Being female in Nigeria need not be all negatives. As I grew older I realise amongst many derogatory comments I got thrown at me not for no other reason but for being a woman, the ones I am most affected by was from home – from father or close relatives.
Outside, I tend to stand up for myself as much as I can, sometimes when it’s not worth the effort, I hissed and moved on.
Last week a Lagos based book club inspired hashtag #beingfemaleinnigeria where ladies of all ages share their views of being talked down by their male friends just because they were female.
I used to be just be quiet when my father said something about women that were stereotypical as I thought he is ‘old school’, but these days, often I’d ask him “Is that the way you see me, daddy?” Over the years, I have seen positive changes in his utterances.
A pastor who is a family member once narrated stories of women in his church to be manipulative, dress provocatively all in the hope of seducing their pastors – they did this in order to bring the preachers ‘down’ as the women were possessed of evil spirits. When I asked if the same was true of his wife and daughters, he was offended because he knew he was making sweeping generalisation of women when he was only talking about one person.
We still have lengthy family talks but he is aware I’m no longer going to be quiet when he based his critics of women on a section of the bible.
In order to reduce sexist talk in our society, we need to start from our homes. Men in the workplace and place of worship are capable of changing right from inside their homes but if we continue to listen to them bringing other women down just for the fun of it, they will have no incentive of changing.
A reminder of their own mothers, sisters, wives and daughters would likely bring about positive change in behaviour.
Inspiring to hear people talking about sexism in Nigeria – as obvious as it is, we seldom talk about it in the way that any lesson is learned. Hopefully, this is the beginning of a new dawn for us all.