When I was seven years old, we were often left alone in class. Sometimes the teacher for the next class would not be in school and we would have to provide our own entertainment to pass the 30 minutes that was the duration of each class. One of the boys in the class Adeleke, walks to the front, pulls down his pants and asks all of us what the tiny wiener in between his leg was. We were inquisitive kids without supervision who didn’t know that conversations like this required adult presence. So everyone turns to me because I was the living encyclopedia who spent all her free time in the library and asked endless, annoying questions (most times without a filter). How in the world those little buggers expected me to know something so complex still befuddles me. I tried my best though to answer Adeleke’ question; first I walked to the front of the class and examined his wiener and told the class that it looked like a broken pencil. I was around a little of penises as a kid; we all had our baths both morning and evenings at the backyard of the communal building where I grew up and modesty was the last thing on our mind. There were also drunken neighbours walking around naked when they staggered home bat faced and forgot which apartment was theirs.
The class laughed and one of the boys, Richie said girls’ had vaginas shaped like erasers (he said that just to get a rise out of us). At this point someone shouted at Adeleke to put his pants on and return to his seat. The girls refuted that our vaginas looked nothing like an eraser and the boys puffed their chest and replied that their little wieners looked more like the sausage in Gala and less like a broken pencil.
All humans were not created equal. Man was created first as a perfect being that didn’t need anyone to co-exist but to rule the earth and the animals within. Women came as an afterthought to provide companionship for man so that he would not be alone. We were to provide comfort, be subservient and procreate…that’s all!!! In my view the imbalance with the sexes started with God; not only did He not create man and woman equal, he made women inconsequential footstool for men. We were not taken seriously; the old and new laws were harsher in their demands of conformity and punishments where we failed to fall in line. The bible is replete with examples of treatment meted out on women from the era of creation, wandering in the desert and the time of Jesus. When a woman committed adultery it was stoning, if she was raped she had to marry her rapist, if she was menstruating she was treated as an outcast; a part of her body she had absolutely no control over. Actions that were okay for men were seen as slanderous for women such as drinking alcohol, having more than one sexual partner, owning property, travelling alone, having pre-marital sex…the list is long.
Through history, customs and laws that encourage women to be stifled, ambitionless, home-making subservient creatures have been passed down and upheld to the full order. Cultures that seek to submerge the personalities of the strong-willed, shutdown the desire to be adventurous and spontaneous, trap them in loveless, lonesome and sometimes abusive relationships, and prevent them from having careers, nurturing goals stealing from them the live moving forces of dreams and hope. They couldn’t even do something as basic as vote for their own representatives. We were simply used, tossed aside and called upon to be used again. Leaders were chosen for us, decisions made by our Lords, marriages fixed by our Fathers and the core ethics of what should form our personalities were shoved down our throats by the church.
The penis used to be the golden ticket to an independent life…one that was not dictated by family or forced by society, it ensured that you had some leeway when you messed up and was given countless opportunities to shape up and eventually when you were ready to settle down society didn’t expect you to be monogamous or faithful. A man’s penis is the source of his ego, his confidence to stand and make demands stems from the fact that he believes himself to be better than you. His environment has shown with countless examples that he will most likely get ahead of women even without putting in all the work they do. The penis is a beautiful organ; strategically centered in between a man’s pants to swing as he moves, steadying his confidence and providing reassurance. From that one pencil flows half of the liquid that creates the magic of new life. A man’s ego pushes him to think; I must rule, I must provide. It drives him to surround himself with a small circle of men that actively seeks to prevent women from growing; leaving even smaller spaces for women who want to make it in life.
There was a time when it was considered a stupid luxury to train a human born with a vagina for the sole reason that the education would be lost on her once she marries. Then it changed to rich men/ middle class educating their females to make them more desirable for prospective bachelors. Finally, we had women who pushed the boundaries that society had painstakingly designed to keep us at bay.
God changed his mind about us a long time ago and gave us the same desires and ambition that he gave men. He put the dogged fight in us that we should stop being simpletons who only existed and start living as free humans who had as much right as any man for anything on this green earth…and fight we did! We fought for the right to vote, we challenged the minimum age for marriage, we got fixed marriages out lawed in most countries, we marched to be allowed to drive and earn a living but that wasn’t enough…we wanted to own properties, make the same earnings as men we now considered our equals and shine bright we did. If God was the start of sexism, He was also the end when he crowned Mary as queen of heaven and earth. He has given us great examples of political leaders in Africa and the West who have excelled in a male dominated field.
So we refuse to settle for being better. There is no greater time than now to be born a woman. With each passing day opportunities present themselves for us to excel. Feminism like everything else starts at home. What we teach our children, the things we tell them about women, values that we impact upon them so that they grow up to be independent thinking humans who see no real distinctions in the mental abilities of what each of the sexes can do. Women do not have to take physical and emotional abuse anymore; there are laws to help protect us and where these laws do not exist, you fight back with everything you got or leave that relationship because any life is better than that lived in fear. More men who are not threatened to have successful female partners are evolving and who feel insecure trap themselves in a warm cocoon of male arrogance. It is not okay anymore to be a woman without ambition, to let anyone make you feel less than 100%. The vagina is no longer the burden that it used to. There is aura of power attached to the penis, making it more than just an organ but a synonym for respect. Authority and capability can be attached to the vagina so that when people think about it they are not only imagining a hole for sexual gratification and child bearing but a metaphor of strength, doggedness, underdog power and a group of humans who will keep pushing till they are satisfied with progressive change. In most parts of Africa surprisingly, women enjoy the same pay with their male counterparts and gradually it is becoming a more equal playing field for both sexes competing for jobs and advancement opportunities. We have come so far; everything we enjoy today, someone fought with their blood in the past for us to enjoy…never take it for granted. Live to be the best version of yourself.