My husband messaged me a link to see Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie at the Southbank Centre as part of their Woman Of the World festival in March. I tentatively typed back, “wanna go?” The reply I received was, “this new feminist would love to.”
Everything about my husband doesn’t necessarily scream feminist. He’s supportive of my mentoring girls and young women. He loves that I am passionate about women’s rights. We can debate for hours about female-centered topical issues. But he’s not a feminist. Until he read Adichie’s We Should All be Feminists. This was a modified version of a Ted Talk Adichie did in 2012. He read it on his commute home last week and that was that. I think with my influence seeping through bit by bit and Adichie’s powerful words – it just happened.
This is important to me that my husband – my Arsenal-loving, power-smoothy drinking, golf-playing, loves-action-movies-that-have-no-story-line husband is a feminist. Because it’s the way I want him to understand the world and to raise our soon-to-be-here son in this way too. We work well as a team and a lot of who I am is about being a black woman who thinks it’s important to exist in a world of equality and equity. And right now – we’re not completely there yet, so to have a man who is all those things above, raised in a fiercely Nigerian patriarchal family and works in a male dominated environment – to declare to me that he is a “new feminist” – is significant. To me. And the message I try to give the girls I work with. And our son.
My father was a feminist too. This may seem like a stretch as he would never use that word and I would never use it to describe him either when he was with us. But when I think about all that I am, what I’ve accomplished and the reasons for why I am where I am, is because my Nigerian father who, like my husband, did not scream feminist in any way shape or form, was raised in a patriarchal muslim polygamous home, always told his three daughters and his wife that race and gender should never, ever stand in the way of us achieving. He brought me my first editing software so I can make documentaries about skin bleaching – and he had no clue what editing was. He pushed my mum at 51 to get a law degree. He encouraged my older sister to follow her dreams and her heart and move to America. He taught the women in his family – having not been raised by one – to be brave, fierce and take risks. Our gender was never to be an excuse.
It is very un-Nigerian to be a feminist and I am already told I am too oyinbo by the older generations of aunties and uncles. I take up too many Western ways as I was partly raised by a white family. Well, whatever my influences, whoever they think I am – like Adichie, I am now one Happy African Feminist.