I Am Proud To Be A Woman, What About You? 

By Sandra Ijeoma Okoye
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Sandra Ijeoma Okoye

There is no denying the fact that since I actively got involved in the advocacy for gender equality that some individuals that come across as misogynists have started profiling me as feminist. Be that as it may, it is equally expedient to enlighten them that feminism is not a stick with which to beat other women.

Without doubt, these critics had unarguably betrayed their collective ignorance on what feminism is. This is as their actions have revealed to me how many misconceptions and what a misunderstanding there is about what feminism is. Explanatorily put to them in this context, “Feminism is about giving women choice, voice and a place to stand. Like Archimedes said, “Give me a place to stand and with a lever I will move the whole world.” Yes, many a woman in Nigeria need a place to stand even as she equally need a lever.

The reason for the foregoing view cannot be pooh-poohed as it is high time the world stopped being a man’s world. Again, from the very beginning God made us male and female. “So God created man in His own image, in the image of God created He him; male and female created He them” (Gen. 1:27). God created “man” – that is, human beings. But He created man in two kinds: “male” and “female”. The Fifth Commandment, which deals with all our relationships to one another as human beings, recognizes this male/female distinction: It is not “Honor thy parents” but “Honor thy father and thy mother”. Great differences exist between men and women, but only together do they make up mankind – or humankind. The human race would be incomplete without either.

At this juncture, permit me to say that feminism is not a stick with which to beat other women with. It is about freedom, it is about liberation, it is about equality. I really don’t know what their angst against women’s fight for freedom from age-long stranglehold of gender inequality is. To this end, I must confess that it is very confusing. I’m confused just as most people are confused.

Be that as it may, let me express how I feel as a woman in this context, and highlight the fact that I’m proud to be a woman because women’s instincts are strong. The instinctual power that we have within us guides us and protects us. I’m proud to be a woman because the female bond is so strong, when women support anyone; irrespective of gender, incredible things can happen. I’m proud to be a woman because we go through so much and deal with so much but come out stronger and more resilient. I’m proud to be a woman because I love the community that women create for each other – we are each other’s cheerleaders and it’s amazing how we can build each other up. I’m proud to be a woman because we literally grow other humans….I mean that is pretty amazing!

In the same vein, permit me to beat my chest and say once again that I’m proud to be a woman because my twin sister and my late mum are two of the strongest people I have ever met, and I’m so lucky to have such incredible women as relatives. Most glaring of all is that I’m proud to be a woman because we are beautiful inside and out, even as I’m proud to be a woman because we are fighters!

Still in the same vein, I’m proud to be a woman because we are kind, compassionate and have loving souls. I’m proud to be a woman because we aren’t afraid to show emotion. I’m proud to be a woman because we love to love.

I’m proud to be a woman because we are incredible at multi-tasking. I’m proud to be a woman because we are fantastic at dealing with anything; throw anything at us and we can handle it. I’m proud to be a woman because we bring out the best in each other, our friends are like our family. I’m proud to be a woman because it’s not easy… I’m proud to be a woman because my mother raised me and my mother is the most wonderful human being. I’m proud to be a woman because all the women who fought for our rights have enabled us to enjoy endless opportunities. There is no better time to be a woman than now. I’m proud to be a woman because I feel empowered. I’m proud to be a woman because our bodies are amazing- we can grow babies inside of us and push them out of our bodies! And lastly, I’m proud to be a woman because we are nurturing and caring.

At this juncture, it is germane to enlighten all those that are belittling or undermining women that a woman means being a valuable member of the society.

They need to be told that being a woman means that one is opinionated, articulate, and strong-willed. It means working to destroy the disgusting double standards that can be forced upon us. You can like wearing makeup and sundresses while also being intelligent and deserving of powerful positions. It means refusing to accept the words “prude,” “slut,” or “bitch.” It means supporting fellow women, when society ceaselessly pits us against each other.

Above all, it means being unapologetic for who we are, what we want, and what we deserve. We’re real human beings like everyone else, and we deserve to be heard. Society will be better for it, not worse.

To me, being a woman means being myself unapologetically. Through sharing my ideas as I am wont to do in this context, pushing boundaries, and finding my own voice, I can prove that although gender is part of anyone’s identity, it should never restrict them to cultural boundaries of how a woman is expected to be. Women are all unique, and that’s the beauty of it.

When faced with the question ‘What does being a woman mean to you?’ there are about a million answers, and every day, the answer changes.

Being a ‘woman’ is multifaceted, complex, and often unfair. It’s a difficult gender to identify with. Society holds us to ridiculous standards, outdated gender norms are pervasive in our daily lives, gender pay gaps are still rampant, and the patriarchy, although facing criticism, is still a force to be reckoned with. Often I find myself frustrated and angered at the situations that still confront us.

Despite this, I, Sandra, take so much pride and hope in knowing that there’s never been a greater time for women. Facing the spread of feminism, and strong feelings of solidarity, despite the wide and intersectional diversity of issues faced by women, I am beyond glad to be part of this collective force of womankind.

Being a woman to me is a lot about strength, mutual support, and love. The women I choose to surround myself with are always there to back me up, to rely on for whatever and whenever with unwavering levels of support. I feel so much comfort in this.

There is certainly far to go, but the tides are changing. I often see this phrase stuck on laptops, bags, or on signs littered all over campus, and every time I do, I feel a little more empowered by the knowledge that ‘the future is female.

The only way I can describe what being a woman means to me is to say what aspect of my life makes me most proud of who I am: being a sister. I have biological sisters who are my best friends. When we’re together, I’m both my best and worst self. I’m supportive and supported, loving and loved. It’s the deepest and truest relationship I know. Having expressed myself on this platform, I’m proud to reiterate that I’m proud to be a woman, what about you? I am poised to always engage in the fight for gender equality whenever it becomes exigent to do so.