emoji). Oh, I forgot to mention that I have a scar on my chest from that fall that I actually don’t to fade (I am not normal).

I mentioned that although I became less adventurous, I was still very stubborn. One day, I asked my aunt to take me to a family friend’s house to play and she refused so I decided to walk there by myself. Mind you, the house was very far from ours and during that period there were several kidnappings in Benin, Edo State, where we lived at that time, but I was determined to play with my friends, so I walked there. My family and I had been to the house several times and apparently, I had subconsciously learnt the route (Smart me) because I made my way there without asking for directions. After I had been at the family friend’s house for a while, my very worried aunt called and was relieved to find out I safe and sound. Thankfully, I didn’t get beat but I got scolded for putting myself in danger. That day, I learnt that the world is not very safe for women, especially young women. I am sure my guardians were not purposefully trying to make me less brave, they were just trying to teach me the realities of the world.

The incident that discouraged my adventurousness with food was a horrible hot dog. I didn’t get to eat hot dogs until I was 10 years old. My family and I went to Mr Biggs’ often, but I usually stuck with to usual (Meat pie, Doughnut, Eggrolls. Etc) but I was very curious about the snacks I saw in foreign movies and I wanted to try them. During one of my family’s regular trip to the Mr Biggs’, I ordered a hot dog. I was the first person in my family to try Mr Biggs’ hot dog and it was really horrible which is probably why I have a conservative palette now. I think I also became repulsed my hot dogs because when I was in America, I had several opportunities to eat the original American hot dog, but I was so traumatised by my first hot dog that I couldn’t even attempt to eat any of them. I still try out food new food but I try my favourites from different places.

In primary and secondary school, I quickly learnt that my outspokenness and stubbornness were deemed undesirable in females and I decided to tame myself down a bit to avoid beatings & other forms of physical punishment (I was beaten into conformity) and ostracization. I received corporal punishments from teachers and ostracization from my peers: teachers didn’t appreciate my “unladylike” character but they greatly appreciated that I was willing to report other students whom I left were in the wrong. So, I got into trouble with teachers for being rude, but I also got flak from my peers for being a snitch which put me in a really awkward position. For a teenage girl with low self-esteem in boarding school, social ostracization is worse than corporal punishment (at least that was the case for me). So, I decided to stop reporting injustices to teachers to gain acceptance from my peers.

I want to go back to being that fearless girl who was very bold, brave and adventurous. The girl who would climb a very high tree without thinking twice, swim, ride a bicycle, walk to a family friend’s house, on the other side of town, alone (don’t do that youngins), and speak up when something didn’t sit well with her. I have gotten a bit of her back; I travelled to four countries in Europe alone and I went on a very scary amusement park ride which was vomit inducing but that is by the way. Oh, I am also very assertive now. The ease with which I say “No” is surprising to family and acquaintances.

I do understand that fear is useful; it keeps us alive by preventing us from engaging in life-threatening actions. But fear can prevent us excelling and realising our potentials. My goal isn’t to be completely fearless like extreme sports athletes (I think they are borderline suicidal), my goal is to master my fear and to distinguish the rational fears from the irrational ones.

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I am back now

I am now officially a graduate (which is just fancy speak for “unemployed”). After my graduation ceremony in July, I had 6 weeks of compulsory internship to complete before I could collect my certificate. Although I really enjoyed my internship because the work environment was liberal (there was no dress code and they were very lenient with late coming) and I learnt of new things that would help me in my future career, it took up most of my energy and time. I woke up very early in the mornings and after work, all I wanted to do was eat and sleep and I did just that.

Immediately after my internship was over, I started packing to come back to Nigeria. The packing process drained all my energy and time: I owned a lot of unnecessary crap, so I had to sort the items to decide which items to keep and which to give away. Halfway into the sorting process, I decided it would be better to just give all it away because I couldn’t be bothered to pay an excess baggage fee on things that I was certain I would never use again.

Upon returning to Nigeria, I entered a state of post-graduation depression (it’s an actual thing). Even though I graduated from university with a high GPA I couldn’t plot a course for my future: All my job applications were met with negative/ no replies which really affected my self-esteem. The depression made me unmotivated to write which is why I haven’t posted in a while, but I am back now with a vengeance.

I really do apologise for not posting anything in a long while. I know my explanation sounds like excuses, but I hope you keep following my blog.

 

 

 

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).]