The power of a woman
I am quite sure of the fact that this article will provoke some people but the fact is that it has to be told because it’s important to your ears. I’ve heard of the word feminism for quite a number of years and most importantly from one of my models Chimamanda Adiche. Her interviews, articles and sayings have, however, in one way or the other, changed my perception about gender.
I could remember quite vividly that all through my primary school, there was not a single female class captain; we were male and we dominated. I would remember fighting with my female friends when they annoyed me while my male friends hailed me. I felt good then because it ascertained my superiority as a man. One thing that has always confused me is that whenever a girl beats or slap a boy in school then, the boy feels uneasy and embarrassed throughout the week; probably because we have been injected with the assumption that it is wrong to get beaten by a female or because as little as we were, we had a very high ego towards the opposite sex.
I remember my secondary school days; it was a boarding house. We had prefects. I remember being arrogant and disrespectful to female prefects and over submissive to the male. I remember having a quarrel with one of the female prefects then; the quarrel lasted for weeks and was left unresolved. I would avoid the dining hall to avoid seeing her face. Unfortunately for me, she was the sister of the senior prefect boy. She had reported me to her brother and demanded he should deal with me mercilessly in the dormitory. Her brother called me that afternoon and told me to kneel.
My heart was already in my mouth; I knew I would be lashed seriously that night. But to my utmost surprise, he told me to pretend to his sister that I have been lashed seriously whereas I never received a single stroke. I left immediately thanking him because it was rear for the senior prefect boy then to call you into his room without receiving few lashes and some punishments. I told his sister I had been lashed and apologised to her, though I was not satisfied with the apology but it had to be done. She was happy anyway. One thing that made me ponder was the senior prefect’s act, refusing to beat or punish me because of his sister. Obviously it was the guy’s thing; you would not want to punish your male counterpart because of a girl. It even made the female more inferior to me then. Although some of our male seniors and prefects beat and punished us because of their female friends.
My university days were worse. During my 100 level, we had a male as the class representative. 200 level the same thing likewise 300 level and 400. On several occasions, when the issue of becoming the class representative came up, the female students declined to take up that responsibility. They preferred sitting down and watching the guys rule them. I was opportune to be the class representative during my 300 level and 400 level. Though there were no oppositions it was inherent that even if there were, it would surely be a male.
A female friend of mine, however, made me proud and washed herself off the irrelevant status of female in my department then. She is Bisola Salaudeen by name. She took up the courage to contest against my best friend for the position of the president during the departmental election that brought me in as the PRO in 2015. She was courageous and bold. Though I have never praised her in her presence because of my nature but deep within me she was one of those I regarded as a feminist. She faced numerous hurdles as a woman. She had earlier consulted me on vying for that position and I told her to step down for some other positions available because the aspiring president was my best friend who had a vision and a very good dream for the department. And most especially he was a male. She turned down my advice and went on. She was insulted and was alone in the struggle and lost eventually.
She didn’t lose just because she was a female but because of numerous factors attached to that position. I could remember vividly the first female president in the department then, Anifat. Members of the executive working alongside Anifat testified that she never held a single meeting. They classified her as a complete failure. Ever since, the chances of a female becoming the president have been slim which in one way or the other must have affected Bisola. I did not blame Anifat because I did not understand the circumstance surrounding her then because if she were called to narrate her side of the story she would definitely have something to say.
To me Bisola’s attempt was not a failure but a complete success because she has eventually opened the eyes of many females who wish to see unending opportunities. She has also challenged my friend who eventually became the president to work very hard. One thing that has prompted this talk and not an article is to open the eyes of our girls, sisters, aunts, nieces and mothers to the fact that we have gone past the era when physical abilities (physical strength) are needed to rule. We are in an era where intelligence and creativity is needed for success and leadership; these attributes are, however, not attributed to a particular sex, thus leaving both sexes the opportunity to be successful.
The fact that we have been brainwashed and have internalised what we call the norm of the society, which makes the male gender appear superior over the female, should not be a yardstick for the accomplishments of our females. One thing I have noticed is the laziness in young girls. During my first year in the university, I was talking to a female friend, and then I asked a question “What do you want to do after school?” The response she gave me almost gave me a heart attack. She said: “She would get married to a rich husband who would eventually open a business for her.” It was at this point that I felt that it was not actually the fault of the male counterpart to dominate but the over-reliance of the female gender on the male that has kept them in dominance for years.
I have heard from numerous ladies the quote: “I cannot marry a man who is not rich, because I don’t want to suffer.” These ladies, however, believe that marrying a poor man makes you suffer. The question is: “Where are your brains, my sister?” You do not need a man’s wealth to be successful. All you need is hard work, intelligence and creativity. We have women whose influence and affluence are not based on their husband’s wealth.
Admiral Itunu Hotonu is an example of such women: smart, articulate and very intelligent woman, she was the first woman to attain the rank of Rear Admiral (a two-star General), in the Nigerian Navy. There are also the following:
Agbani Darego, former Most Beautiful Girl in Nigeria, and the first black Miss World, Agbani has become a successful entrepreneur with the launch of her AD by Agbani Darego retail clothing line.
Folorunso Alakija, the richest black woman in the world, Folorunso has business interests spanning fashion, oil and gas, and printing. She’s also a philanthropist and is the founder of the Rose of Sharon Foundation.
Blessing Okagbare: Bold, beautiful and umber stylish, Blessing is an Olympic and World Championships medallist in the long jump, and a world medallist in the 200 metres. She also holds the Women’s 100 metres Commonwealth Games record for the fastest time at 10.85 seconds. She became the fourth woman to win the 100m and 200m double at the Commonwealth Games.
Genevieve Nnaji: a woman with an inspiring story of rag to riches. Blessed with impeccable diction, super acting skills, and a slew of brand endorsements, she is also dipped into the entrepreneurial pool with the launch of her St. Genevieve clothing label.
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie: From being sampled by Beyonce, to giving insightful talks and to having huge motion pictures made out of her novels, to writing thought-provoking articles, Chimamanda constantly redefines notions of what and who an author should be, to mention but a few of those who have made it and are not different from you. You also can make it without any reliance on the male counterpart.
“Success is not made for the male neither is it for the female but for everyone who is intelligent, creative and hardworking and whose mind reflects the status quo of success.”
At the same time, I will love to commend my prestigious Department of English and Literary Studies whose Head of Department is a female, Prof. M.E.M Kolawole, and my friend Bisola for opening the eyes of many to the relevance of women in our society. Our people say: “What a man can do, a woman can do better,” I would also add: “What a woman can do, a man can do better” to avoid the imbalance of gender in this quote.