My first memory of it was when I was 8 and my uncle gave my brother, Ugo and me a box of crayons to share. The crayons were 15. I wanted to take 8 so Ugo could have 7 after all I was older but Ugo threw a tantrum and said he wanted 8. I ran to my mum and she said to me “Chinenye, let him take 8. He is a boy and you are a girl”.
I didn’t understand what she meant. If she had said “He is your baby brother”, I would have understood even though I wouldn’t give up that 1 crayon willingly. I would have understood.
But she said “He is a boy and you are a girl”.
You see, I’d never thought we were different until that moment. Sure enough I knew daddy always gave him a bigger share of the dried meat he brought home often but I always just thought it was because he was younger.
When daddy told Ugo not to help mummy cook anymore because the kitchen is a woman’s place even though Ugo loved it, I began to wonder.
I said to mummy “why can’t Ugo do what he likes? Does it matter that he’s a boy?” And she said “Nne it does. Some things are for boys while some things are for girls. That is the way it should be”.
In JSS1, I remember practising for weeks the points I would make during the inter-school debate I was meant to represent my school in. I was so excited. My parents were coming to watch me with a photographer to cover the event.
We had had an in-house debate in school and I had won the votes of my classmates beating Vincent 150-40.
On the morning of the event I was dressed in my cleanest, most ironed pinafore with my socks whiter than snow and my shoes so polished you could see your reflection in them. I got to the school bus only to be informed by the debate master that “Vincent will be going for the debate instead. We decided that he will do a better job because he is more confident and assertive”
I cried for days! Vincent that couldn’t even string a sentence together without a grammatical error. Vincent that couldn’t even look you in the eye when he spoke, “more confident and assertive”?. Of course my school lost.
I had worked at B&G Holdings for 7 years and I was due for a promotion. It was down to me and Segun Aina and everyone knew I would be the one because Segun had been in the company for a little over 2 years and hadn’t brought in half as much business as I had. It was a no-brainer, the promotion was mine.
When Segun got the promotion instead, I went to my boss and asked why. He said “Chinenye, you know you are a woman. Very soon you will get married and your family will become number one in your life instead of the company. Besides Segun will be a better representative. People will take him more seriously as the face of the company”.
All the inspirational quotes tell you to work hard so you can be successful. They never mention that you should be a man too if not you will live your life always almost getting to the top, always being second best even when in all honesty you are the best.
It’s been too long guys, I know!! Forgive me! This post is fiction but is inspired by Chimamanda Adichie’s “We should all be feminists” speech(I’m too lazy to get you a link but you can google it and watch it on Youtube. An excerpt of it is in Beyoncé’s Flawless) and by my baby brother telling me “You can’t be rich unless you marry a rich man. That’s what I heard on Afmag” after I said “I can’t wait to be rich!”.
What do you guys think? Are there (still) double standards when it comes to men and women especially in Africa because I think there definitely are? What can we do about it?
P.S: if you’re ever looking for me, I can sometimes be found over at my hair blog. You can check it out here if you’re into that sort of thing.