That’s a song by Weezer. Thank God for girls. I just played it on the radio while doing my show, and something else popped up on YouTube for me to watch. It’s an interview between Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and Christian Amanpour. These are two very powerful, well established women in their respective careers.
And they were having a conversation about Adichie’s famous TED talk entitled We should all be feminists. She has also written something about how to raise a feminist.
Weezer still croons in my ear “God took a rib from Adam, ground it up in a centrifuge machine. Mixed it with cardamom and cloves, microwaved it on the popcorn setting.” Fantastic.
There are women out there who champion the idea that girls should not be raised with the concept that they must be “likeable”. And yet, we have “relationship experts” who advice women that they are helpers of men. Not whole beings. Helpers. Who were made from the rib of Adam.
This was actually the theme of a talk I attended yesterday, here in Nairobi. A female relationship expert was doling out advice to a gathering of 50 couples, about to tie the knot. I truly don’t know how I ended up sitting there with my best friend by my side, wondering why we were there. But all these instances have culminated in my mind and the conversation brewing within is certainly about women. Me. You.
So, one of the extremely juicy bits of this advice was that as a wife, you need to forgive, forgive, forgive, and it keeps on rolling in the same way. Another gem was that as a wife, you need to give love, respect and submission. In that order, mind. Because, heaven forbid you ever disrespect your man. I literally thought that my brain cells had somehow traveled to 1946.
Standby. There’s more.
The male speaker had advice for the grooms.
One little bit of classy thinking was that, men are lions. All of them, who must “uncage” themselves. They are leaders who guide their wives. And as they climb the stairs of status, they need to groom their women accordingly and teach them what is expected of them. Also, a woman’s dreams are “secondary” and to be intertwined with that of a man.
There was so much conviction in each of these deliveries. A web of passionately spoken limerick with just the right amount of dramatic pauses and lingering questions. They had me in this cocoon for two hours, where I started evaluating my relationship and making notes on how to be more “gracefully submissive” and willfully respectful at all times. The good old “men are kids” saying was also very popular.
And then the internet breathed reality back into my senses this morning. It is so ironic that these two worlds of thought co-exist in today’s time.
Dear future husband,
Not all relationships are the same. There is no text book with word-for-word description and rules on how men and women must act. Yet, we are surrounded by people who feel the need to impose their perspectives on willing sheep, drawn in by the promise of greener pastures. Furthermore, who decided that women need to be secondary class citizens in relationships, marriages, workplaces, schools and families?
The idea is not to say that my dreams are more valid then yours. The crux of the matter is that, my dreams are mine. And they do not need to marry yours. They are not smaller then yours. They are valid.
I do not need to forgive every mistake you make, similarly you don’t need to extend that leeway to me. Mistakes happen, and they differ. Forgiveness is optional and it takes time, understanding and working together.
Finally, dear future husband. Submission is not a word I grew up knowing. I do know the definition of equality though.
PS: I will raise our kids with the same ideals.