There has been a lot of back lashes and untoward attacks on Chimamanda Adichie after she questioned Hillary on why her Twitter bio begins with “Wife” and went on to say that her husband, Bill’s bio didn’t begin with “Husband.”
As her biggest fan however, I decided to respond before I would be called out. While I respect her, I beg to differ on this issue.
There should be positive feminism. Celebrating our relationship should be the hallmark of our existence. Career comes and goes but family remains.
In as much as Hillary wasn’t pressured nor compelled to begin her bio with “wife” which ordinarily shouldn’t be anyone’s problem, I don’t see what the problem is – It shows how much she prides herself in her relationship.
Mainstream feminism is toxic and does not represent or speak for women as it likes to portray. It is an authoritarian fringe movement of radical leftist. Sadly, radical feminists don’t respect the rights and choices of women who live outside the presumed but already conflicted tenets of feminism. Chimamanda, like me did not become a feminist by reading about first or second waves feminism. Being a Nigerian is enough to understand the injustice of being female.
To the issue at hand, Chimamanda’s question wasn’t feminism inclined, it was a personal unsatisfied curiosity – I choose to believe so.
People need to understand that in our little work in life, Our familial relationship would most often trumps personal achievements. We can trade our careers and accolades. We can put down our lives for family but can we lay down our life for career because we worked hard for it? These are few examples among many to state that familial relationship should never be under estimated and shouldn’t be subjected to feminism scrutiny.
Senator Larissa Waters made history by breastfeeding her baby during parliamentary proceedings. Soon she went on Twitter to show her pride “So proud that my daughter Alia is the first baby to be breastfed in the federal Parliament! We need more #women & parents in Parli.”
Recently, A rule change in the United States Senate has made it possible for Illinois Sen. Tammy Duckworth to breast-feed on the Senate floor. The resolution will allow all senators — men and women — to bring their children under age 1 onto the floor. It also allows women to breast-feed during votes. It was passed unanimously. Duckworth, who gave birth to a baby girl this month, spearheaded the rule change and thanked her colleagues for “helping bring the Senate into the 21st Century by recognizing that sometimes new parents also have responsibilities at work.” “By ensuring that no senator will be prevented from performing their constitutional responsibilities simply because they have a young child, the Senate is leading by example and sending the important message that working parents everywhere deserve family-friendly workplace policies,” Duckworth said in a statement after the vote.
In Dec 2017, an Australian conservative politician, Tim Wilson proposed to his long time partner Ryan Bolger on the floor of parliament.
In the early 2000s, I was worshipping at the Living Faith Church Headquarters at Ogun State when Myles Munroe of blessed memory kissed his wife back to her seat after they were introduced by the Senior Pastor, David Oyedepo.
In June 2016, Nonye Ben Nwankwo if Punch Nigeria, put this question to Folorunsho Alakija – the richest black woman in the world “You have been married for close to 40 years. Are you still in love with him the way you were when you met him many years ago?” to which she responded ” If anyone of us is abroad, for instance, the two of us would make sure that we call each other a minimum of twice a day. We have spoken three times already today. If it wasn’t that I was running late for the interview, I would have picked up the phone again to ask him to buy me three brushes but I had to give the job to my assistant to do. So every little thing, we are talking throughout the day.” Guess what – she was 65 at the time of interview and a grand mother.
Bringing it home, I like to talk about my mother who like Abraham left the land of her fathers to a never before visited Lagos. Difference with Abraham was that mum wasn’t even 17 at her arrival. She struggled in the ever bustling city of Lagos, sponsored her University Education and has climbed up the ladder of success in her career. It is easy for her to flaunt her achievements and years of personal growth and smile at the person in the mirror but nothing gives her joy likes family. If possible she wish she could have more holidays and breaks just to be with family. All her sacrifices and ultimate joy are familial. Is she proud of her career so far? – YES. But like Obama, if mum was on Twitter, her bio will most probably have read “Mother, Wife….. before career finds it way.”
Despite being the President of the greatest nation, Obama’s presidency left us talking about his Public Display of Affection for Michelle than his Foreign and local policies. When I look back at his Presidential Election Slogans for 2008, “Change We Can Believe In” and “Yes We Can” all I see now is a man who showed the world that yes, We can value our relationship more than our careers. Having listened to over 200 Obama’s speeches which I still sporadically go back to, It is hard finding a speech where Michelle or his daughters weren’t mentioned. Even at the end, during his farewell speech before handing over to Trump he showed his class again – “Michelle –
For the past 25 years, you’ve been not only my wife and mother of my children, but my best friend. You took on a role you didn’t ask for and made it your own with grace and grit and style and good humor. You made the White House a place that belongs to everybody. And a new generation sets its sights higher because it has you as a role model. You’ve made me proud. You’ve made the country proud. Malia and Sasha, under the strangest of circumstances, you have become two amazing young women, smart and beautiful, but more importantly, kind and thoughtful and full of passion. You wore the burden of years in the spotlight so easily. Of all that I’ve done in my life, I’m most proud to be your dad”
The memories we give may a life time live in the heart of those we hold so close. Career is important. Hillary is successful in every dimension – Successful lawyer, First lady of the state of Arkansas for 11 years, Senator of the United States Congress for 2 consecutive terms, First lady of the United States for 8 years and Democratic Presdidential Candidate. Putting “Wife” first in her Bio goes a long way in affirming how much she values her relationship. Bill might have not used “Husband” to begin his bio but doesn’t spring any surprise considering how he turned the White House to a play boy mansion during his tenure. Barack Obama began his bio with “Dad, Husband”. You can’t be surprised. Michelle on the other hand began with her history followed by her career yet no fuss was made. The etiquette of this shouldn’t be complex.
Chimamanda is known to be ambivalent towards societal subjugation of women to see themselves first as a man’s wife which has resulted in girls being raised to meet men’s acceptability standard. However, she has to draw the line as people on their own terms have come to place human relationship over worldly careers. Women who chose to proudly show off as wives inspite of their success shouldn’t be victimized. Let us continue the fight based on the true essense of feminism to bring gender equality across all races making sure that nobody is deprived of the opulence of life on the basis of gender. Bio displaying wife is such a mundane issue to drag into the subject of feminism and equality. Whether or not you value your place in family has nothing to do with feminism. It only shows who you are. When you experience death within the family, every other thing doesn’t seem to matter anymore because the sound of sands on casket, six feet deep and eternal silence brings everything into perspective. Just last week, I found my year book from my graduate year in the University. I went searching for myself and there it was – Future Ambition: “To be a successful Husband and Father…… ” Does it mean I don’t want to succeed in my career, Nope. Some things take first place and nothing takes the place of family. Like Obama, on my last day in office and earth, I want to look at my wife and little Angels and say “Of all the things I’ve achieved in my life, I am most proud to be your Husband and Father.”
Perhaps, having excelled so much in her political career, she had an epiphany that inspite of all these achievements, her relationship was the most important to her….just perhaps.
In conclusion, I’ll drop the words of Rod Stewart “You go through life wondering what it is all about but at the end of the day, it is all about family.”
To Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Mbiri ooo Mbiri Kaimbiri – Live and let live.