Yesterday I read an article on feminism by acclaimed Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. It was so well written that despite its length and my kids screaming in the background, I managed to go through it in one sitting.
But largely I didn’t agree with it.
Clearly her traditional Nigerian roots have played a role in shaping her as a staunch feminist. I, myself, was raised in an Asian family with different rules for girls and boys.
Where there were more expectations of the females in terms of adhering to a certain moral code of conduct. Where being a male allowed you a greater right to pursue your dreams. Where women were not encouraged to be independent and men were accepted as superior.
It was clear to me and my parents that I was not designed for that environment. I was strong headed, opinionated and independent. But I was not and am not a feminist.
Yes I believe in women having rights and independence. I aspire for a world where we don’t feel the need to show that we are “nice girls”. That subservience is not a test for who is more worthy as wife material.
I believe that it’s okay to have dreams and fight for them regardless of gender. I want to raise my boys to be supportive of their partners in helping them achieve their goals in life. That gender is not the basis on which it should be determined who leads decisions in a household.
I believe in a world where both sexes are free to make choices that affect them without feeling apologetic. I would love to see a change where girls are hailed for being their own person. That being a strong girl is more attractive than being a pretty face.
Conventional family values defy everything I have said above just as much in Africa as they do in Asia.
But the West has its own struggles. They are trying too hard to be at the opposite end of the spectrum. They propagate men and women as equals. They have confused gender inequality for gender discrimination. They have inadvertently created a world where there is a lot of pressure on both genders to fight being their natural self.
Men and women are not the same. More importantly they should not be in competition with each other. So there is no question of equality.
We must embrace the differences between the two sexes because that’s what makes this world so interesting.
We must recognise that we are partners not competitors and it is only then that productive relationships with healthy dynamics can exist.
We must know that we are not equal because each of us brings to the table something unique without which there would be an imbalance.
As an example, it is okay for a woman to be the breadwinner, if through mutual understanding, it is agreed to be the right thing for the family.
However, it is more natural for the man to be the primary wage earner. Just like it is more normal for a woman to be a better homemaker.
Even if the woman is the principal manager of the housework, it does not absolve the man of all responsibility for this aspect of the household. It depends on the circumstances. Is the lady of the house a working woman? Does she have kids? Is she able to cope emotionally and physically?
The man should be willing to support his partner to create an overall environment of mutual respect, understanding and affection.
And there may well be relationships where the roles are reversed because it comes more naturally. And that is also okay. There is no need to stereotype gender roles but at the same time it is beneficial to accept that gender stereotypes are broadly true.
It’s not about me vs you or my job vs your job. It’s very much about working for a more wholesome family structure. You take control of areas that are your forte but also play a “sidekick” role where necessary to get things right.
Men and women have different strengths and weaknesses and together they form a whole.
Women are destined to be the child bearers which is a physical feat of such magnitude that it tips the scale disproportionately in favour of women. Men must counter this by bringing something else to the relationship. They must nurture the women in their lives.
I wholeheartedly believe in chivalry. Contrary to Chimamanda’s view I don’t think it implies female weakness. This argument baffles me because why does a strong woman and a woman who is looked after have to be mutually exclusive?
You are not weak because you expect your man to be gallant towards you. You are weak if you believe that to show your strength you have to reject that a man can do certain things you shouldn’t have to.
I could continue for several more pages but I think I have made my point. Feminism is a flawed argument. Gender equality is unachievable because oranges can’t ever be apples even if you paint them red. Enjoy what is cultivated by nature for what it is rather than masking it. It will make for a much more enjoyable experience.
A Fancy Cinderella