I do not own a lot of tee shirts but I am a big fan of those that have inscriptions so when I saw the ‘The Future Is Female’ tee worn by Zainab Balogun a couple of years ago, I fell in clothing love. Over the past few years, the shirt has become one of the many symbols for feminists.
To me, the statement, The Future Is Female, was an indication of the prowess that women would wield in the coming years. It was an affirmation that women would be so much more in times to come, greater, more respected and more achieving than they are now.
It meant that the seemingly little things like people genuinely asking me whether my (Igbo) father doesn’t want a son and WhatsApp status ‘jokes’ comparing rape to football match losses would disappear.
It translated to the dream that bigger issues like the gender pay gap and the fact that only 18% of ministers and 24% of parliamentarians globally are women would see a seismic change.
See why the future is female was my life’s mantra. It made a ton of sense. I was standing for something specific.
When one of my best friends asked, ‘What exactly is the meaning of the statement, the future is female?’
This seemingly simple inquiry brought to my consciousness the fact that I really don’t want that shirt anymore. In fact, I realized that I had done a whole 360.
I do not believe that the future is female anymore. I don’t.
Nope. I’m just not doing that anymore.
Do you know what that means?
It means that, for the sake of Jesus, who shed his blood on the cross and rose after 3 days, we won’t have schoolgirls burnt alive for reporting their rape by a headteacher in 2019!!
It means that we won’t wait for the future to out ask and ensure that a politician is prosecuted because he slapped a fellow Nigerian.
Growing up in a family with daughters only, I never felt different from boys. As time progressed, I grew to realize that gender inequality is alive and thriving. Women have to be excellent and stand-out at everything they do to gain the recognition that men would have received with way less.
Then, the age-old question, ‘Can a woman have it all?’ comes up regularly when women seek career advancement in addition to familial success. It still amazes me that men are not asked this question considering that both parents birth the children.
I understand that feminism may have been tainted for you by extremist feminists- in real life and on social media. There are days when I look and cringe too.
However, these people who affirm that Chimamanda is a problem will agree that she is at the forefront of women speaking up for themselves- as should be. The people who have refused to keep mum about the ills women face have been accused of extremism, going against God or plain stupidity.
While extremism is not ideal, the case for reaching an equilibrium between both genders; equity or equality, has been elevated by the crop of people on that end of the spectrum.
Statistics have shown that no country will achieve gender equality by 2030 as envisioned by the United Nations. In the 2018 edition of the annual Global Gender Gap Report, the World Economic Forum estimated that the overall global gender gap will close in 108 years across the 106 countries covered since the first edition of the report. The most challenging gender gaps to close are the pay gap which is expected to take 202 years and the political empowerment gap which is 107 years.
So, What Future, Exactly, Is Female?
We are talking at least three generations here.
It is not all gloom. In certain areas, such as Female Genital Mutilation, which has seen a 30% decrease, progress has been made.
One of the major reasons why these gaps exist is a deeply ingrained, often unconscious bias signalled by the rush for power and impersonal treatment of the issue at hand. It is often easy for a man to accept gender equality outside but when it comes to his space, when it threatens his crown, when a woman dares to take the lead ahead of him, another side jumps out.
When equality equals personal loss, it is usually a bigger pill to swallow.
He tends not to realize it because this character is latent- creeping out only when triggered. We have a handful that embrace and applaud women rising above, in truth.
It takes a terrible form when boys are discouraged from speaking about their hurt and fears because; Na man you be*. It harms the psyche when the issue of sexual violence towards men and bullying are looked at with sub-optimal severity.
It holds in the subconscious when a woman steps out to vie for the presidency and one of the first thoughts and arguments is her gender because; Is Nigeria ready to be led by a woman?
It rears its disgusting head when we look the other way when we see it manifesting- on the bus, in church, on social media because; I like to mind my business.
On the other hand, we, the women, tend to cower in the face of power. It seems that we frequently wait for someone to turn the tables when we should be taking our seats at the table. Scarcely, do we have those who remain firm when faced with backhand (and blatant) discrimination.
Here is my resolution;
The future is NOT female.
The present IS female. The truth is, all we really have is now.
A century (or two) is a long time to lay in wait.
Gender parity is possible. We have to maximize this possibility.
Creating a society where women have equal opportunities in and access to education, decent work, healthcare, political and economic representation is the goal. This would enable a more balanced and sustainable community for humanity.
To create the future we really want, we move to increase the momentum already present. You are a product of what you take in; what you surround yourself with.
One thing we do not like to think about is the fact that who we are is greatly influenced by our environment. A lot of our being has subconsciously been shoved down our minds. It is important to admit this so we can be more conscious about influence- receiving or giving it.
We begin training our children and re-educating the adults- male and female- to understand that different reproductive organs do not translate to a difference in basic opportunities.
We will walk with our heads held high, demanding what it ours and accepting nothing less. We- men and women- speak up for each other.
We are ready to take what we give and vice-versa.
We keep doing these, living and never giving up.
We cannot reap the future when the present lays fallow.
We can not. We will not.
The Present Is Female.
“So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.”
Thank you for reading!
*Na man you be- You are a man.
VENI. VIDI. AMAVI.
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