That Gender Equality Bullshit II
Pick A Struggle, Biko.
Before I proceed, look at this picture:
To provide context, that is one of the promotional posters for X-Men: Apocalypse, one of the worst X Movies I have ever seen.
But that’s not the point.
The big guy is En Sabah Nur aka Apocalypse, the guy hailed as the first mutant. In his hand is Mystique, a female shape-shifting mutant. They are on opposite sides of the war, which is why he would be choking her
That poster raised the ire of some ‘feminists’ and ‘human rights groups’.
It promotes violence against women.
It isn’t a lie, is it? Why would anyone want to promote a movie by having a man wrap his hand around the throat of a woman? Isn’t that what they/we’re fighting for?
It is wrong, right?
But; aren’t we supposed to be fighting for gender equality? Those two up there aren’t friends; neither are they lovers. They are people on opposite sides of a war; and in war there are casualties of both sexes, aren’t there?
Someone should have told those hot-blooded feminists; context is everything.
I mean, if she was given preferential treatment because she’s female, that would be sexism, wouldn’t it? He treats her the same way he would treat her male counterparts, it’s violence against women. It’s like asking that female soldiers be shot with special bullets – just because they’re female.
You see why people like me often find feminism confusing? Pick a struggle, biko.
That was just the intro; I said that to say this:
A few weeks ago, it was announced that Dr. Who, that British Time Lord who has thrilled English people (and people worldwide) for decades will be portrayed in its thirteenth incarnation by a female. Of course, a number of reactions trailed the news. I wasn’t bothered however, because I know the history of the character. The Time Lord is supposed to be genderless; it was written into the show to allow for continuity in spite of time and explain the change of actors. In fact, I honestly wonder(ed) why it took so long. It’s been coming since forever.
Around the same time, gist about some ‘Women Liberation Front’ People agitating for a female James Bond surfaced. The first I heard of it, it was because Chris Hemsworth had seen Atomic Blond, that Charlize Theron movie and said she would be an amazing Bond. Honestly, I’m pretty much indifferent to the dude. He’s cute but can’t act for shit. That said, I was disappointed. I mean, I would expect him know better.
I’m sure he was trying to pay her a compliment – but he didn’t think it through. If he had, he would have realized agitating for a female Blond is not a compliment to Charlize, neither is it a fight for equality; it’s appropriating a well-known male figure and forcing him into a female mold.
Now let me ask you; why would you want to do that? Is that you don’t think female characters are strong enough – therefore only by appropriating what has been male for so long is the only way to make women relevant? Don’t you know that by doing stuff like that, you’re actually being sexist?
As an aside; I love Kemi Adetiba to death – but the title of her show/program King Women is something I frown at. I love the show, I’m a fan of several of the women who have been on it – but that title is the summation of everything wrong with that side of the ‘gender equality’ war; women can’t achieve greatness on their own pedestal (Queens Regnant; that is – ask Google), they have to come into the men’s arena (Kings).
Or maybe I don’t understand the thinking behind the title ‘King Women’. I stand corrected.
Remember Lara Croft? How about Salt? How about that great lady, Agatha Christie’s (debatably) greatest creation; Miss Marple? How about Wonder Woman? How about Major Motoko Kusanagi of Ghost in the Shell? How about Linda Ikeja? Genevieve? Sally Kenneth Dadzie? Tomi Adesina? Ogechi Nwobia? Elsie? Joy Isi Bewaji? Beyonce? Melissa Macarthy? Angelina Jolie? Scar Jo (even though I don’t think much of her acting skills)? Ellen Degeneres? Can’t you be great, successful, fucking wealthy and be utterly, undeniably female? Honestly, this kind of thinking is the bane of gender equality – because whether you know it or not, you’re saying there’s no value in being female; there’s something wrong with being female. Like; once you have a vagina, you’re doomed; and the only way out is to try to be male.
It’s the same thinking that makes people ascribe the success of Wonder Woman to ‘GIRLS ROCK!’ and not an amazing character given an amazing story, played by an amazing actress and shot by an amazing director.
No. It’s only because she’s female and we haven’t seen a female-led movie in forever. Hm.
Just yesterday I read on a friend’s Facebook post that some person said chivalry stemmed from chauvinism and therefore should be eradicated.
SO, there’s something wrong with a man being nice to a woman.
Okay. Fair enough.
Yet, if a man behaves around a woman the same way he does around his male friends, there’s a problem. He’s barbaric; animalistic and male. You understand the confusion yet?
Pick a struggle, biko.
Let’s not go into the double-standard conversation. Let’s not go near the whole it’s-only-rape-when-its-done-by-a-man-to-a-woman gist. Let’s not talk about how it’s flirting when a woman does it, it’s sexual harassment when a man does the exact same thing. Oh, let’s leave out all of that.
Please. I’m just asking for clarity. What does gender equality mean; the equality of a species or the ‘get-out-jail-free-card for women when they are in generally inconvenient situations?
I’m just asking. And from one human to another….
Pick a fucking struggle, BIKO!
Story of My Vagina: Socially Conscious Play or Feminist Propaganda?
Story of My Vagina is a forty-something minute play written by Joy Isi Bewaji and presented by the Crown Troupe of Africa. For the truly discerning; if you’re imaginative and you’re familiar with the writer, you know what to expect.
And either you agree with her or not, she meets your expectations.
Due to a confusing sense of direction and an equally confused Google map navigator I missed almost twenty minutes of the showing; however I saw enough to understand the message; the intent of the play.
SOMV is a thematic anthology of sorts that attempts to represent the many trails and travails of the Nigerian Woman. There’s the story of the woman who is sent packing from her husband’s home because the couple cannot have children. There’s the story of the woman who ends up in a cell because she dared report her husband for domestic violence. There’s the story of the woman who is molested by her male colleague and is told there’s nothing she can do about it simply because she is female and he is male; therefore he is superior to her – at least in the office. There’s a story of two female students; one who thinks the word ‘vagina’ is taboo and shouldn’t be mentioned in public, there’s the more self-aware one who doesn’t see anything wrong in calling a body part by its name. Fast-paced, littered with bright dialogue and a strong cast that brings the play alive with sizzling narrative strength, it is an interesting watch.
The play struggles to find a middle ground between painting a somewhat stereotypical (true nonetheless) picture of the Nigerian woman – a picture already popularized by your favorite Nollywood movie(s), and telling a different, often-neglected part of the female plight; women are just as responsible for the situation as are men.
One of the more-resounding parts the play is the vignette in which a woman is thrown out of her matrimonial home for the couple’s failure to conceive. She is not thrown out by the man (who is neither seen nor heard) but by the man’s mother aided by his two sisters. An interesting moment of this scenario is a scene in which the wife asks; “How do you know I’m the problem?” and the sisters respond with indignation. One of them says; “How dare you suggest our brother is the problem? Our brother that has large Cassava” or words to that effect.
I couldn’t help but wonder how she knows her brother has a big – but that is beside the point. And here’s my reason for choosing that particular vignette as my favorite – it brings something fresh to the conversation; how do we treat people of the same gender with us? Is feminism about blaming the other gender for your woes?
In the ultimate scene – the one in which a woman is locked up in a cell for reporting her husband for domestic abuse – a policeman rants about feminism; “You better forget this your feministic nonsense! Your feminism is nothing but a house divided against itself – it cannot stand!”
At the very least, what passes for feminism these days in these parts leaves many a man/woman confused. As I shared in a conversation with renown poet Dami Ajayi after the play, the question I want to ask most is, where does feminism end and misandry begin?
That particular vignette (the one with the thrown-out wife) and Joy’s closing speech emphasized what I believe the entire play should have been more about in the first place; man is NOT the enemy. These things happen, no doubt – but have we taken a moment to truly understand WHY they happen? No matter what you think, both men and women are victims of a construct called society, a construct constructed by both genders. I mean, what do we say about a society that makes it a compliment when a woman grabs a man in a certain way, but makes it molest/assault when a man grabs a woman in the exact same way?
Joy, in closing mentioned the truth that “You won’t hear men insulting other men of having small penises. No, these insults come from women” a hard, uncomfortable and often overlooked truth, something she herself did, either consciously or otherwise, in the play. Therefore, instead of provoking empathy and understanding from the average male, it is more than likely to spark a defensive reaction; “I’m not like that! I don’t grab or beat women anyhow…and this is the issue with feminism!” or similar denial.
However skewed the overall perspective of the play is, it is a strong presentation by a talented cast, a cast that takes everything but itself seriously. They dance through the lines and scenes like a fully-functional human being would dance through a day; normal or otherwise. And I would be remiss to not mention the audience; they were, at least at my viewing, a very quiet and attentive audience, following every scene and word with what I hope was contemplative and not offended silence.
If Story of My Vagina achieves anything, I hope at the very least it sparks a conversation – a much-needed conversation about gender and the things that truly matter.
I can get behind that.
Read Episode I here
Read Episode II here
Read Episode III here
As they made their way down the stairs out of Dapo’s office, Yemisi walked through the decisions she’d made over the past twenty-four hours mentally. She hoped Dapo would willingly play along – but she couldn’t be sure.
His silence bothered her.
“So what’s this about, Yemisi?” Dapo said suddenly.
She sighed. She could see the signs.
“What’s what about?” she asked innocently while thinking how to tell him what she intended to. Dapo abruptly turned around and started walking in the opposite direction.
“Hey!” she yelled as she started after him. “Hey…what the hell are you doing?”
He stopped and turned. “Am I supposed to just follow you? Do I have any idea where to?” Dapo gasped and covered his mouth. “What if you’re kidnapping me for money rituals?” he whispered.
Tension left Yemisi’s body in a rush of exhaled air. “You gorilla! Do you really think I would…I could hurt you?”
Dapo’s head looked like a sprung Jack-In-The-Box as he turned this way and that, examining Yemisi critically. After almost a minute of that, he slowly straightened. “Twenty-four hours ago I would have said ‘no’ without restraint. But within those twenty-four hours you’ve gone from ‘friend’ to ‘cousin’ to ‘scammer’ – I don’t know you anymore!”
“Go jo,” Yemisi sulked, her pull on his arm contradicting her words. Dapo laughed and followed. “Where’s your car?” he asked as she headed towards the open gate.
“I decided not to drive today jare. I knew I was coming here so…” she shrugged.
As they got to the road in front of Dapo’s office, Kazeem appeared in the distance.
Yemisi felt Dapo’s body tighten and she wondered what the issue was. Her eyes followed his and she saw a portly-looking guy who looked like the light-skinned version of Wande Coal roll in their direction. She began to feel uncomfortable, silently insulting Dapo for not telling her what was wrong with her appearance.
It had to be something major, the way the guy was staring.
“Dapo! How na?” Kazeem hailed.
“I dey,” Dapo answered – and stopped as he realized he was talking to air. Kazeem was standing next to Yemisi and he was drooling.
“Hi, my name is Kaz. And you are?” he said as he snatched Yemisi’s only available hand up in a handshake.
She coughed to cover up Dapo’s groan as the Cockney-American-core Ajegunle Yoruba accent hit his ears. Glaring at him covertly, she smiled winningly at Kazeem. “I’m Yemisi, Dapo’s cousin,” she replied, slowly but firmly pulling her hand out of his grasp.
“Guy madam dey call you,” Dapo told Kazeem churlishly and literally pulled Yemisi away. She turned and waved to the guy who was standing staring after them before eying Dapo coyly. “Why are you jealous?” Yemisi asked, pouting.
Dapo was surprised. “No o, I just don’t like him. He’s the official heckler.”
“Aw, I think he’s cool,” Yemisi cooed.
Dapo’s answer was not to her. “Taxi!” he yelled suddenly.
“So where to, hotshot?”
She took Dapo’s hand. “There’s this amala joint I know on the mainland – it’s near Ozone. White House. Been there?”
“If I call you ‘guy’ now you go begin vex. What sort of girl knows all the ‘Mama Puts’ in Lagos?!”
“The kind of girl who can manage you,” Yemisi smiled in his direction. “Take us to Ozone, please,” she told the taxi driver.
“Your money na two thousand o,” the man said grumpily.
Dapo had no patience for old cabmen. They had the tendency to nag. “Babe abeg let’s go down,” he said.
Yemisi placed a restraining hand on his arm. “Baba, we’ll give you one thousand five.”
“Okay. Let’s go,” the man said.
Dapo looked outside the window as the imposing Victoria Island landscape rushed by. She stole looks at him at regular intervals – wondering what he was thinking but reluctant to interrupt.
“So you came all the way from Ikeja to V.I to take me to eat Amala at Sabo.” He shook his head slowly, a small smile on his face. “Couldn’t you have asked me to meet you there, you kolosome somebody?!”
“Would you have come if I had asked you?”
The stern look on his face made her feel like she was reporting to her boss. “If you had a serious reason – serious enough for me to stab work – yes,” he replied.
“I’ll keep it in mind for next time,” Yemisi replied, rubbing his arm gently. She hoped he wouldn’t ask her what it was about again – at least not till they were at their destination.
There was no traffic at that time of the day so within a few minutes they were walking into the White House after a small argument on who should pay the cabman and why. Yemisi’s sulking look gave her away as the loser.
“I would get into a cab with a woman and she would pay?!” Dapo argued. “Heaven forbid.”
“Obviously you’ve suddenly started thinking a woman’s place is in the kitchen abi? Maybe you want to return to your office!” she retorted angrily.
“Calm down, babe. You know I don’t think that,” he said. “I just think a man should be able to handle his business. And taking care of whichever woman he’s with at whatever junction in time is his business. That’s what I think anyways,” Dapo finished.
“Two things. One; it’s a wonder you aren’t broke yet, with the number of girls you hang around. Two –” she broke off, avoiding his playful swing at her head. “Two; this was my idea, so it’s only right that I take care of it.”
They had placed their orders and Dapo was carrying the steaming plates of Amala and Gbegiri to a table closest to the wall before he said anything.
“That’s okay then – just let the cab thing go; abeg. I’m hungry.”
Yemisi smiled and for a while, the only sounds were the chewing, swallowing and belching that came with the appreciation of good food. It was almost twenty minutes before Dapo rinsed his hands and moaned.
“Thank you for bringing me here, Yemisi. You know how far. In fact, chop knuckle.”
She bumped her knuckles against Dapo’s proffered hand. “I just thought some variation would do you good,” she said. “I don’t want to keep worrying whether you’re eating or not.”
Dapo made no comment as he unscrewed the cap of his Etana water bottle and raised it to his lips. “To you then,” he said and drank.
They were walking towards Ozone when Dapo asked, “What’s on your mind?”
She didn’t pretend misunderstanding him. “Well, it’s like this –“
Dapo’s right hand suddenly barred her from crossing the road. Yemisi froze as an Okada screamed past, and then Dapo lowered his arm and took her left hand in his right one. Her thoughts were jumbled as they crossed, but she found the warmth from his hand reassuring.
“I can’t help but worry about you,” she began. “No, let me finish. I know you said I shouldn’t and I really shouldn’t, because you’re no child and should be able to take care of yourself. But sometimes, the strongest people are the weakest.”
“Everyone needs to be someone’s baby,” Dapo interjected and nodded for her to continue.
Sudden change in temperature alerted her to the fact that they were in Ozone already, so she waited while Dapo pushed the elevator button. They hopped into the first one that came down and as they were ferried up, he asked again, “What’s on your mind?”
“I know you don’t like being fussed over, which is why you would downplay the effect the Mope episode had on you. Look, I was there, remember? You came to me the first time you saw Mope, and you said to me, ‘Guy, I just met my wife.’ And though I was tempted to ignore you, I saw something in your eyes that I had never seen before that night, something I never saw again. I know how you felt about her.”
And I kept hoping that somehow, the two of you would find each other again, and that light would come back into your eyes. And then you called me to say you had seen her but that she was getting married….” Her sigh was heavy. “You died a little that night,” she said.
“Cried, actually.” Dapo’s smile was more like a grimace, and he looked like he’d rather just forget the whole thing – but Yemisi pressed on, her voice becoming firmer as she got into the spirit of what she was saying.
“I can believe that. You also got drunk, didn’t you?”
The elevator stopped and they hopped out on the second floor. Dapo led the way, quietly weaving through lounging couples not letting go of her hand. He did not stop till they got to the escalator and ascended towards the cinema floor.
“You still haven’t answered my question.”
At Yemisi’s cocked head and raised eyebrow he reiterated, “What’s on your mind?”
“Slow down coach,” she grinned, ruffling her hair. “You’ll know when I get there.”
Dapo was moving before the escalator stopped, and pulled her gently but firmly. Rounding the bend they made for the first table which happened to be empty. Yemisi smiled and sat on the stool Dapo pulled back for her and waited till he was seated.
“I don’t want to be outside looking in anymore, Dapo. I don’t want to be awake nights wondering what’s happening with you – if you’ve eaten or if you’re fine and so on. I want to be right there with you, rain shine and all that jazz.”
She smiled a little at the warmth from Dapo’s left hand as she held it in both of hers. Looking in his eyes, she said;
“Will you go out with me?”