Of course I am angry. I am angry about racism. I am angry about sexism. But recently I came to the realization that I am angrier about sexism than I am about racism. Because in my anger about sexism, I feel lonely.Because I love and live among many people who easily acknowledge race injustice but not gender injusticeDear Ijeawele, or A Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
The women who raised us were baptized in guilt.Television weaned them on Omo, Geisha and Blueband adverts that featured the cooking, washing, load-bearing African mother as a martyr.Our mothers, unequal to the task of living on a pedestal, saw their inevitable streak of humanity as a flaw and cried in the night to expunge it.
Our fathers were afraid of letting their tears fall. The African man, carved from granite, had shoulders that never sagged.
Under the care of two secretly flawed beings, we grew into adults who sit in front of their television sets and scoff at women marching up and down the streets with placards. To us, these women do nothing but complain and complain. Watching them ,we wonder, “Who are the mothers who raised them?How can any man marry such a loud woman?”
“Our mothers were not like that!” We observe. “They would have died before allowing a cesarean section.Our mothers were married for thirty-five years and stayed no matter what! They knew how to pamper their men.It is as simple as that!”
We were once contented with being the lesser children–the preliminary births as our fathers and mothers awaited the coming of the coveted sons. We were comfortable with nursing your wounds and warming your food but then you died and unleashed a red flood.
Blood of the mother and father, when it came to inheriting property, we had vinegar coursing through our veins, not blood. A daughter could not take after her father. She was merely a guest on her mother’s side. They said that it was culture, religion and law–they added that it was custom! They even said to us, “That’s just how it’s done.”
What they really meant was that we were not human enough.
They advised us to find men to marry us if we wished to belong in any line. We were livid but since it was not proper to vent, we wore our mini-skirts and stormed out of the house, searching for somebody who would understand.
It was 7:00 o’clock and we forgot to carry our purse. We forgot to buy that pepper spray that every woman must own after dark. When we asked you for money, you tried to give us what you thought we deserved by measuring our character by the length of our skirt .By some stroke of good luck, we slipped through your greasy clutches unscathed.
We hopped onto a motorcycle and flew into what we hoped were loving arms. But because of that skirt, he too decided that it was time. And ashes to ashes, to doom we returned.
When we got home, with ripped hearts and ripped skirts, our mother took one look at us and asked us what had happened. She wanted to know why we had allowed this to be done to us. We didn’t bother explaining. She wouldn’t understand. Hers was a story carved from a different time.
When we went to work the next day, the boss summoned us to his office. He didn’t blink twice before giving us the sack. He said that his work policy didn’t encourage sluts like us. It was from our best friend that we learned what was what. While we were unconscious, Mr. Loving Arms took and shared our nudes from last night…
We hear disgusted whispers as we walk out, our heads bowed. “Women!” a member of the jury mutters, “The things they do for money.”
“Women,” whispers another, “and the things they do for love.”
“Women!” retorts your best friend, “Don’t compare me to her!”
That day, we grow tired of bowing; of being good girls to a world that is so casually unkind to us.