So I would like to start by telling youabout one of my greatest friends,
Okoloma lived on my street and looked after me like a big brother.
If I liked a boy,I would ask Okoloma’s opinion.
Okoloma died in the notoriousSosoliso plane crash
in Nigeria in December of 2005.
Almost exactly seven years ago.
Okoloma was a person I could argue with,laugh with and truly talk to.
He was also the first personto call me a feminist.
在我十四岁的时候 我们在他的房里 争吵
I was about fourteen,we were at his house, arguing.
Both of us bristling with half bit knowledge from books that we had read.
I don’t remember what thisparticular argument was about,
but I rememberthat as I argued and argued,
欧卡拉玛看着我 然后说 你知道的 你是个女权主义者
Okoloma looked at me and said,”You know, you’re a feminist.”
It was not a compliment.
I could tell from his tone,
就跟你说： “你是恐怖分子的支持者” 语气一样
the same tone that you would useto say something like, “You’re a supporter of terrorism.”
I did not know exactlywhat this word “feminist” meant,
and I did not want Okolomato know that I did not know.
So I brushed it aside,and I continued to argue.
And the first thingI planned to do when I got home
在字典查下 女权主义者 是什么意思
was to look up the word”feminist” in the dictionary.
Now fast forward to some years later,
I wrote a novel about a manwho among other things beats his wife
and whose story doesn’t end very well.
While I was promoting the novel in Nigeria,
一位新闻工作者 他人很好 也很善良
a journalist, a nice, well-meaning man,
told me he wanted to advise me.
And for the Nigerians here,
I’m sure we’re all familiar with
how quick our people are to give unsolicited advice.
He told me that people were sayingthat my novel was feminist and his advice to me —
and he was shaking his headsadly as he spoke —
was that I should never call myself a feminist
because feminists are women who are unhappy
because they cannot find husbands.
So I decided to call myself “a happy feminist.”
Then an academic, a Nigerian woman told me
that feminism was not our culture and that feminism wasn’t African,
and that I was calling myself a feminist because I had been corruptedby “Western books.”
Which amused me, because a lot of my early readings were decidedly unfeminist.
I think I must have read every singleMills&Boon romance published before I was sixteen.
And each time I tried to read those books called “the feminist classics,”
I’d get bored, and I really struggled to finish them.
But anyway, since feminism was un-African,
I decided that I would now call myself”a happy African feminist.”
At some point I was a happy Africanfeminist who does not hate men
and who likes lip gloss and who wears high heels for herself but not for men.
Of course a lot of this was tongue-in-cheek,
but that word feminist is so heavywith baggage, negative baggage.
You hate men, you hate bras,
you hate African culture, that sort of thing.
Now here’s a story from my childhood.
When I was in primary school,
my teacher said at the beginning of termthat she would give the class a test
and whoever got the highest scorewould be the class monitor.
Now, class monitor was a big deal.
If you were a class monitor,
you got to write downthe names of noisemakers —
which was having enough power of its own.
But my teacher would also give youa cane to hold in your hand
while you walk around and patrol the class for noisemakers.
Now, of course you were not actually allowed to use the cane.
But it was an exciting prospect for the nine-year-old me.
I very much wanted to be the class monitor.
And I got the highest score on the test.
Then, to my surprise, my teacher saidthat the monitor had to be a boy.
She had forgotten to make that clear earlier because she assumed it was … obvious.
A boy had the second highestscore on the test, and he would be monitor.
Now, what was even more interesting about this
is that the boy was a sweet, gentle soul
who had no interestin patrolling the class with the cane,
while I was full of ambition to do so.
But I was female and he was male, and so he became the class monitor.
And I’ve never forgotten that incident.
I often make the mistake of thinking
that something that is obvious to meis just as obvious to everyone else.
Now, take my dear friend Louis for example.
Louis is a brilliant, progressive man,
and we would have conversationsand he would tell me,
“I don’t know what you mean by thingsbeing different or harder for women.
Maybe in the past, but not now.”
And I didn’t understand how Louiscould not see what seems so self-evident.
Then one evening, in Lagos,Louis and I went out with friends.
And for people here who are familiar with Lagos,
there’s that wonderful Lagos’ fixture,
the sprinkling of energetic menwho hang around outside establishments
and very dramatically “help” you park your car.
I was impressed with the particular theatrics
of the man who found us a parking spot that evening.
And so as we were leaving, I decided to leave him a tip.
I opened my bag, put my hand inside my bag,
brought out my money that I had earned from doing my work,
and I gave it to the man.
And he, this man who wasvery grateful and very happy,
took the money from me, looked across at Louis
说 谢谢你 先生
and said, “Thank you, sir!”
Louis looked at me, surprised,
问 他为什么谢谢我 我可没给他钱
and asked, “Why is he thanking me?I didn’t give him the money.”
Then I saw realization dawn on Louis’ face.
The man believed that whatever money I had
had ultimately come from Louis.
Because Louis is a man.
Men and women are different.
We have different hormones,we have different sexual organs,
we have different biological abilities.
Women can have babies, men can’t.
At least not yet.
Men have testosterone and arein general physically stronger than women.
There’s slightly more womenthan men in the world,
about 52 percent of the world’spopulation is female.
But most of the positions of powerand prestige are occupied by men.
The late Kenyan Nobel Peace laureate, Wangari Maathai,
put it simply and well when she said:
“The higher you go, the fewer women there are.”
In the recent US elections we kept hearing of the Lilly Ledbetter law,
and if we go beyond the nicelyalliterative name of that law,
it was really about a man and a woman doing the same job, being equally qualified,
and the man being paid morebecause he’s a man.
So in the literal way, men rule the world,
and this made sense a thousand years ago
because human beings lived then in a world
in which physical strength wasthe most important attribute for survival.
The physically stronger personwas more likely to lead,
and men, in general, are physically stronger.
Of course there are many exceptions.
But today we live in a vastly different world.
The person more likely to leadis not the physically stronger person;
it is the more creative person,the more intelligent person,
the more innovative person,
and there are no hormonesfor those attributes.
A man is as likely as a womanto be intelligent,
to be creative, to be innovative.
We have evolved;
but it seems to me that our ideasof gender had not evolved.
Some weeks ago, I walked into a lobbyof one of the best Nigerian hotels.
I thought about leaving the hotel,but I thought I probably shouldn’t.
And a guard at the entrance stopped me and asked me annoying questions,
because their automatic assumption is that a Nigerian female walking into a hotel alone is a sex worker.
And by the way, why do these hotelsfocus on the ostensible supply
rather than the demand for sex workers?
In Lagos I cannot go aloneinto many “reputable” bars and clubs.
They just don’t let you in if you’re a woman alone,
you have to be accompanied by a man.
Each time I walk into a Nigerian restaurant with a man,
the waiter greets the man and ignores me.
The waiters are products —
在这一刻 一些女人想 是的 我早就想到了
At this some women felt like, “Yes! I thought that!”
The waiters are products of a society
that has taught them that menare more important than women.
And I know that waiters don’t intend any harm.
But it’s one thing to know intellectuallyand quite another to feel it emotionally.
Each time they ignore me, I feel invisible. I feel upset.
I want to tell them that I am just as human as the man,
that I’m just as worthy of acknowledgment.
These are little things,
but sometimes it’s the little thingsthat sting the most.
And not long ago, I wrote an article
about what it means to be young and female in Lagos,
and the printers told me,
“It was so angry.”
Of course it was angry!
I am angry.
Gender as it functions today is a grave injustice.
We should all be angry.
Anger has a long history of bringing about positive change;
但 除了生气之外 我也满怀希望
but, in addition to being angry,I’m also hopeful.
Because I believe deeply in the ability of human beings
to make and remake themselves for the better.
Gender matters everywhere in the world,
but I want to focus on Nigeria and on Africa in general,
because it is where I know, and because it is where my heart is.
And I would like today to ask
that we begin to dream aboutand plan for a different world,
a fairer world,
a world of happier men and happier women who are truer to themselves.
And this is how to start:
we must raise our daughters differently.
We must also raise our sons differently.
We do a great disservice to boyson 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.
We teach them to mask their true selves,
because they have to be, in Nigerian speak, “hard man!”
In secondary school, a boy and a girl,both of them teenagers,
both of them with the same amountof pocket money, would go out
and then the boy would be expected always to pay,
to prove his masculinity.
And yet we wonder why boys are more likely to steal money from their parents.
What if both boys and girls were raised
not to link masculinity with money?
What if the attitude was not “the boy has to pay”
but rather “whoever has more should pay?”
Now, of course because of that historical advantage,
it is mostly men who will have more today,
but if we start raising children differently,
then in fifty years, in a hundred years,
boys will no longer have the pressureof having to prove this masculinity.
But by far the worst thing we do to males,
by making them feel that they have to be hard,
is that we leave them with very fragile egos.
The more “hard man” the man feels compelled to be,
the weaker his ego is.
And then we do a much greaterdisservice to girls
because we raise them to cater to the fragile egos of men.
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 would threaten the man.”
If you are the breadwinner in your relationship with a man,
you have to pretend that you’re not,
especially in public,
otherwise you will emasculate him.
But what if we question the premise itself?
Why should a woman’s successbe a threat to a man?
What if we decide to simply dispose of that word,
and I don’t think there’s an English word I dislike more than “emasculation.”
A Nigerian acquaintance once asked me
if I was worried that men would be intimidated by me.
I was not worried at all.
In fact, it had not occurred to me to be worried
because a man who would be intimidated by me
is exactly the kind of man I would have no interest in.
But still I was really struck by this.
Because I’m female, I’m expected to aspire to marriage;
I’m expected to make my life choices
always keeping in mind that marriage is the most important.
A marriage can be a good thing;
it can be a source of joy and love and mutual support.
But why do we teach girls to aspire to marriage
and we don’t teach boys the same?
I know a woman who decided to sell her house
because she didn’t want to intimidate a man who might marry her.
I know an unmarried woman in Nigeriawho, when she goes to conferences,
wears a wedding ring
because according to her,
she wants the other participantsin the conference to “give her respect.”
I know young women who are under so much pressure
她们遭受太多来自家庭 朋友 工作的结婚压力
from family, from friends, even from work to get married,
and they’re pushed to make terrible choices.
A woman at a certain age who is unmarried,
our society teaches her to see it as a deep, personal failure.
And a man at a certain age who is unmarried,
we just think he hasn’t come aroundto making his pick.
It’s easy for us to say,
“Oh, but women can just say no to all of this.”
But the reality is more difficult and more complex.
We’re all social beings.
We internalize ideas from our socialization.
Even the language we use
in talking about marriage and relationships illustrates this.
The language of marriage is often the language of ownership
rather than the language of partnership.
我们用 尊重 这个词
We use the word “respect”
to mean something a woman shows a man
but often not something a man shows a woman.
Both men and women in Nigeria will say —
this is an expression I’m very amused by —
“I did it for peace in my marriage.”
Now, when men say it,
it is usually about something that they should not be doing anyway.
Sometimes they say it to their friends,
it’s something to say to their friendsin a kind of fondly exasperated way,
you know, something that ultimatelyproves how masculine they are,
how needed, how loved.
“Oh, my wife said I can’t go to the club every night,
so for peace in my marriage, I do it only on weekends.”
现在 当一个女人说 “为了有个和睦的婚姻”
Now, when a woman says, “I did it for peace in my marriage,”
she’s usually talking about giving up a job, a dream,
We teach females that in relationships, compromise is what women do.
We raise girls to see each other as competitors —
not for jobs or for accomplishments,which I think can be a good thing,
but for attention of men.
We teach girls that they cannot be sexual beings in the way that boys are.
If we have sons, we don’t mindknowing about our sons’ girlfriends.
But our daughters’ boyfriends? God forbid.
But of course when the time is right,
we expect those girls to bring backthe perfect man to be their husbands.
We police girls, we praise girls for virginity,
but we don’t praise boys for virginity,
and it’s always made me wonder how exactly this is supposed to work out because …
我的意思是 失去贞操通常是一个过程 它包括……
I mean, the loss of virginity is usually a process that involves …
Recently a young woman was gang raped in a university in Nigeria,
I think some of us know about that.
And the response of many young Nigerians, both male and female,
was something along the lines of this:
“Yes, rape is wrong.
But what is a girl doing in a room with four boys?”
Now, if we can forget the horrible inhumanity of that response,
these Nigerians have been raised to think of women as inherently guilty,
and they have been raised to expect so little of men
that the idea of men as savage beingswithout any control is somehow acceptable.
We teach girls shame.
“Close your legs.” “Cover yourself.”
We make them feel as though by being born female
they’re already guilty of something.
And so, girls grow up to be women
who cannot see they have desire.
They grow up to be women who silence themselves.
They grow up to be women who cannot say what they truly think,
and they grow up —
and this is the worst thing we did to girls —
they grow up to be women who have turned pretense into an art form.
I know a woman who hates domestic work,
she just hates it, but she pretends that she likes it,
because she’s been taught that to be “good wife material”
she has to be –to use that Nigerian word — very “homely.”
And then she got married,
and after a while her husband’s familybegan to complain that she had changed.
Actually, she had not changed, she just got tired of pretending.
The problem with gender,
is that it prescribes how we should be rather than recognizing how we are.
Now imagine how much happier we would be,
how much freer to be our true individual selves,
if we didn’t have the weight of gender expectations.
毫无疑问 从生物学来说 男女大不同
Boys and girls are undeniably different biologically,
but socialization exaggerates the differences
and then it becomes a self-fulfilling process.
Now, take cooking for example.
Today women in general are more likely to do the housework than men,
the cooking and cleaning.
But why is that?
Is it because women are born with a cooking gene?
Or because over years they have beensocialized to see cooking as their role?
Actually, I was going to say that maybe women are born with a cooking gene,
until I remember that the majorityof the famous cooks in the world,
whom we give the fancy title of “chefs,” are men.
I used to look up to my grandmother who was a brilliant, brilliant woman,
and wonder how she would have been
if she had the same opportunitiesas men when she was growing up.
Now today, there are many more opportunities for women
than there were during my grandmother’s time
because of changes in policy, changes in law, all of which are very important.
But what matters even more is our attitude, our mindset,
what we believe and what we value about gender.
What if in raising children
we focus on ability instead of gender?
What if in raising children we focus on interest instead of gender?
I know a family who have a son and a daughter, both of whom are brilliant at school,
who are wonderful, lovely children.
When the boy is hungry, the parents say to the girl,
“Go and cook Indomie noodlesfor your brother.”
Now, the daughter doesn’t particularly like to cook Indomie noodles,
but she’s a girl, and so she has to.
Now, what if the parents, from the beginning,
taught both the boy and the girlto cook Indomie?
顺便说下 对男孩子来说 做饭是一项很有用的技能
Cooking, by the way, is a very useful skill for boys to have.
I’ve never thought it made senseto leave such a crucial thing,
the ability to nourish oneself —
in the hands of others.
我认识一个女人 她和她老公工作相同 职位也一样
I know a woman who has the same degree and the same job as her husband.
When they get back from work,she does most of the housework,
which I think is true for many marriages.
But what struck me about them
was that whenever her husbandchanged the baby’s diaper,
she said “thank you” to him.
Now, what if she saw this as perfectly normal and natural
that he should, in fact, care for his child?
I’m trying to unlearn many of the lessons of gender
that I internalized when I was growing up.
But I sometimes still feel very vulnerablein the face of gender expectations.
The first time I taught a writing class in graduate school,
I was worried.
I wasn’t worried about the material I would teach because I was well-prepared,
and I was going to teach what I enjoy teaching.
Instead, I was worried about what to wear.
I wanted to be taken seriously.
I knew that because I was female
I will automatically have to prove my worth.
And I was worried that if I looked too feminine,
I would not be taken seriously.
I really wanted to wear my shiny lip gloss and my girly skirt,
but I decided not to.
Instead, I wore a very serious,
very manly and very ugly suit.
Because the sad truth is that when it comes to appearance
we start off with men as the standard, as the norm.
If a man is getting ready for a business meeting,
he doesn’t worry about looking too masculine
and therefore not being taken for granted.
If a woman has to get ready for business meeting,
she has to worry about looking too feminine
and what it says and whether or notshe will be taken seriously.
I wish I had not worn that ugly suit that day.
I’ve actually banished it from my closet, by the way.
Had I then the confidence that I have now to be myself,
my students would have benefitedeven more from my teaching,
because I would have been more comfortable and more fully and more truly myself.
I have chosen to no longer be apologetic for my femaleness
and for my femininity.
And I want to be respected in all of my femaleness
because I deserve to be.
Gender is not an easy conversation to have.
For both men and women,
to bring up gender is sometimesto encounter almost immediate resistance.
I can imagine some people hereare actually thinking,
“Women do deserve.”
Some of the men here might be thinking,
“OK, all of this is interesting,
but I don’t think like that.”
And that is part of the problem.
That many men do not actively think about gender or notice gender
is part of the problem of gender.
That many men, say, like my friend Louis,
that everything is fine now.
And that many men do nothing to change it.
If you are a man and you walk into a restaurant with a woman
and the waiter greets only you,
does it occur to you to ask the waiter,
“Why haven’t you greeted her?”
Because gender can be —
Actually, we may repose part of a longer version of this talk.
So, because gender can be a very uncomfortable conversation to have,
there are very easy ways to close it,to close the conversation.
So some people will bring up evolutionary biology and apes,
how, you know, female apes bow down to male apes and that sort of thing.
But the point is we’re not apes.
Apes also live on trees and have earthworms for breakfast,
and we don’t.
Some people will say, “well, poor men also have a hard time.”
And this is true.
But that is not what this —
But this is not what this conversation is about.
Gender and class are different forms of oppression.
I actually learned quite a bit about systems of oppression
and how they can be blind to one another by talking to black men.
I was once talking to a black man about gender and he said to me,
“Why do you have to say ‘my experience as a woman’?
Why can’t it be ‘your experience as a human being’?”
Now, this was the same man
who would often talk about his experience as a black man.
Men and women experience the world differently.
Gender colors the way we experience the world.
But we can change that.
Some people will say,
“Oh, but women have the real power,
And for non-Nigerians, bottom power is an expression
which I suppose means something like a woman
who uses her sexuality to get favors from men.
But bottom power is not power at all.
Bottom power means that a woman
simply has a good root to tap into,from time to time — somebody else’s power.
And then, of course, we have to wonder
what happens when that somebody else is in a bad mood,
or sick or impotent.
Some people will say that a womanbeing subordinate to a man is our culture.
But culture is constantly changing.
我有一对很漂亮的双胞胎侄女 她们十五岁 住在拉各斯
I have beautiful twin nieces who are fifteen and live in Lagos.
If they had been born a hundred years ago
they would have been taken away and killed.
Because it was our culture, it was our culture to kill twins.
So what is the point of culture?
I mean there’s the decorative, the dancing …
but also, culture really is aboutpreservation and continuity of a people.
In my family,
I am the child who is most interestedin the story of who we are,
in our traditions, in the knowledge about ancestral lands.
My brothers are not as interested as I am.
But I cannot participate,
I cannot go to Ona meetings,
I cannot have a say.
Because I’m female.
Culture does not make people, people make culture.
So if it is in fact true —
So if it is in fact true
that the full humanity of womenis not our culture,
then we must make it our culture.
I think very often of my dear friend,Okoloma Maduewesi.
May he and all the others who passed away in that Sosoliso crash continue to rest in peace.
He will always be remembered by those of us who loved him.
And he was right that day many years agowhen he called me a feminist.
I am a feminist.
And when I looked up the wordin the dictionary that day,
this is what it said:
“Feminist: a person who believes in the social, political
and economic equality of the sexes.”
My great grandmother, from the stories I’ve heard, was a feminist.
She ran away from the house of the manshe did not want to marry
and ended up marrying the man of her choice.
She refused, she protested, she spoke up
whenever she felt she was being deprivedof access, of land, that sort of thing.
My great grandmotherdid not know that word “feminist,”
but it doesn’t mean that she wasn’t one.
More of us should reclaim that word.
My own definition of feminist is:
“A feminist is a man or a woman who says —
A feminist is a man or a woman who says,
“是的 今天也存在性别问题 我们必须修正它们
“Yes, there’s a problem with gender as it is today,
and we must fix it.
We must do better.”
The best feminist I know is my brother Kene.
他很善良 长得很好看 也很可爱
He’s also a kind, good-looking, lovely man,
and he’s very masculine.