COMMONSENSE 101:STUFF WE NEED TO STOP SAYING
Samirah Abdu Guye
So some time ago, I was lurking on Facebook as usual, putting my beak into other people’s businesses……. Then, (cue in Indian music for when something bad is about to happen), I came across a post shared by some peeps on my timeline. It was written by an accomplished Northern woman who I have always (and still do) admire because of the several things she has been able to achieve and how to my mind she is (or should be) a wonderful role model to those of us coming up behind. It was basically a tribute post to several figures who she said had influenced her life in various good ways, and was pretty good. Then, she added this statement “In today’s world of increasing calls for gender equality and feminism, it is fine to allow men make decisions without being a lesser woman”. She then goes on to say that while several decisions in her life were made by men, she has never regretted it……and other stuff in the same vein.
The statement in quote was totally unnecessary, and for me; ruined a perfectly good post. Sisters, we need to file this type of comment under stuff we absolutely need to STOP saying. The lady in question is extremely privileged, has always had men in her life who made decisions that were largely favorable/ positive for her, and that is her lucky destiny. I’m sure several other women would agree that we have not all had similarly pleasant positive results. Rawar da in wani yayi za a bashi kudi, in wani yayi; duka zai sha (Because it worked for A does not mean it will work for B).
To make broad generalizations like that statement, is to make jest of the harsh struggles millions of women (especially in our part of the world) face in trying to get their voices heard on issues that affect them. It is to mock our struggles to be recognized as human and to be treated with even a little dignity!
A simple survey in any biki or suna gathering in Northern Nigeria will provide you with ample data on why it is absolutely not wise to let men make decisions about important issues without recourse to your opinion. Why should someone make decisions affecting your life without your input at all?
You don’t even have to go that far these days sef. With the proliferation of female groups on Facebook, you can read several horror stories of what women face daily in the hands of the patriarchy. Several of our sisters are educated, but cannot go out to work because the men in their lives refuse to ‘allow’ it. Others are extremely brilliant students, who will never further their education because the men in their lives do not think it necessary or important. Let’s not even get into very serious issues like reproductive health, financial freedom (property & business ownership) and related concerns.
All I’m saying is, it is also OK to speak up when decisions that directly affect your life are being decided. In spite of what a lot of us think (and were probably raised to believe), we are perfectly capable of making good great decisions all by ourselves for ourselves. Emancipate your selves from thoughts that make you feel a man is a better decision maker, only because he is male.
Let me explain;
When we are getting married and are all caught up in the excitement of planning the event(s), we don’t generally allow men choose our outfits or kayan daki (and look how pretty we and the houses turn out ), is this perhaps a sign that we are capable of taking more serious decisions on our own? Don’t get me wrong, I am not advocating that we don’t listen to the male folk totally or refuse to listen to great advice just because it came from a man.
However, if the issue being decided on is an important one that affects your life and your future, there is nothing wrong in airing your solicited/unsolicited opinion about it. It is your life after all, and you only have one shot at getting it right.
During the course of our lives, we will encounter several things that we will never fully understand/ be unable to relate to. Just because we don’t understand these issues, doesn’t make the struggle less real for those who have to face these battles daily.
As women, especially in Northern Nigeria (where we need more positive female role models), we should all be particularly careful with statements that can be easily used against other women who are simply fighting to live their best lives. I appreciate that feminism and gender equality tenets may not be everybody’s cup of tea, even though I strongly recommend doing some research yourself on these issues (PS: keep away from easily accessible internet propaganda). However, taking an active part in decision making in your own life is not feminism; it is simply common sense.
Definition of terms
- Patriarchy: term used by feminists, to blame men for all their problems. (Urban dictionary.com)