I’ve heard it said that marrying a feminist is a bad idea because feminists don’t “take care of their husbands.”
Anybody who attended this year’s Farafina Literary workshop, or the literary evening that concluded it, would have seen that Chimamanda Adichie was sporting a baby bump. So it was with bated breath that I waited for the media to get wind of it, paving way for myriad “interesting” comments. I was not disappointed. I woke up one day a couple of weeks ago to see the screenshot of a Bella Naija comment by one Akeem on somebody’s BBM, “Who would have thought, her feminism game so strong I thought she would impregnate her husband.”
I found it funny, but it occurred to me, while I laughed, that feminism is still largely misunderstood in our society, sometimes even by professing feminists, male and female. Yes, not everyone who calls themselves a feminist knows what it means. The idea that a feminist is a woman who wants to be a man, or lord it over men, is one that must be corrected with love and patience. Beyond that, an often ignored truth is that feminism must be taken in context.
A woman feminist is simply a woman who wants to be free to be who she is; what that means for one woman is different from what it means for another. Should individual feminists feel bad about honestly enjoying and cherishing traditionally feminine activities? No.
That one feminist has “Mrs.” attached to her name and another prefers “Ms.”, or one wants to have children and another chooses not to, or one loves to cook for her husband and another does not, does not make one’s brand of feminism superior to the other’s. It is the freedom to be that forms the core of feminism. Freedom to go to school, to study any course of choice even if it is a “male dominated” one, to marry or not to marry, to marry early or later, to have kids or not to have kids, to take on a husband’s surname or retain a maiden name, to work in an office or to be a full-time homemaker…freedom to just be, without prescriptions imposed.
One of my favourite Bible stories is that of the daughters of Zelophehad (Numbers 27). The law was clear: only sons could inherit property so if a man died without sons, his property went to his brothers. Zelophehad had five daughters. These ladies believed they had a right to their inheritance, and approached their leader, Moses, to ask for it. Did God strike them dead for daring? No, God asked Moses to give them their inheritance and in addition, proclaimed a new statute and ordinance: henceforth if a man dies without sons, let his daughters inherit his property.
If the Creator sees each person as a complete individual, both different but neither inferior to the other, should we do any less? Of course the home has a leader; every institution does. To say that the Vice-President is inferior to the President is just silly. The former defers to the latter in a leadership structure.
But the Bible says women are weaker than men, does it not? Actually, it doesn’t. This verse (1 Peter 3:7), which states that a husband’s prayers are hindered if he fails to give honour to his wife, says women are the weaker vessel.
A wine glass and a tumbler, both carrying the exact same drink, will carry it without the content being diminished whatsoever by their structure. If they both fell to the ground, however, the tumbler might survive while the wine glass most likely won’t. The vessel does not affect the content, even though one is more delicate and fragile than the other.
That is not to say that we will all see eye to eye on every single issue, but a world where content is valued regardless of the vessel carrying it is what true feminism strives for.
How does a feminist take care of her husband? A feminist – whether radical or girlie –takes care of her husband in the way that suits them both, and as long as mutual satisfaction is intact, it’s nobody else’s business, really.