In this guest post, Nigerian blogger and student Temie Giwa writes of her thoughts on and conflicts with feminism. It’s really not my forte so I don’t have any thoughts. Or maybe I’m confused. Agree or disagree however, it perhaps raises the right questions about identity in today’s -ism world. Or does it? Read for yourself to decide. The world sometimes moves too fast for me to catch up. What are your thoughts? More guest-posts are coming up in the middle of the week.
My boyfriend and I have very strange conversations. We have already bargained what we will be naming our future offspring. He also asked me if I would be willing to take his name when we get married. When he asked, I was ashamed at my response. Incredibly ashamed. I felt not insulted, or slighted, or even uncomfortable, I felt deep intense pleasure. I wanted to giggle and yell yes. I want to be Mrs. You. I wanted to tell him it would make me happy…that I would be so glad to be a part of him forever. That was my instinct, but I declined, because I am supposed to be a feminist, and feminists generally don’t take their husbands name and above all, they are NOT supposed to feel pleasure at the possibility. In nutshell I was upset and unsettled for days…trying to figure this out.
I have yet another confession to make.
I love cooking and cleaning and I imagine that I will enjoy doing his laundry. I want to be a mom and worry over my children and worry over this husband of mine. I imagine this would please me and make me glad…but again I am meant to be a feminist. Feminists aren’t supposed to enjoy…wait…LOVE being domesticated.
Feminism started innocently enough. Women just wanted to vote. They wanted an equal voice in determining the fate of their country and consequently their lives. Self realization is a human struggle. Women and men often want the right and responsibilities attached to defining themselves and their society. So this, very human need created the suffragist movement, which birthed Feminism. Many women died and suffered for this grand cause. They were ridiculed and insulted but they marched on and well most women can now vote around the world thanks to these women’s bravery.
The next step in feminism was started in the 60s through the 70s and was headquartered in the United States. I am sure some of us recall women such as Gloria Steinem taking off bras and burning them in a bizarre but fantastic orgiastic ceremony. While it captured much feminine attention, one must not fail to point out the horrendous sensationalism of this act. And she might have been oblivious of the unintended consequences that often plague such movements. Which is the inevitable marginalization of the centrist members of the movement. A lot of women burned their bras but a lot of other women also didn’t. I am not sure which camp I would have been in had I lived through the time.
In their quest to become equal to men, especially in the context of the working place, Gloria and her bra burners might have also masculinised the working woman. Their premise, I believe, was that for women to be seen as capable and get “equal pay for equal work” they had to be like men… hence the bra burning. Bras are generally reserved for those with breasts, and generally Men do lack these glorious appendages. So the bras were burned, shoulder pads were added to suits, and tresses were packed back into severe buns. Viola, the feminist working woman who is just as capable of a man and who must SHATTER the glass ceiling at all cost was born.
Today, we have what we call lipstick feminists, as opposed to mascara feminists of the 70s. I jest. This term always is amusing when I hear it. I am going to attempt to be kind and describe this to you. A lipstick feminist is a woman who values her femininity. She is a woman and she likes to dress as such. She found her bra again. J She wears the said bra with pride and she might even obsess over her lipstick shade. She has thrown away the HORRID shoulder padded suits and she loves pencil skirts and sexy soft blouses and she loves her Manolos and wants to be in love. Carrie Bradshaw of the Sex and the City fame is the poster child daughter for this movement.
This is the difference between Mrs. Clinton, whose dreary pantsuits and terrible shoes choices put her in opposition with Mrs. Obama. The latter’s coronation as Fashion Diplomat for the World drives home the point. Feminist vs. Lipstick Feminist.
So where do I fit in all of this. I am not quite sure.
Recently I have begun to rethink calling myself a feminist.
I am a woman…or maybe not yet…
I love shoes and lipsticks. I am obsessed with fashion but also politics. I would never want to be a Mrs. Obama although I want to dress like her. I guess the point is that I don’t fit into any of the group. I want to rule the world, not dressed like Mrs. Clinton but like Mrs. Obama.
But a point that eluded me previously but now seems obvious is that, HE ASKED. He asked that I take his name. He did not assume that I would or that my duty was to take his name. He asked and above all I felt that I could decline if I so wish and If I wanted to that I would be able to do as such without an ounce of guilt.
I should be able to take his name without feeling as if I have let down my feminist sisters. I should be able to cook and clean and make a home and still be a raging feminist.
I also should be allowed to work crazy hours and be power hungry. I should be allowed without condemnation from my society, to choose not to marry and not to have children. Women should allow women to be human.
So there is the point. Perhaps I have won. Perhaps this should have been the aim of feminism. I have won because I am going to do as I please without guilt, and that is what I will teach my daughter. To be herself, boldly, whatever that is. And this I believe transcends feminism, its womanism and above all buman and humane.
I want to be Mrs. Him but still be who I am.
A poet. A writer. Gods favourite daughter. A changemaker and all the pieces of me.
Temie Giwa lives and writes in New York. “Nope that’s a lie,” she says again. She just likes the idea of living and writing in New York.