FEMINISM AS THE NEW NORMAL
By Xolani Shabalala
From the time that we are born, we get fed the notion that a male child is the greatest asset, which is perhaps the reason why you will find younger kids telling each other that they want a boy child. A boy child, goes the perception, will take care of the family and ensure the continuance of the family name. In our day and age I believe everyone would agree that certainly this is not a certainty.
Many of our grandmothers and mothers were not given opportunities because quite simply they were girls, and because of that they were born to be submissive to men, bare kids and stay at home whilst waiting for their husbands to return from work.
I spoke to a friend about how he feels about women in power. He said, “ womenare weak. They can’t handle some things and they complain a lot.” Some would argue that he is definitely correct but others like Chimamanda Ngozi Adachie and Sheryl Sandberg, two women from different worlds who have the same thought in mind would say “absolutely incorrect”, because they are feminists who caused quite a stir last year when they spoke aloud to the world saying women can achieve the greatest.
Chimamanda Ngozi Adachie is a Nigerian novelist who has written many times about woman empowerment and the power of women. Sheryl Sandberg is the COO of Facebook and is the first woman to hold this title at Facebook, not to mention one of a few to hold such a senior position in a blue-chip . She released a book last year called Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to lead, which was all about women taking charge of the opportunities out there. “I really think we need more women to lean into their careers and to be really dedicated to staying in the work force”, says Sandberg in her New York Times bestseller.
Women have a tendency of thinking that they can’t do things on their own says Sheryl. “If you ask men why they did a good job, they’ll say, I’m awesome. Obviously. Why are you even asking? If you ask women why they did a good job, what they’ll say is someone helped them, they got lucky, and they worked really hard.”
“We teach girls to shrink themselves, to make themselves smaller. We say to girls- you can have ambition, but not too much. You should aim to be successful, but not too successful, otherwise you will threaten the man”, says Adachie. As a society we try by all means to make young girls believe that they are lower than a man.
Chimamanda states that, “We must raise our daughters differently. We must also raise our sons differently. We do a great disservice to boys in how we raise them. We stifle the humanity of boys. We define masculinity in a very narrow way. Masculinity becomes this hard small cage and we put boys inside the cage. We teach boys to be afraid of fear. We teach boys to be afraid of weakness, of vulnerability”, and to emphasize on that, Sandberg said “I have a five year-old son and a three year-old daughter. I want my son to have a choice to contribute fully in the workforce or at home. And I want my daughter to have the choice to not just succeed, but to be liked for her accomplishments.
I believe that there is still a long way to go concerning gender equality, but what we can do is support the initiatives being made by these world-class women, simply because change begins with an individual.
Feminist: a person who believes in the social, political, and economic equality of the sexes. And like Chimamanda I believe we should all be feminist.