#WivesNotCooks: RE “SO YOU WON’T COOK?”

I first saw the hashtag #WivesNotCook when a Facebook friend made a response post on it, which she titled “SO YOU WON’T COOK?”. When I read the post, right from the first paragraph, I cringed.  I wanted to ignore it as I have ignored most things Nigerian lately. However, the post has been shared many times on Facebook, mostly by Nigerian men, who are using it as a reference point to chide women who support the hashtag #WivesNotCooks. Many have even used it as a point to bash single women, single mothers, divorced women and blamed all woes imaginable on feminism.

The post and the comments it generated made me realise we really have a long way to go in educating even the educated about the meaning of feminism. I understand that sometimes when we don’t want to engage, we still owe it to posterity to engage on some issues. Hence, why I decided to write this response to dissect the post and point out the problems with it, as it relates to feminism.

14067659_10154421374501873_6548088197135927608_nFirstly, we must understand that anyone can be a feminist and everyone should be a feminist. It’s the decent, humane position to take on gender equalities.

I was so surprised that someone who self-identified as “an unapologetic feminist” starts her argument against the hashtag #wivesNotCooks with these remarks-

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I am an unapologetic feminist but I also know how to differentiate feminism from gender roles.

And reiterated again-

Learn to differentiate gender equality from gender roles.

Feminism is about deconstructing gender roles. Yes, feminism is about fostering the rights of women in the workplace and the society at large. It is about standing up for women’s rights to be who they want to be. The right to education, right to earn same salary as men for the same job. Right to vote. Right to be free from gender discrimination. The right to live with dignity and respect. However, how do we achieve gender equality without breaking down the barriers of socially constructed gender roles and stereotypes?

What is gender role? According to Wiki ,

gender role is a set of societal norms dictating the types of behaviors which are generally considered acceptable, appropriate, or desirable for people based on their actual or perceived sex or sexuality.

Google translation

noun

plural noun: gender roles

  1. the role or behaviour learned by a person as appropriate to their gender, determined by the prevailing cultural norms.

“women’s traditional gender roles translated easily into caring for the sick, and nursing became a female profession”

The World Health Organization (WHO) defines gender roles as

socially constructed roles, behaviors, activities and attributes that a given society considers appropriate for men and women.

From these definitions, we can see why challenging gender roles is at the heart of feminism.

No one should be expected to do anything simply because of what lies between their legs, be it a dick or vagina.

Our value and contribution to our homes, workplace or society should not depend on what type of genitalia we have.

Feminism is all about breaking down gender roles. We should not use our own preference of how we run our home or life to determine who is a feminist or not. Your preference is your choice. Your opinion on what women or men should do is just that, an opinion.

Feminism is much more than an opinion; it is an established ideology.

Feminism advocates for gender equalities.  Gender equalities is intricately tied with deconstructing gender roles. To achieve gender equality, we must dismantle gender roles and stereotypes.

Gender stereotypes are products of gender roles.  If we acknowledge that feminism is about advocating for gender equalities, we cannot distance feminism from gender roles. We cannot achieve gender equalities without breaking down gender hegemony, and dismantling gender roles and stereotypes.

We live in a Patriarchy that fosters the belief that men are somehow inherently superior to women, and therefore places men above women. If asked, many men would quickly say that they don’t think this way, but ask them simple questions, such as-

– What makes a good wife?

– What do you think of single mothers?

– Must a woman know how to cook to be a good wife?

– Would you be worried if your wife gave birth to only girls but proud if she gave birth to only boys?

-Do you consider sharing household chores with your wife a necessity or a favour?

-Do you expect to be praised for helping with house chores?

-Do you expect a woman to have sex with you because you took her on an expensive date?

-Do you expect your daughters to learn to cook but don’t expect same of your son?

-How do you really feel about gender roles?

In one breath, they don’t think they are superior to women, but on the other hand, they expect women to fulfil gender roles., even when these gender roles are oppressive to women.

Everyone stands to benefit from deconstructing gender roles, be they women, men, transgender, queer or whatever gender identity they identify as.

Gender roles places expectation on people to do certain things based on what type of genitalia they have. This is so wrong, especially in this day and age.

I am a feminist of the world, in fact, I can defend women equality for the world but when I get home that line is drawn and it is very obvious for any discerning eyes.

NO. Feminism is not a hat you put on for show in public and throw off when no one is looking. When you say you draw the line at home, you are saying that feminism is incompatible with making a good home.

For a woman who identifies as “an unapologetic feminist” to say this, is sad. It basically feeds into such tripe that feminism breaks homes. Feminist can’t have a happy home because eek…Feminism.

Feminism is about empowering women in the workplace, at home, in the larger society and wherever it is they live their life as a woman and a human being.

If you are expected to play the socially constructed role of a woman first before being treated as a human being, be it at work or at home, then you need feminism.

Don’t ever put off your feminist hat because by so doing, what you are saying in that instance is “I ‘d rather be a sub human than be treated as a human because I want to keep my man, home, or in-laws happy’. You can still do these without taking off your feminist hat.

Feminism is not incompatible with expressing your passions for cooking or doing whatever makes you happy for your partner. The difference is, you should not feel forced to do so because you are a woman, but do so because it is what makes you happy. Let it be your choice, not an enforced role.

 

Do what you have to do to keep your marriage flourishing and intact and keep feminism at work place and out of your home because at home it would wreck that home. Men’s egos are too fragile and once bruised it is difficult to couple back.

If your man’s ego is too fragile to endure the fact that you are a feminist outside and inside your home, maybe that ego really needs bruising. Your man should grow up. Or you should wear your big panties and be the feminist you are, not just at work but at home as well.

This misconception that feminism wrecks the home is just so misguided, so false and so damaging to the feminist cause. How a self-identified, unapologetic feminist keeps saying this, beats all reasoning.

Feminism does not wreck home. Repeat after me, Feminism does not wreck home. Say it again and again, until you rid your mind of that misconception planted by the patriarchal, misogynistic society we live in.

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I am submissive to my bros, in fact, it is so bad that some female friends when they first land at my home, they are so surprised that, even after my madness on social media that I still have a home that is adorned and headed by a man and I also allow that man to act his role and at ease too. This is how a good and true feminist should be, even I could say so.

No, No, no. You don’t get to define what a good and true feminist should be based on how you run your home.

If you want to be submissive to your man, it is your choice.  It does not make you less of a feminist.

If you don’t want to be submissive to your man or whatever the gender of your partner, it is your choice. It does not make you more of a feminist.

Feminism is about having the right to choose. Feminism is about exploring your passions without pandering to socially constructed gender roles. Feminism is about having that freedom to not be afraid to be who you are for fear of being judged for deviating from gender roles and stereotypes.

Don’t ever tell another woman this is how a good woman should be. Just don’t ever! That is the most ‘unfeminist’ thing to say to another woman.

Please, ladies, bae, babes, learn how to cook, if not for your man but for yourselves, except you want to form that big girl that eats at the Oriental and Ocean Blues but can’t really sustain that lifestyle when the chips are down.

Why is this advice only directed at woman? Should this not apply to every adult?

It is expensive eating out all the time for everyone, regardless of gender.

Specifically asking women to learn to cook is just reiterating the socially constructed gender role that a woman’s place is in the kitchen.

I am not so keen on cooking but I do cook because it is the economical thing to do. I also believe whatever is worth doing, is worth doing well. So, while I might not go buying cookery books or searching YouTube for food tips, the foods I chose to cook for myself and my son in my home are done to the best of my ability.

When my son left home for University in another town, I packed his bags full of frozen food and soups to last him a few weeks.

However, after his first year in university, my son learned to cook for himself. His reason was that he found out it was expensive to eat out. Even Pizzas every night isn’t cheap and not as satisfying as pounded yam and equisi soup.

He learnt his way around the kitchen, explored the limited options of African raw food materials in a town with supermarkets that mostly cater for its white occupants.

When I travelled with my mum to attend his graduation ceremony (oh, he graduated with a First-Class degree in Law, as a proud single mom, i mention this at the slightest excuse), we wanted to celebrate in a restaurant, and he told us he had made food at home. He made Jollof rice, fried rice, beans and plantain. He also had equisi and vegetable soup ready in case we wanted Eba or pounded yam. And his food was delicious.

Like his father, he knows his way around the kitchen. Like his father, he is not the type that would demand a woman cooks for him. He knows cooking is not a gender thing.

Eating good food and learning to cook it for yourself or your whole family has nothing to do with your gender. Every adult needs to eat good food, therefore every adult regardless of gender, needs to find a way to fulfil that need. It could be by learning to cook, earning enough to eat out or hire a cook. Whatever works well for you. What is wrong is to impose an expectation on anyone simply based on their biological sex.

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You must cook because your man must be fed well or else someone else would be feeding him well for you. Your children must be nurtured with good food because that is your role as a female gender.

No, you don’t owe your man the responsibility to feed him. You are his partner, not his cook. Your biological sex does not automatically make you his assigned cook.

Why is the fear of someone else feeding him the reason for a woman to learn how to cook?

If a man chooses to eat outside, be it food, pussy, or even dicks, no amount of home feeding or fucking would change his mind.

This is another way of blaming women when their partner strays. It is common to hear admonitions masquerading as concerns, such as-

“Oh, he cheated on you, where you not giving him enough attention?”

“Why didn’t you cook his favourite dishes?”

“Why didn’t you satisfy his sexual desires all the time?”

Nope, a cheat is a cheat, be it man or woman. Don’t blame the victim of a cheat. Blame the cheat.

Live your life the way you want to. Do not generalise and condemn the other half of human species because they didn’t live up to your expectation of what a ‘Good African Woman’ should be.

Women are not put on this planet to meet men’s expectations.

The purpose of a woman’s life is not to cook for men.

Women haven’t failed in life because they can’t cook.

And they certainly haven’t failed because they don’t have husbands.

I am a 42-year-old single mother. My son is 22-year-old. He is a Law graduate and a CEO of his own registered app development company in UK.  I have a degree in Law from Nigeria and a Masters degree in Gender, Sexuality and Human rights Law from UK. I have worked as a human rights advocate and trade unionist for 15 years. I have been at the top of my career at national and internationally level and at a point, at the very bottom, when i started afresh in a strange land. And now back in upwards swing of my career again.

Many of those guys who shared the post made went ahead to gleefully call single mothers, like me, losers and misguided feminists. Divorced women who identify as feminists were called names. They blame their single and divorced status on feminism.

As early as I could remember, I have always found the concept of marriage not to be for me, and I made that clear early in life. Nothing has happened to change my mind. Is this down to my Feminism? No, absolutely not. It’s more about how I don’t want the society to define my relationship with a piece of certificate. I can see the allure of marriage in terms of tax savings and legal rights to visit and make life decisions for your partner when they are incapacitated and not able to act. However, I’d rather campaign for a change in the laws to grant same rights to long term couples who have no desire to go through the marriage certificate route, than go get married just to secure these rights. This is not about feminism, it is my personal preference.

I was in a long term live-in relationship with the father of my baby and my last long term live-in relationship was with a same sex person, a woman.  In both relationships, I certainly was not the cook. Did I expect my partners to cook for me? Capital No.

In both relationships, both partner loved cooking. The father of my son, an Urhobo man, loved cooking his local delicacies, the soups tasted divine. Even though I loved eating these delicacies, I wouldn’t even dream of learning to cook these dishes. It has nothing to do with Feminism, it’s just that I do not have any passion for cooking.

The woman I was in a live-in relationship with was a Calabar woman, and oh, did she love cooking? Of course, she did (I can see the stereotype there, apologies Calabar women!). She preferred to be the one making the food. It has nothing to do with gender roles, she was simply the better cook and yeah, she preferred making her Calabar dishes to eating the Yoruba dishes i made with my basic culinary expertise.  Again, this has nothing to do with feminism, it was a matter of prudent choice. I don’t think it is reasonable for an adult who is not incapacitated to wait for their partner to come home to cook for them when hungry just because they expect the woman to be the cook.

Where Feminism comes in the hash tag #WivesNotCooks, is when women are expected or mandated to be cooks. This is an ascribed gender role. Feminism is about breaking down gender barriers and deconstructing gender roles.

A woman can be a wife without being a cook.

A woman can be a cook without being a wife.

A woman can be a wife and be a bad cook.

A Woman can be a good cook and not care to be a wife.

A woman can be a wife and a good cook

When you use the word ‘Cook’ as a noun, and you expect your wife, based on her biological sex, to fulfil that role, you are perpetrating gender stereotype.

Feminism is about getting rid of gender stereotypes. It is about freeing women from the shackles of gender stereotypes. Everyone stands to benefit from deconstructing gender roles.

Women would be free to make their choices and able to reach for the highest pinnacle without social barriers or being judged for the choices they made, be it the decision to be a stay at home mother or the CEO of a global tech company.

Men would be free to explore their more sensitive side without fear of being judged and called the gender slur ‘ ‘pussy’. Free from gender roles and stereotypes. Free to cook for their partners. Free to understand that they don’t have to be ATMs for women as we no longer live in a gatherer/ hunter society.

The only people who stand to lose are people with the power who are reluctant to let go of their Male privilege.

It is no wonder that the many people who were gleefully sharing the post and attacking the hashtag #WivesNotCook were men. They shared it with so much gusto, screaming,“women listen to an experienced feminist. Cook for your husbands.”

When as a feminist, you write a post about feminism and the post is being shared with much approval by men, maybe you really should rethink your position.

People with power aren’t so eager to let go of their power and privilege. Maybe something in your post is enthrenching that power structure rather than challenging or deconstructing it.

It is like when a black person makes a post about racism and white people are the one gleefully sharing that post with the caption, “hey black people, listen to this respected black person on racism

In such instance, you can be sure that the white person has seen something that validates their reactionary position on racism, something that entrenches the hegemony, something that excuses them from looking at their white privilege. They are therefore eager to say “if a black person says this, then you ‘BlackLivesMatter’ fanatics must be wrong. Listen to what my ‘AllLivesMatter’ black friend is saying!”

If men are gleefully sharing what you thought was a feminist post on social media, I’d say, read it again, have a rethink. The post is probably not feminist at all. There are most probably words in it that entrenches gender roles. People with power and privilege are not always excited when their power and privileges are threatened or challenged in anyway. If majority of men are happy and praising you for your ‘matured feminist’ post, you can be fairly sure that it wasn’t a feminist position.

But cooking at home as a wife, a mother, a friend, a sister, and whatever else you may want to classify me as, when it comes to that role I take it as mine and very seriously too.

The thing about this is that it is a personal preference. A passion. It has nothing to do with feminism. It should not be an arbiter to decide who is a good feminist or not. It shouldn’t be used as a measurement to decide who is a good wife or not.

Bottom line is, people are different. Women are different. Expecting all women to love cooking and entertaining is so unnatural and unfair. Judging women on their cooking ability or passion for cooking and entertaining is ludicrous and gross in this day and age. Do you, and let others be themselves.

It is no wonder that men jumped on this and use it to declare that women should listen. Of course, they would say so because it entrenches gender role. It is a statement clearly proclaiming that a woman’s role certainly encompasses cooking and entertaining hubby’s friends. It is balderdash.

Is it any wonder that Nigeria’s president proclaimed to the world that his wife’s role is in the kitchen and the ‘other room’?

Men talk about wanting to give women equal rights but say there is a limit to this “equality madness”.

First, who says, equality is yours to give?

Men do not own equality as a matter of right., just as White people or Heterosexuals do not own equality.

Equality is not yours to give out or hold back as you please, just because you are at the top of the hegemony.

As the great Abami Eda, Fela Anikulapo Kuti, sang, “You cant dash me human rights. Human right na my property, So therefore you can’t dash me my property”.

Equality is our joint property.  We all have equal stake in it. This idea that it is for men to give women equality is part of the problem. This is why we still have men saying things like, “My wife must cook for me.

No, your wife is not your cook. The fact that she is married to you does not mean she must do anything. She is still a human being with freewill.

What you should talk about is the expectations you have of each other, not one based on gender roles but one based on mutual discussion, respect and appreciation of each other’s personalities and passions.

Maintaining a home as a couple is a shared responsibility. In this age, the decision of who takes care of certain home responsibilities should not depend on whether you have a dick or a vagina.

Gender roles hold us back, stop being so limited in your thinking, break down that gender wall and let’s embrace a society where people are free to be themselves without the constraints of gender stereotypes.

You are not a decorated trophy but strong, opinionated women that know what you want and that includes being submissive to your men. Sorry babes, we are just wired that way.

No, we are not wired that way. The society, these stereotyped Mills and Boons romance novels, Disney and Hollywood movies based on socially constructed gender roles, made us believe we want to be submissive to a man.

No, we are not all the same. Not every woman wants to worship at the altar of a man’s fragile ego.

Not all women want to  wait hands and foot on their husbands.

Not every woman wants a man as a partner, some women do have same sex partners.

We are no longer in the hunter/gatherer era where men must go hunt and women stayed home to do the cooking. The world is much more advanced than that. We evolved out of that era a long time ago.

Women don’t have to cook to be worthy of being called wife material.

Men don’t have to be ATMs to be husband material.

You don’t have to be loud and argumentative to be a feminist.

You could be as quiet as a mouse and still be a strong feminist.

You could be loud and argumentative and still be a feminist.

You could be a good cook who cooks at home for her family and still be a feminist.

You could be a good cook who does not cook for her family and still be a feminist.

You could be a single mother who cooks for her cchildren and still be a feminist.

You could be a single mother who does not cook and still be a feminist.

You could be a single woman who loves cooking and still be a feminist.

You could be a single woman who hates cooking and still be a feminist.

Your Feminist credentials do not depend on your ability or willingness to cook.

Gender roles are constructed by the society, they are not biological.

Be nurturing, be submissive, be dominant, be whatever you want to be in your relationship, so far it is with mutual consent and no one is put in harm’s way, it is your life, your choice. However, do not seek to impose that choice on others.

Feminism asserts the right of women to choose to be what they want to be, devoid of social constrains, barriers or gender expectations. Feminist is not a bad tag; wear it with pride, at all times.

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The First Time I Realised I was Black

I didn’t know I was black until I relocated to the UK in 2009 at the ripe old age of 34, before then, I thought I was just a human being.

Settling down in the UK, I quickly realised my skin colour mattered. It matters a lot.

I relocated to the UK in 2009 to study for my Post graduate degree in Law, specialising in Gender, Sexuality and Human rights.  Even though I had contemplated my gender, sexuality, globalisation and the catastrophic effects of unbridled capitalism, I had not given my skin colour much thought.

From the overt racism, which I encountered from the University Surgery GP, the subtle racism of some of my white lecturers (who ironically taught equality classes), the white co-workers who turned their noses up at my African accent, to the ‘behind the back’ racist stab by the white, female principal officer in my workplace, which cost me a much needed, very good job offer, I quickly realised that my skin colour mattered.

In fact, I eventually realised that my skin colour mattered so much it could be the determining factor in being treated as a human being deserving of dignity and respect or just a subhuman who at best is only fit to be a pet chimpanzee. When as a black person in a white society, you do not appreciate being treated like a pet Chimpanzee by your white ‘friends/colleagues’, you are quickly treated as an unappreciative subhuman and labelled an angry black woman or a dangerous black man.

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The Overt racism from my very first UK GP

The very first thing I did immediately I settled down at my school was to register with a GP. This was because I had an underlying health issue that require I be placed on medication. I used to have night seizures during sleep. I had done EEG tests in Nigeria which were inconclusive as to whether I had epilepsy or not. Nevertheless, I was placed on anti-epileptic drugs to control the seizures.

Before I embarked on my journey to UK, I made sure to get enough medication and prescription from my neurologist in Nigeria to last me until I settled down in UK. However, when I went to register at my university surgery in Stoke-on-Trent, England, and explained to the GP, a white old man, that I needed the prescription, he just wouldn’t believe me. He refused to believe I suffered from seizures.

I presented him with the results of my EEG tests from Nigeria, the prescription letter from my neurologist and the medication I was placed on, he still refused to prescribe my medication.  Simply put, my doctor’s diagnosis and prescription was not good enough for him because it came from Nigeria, from the ‘dark’ continent of Africa.

This University Surgery doctor actually asked me if I had a video clip of me having a seizure! I was truly aghast!

Was I supposed to record a video of myself suffering a seizure?

Were my family members or whoever was with me when I suffer a night seizure supposed to get their phone out and start recording instead of helping me stay alive?

This bigoted white doctor refused to give me my prescription simply because to him, I was just another black immigrant who came to England to take advantage of the healthcare and bleed the NHS dry!

I had to find ways to get my medication sent to me from Nigeria, which was difficult, eventually I ran out of medication. A few months later, I suffered the worst seizure of my life. For the first time since I started having night seizures, I seriously injured myself. The seizure was so bad I sprained my neck muscle and could not move one of my arms for weeks. I had to have physiotherapy sessions and was placed on pain killers.

When I went to the University Surgery to complain, I was told the GP had been transferred to another Surgery, and the school now had a new GP. The new GP wrote a prescription for me, got me an appointment with a neurologist in London and arranged for me to have an EEG and MRI scan.

My new neurologist, a very sympathetic Asian woman, could not believe it when I told her how the GP refused to prescribe my medication. She profusely apologised for the action of the GP. She went on to place me on another brand of anti-epileptic medication, which has really proved to be very good. It’s been 7 years since that seizure and I’ve not had another seizure since.  However, I am still on my medication, a much lower dosage but I understand this might be a medication I take for life.

Oh, did I mention that the racist GP was biphobic too? Of course, he was. No surprise. While taking my details, he asked if I was on birth control, I said no. He looked at me antagonistically and asked why. I told him I was bisexual. I explained that my last relationship was with a woman. From his stony silence, I could feel his biphobia almost swallowing me up!  Although his biphobia didn’t cost me my life, his overt racism almost did.

I’m still irked by how I was treated by the very first GP I encountered in UK. He couldn’t even be bothered to hide his racism and bigotry. To him, my Nigerian doctor’s prescription, hospital tests and notes were not good enough for his white ass. My word and experience as a patient were not to be believed because of my skin colour and country of origin.

It is sad that we still live in a world where skin colour mattered to the point that it could be a barrier to getting the opportunity to decent living conditions.  In my next post, I will share the appalling experience of how I lost a great job offer that would have meant saying goodbye to housing benefits and Job Seekers allowance, all because someone judged me based on my skin colour. Watch this space.

This post was inspired by CNN series of the same title – The First Time I Realized I Was Black

Celebrate Bisexual Visibility Day; Be BiVisible and BiFabulous!

September 23rd is Bisexuality Day, also known as Bi Visibility Day.  It’s Bi Visibility day today, I guess it is that one time of the year where I have to stop being so magically invisible and show myself in all my Unicorn glory; as a Bisexual!

Being Visible does come with its price, for example, I have to pay for things I bought in the stores today, cos well, I’m visible today. I have to bring out my oyster travel card and pay for bus, tubes and tram rides, like every other visible person cos I can’t ride for free today.  I get to be a visible B within the LGBT rainbow community today and I’d say, it’s worth it.

I know I am happy the LGBT community would at least recognise my existence today, it isn’t fun being that invisible B within the LGBT rainbow family all year long!

It sure does hurt when your own family fails to recognise you exist.  For example, a few days after marching and partying it up at the London Pride in Soho, I was at a swanky Sexual health clinic in Soho for my annual Sexual health check.  The place came highly recommended by an impressed friend I met at London Pride who was going on about how nice, easy and smooth the Sexual Health clinic in Soho was, so I decided to do my annual check there.

Well, we all know Soho is the gay headquarter of London, as a member of the LGBT family, the LGBT flag conspicuously on display makes one feel at home in Soho. I was feeling pretty much at home as I completed my questionnaire on the nice computer screen, and listened in awe as the computer generated voice gave me instructions on how to provide my test samples. I watched in fascination as the tube sucked in and beamed my samples to destination test laboratory. Hmm, Nice technology, I thought.

After filling my details on the computer screen and giving my samples to a tube sucking device, then came the dealing with human being part. However, it was not long before the humans burst my bubble. I was ushered in to see a health adviser, he was a young, friendly enough chap who wanted to ask me a few routine questions. I was feeling at home.  He asked if I was gay and I said No. Then he immediately proceeded to say to me-

“What we normally tell heterosexual people who visit this clinic is…”

WTf! When did I say I was heterosexual? Why this assumption?  At that point I had to cut him short.

“I am not heterosexual”,  I said.

But you said you are not gay.”,  he asked, somewhat confused.

“Yes, I am not Gay, but that does not make me heterosexual. I am bisexual.”  I explained as calmly as I could, even though it was all I could do to stop myself spitting unicorn fire at him for daring to assume my sexuality and erasing bisexuality in a Sexual Health clinic operating in Soho.

Even with the welcoming rainbow flag in the heart of the LGBT community in London, I still have to remind a sexual health practitioner that Bisexuals exist. I had to let him know that not identifying as gay does not automatically mean I am heterosexual. It hurts.

This invisibility hurts. This non acknowledgement of my existence within my own community hurts. Just a few days ago before sitting in that office across this health practitioner, I was marching in the London Pride Parade on these same streets and partying it up all night with my rainbow family on this same street that this Sexual Health Clinic that flies the LGBT Rainbow flag, operates from. However, I had to remind this sexual health adviser that everyone who visits this sexual health clinic in the very heart of Soho is not either gay or straight. There is that B, you know, the silenced B. That Big B in the LGBT Family. The B actually stands for something. It does not stand for Bitch or Bullshit or Badass (Maybe it does stand for Badass sometimes), but it surely does stand for Bisexual.  Yes, Bisexuals! We exist. We surely can’t be so invisible that we have to explain that we exist all the time even in LGBT Soho?

Yes, that minor incident irritated me because it was a reminder that as a bisexual I am still invisible and not recognised within the LGBT community.

Anyway, remember fellow bisexuals, let’s keep educating our LGBT community. Let’s try not just to blend in with a label that isn’t ours just because it is the one that’s visible. The LGBTQI family and its facilities are ours to use and feel comfortable in too. Challenge the status quo. Be Visible.

I am 100% Bisexual; No Filter. My sexuality does not change with the gender of my partner or lack of partner. Forever Bisexual. Happy Bisexuality Day to all my fellow Bisexuals. Be out. Be Proud. Be Visible.

Again, don’t forget to pay for the things you buy in stores today, this is one day of the year you are visible, even if it means paying for stuff, Celebrate Bisexual visibility day. Remain Bifabulous and BiVisible cos you are worth it!

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Just another random guy telling a woman what to do with her body

So, another guy decided to tell me what he wants me to do with my body to please his eyes. Never mind that i hardlyScreen-Shot-2014-10-29-at-11.09.03-AM knew him. Never mind that the few interactions i had with him on social media were about him as an African-American reaching out because he wanted a better understanding on some issues especially as it affects Africa and Africans. Never mind that i treated him with utmost respect, taking time to answer his questions and i thought the respect was mutual. But alas, he was just another man who refused to understand that telling a woman what to do with her body, to please their ‘manly gaze’, is just totally wrong.

Well, he decided to express his displeasure with my weight loss. He sent messages to my Facebook inbox , starting with a disgusted face sticker, cos well, words weren’t enough to express just how disgusted he was that i lost my ‘meaty’ figure!

sidney edited

what u doing to yourself? u used to be a buxom voluptuous woman. u need to get some more meat on dem lovely bones.my eyes cant feast on u anymore.

Yeah, he started is message with a disgusted face sticker. Cos, well, that is just how disgusted he feels about me losing weight. As he stated, his eyes can’t feast on me anymore. Poor chap.

Of course, i didn’t hold back in telling him exactly what i thought he should do with his ‘manly gaze’.

sidney edited 1sidney edited 2

That’s very insulting and I am very disappointed that you have this kind of patriarchal mindset. I thought you were more evolved than this lousy comment.

First, it is my body, not yours.

What i do with my body is my business, not anyone else’s business.

It is very sexist and patriarchal of you to use language that implies my body is for you or any other man to FEAST on. I am not a piece of meat on display for your ‘manly gaze’.

If my existence or looks hurt your eyes, then take your fucking eyes somewhere else, i never asked for you stare, look or feast on me BTW, I didn’t know you have been feasting on me, i am so glad now that there is one less sexist man feasting on me.

Crawl out of that cave you woke up in today that made you think it was ok for you to tell me I should put on some meat on my bones cos you liked feasting your eyes on me when i was “a buxom voluptuous woman”. Gawd, do you even understand how patronising that sounds?

And truly, shed that sexist, patriarchal attitude and stop telling women what to do with their bodies, we do not exist for your pleasure! My body. My choice. My Right.

Did he understand this simple truth? Of course he wouldn’t even think about it cos it’s easier to blame his victim.

sidney edited 3

its not patriarchal, it matriarchal. u insult me with that. i dont think appreciating a woman’s beauty is patriarchal, i don’t think loving women is patriarchal. if i admire your buxom voluptuous beauty, its not patriarchal. if I express my opinion about you, or any part of you, body, mind or spirit, its not patriarchal. not what you are doing has a name but I wont name it because THEN you might accuse me of being patriarchal when in fact it would appear you are more patriarchal than me. You have gone beyond the pale, out of bounds and past your limits in your evaluation and attribution of motive to me.

He just kept trying to pathetically justify his action, even claiming i am the one who is patriarchal. lol

sidney edited 4

and yes, i see NOTHING WRONG in enjoying you as a complete person.

sexist? stop it.

sensuality and beinf sensual and enjoying it is not sexist nor pariarchal.

i respect ur sensitivity, but u are wrong here if u think i am insensitive.

i expressed myself to u as a friend.

it was tongue in cheek

i was obviously mistaken to think that you knew me better.

Somehow in his mind, i was to blame for reading his words rather than reading his mind.  And his pathetic attempt at pacifying me ended up as very patronising. Well, he couldn’t apologise, after all, he still couldn’t see how he was wrong. According to him, he respects my sensitivity, cos well, i was just being “sensitive” about being talked to like a piece of meat, albeit one no longer fit for his consumption and pleasure!

sidney edited 5sidney edited 6sidney edited 7

I don’t care what your motives or intentions were, all i know FOR CERTAIN is that you have no right to tell me what to do with my body.

Keep your opinion of my body to your self.

Don’t tell me or any woman to put on weight or lose weight FOR YOUR BENEFIT or Pleasure

Don’t ever treat or talk to me like I am a piece of meat for you to feast your eyes on. Obviously you still can’t see how your choice of words are very insulting.. Feast on .. as if i am a pie e of meat for your pleasure and consumption. So i should just go make myself more meaty so you can Feast your eyes on me again. as Now, i am sore to your meaty loving eyes. EEEK!!!!

Enjoy whatever goes on in your mind, you cross the line when you abuse whatever facebook friendship i have with you when you tell me what i should do with my body to PLEASE YOU.

I did not solicit for your opinion of my body. Keep your opinions to yourself.

Do you think you are the only man who feel they are entitled to tell me or other women what to do with our body? I get this kind of lousy behaviour every day. It is harassment. Catcalls, random opinion of guys on my body. Guys insisting i smile for them. Guys telling me to lose weight. Guys saying i need to keep my curves and stop losing weight. I am so tired of such assholes. It is my body, you all should just keep your opiniony of my bod to your entitled sexist selves!

Again, NEVER tell a woman what to do with her body. We don’t exist for your sexist gaze or approval. You should read the articles wrote on similar attitude of men telling women what to do with their bodies.

Stop telling black women what to do with their hair or skin!

Everyday Sexism: Catcalls and Street Harassment 

I saw he was still busy typing, no doubt trying to justify his action. At this point, i knew i had to disengage.

Sidney edited 8

I do not wish to spend any more time engaging with you on this. Pls, respect my space. I don’t care to read whatever it is you are typing right now. Just give it a rest. Go think about your comments and read the articles. I don’t want to hear or read anymore attempt of you trying to justify your comment. There is no excuse .

Did he get it? No, but at least he disengaged. However,  he couldn’t resist telling me how i was to blame for not understanding him. Well, at least he did say “ok. bye.”

sidney edited 9

u act like i was giving u a command. I know how u feel about such things. i have read ur commentaries about sexist patriarchal insults and attitudes.

ok. bye.
Well, that was that. This was especially sad because this guy actually considered himself to be amongst the ”good’, 557264_423393704397930_1730387465_n‘decent’, ‘women supporting’ men out there, but his words and mindset speak otherwise. Unfortunately, like many other men, he just wasn’t willing to admit that he consciously or unconsciously still sees and treats women as a piece of meat whose existence is to aesthetically please his ‘manly gaze’.  Men, please, stop doing this.

 

UK Black Pride 2016: Transforming Our Community

UK Black Pride was held on Sunday 26, June 2016 at Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens, London, with the theme “Transforming Our Community”. It was a blast with positive vibrations, diversity and thousands of vibrant people.

It was such a joy to be at UK Black Pride, 2016. It was fun in a friendly, relaxed atmosphere with lots of foods and drinks to share, great music, great dance steps, lots of twerking and yeah, sexy, lovely people! LGBT BMEs do know how to party!

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Did someone say Why Black Pride?” [Read more…]

5 Reasons Why We Still Celebrate Pride: London Pride 2016.

It was London pride 2016 on Saturday 25, June 2016. As usual, the annual LGBT Pride celebration 20160625_165734meant the streets of central London felt the colourful presence of LGBT Londoners and their allies.  Marching from Baker street, Regent street, Oxford street and well, Cockspurs street, all the way to Trafalgar square, the colourful parade brightened up the streets of London. Rainbow flags, beautiful floats, creative costumes, the energetic marchers and the large appreciative supporters who turned out en masse to cheer the parade along, all made for one very beautiful London Pride, 2016. And of course what would London Pride be without the very creative and beautiful drag queens? They were fabulous as always! They slayed in their beautiful costumes and creative makeups. The crowd were eager to take pictures with those divas.  And oh, there was even a sweet moment when a police man in the parade went on his knees to propose to his boyfriend!

This year’s Pride theme was NO FILTER. It encourages LGBTs to live life without filters. Just be you. There was a huge turnout. According to London Pride, an estimated 1 million people took part in the Pride and about 40,000 people marched in the parade, the largest so far in London Pride history.

The homophobic killings in Orlando was a rude and appalling reminder that homophobia is still very much alive [Read more…]

Online Dating: Serving up Choices and Confusion

Dating in this generation has a whole new meaning. It is all about choice or rather the illusion of choice, leading to confusion, pain, and a life wasted on swiping profiles for the next hit. This Facebook note by a Facebook friend, got me thinking about dating. As a single woman, i must say, i agree totally with his take on it. In this age of online dating, it is all about the illusion of choice and the uncertainty that comes with it. dating

Back when i was a teenager growing up in Nigeria, 20 something years ago, dating was not even a thing. You were either in a relationship with someone or you were not. It was straight to the relationship phase. Boy meets girl, boy likes girl, boy asks girl, “Will you be my girlfriend?”, if girl likes boy, she plays coquettish long enough to not appear desperate, then says yes, and bingo, they are in a relationship. No dating as it is known today, no testing the waters, that was done at the ‘eyeing her/him up’ stage. The courtship stage did not normally involve alone time together. Maybe time with friends and families where you both sussed each other out, until one of you makes the move. [Read more…]

Planned Parenthood Clinic Shooting: Religious Assholes, Vile Politicians and Dipshit Media

In between the religions assholes causing havoc and the vile politicians eager to drop bombs on civilians, it is a CU5oEefUYAAkYmHwonder WW3 has not been officially declared!

I was out when I briefly saw the headlines for the Colorado shooting today; apparently, three people, including a police officer, have been confirmed dead and many more injured.

The shooter, now identified as Robert Lewis Dear, is a 57-year-old white man from North Carolina.

According to reports

“Lt. Catherine Buckley of the Colorado Springs Police Department said the gunman, described as wearing a long coat and armed with a rifle, gave up after officers inside the building shouted at him. He previously had been firing at police who entered the facility.

Buckley also said the unidentified man had brought “items” with him inside the building and left some outside, meaning officers had to make sure they were not “any kind of devices.”

“The man apparently began his deadly spree at the Planned Parenthood building, although it was not clear if his motive was related to the organization.

“We don’t have any information on this individual’s mentality, or his ideas or ideology,” Buckley said.

Interesting how they are not eager to jump to conclusions about this shooter’s ideas and ideology. This is white cis [Read more…]

8 Reasons “I’d Rather Be a Rebel than a Slave” on t-shirts for “Suffragette” is Wrong

When Time Out London invited the leading actresses of the new film, “Suffragette”, to be photographed for its October 2015 issue, they did not envisage the heated debate that ensued. The photoshoot featured the stars of the movie, Meryl Streep, Carey Mulligan, Romola Garai, and Anne-Marie Duff posing in t-shirts bearing Emmeline Pankhurst’s quote, “I’d rather be a rebel than a slave.” The appropriateness of the t-shirts message was called into question. Reactions to this debate have been very enlightening as well as disturbing. The photoshoot provided another opportunity to see white feminism in action and the reaction shows how difficult it is for feminists of colour to be heard in a visibly white world.

Mary Rozzi

Mary Rozzi

Below are 8 reasons why the quote on the t-shirts is inappropriate, insensitive and offensive as a promotional material for a 21st century film that seeks to promote equality.

1- Not everyone has the luxury of choosing between being a slave or a rebel

My ancestors were humans who were carted off from Africa and made slaves in foreign lands. They did not have12108275_10153653732906873_381376419150408220_n the luxury of choosing between being a rebel or being a slave. No one would “rather be a slave”. Many of them were rebels but this did not save them from being slaves. They did not just hand themselves over to their captors. They did not just roll over and decided to live the slave life. They did not choose to be separated from their families and land of births.

Captivity was forced on them. Slavery was forced on them. Many were born into slavery. Being a rebel in the sense of organising protests and speeches under police protection and throwing animal blood at their fancily dressed “Masters” were not options available to them.

However, the fact that millions of my ancestors died as slaves in foreign lands did not mean that many of them were not rebels. There were rebellions on the slave ships. Many died with their rebellion stories that will never be told. [Read more…]

Five Assumptions We Should Avoid Making

I was working out at my gym when two gym regulars decided to strike up a conversation with me.

Gym regular (Male) – You have lost a lot of weight

Gym regular (Female) -Yeah, I told her so too.

Me – Oh, yeah, thanks, the hard work is showing.

Gym regular (Male) – I am sure your husband will be happy

Me – I don’t have a husband. I am single

Gym Regulars – What, you mean you are single? [Read more…]

Serena Williams: Racism, Sexism and the Champion

Serena Williams gave us another ‪‎Serenaslam. She is unarguably one of the greatest of all times. At 33, when most men and women champions are catching their retirement cheques, Serena Williams is saying ‘You aint seen anything yet!’ Serena Williams is at her best ever and she is here to stay. What an inspirational athlete!

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The Williams sisters not only changed the face of Tennis, they took it to a higher level. In a game where racism still unashamedly rears its ugly head, where sexism and beauty stereotypes mean the best athlete who happens to be black, gets less endorsement deals than the white blonde she has dominated for years, one cannot but admire the determination of the Williams sisters to excel in their game. Their many victories are inspirational and legendary.

We cannot ignore the racism the Williams sisters have faced over the years in a game that is predominantly white and traditionally elitist. [Read more…]

BeingFemaleInNigeria: The viral hashtag, the tweets and my take on it

#BeingFemaleInNigeria is a hashtag that went viral in Nigeria just barely hours after it was first tweeted by members of a small book club. The hashtag started trending in many countries including UK. I would have loved for the hashtag to read ‘BeingaWomanInNigeria’ because the word ‘Female’ has its own social construct problem. However, i am over the moon that this very important conversation, which got the whole nation talking, was started by a very small book club.

The book club members had gathered to read their book of the month, an essay titled ‘We Should All Be Feminists’ by Nigerian award winning author, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. According to a member of the book club, Florence Warmate, the discussion got very interesting and members started sharing their personal experiences of sexism in Nigeria. They decided not to leave it there but start a conversation on social media about what it is like being a woman in Nigeria.

Florence Warmate posted her first tweet on the subject using the agreed hashtag #BeingFemaleInNigeria. Hours later, it was trending on twitter. It was interesting that a small group of women could ignite a national discussion via social media in a matter of hours. Clearly, it was a discussion Nigerian women (and some men too), were dying to have. [Read more…]

The curious case of Rachel Dolezal

When Rachel Dolezal was outed as a Caucasian woman in blackface, the story almost broke the internet. Several daystumblr_inline_npu43mC6mM1qfb043_500 later, we are still trying to put the pieces together. So far, the story has served as a platform to discuss racism and cultural appropriation. However, it has also served as a platform for transphobes to pontificate on gender and redefine transracial.

Rachel Dolezal, 37 year old part-time professor in the Africana studies program at Eastern Washington University, was outed by her Caucasian parents, Lawrence and Ruthanne Dolezal, as a white woman pretending to be black. Following the social media attention, Rachel Dolezal handed in her resignation as president of the Spokane, Washington chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People (NAACP). She tendered her resignation without any sign of remorse, later followed by an exclusive live interview with NBC News where she insisted-

I definitely am not white, I’m more black than I am white. That’s the accurate answer from my truth.

Rachel seems to think her chosen truth trumps facts. You can choose your truth but you can’t choose your facts. She seems to have a history of choosing her truths with total disregard for facts.

On several occasions, Rachel Dolezal has claimed to be the victim of hate crimes. However, Investigators have not been able to find evidence to substantiate her claims. In fact, it was an effort to connect the dots in her latest hate [Read more…]

#Ferguson: Mike brown and the “It is not a race thing” Apologists.

I have been unable to bring myself to write a blogpost on ‪#‎Ferguson for weeks now. Reading the updates is overwhelmingly heart wrenching. However, my sadness and pain won’t shield me from the myriad of stupid, wilfully ignorant and racist comments and memes that pops up on my newsfeed. If anything, those comments, status updates and memes contribute to my pain and anger. Michael Brown, 19, was unarmed when he was shot eight times in the middle of a street in Ferguson. And now, there is the case of Eric Garner, an African American choked to death by a white police officer.

It is disheartening when in an attempt to deny the racial aspect involved in Mike Brown’s murder, people who should know better post things like:

“This is not a race thing”

“I married a white person, my in-laws are white and they are not racists “

“All black people are not criminals; All white people are not racists”

“What if Mike brown was white?”

“Can’t we just move on?”

“But all lives matter!”

Those comments expose the comfortable ignorance people maintain on race related issues. Many white people are quick to deny white privilege. Some black people are quick to exclaim in unison with their white in-laws, “Not all white people are racists, can’t we just move on?”

An atheist black friend who should know better posted a video purportedly showing Mike Brown shoplifting, without any clarification and the first commenter, another black person, immediately wrote, “He shoplifted, he should be shot.” [Read more…]

Bullies Are Not Born; They Are Made.

Our society is not doing enough to address bullying of vulnerable young people, especially young people with disabilities. I grew up in a society where even teachersstop-bully-logo laughed at and maltreated students who suffer from learning disabilities.

There was this particular case, which even decades later, still makes me furious. Whenever I hear of children with disabilities who are bullied by adults, I instantly think of this boy in my junior high school class in Nigeria, who was constantly bullied not just by students but by teachers too.

The boy, I think his name was ‘Jamiu’, was always falling asleep during class sessions. We were told or rather, there were rumours that the boy was bitten by Tsetse fly and as a result had ‘sleeping sickness’. For years, I was terrified of flies.  Obviously, the child suffered from some sort of sleeping disorder, and he constantly fell asleep in class.  Teachers told us to mock him for falling asleep during class sessions. Teachers made him stand in front of the class where he was humiliated with the whole class staring at him like a freak. Since it was our first year in high school, we were between the ages of 12 and 13, but it seems the boy was much older. He was also bigger than most of us in the class. However, I rarely heard him speak. He seemed to bear his constant humiliation with stoic fortitude.

This young boy had learning disabilities and did not perform well in class. He sat at the back of the class. Looking back now, it seems that young people who had learning disabilities were always sat at the back of the class. The ‘bright’ ones were always sat at the front rows, while those who did not perform well were pushed to the back seats. The further down you are, the lower you are in the hierarchy of ‘intelligence’.

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