I am a huge proponent of women’s rights and more importantly, cultural re-orientation. If you want to get my blood boiling, just bring up a few cultural issues, and watch me take you on. Anyway, a like-minded friend and fellow blogger recently wrote a piece that made all the difference to me! You absolutely must read it and share your thoughts. You can’t be silent oh, I want to hear from you on this one…
For the purpose of this article, let me quickly clarify that in this context, female refers to a lady/woman who’s 25 years of age and above. Now, regardless of your background, qualifications, achievements, physical appearance or social standing, to be considered worthy of respect (which naturally translates to being successful) as a female in Nigeria, you have to first of all understand the peculiarity of the society you live in. And not just that, you must be willing to align your way of life to the realities of the Nigerian society. But, you need not worry about it. I’m here to lend a helping hand, as I discuss five foolproof ways to ensure you are respected as a woman in Nigeria. Let’s get right into it!
Get married: Let no one deceive you, if you plan to remain single for a long time or even forever, then you must be ready to entertain snide remarks and different shades of marginalization all through your days. As long as you live in these climes. It really doesn’t matter if you make history as the first female rocket scientist to ever come out of the country. It hardly counts if you have an enviable career, a family that loves you, or are named among the Forbes richest in the world; without that little “cuff” around your fourth finger, you’re zilch. Nothing. Nada. Look, your girlfriend’s husband might be the greatest drunk, a wife-beater, an irresponsible father, serial cheater or even a jail bird, guess what? She will be more respected than you with all your degrees, humanitarian efforts and high-flying career because she is married, and that’s all that matters. Karl Marx may have fingered religion as the opium of the masses. But, I dare say that in Nigeria, marriage is the opium of the people. It is the panacea for all real and imagined problems. You want to be respected? Just get married dammit!
Learn to cook: What’s the value of a woman if she can’t cook? That’s the age-old unwritten slogan of the Nigerian society. It is in the hidden section of the Nigerian constitution. To be considered a complete woman, thou shalt be able to “throw down” in the kitchen. I must emphasize that throwing down in the kitchen is not the same as an ability to make “run-of-the-mill” meals like yam and eggs or rice and stew. I am referring to a dexterity in the preparation of a variety of soups from different parts of the country. Soups in the mould of efo riro, edikaikong, oha and the rest of them, that will ensure the other woman never gets the chance to lure your man away with food.
Defer to every man: The two most popular religions in Nigeria admonishes women to submit to their husbands. That one man that she is married to. But, the unwritten rule in my country is that women should submit to all men, whether she is married or related to them or not. And so, when a random guy cuts into your lane abruptly in traffic, suck it up and move on, for he is a man. He has your “type” at home who worships at his feet everyday. Even when you are his boss in the office, you should learn to accord him a level of respect higher than what you show your female subordinates who are his contemporaries. When you are involved in an argument or discussion with a group of men, don’t be too opinionated. Topics like politics, football, and the latest cutting edge technology cannot be your forte. By virtue of the greater physical strength and penis the man possesses, he is technically superior to you. When you defer to every man regardless of their age or status, then you are a good woman who has earned her respect.
Don’t be too ambitious: You are allowed to get a first degree, maybe even a masters degree. But, a PhD? That’s going too far, particularly if you’re a singleton. What exactly are you trying to do? Chase the men away? Intimidate them? You’re a woman, you don’t need to be too ambitious. If you end up as part of the top management in your organisation, then be ready to contend with rumors that you either slept your way to the top, or are a modern day Margaret Thatcher who wears the pants on the home front, or that your career success must be responsible for your status as a single mum or divorcee. You cannot have everything, so say my people. Downplay your achievements and successes if you want to be respected as a female in Nigeria. Better still, be ordinary.
Excesses are not for you: In everything you do, remember that you are not allowed to have excesses, and if you cannot help them, be careful not to display them. You may be wondering what is regarded as “excesses.” Well, habits like smoking and drinking which are common to the menfolk should not be associated with you. As a lady, you are expected to be demure. Modesty should be your watchword. How dare you smoke in public? How can you down a bottle of beer with the guys when you are supposed to cut the image of a responsible mother or future mother. Forget that habits are what they are – habits, and anyone can pick them up regardless of their gender. Don’t use curse words, don’t wear mini-skirts, don’t apply too much make-up, don’t laugh out loud. You are a woman, excesses are not for you!
There maybe more, but, I can safely affirm that these are the basic factors you need to be a respected woman in Nigeria. If you have them covered, you are well on your way to being the model woman in these parts. The older folks and a huge number of men will encourage teenagers and younger adult females to emulate your lifestyle.
You may choke at some point for allowing society dictate a lifestyle that is not yours to you. You may lead an ordinary life, but at least you will fit in and not be tagged a rebel; or worse still an angry, sexually-frustrated feminist.
Ololade Ajekigbe is a writer, blogger, editor and content creator who blogs weekly at www.lolosthoughts.com
Her works have been published in Punch Newspapers and leading news sites and publications such as YNaija.com, omojuwa.com and Inflyt magazine.