by Abisola Johnson
Words and opposites was a topic I hated in elementary school. My English teacher, Mrs. Monye would say a word and if we didn’t tell her the opposite in three seconds, she wrote something in our books that made my mother keep me awake an hour later than usual reading a dictionary. Now thinking about it, how I could miss words like; good/bad, up/down, far/near, big/small, tall/short, man/woman?
More than twenty years after, I still have my contentions. Is woman really the opposite of man? Thinking about this and trying to get answers, I have been exposed to diverse truths, opinions, facts and mere chauvinism (against men and women).
Spiritually, I found that God created woman out of man and demands that she submits to him, follow and respect his leadership and honour him as her lord (small letter ‘l’); leader/ follower, opposites right?
Emotionally, the woman’s source is her heart while the man’s is his pride organ located on his lower body. Then there’s mars vs venus, logical vs emotional, rational vs intuitive etc
All these theories only inspire more questions instead of providing answers. Women are different from men, no doubt. Mathematically, I’d say Women+X= Men. What then is X?
The world celebrates a day for women and fights her course; Right to politics and leadership! Right to education! Right to Social independence and expression! Women equality! Every woman would lift her fist in the air and say ‘yes! Tell them!’ but the same women get home and tell their husbands ‘honey, could you get the bags from the car, they’re too heavy’, ‘darling, how much are you giving me for my vacation?’ for the fear of being shot on sight by a women’s rights activist, I should say at this point that I’m not against equal opportunity women, after all, I’m one myself and wouldn’t it be nice to be the president of Nigeria someday. However, I recognize that there is an ‘X’, an unknown factor that makes a woman different from a man.
Earlier today, I watched a woman being interviewed on TV. Though successful and brilliant, I felt she had an emptiness that caused her to be defensive and almost rude. She was asked her opinion about Women’s rights and their place in the society and she went on and on …Women and Men are equal, it’s about time the world realizes that. I don’t see why I cannot play any role in society because I’m a woman. I am forty-three and I’ve come this far without any man and I say modestly that I am more successful than many men. I don’t need any man to make me feel complete or fulfilled. I am single, I know my rights, I exercise them and I’m a happy woman’.
Many women would agree with her and to an extent I do, be tough as a woman, ambitious, strong, successful, bold but I still think there’s an X. An unknown factor that makes us want our men to carry the heavy bags even though we can, to buy us expensive jewellery even though we can afford it, to take evening strolls with us and talk about how the day went even though our best friends are just a phone call away. Women want to join a queue and have a man say ‘you can go before me’, get on a full bus and have a man offer his seat, come to the rescue when there’s danger and yet they say ‘women=men’
The interview caused a pandemonium in the office cafeteria as we had breakfast. The men thought she was a self-conceited … (I can’t use their word) and the women argued that they were only intimidated by her guts and success. I thought they were all just making too much noise as I tried hard to listen, waiting for the part where she’d say ‘I don’t even need a man to have a baby’ …never happened, or maybe I missed it with all the noise.
I probably sound archaic with my opinions, but I use the latest technologies, drive an automatic car, and know the fashion colours for the summer when its still spring, so I beg to differ. If the woman on TV was saying how she was strongly against domestic violence, women assault and harassment, or condemning a company or the government for not giving a woman a well-deserved appointment, I’d have waited to get a telephone number or e-mail and contacted her afterwards asking if I could initiate a campaign (well, maybe not but I’ll support her).
I have seen women with more muscles than men, women who fend for their husbands and families, female presidents, pastors and in other forms of leadership and that makes me proud. But to think that women are equal to men, I don’t think the world would ever grow sophisticated to make me believe that. I still don’t think woman is the opposite of man, I simply believe that Woman+X= Man.