When Feminism Meets Femininity

For as long as I’ve been friends with David, he has always been in the habit of tucking me to his left every time we walk along the road. Now while I find that habit almost ‘sweet’, I must also point out how annoying it is. It’s something I’d do with a child because my maternal instinct is all for keeping him safe, but having another adult do the same to me is somewhat disconcerting. My mechanical response to this has always been, “I wonder how I ever survived walking without you”.

A week ago I was taking a walk with another friend. When we turned the corner on to the main road, I noticed for a moment he hesitated. It occurred to me at that instant that not only were we walking on the wrong side of the road(the right), but I happened to be on the left—which of course put all in coming vehicle right behind me. For a moment there I expected him to tuck me to his right just like David would, but after that brief hesitation, he just took my hand and kept walking. Now I had two reactions to this: on one hand I was glad he didn’t follow the more masculine routine of playing the ‘protector’ to the fragile female; on the other, I was almost disappointed he didn’t.

Thinking about this has made me realize how at war we are with our bodies; and I think to a large extent this is so because our culture is at war with the female body.

Femininity means different things to different people, but mostly I believe this is so because being feminine is unique to individuals and not some rule book of perfect and ideal female behavioral pattern. The divine feminine circles around these aspects: Restoration, life, creation, renewal, birth, healing, openness, motherhood, nurturing, love, understanding, compassion, insight, intuition, wisdom, forgiveness, connection, harmony and sensuality. Some may realize they are more in touch with some aspects and less with the others, but that does not in any way diminish one’s femininity.

While I hate generic tags like ‘feminist’, I must confess I love everything it stands for: giving women equal chances as their male counterpart. But it does seem like while fighting for our equality, we are either beginning to lose sight of what being feminine means, or if we really believe in the feminist movement.

It is not uncommon to see women who suppress their femininity to take up more competitive roles. I have oftentimes wondered if this is so because these women in positions of authority think if they are any more female, then they won’t appear tough but incompetent (?). There is also the trend of seeing most Human Resource personnel recruit married women in preference to younger unmarried counterpart irrespective of qualifications, to occupy supposed ‘sensitive’ positions. I’ve again wondered if this is to ensure she receives the respect due to her or perhaps soften the blow on the ego of masculine subordinates (?).

Irrespective of these bothersome questions and uncertainties, I do know that if we still have to act in this manner, then feminism hasn’t begun to connect with the society like it’s supposed to, women don’t really understand what is being fought for, and so much has been lost both in formation and translation of this movement.

 So how can we be feminist females and yet remain feminine?

Feminism does not in any way require that I become a man to prove a point. It does not require that movie directors and writers infuse masculine traits to female lead characters, make them less sensitive, and give them superhuman abilities. It does not require females who engage in traditional sporting activities to hit the gym until all the feminine ‘softness’ has been beaten out of them, nor that they start to dress up like men and act all boyish. What that only does is promote the view that men are the strong ones in the world, and that to be strong means to emulate them.

Feminism like I see it only requires that you be feminine and tap into your femininity to get what you want—like Cleopatra and Marilyn Monroe; that a woman can be soft, delicate, tender, playful, and sensual, yet pack a mean punch and work like a bulldozer. That being feminine does not in any way diminish my importance. I can do what a man can do, exist in his world without having to be him. I can achieve desired results without going through the same process—I just have to do things the most natural way; men can be men, women can be women, and both exist in a natural state of harmony without offsetting the balance (Yin-Yang?). That I can be a woman and let you be a man, while we each understand the dynamics of our nature—opening doors, pulling out seats, tucking me to safety away from moving vehicles is because you want to make me feel protected as is your nature not because I’m useless at taking care of myself, and that these aren’t standards for measuring your masculine worthiness, and that I shouldn’t demand this from you nor feel shortchanged or disappointed when I don’t get this.

The concept shouldn’t just teach society to recognize and respect the equality and importance of both sexes; it needs women to understand themselves better and reclaim who they really are, for what is viewed as our weakness is our strength.

Professionals sitting in a board room

Advertisements

34 thoughts on “When Feminism Meets Femininity

  1. Ruq June 24, 2015 / 11:51 pm

    This is superb, really liked it and the view you shared.

    There’s something I always say it’s goes ” Not until women fully understand their abilities, would they understand that the saying “it’s a man’s world” doesn’t mean they’re irrelevant.

    I am up for anything that supports equality among both genders, but we both know that in some areas no matter how you try to force it, we can’t always be equal. From my perspective it’s a man’s world is statement derived form the contribution of the male gender in various fields from science,politics,inventions, et cetera. This doesn’t mean the contribution of the female gender is useless, I think were history got it wrong was not applauding the meekness and emphaty associated with the female gender.
    After some meditation I actually realised a man’s world would be optimally pointless without a woman, sadly most women don’t know this, after reaching a conclusion I actually realised most women don’t know how powerful they themselves are, the thing is I kind of like it like that. It’s a man’s world doesn’t mean women can’t run it, and just as you stated, the womenfolk would do so fine running the world by remaining feminine, but I pray they never find out. 🙂 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    • uju June 25, 2015 / 10:55 am

      Thank you so much for this beautiful contribution, Ruq. We find our strengths in our individuality– there no need to alter anything at all. I am a firm believer in taking advantage of what one has, and for women it’s our sensuality and perhaps man’s weakness when we’re concerned.

      lol i think women are starting to recognise their inherent abilities. It shouldn’t be hidden for long 😀

      Like

  2. Dumelo June 23, 2015 / 12:40 am

    Wow! I couldn’t agree more, ver well written.

    Like

  3. clickpresh November 24, 2014 / 11:20 pm

    I’d buy into feminist theories if their authors where as thorough and balanced as you were in writing this post…

    Like

    • uju November 25, 2014 / 4:53 pm

      lol thanks. I’ve realized our ideologies aren’t always the same. So it’s really whatever works best for every individual.

      Like

  4. Obasi Chidi October 7, 2014 / 1:03 pm

    Simply maturity,women should know,they are uniquelly wired and should not cheapen womenhood.

    Like

    • uju November 1, 2014 / 6:22 am

      Yes Chidi, we are all uniquely wired and should spend more time discovering ourselves, rather than fighting it. Likewise men need to understand that a woman is as important as men are too in the society and family unit. We are meant to complement each other, not suffocate each other.

      Like

  5. Uchendu E. Uchendu June 29, 2014 / 8:49 pm

    Ok Uju….you finally won my heart with this article. We’ll written….very well written.

    Like

    • uju June 30, 2014 / 6:50 am

      Hahaha! Thank you Uchendu. It’s always a pleasure having you visit.

      Like

  6. techie lad June 12, 2014 / 1:10 pm

    Nice read,
    Funny enough I do the thing on the road when am with ladies, shield them from the vehicle edge. I also do it with younger ones of either sex.
    And also I get extra cautious when crossing the road with them.
    I don’t know why, I guess its innate. But it just shows that I care about their well being more than my male counterpart.
    Feminism can be described in all those nice wo. s used in the article but those qualities like creation, openness, care, nurturing etc are all except motherhood traits shared by both genders.

    I understand male and female humans were built with the same chips and material when it comes to character and personality, but just with different levels of concentration.

    And the funny part is one makes up for were the other lacks in these material so its only complete as a pair. Nevertheless we can still exist separately one without the other.

    So ladies enjoy being feminine….. Because I rather be with them…… They refresh me.

    Like

    • uju June 17, 2014 / 12:38 pm

      Aha! typical male :)….we are glad to be females and enjoy your awesome male company too.
      I suppose there’s a good reason men have more female friends and women have more male friends….or is that only true for the latter? hmmm

      Like

  7. Godswill June 11, 2014 / 5:53 pm

    Some things I are really confusing….Women not wanting to be wives but they want to be co- husbands.Un4tunately,a man nids a wife… Someone he can actually protect,care for,etc. A girl once told me that she doesn’t believe that a Man shd be d head of the family..I tried convincing her that there can’t be two pilots in a plane(one has to be a co-pilot). The co-pilot can only be allowed to take charge of flying if only d main pilot is sick during d flight…but it all fell on deaf ears. I hv d highest respect for women. As a matter of fact I love women who r mentally strong n strong willed, who has a career and is willing to get to d optimum point of there career but who also will b humble enough to b my wife n not put her career over our home .Then its my duty as her husband to support her in anyway to get to dat height in career,cos seeing dat look of fulfillment in her eyes would make me d happiest man alive. I read about a girl who broke up with her guy cos d guy has dis strange instinct of always hiding behind her in times of danger(talking abt men protecting their women)…I even read a Nigerian article on line where d writer was of d opinion dat a married woman has absolute power over reproductive system and can decide if or not she wants to have a child( )..earlier b4 then I was of d opinion dat d ryt belongs to both party,hence d need to reach an agreement. In my quest to understand dis feminism, I read a book(Novel) titled “Changes” by Ama atta (a ghananian writer). In the book, the protagonist insisted that she will only have one child despite d husbands plea for just one more child…which later led to marital rape nd subsequent divorce… Mayb ujuh u can help clarify me,cos am confused on this feminism stuff with repect to the family setting. Even social studies tot us dat d father is d head of the family…

    Like

    • ujuh June 12, 2014 / 7:24 am

      Hello Godswill,

      Late Chinua Achebe in his book, ‘There was a country’ writes, “Every generation must recognize and embrace the task it is peculiarly designed by history and by providence to perform” I take this to mean ‘every individual’ too.
      I’m not a feminist, i am a woman. But I’m also a woman who wants to be recognised and treated with respect, not viewed as a ‘mere domestic appendage’ as Wole Soyinka so succinctly puts it. Statements like this are what raises the hackles of most women. Marriage is the joining of people who ‘complement’ each other; each must have a say in decision making.
      Now, a ‘head’ becomes necessary should situations where a compromise cannot be reached arises, then one person has to make the call. I’m not sure how a home is supposed to be run without a central authority figure, as it’s well known that two people hardly ever think the same way.

      Having said that, let me ask: how many Nigerian men bother to listen to their wives? How many see her as more than a domestic appendage?
      Who made man the ‘head’: religion, society?
      What is expected of a leader? How many Nigerian men can run their homes with the good qualities of a leader?
      I’m not trying to usurp the position of the man as the marital authority figure here, rather I simply want to point out that some people are ill equipped to handle their own lives, talk more of a family. And since decisions made affect not just the propagator, but the whole unit, then individuals involved in building that unit should be given equal attention too, and each opinion given equal consideration.

      Regarding the issue of child birth, we all agree the woman is the one who goes through this pain, not everyone wants to give it a second try after the initial shock. Some people venture into it again, and others can’t afford to. Should a man deliberately subject another person through a period of excruciating pain just for personal gratification?
      I have a friend–a doctor–who insists his future wife can have any number of children she wants. He says this because he has seen people in labour and understand what it takes to bring in another person into the world. Honestly in this situation, I think it’s her turf, and hence her choice–hardly a feminist thing. Sure both parties can discuss it and maybe reach a compromise, but if she insists, I hope the husband respects she choice, and not try the very barbaric act of rape. A woman won’t get pregnant unless she wants to 😉 If he is so interested in populating the home, then there is the option of adoption to choose from–I’m sure those kids will be happy to have a new home 🙂

      Like

    • weaklyanonymous March 24, 2017 / 8:06 am

      Feminism to me is all about equal choices; eradication of the supposed default. I’m pretty sure I’d be comfortable flying with another pilot but because I am doesn’t mean everyone should. And what if the man wants to be co-pilot? Feminism is all about giving choices and not about everyone having to conform to a certain behaviour- that’s the way the world works already

      Liked by 1 person

      • uju March 24, 2017 / 2:05 pm

        Excellent. I believe in choices and I’m a strong advocate that people should have the opportunity to make their own decisions, too.

        Thanks for coming 🙂

        Like

  8. Chuba Ezekwesili June 4, 2014 / 9:09 am

    Had a smile on my face reading this. Really well written. Glad to know that you don’t subscribe to the kneejerk suppressive mindset of a number of Nigerian women & men, while also eschewing the notions of extremist feminism. Good stuff, Ujuh.

    Like

    • ujuh June 4, 2014 / 1:02 pm

      Thank you Chuba 🙂 I’m glad you liked it.

      Like

  9. Mathew briggs May 24, 2014 / 11:19 am

    Very well written expose, It is a perspective I wish every feminist would try to embrace in their approach towards the fight for gender equality.

    But in a way, I wouldn’t blame that woman who loses her femininity in a bid to try climb the corporate ladder by imbibing some masculine traits or behaviour, because in way the society is tailored to reward behavioural traits mostly found in men than women. Traits like Dominance & Control, confidence, take-charge-attitude, self-directedness, Courage, Logic, Physical Strength, & Resolve as opposed to female behavioural traits like Empathy, emotional intelligence, nurturing, physical weakness and so on..

    The challenge is that the world sees femininity as a weakness, as a burden, as something that messes things up. (referring to the emotional nature of women)

    So trying to fight for equal rights from this premise is sometimes a big challenge. Because it doesn’t add up logically to the common man. Eg. She wants you to protect her, open the door for her, take her or beautiful vacations, buy her fancy dress make her feel loved and special … with your money on your time. At the same time she is on the street shouting that she wants to earn the same amount you earn. etc. It like they want the same privileges as men with out been burdened by the responsibilities of what it feels like to be a man.

    Moreover I am all for gender equality because I believe that as humans we deserve to be treated equally. I think feminist should focus their energy to prove to society that their femininity is indeed an asset not a liability instead of trying to encourage more women to acquire male traits in a bid to gain equality.

    This approach is counter productive because it pivot femininity as a weakness instead of an incredible resource the world needs to tap into.

    Like

    • ujuh May 25, 2014 / 6:27 pm

      I get your angle, but women have enough burben being women alone to actually want to be men. Everyone is entitled to get whatever the other sex has….what is good for the goose is good for the gander comes to mind here.

      Like

  10. ochon May 24, 2014 / 10:09 am

    “Feminism does not in any way require that I become a man to prove a point. It does not require that movie directors and writers infuse masculine traits to female lead characters, make them less sensitive, and give them superhuman abilities. It does not require females who engage in traditional sporting activities to hit the gym until all the feminine ‘softness’ has been beaten out of them, nor that they start to dress up like
    men and act all boyish. What that only does is promote the view that men are the strong ones in the world, and that to be strong means to emulate them.”

    @the quoted words, truer words has never been spoken. I strongly believe a female can be still ‘soft’, sensual, caring and possess all the female attributes naturally associated with females, and still use them to her advantages. She doesn’t necessarily have to act ‘boyish’ or dress ‘boyish’, in order to proof herself a feminist or equal to men. That’d be accepting that men are more superior and that a female have to be like a man in order to feel equal or superior to men. We’re meant to COMPLEMENT each other. No gender is the purveyor of ‘superior’ qualities/traits. That’s why we have different sexual organs,sexual hormones et al. we don’t have it all, so we have to complement one another by bringing our different qualities in order to make a maximum outcome out of it.

    And yes, I agree with Ericjbaker on the appraisal of “strength”

    Like

    • ujuh May 25, 2014 / 6:22 pm

      That’s harmonisation. Chinua Achebe writes about every generation understanding what it’s been assigned by nature to achieve. That’s good advice.

      Like

  11. Ifedayo May 21, 2014 / 1:33 pm

    I love every single line(s) of this write up I must commend. And I want to say that by the way of understanding the habit or idea of putting ladies to the left hand side when walking with a male down the road is something that has been a general tradition all over the world. I think it is a way of actually recognising and respecting the presence of the lady in a sense of protecting her from any unforeseen danger ahead or behind. Thanks!

    Like

    • ujuh May 22, 2014 / 8:27 am

      There is this thing about tradition and the modern man; sometimes we follow without asking ‘why’.
      I thank every male specie in the world whose instinctual response to danger is to protect the female(have you watched lions fight for a lioness’ attention before? It’s not the one who wins the fight that’s chosen, it’s the one who stays the closest to her). Nature is amazing and we’d understand better if we bothered to study and ask the right questions.

      I feel like going biblical, but I won’t 😉

      Like

  12. udoka_ May 20, 2014 / 6:03 pm

    I love the line “That I can be a woman and let you be a man, while we each understand the dynamics of our nature”

    It summarizes the basic essence of perfect understanding between males and females. It can’t be put any better.

    Like

    • ujuh May 22, 2014 / 8:21 am

      Isn’t that what life should be about, understanding and communing with our environment?

      Thank you Udoka, it’s always a pleasure having you around 🙂

      Like

  13. ericjbaker May 20, 2014 / 2:42 pm

    We can also work on redefining the word “strength.” Strength is often thought of to mean physical power and forcefulness of will or personality, stereotypical male traits. But strength can also come from measured judgment, from not giving into our egos, from understanding others’ perspectives even when we don’t agree with them, from listening. I’m not sure if those are feminine qualities specifically, but those a the strengths we need for the human race to move forward. There is a lot of noise in the world from people who are angry about the speed of change, and they’re mostly men.

    Like

    • ujuh May 22, 2014 / 8:18 am

      I read somewhere that women have one thing men lack: common sense. I actually don’t subscribe to this.
      So in essence, this ‘strength’ you speak of isn’t just a female trait, it should be something we all possess.
      There are many people who act based on initial emotional response, instead of applying objectivity. Maybe that’s because they consider it weakness not to make a show of brute strength either by fist or lips?
      People should be in control of their emotions and not the other way round.
      If we don’t stop to think every now and then, I really don’t see how people are any different from sheep……..the herd mentality.

      Like

  14. livelytwist May 19, 2014 / 2:56 pm

    Hmmm, I should just leave quietly, but let me say this. I don’t need a man to protect me in normal situations, and yet, I like it when he does. I like being a woman. In the next world, if there’s anything like that, I’d still like to be a woman 🙂

    Like

    • ujuh May 19, 2014 / 4:18 pm

      I think we all like it when they do, or else that tiny twinge of disappointment I felt wouldn’t be there 🙂

      I love being a woman too, nothing beats this 🙂

      Like

Your turn...

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s