The prominent Nigerian novelist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie defines a feminist as “a man or woman who says, ‘yes, there is a problem with gender as it is today and we must fix it, we must do better, all of us, women and men, must do better’,” Just because we have had a culture of solely having the man take care of the bills and the wife take care of the children and cooking, does not mean it will and should stay that way. Those days are long gone and never to come back again.
President Barack Obama recently came out with an essay regarding the topic of feminism and why he considers himself as a feminist published in Glamour magazine. Most strikingly, the President said , “as spouses and partners and boyfriends, we need to work hard and be deliberate about creating truly equal relationships,” this particularly struck a chord for me because of my personal experiences. When I was living with my boyfriend, we decided to split the rent. I thought that because we were both college students with no source of income at the time, it was fair.
I must admit I struggled with my position in the relationship. What is socially accepted is essentially that females or people resenting them as feminine typically do not play an active financial or material role in a relationship. That is, letting the man being the main provider and financier. This was however not the case for me as sometimes I would pay for our dates. There is also an assumption that before and during relationships, men should be the ones to make the first move. That means that they are expected to text or call first, however in my relationship I would be the one to text him first sometimes. Relationships are always a two-way street, at least a healthy one is. Both sides have to be attracted to each other and make the so-called moves on each other. Both should be able to initiate.
We have come a long way from when the United States was founded to the present. Recently a triumph for women has been attained that would have otherwise been impossible almost two centuries ago: Hilary Clinton, a woman being a major political party nominee. Like President Obama said, we still have a long way to go for feminism to fully prosper. In regards to policy, there still needs to be change with equal pay the protection of reproductive rights.
But gender double standards and stereotypes have also taken women further back in time. Quite a few people still think women and men should be treated differently. Generalizations do make it easier on us to understand how people are supposed to be however they can be grossly inaccurate. We need to speak up against the use of stereotypes or a double standard.
I have to say I am proud of my president to have published an essay stating that both women AND men need to recognize that there is an issue regarding gender to this day and it needs to be fixed. Feminism in the twenty-first century Obama asserted is “when everybody is equal, we are more free.”
The fact that he published his essay in Glamour magazine, which is seen as fluff is telling. This magazine is targeted towards women but the President’s essay is also targeted towards men. People who will dismiss something that comes from a magazine whose title is pink that spells out Glamour are the problem within our constantly changing culture.
As soon as Obama published this essay in Glamour, he established himself as someone who prospective feminist men can look up to. By being the most powerful man in the world and speaking out against gender stereotypes and double standards, we should heed to his words in his essay.
Just as Ms. Adichie says that “she should not be apologetic for her female hood and femininity”. For all the women reading this: you should not either.
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