Chapter 14: Intolerance against Women
In most cultures in Nigeria, being female is almost like being something not officially recognized by the society. Being born a female therefore is almost a taboo, and parents mostly pray harder to have male children than to have female children.
Even with the advent of Christianity, civilization and cross-cultural knowledge in Nigeria, most parents who have only female children (no matter the number of the female children) are not always seem to be as satisfied as their counterparts who have the same or lesser number of only male children. The fastest way to be seen as non-existent here is nothing other than being female. Girls and women are being treated with such discrimination that they most often feel invisible in the societies. They are most often being treated as if they never existed.
No one accord respect to girls/women nearer in rank to that being given to their male counterparts. Their invisibility occasioned by the culture they live in despite being counter-productive in our modern ever developing society today, is still a cog in the wheels of progress in some societies that prefer making their girls/women invisible. In some parts of the world, women are meant not to be seen publicly, and when at all they are seen, then they must be properly covered in veils or masks, and should not speak unless they are granted permission by their male counterparts to speak.
The invisible mode we place our women in society makes them not to aim for higher goals or aspire for higher positions. They feel restricted and only compare themselves to unofficial ‘limited edition’ of men. Women who have been placed into such mode can never achieve any goal higher than where the cultural or religious boundaries are set for them.
St. Paul who is the author of most of the books in the Christian New Testament of the Bible was one of those who saw oppression of women and their invisibility as something to be inculcated into Christian tradition. According to him, “Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience, as also saith the law” (1 Corinthians 14:34; KJV). Again, writing to Timothy (1 Timothy 2: 12), the same Paul said, “But I permit not a woman to teach, nor to have authority over the man, but to be in silence” (KJV).
This is another way of using culture, religion or circumstances surrounding one’s birth to restrict such person’s goals and limits his/her aspirations in life. For a lot of people who firmly believe that culture is right when it has thousands of restrictions for women, but almost none for men – let them not complain when circumstances make them to see themselves in places where culture would give them such inhuman restrictions.
Men and women are all human species. Though men and women are biologically different (to some extent), but I doubt if these biological differences could be rightly and appropriately be translated into social roles in our society. If at all there are certain social roles being allotted to each sex group, they are not enough to be used against them because it should have been seen as complementary roles rather than another means of segregation. This means that in as much as men cannot play the social roles of women and vice versa, then they complement each other and therefore no social role (whether of men or women) can be said to be superior or more important in the society.
The world is strictly made up of opposites to the extent that complementary roles of each shouldn’t be taken for granted because if the opposite is not available, the remaining available one becomes useless. It should be like bolts and nuts scenario where the bolts are useless without the nuts, and the nuts are also useless without the bolts. Thus, the two must come together always and none is deemed better than the other. Men therefore should be allowed to be men without interferences while women should also be allowed to be women without restrictions.
“Men and women, in almost all respects not directly related to their reproductive functions, seem to be fundamentally similar. We digest our food alike; our stomach our bowels, our kidneys, our hearts, indeed all our non-reproductive organs function in women as they do in men. We do not need medical specialists in diseases affecting the kidneys of women or the stomachs of men, for here no significant differences between men and women are to be found.”
Therefore, the only differences we have that brought in segregation and sometimes, alienation of women from some roles in our society today are mostly products of ignorance and intolerance. It is a high time we stop making our women to continue feeling as if they are guilty of something due to their sexuality or femininity. Most often the society makes women to feel apologetic for being themselves. No one chooses his sex group or identity. It’s natural and nature cannot be taken as being stupid for making some humans female. Rather, nature should be commended for bringing diversities into our lives and into the world.
As Geddes MacGregor rightly said, “while my sexuality gives me an awareness of my animal nature, it also calls to my attention my incompleteness. Whether as man or as woman, I am only half of what it means to be human.”
 Geddes MacGregor, The Christening of Karma – The Secret of Evolution, (The Theosophical Publishing House Illinois USA, 1984), p.112
 Ibid, p.113