#BeingFemaleInNigeria: book club ignites everyday sexism debate

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s 58-page feminist pamphlet provided the inspiration for a women’s rights debate.

Nigerian novelist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie in Lagos, May 2013. A small book group used her words to spark a Twitter storm yesterday. Photograph: Akintunde Akinleye/Reuters

Inspired by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s feminist pamphlet, a small Abuja-based book club has ignited a conversation across Nigeria about everday sexism.

It all started at a meeting of the club in the capital, led by Florence Warmate. The group of 15 women and men were discussing Adichie’s 2014 pocket-sized book: We Should All Be Feminists.

The conversation quickly turned to the challenge of being a women living in Nigeria.“We were discussing the book, started talking about our own experiences and thought we should take this to a larger audience,” Warmate told Buzzfeed.

They decided to open up the conversation online using the hashtag, #BeingFemaleInNigeria asking women to share their personal experiences.

The response was overwhelming.

The hashtag has been used more than 54,000 times on Twitter, according to tracking service Topsy, with people commenting on everything from the role of religion, offering examples of modern day misogyny and giving credit to Adichie.

Here are some of the key pillars of the debate:

— Bibiire o se f’owora (@yew1e) June 30, 2015

#BeingFemaleInNigeria “Your husband cooked? And you opened your mouth and ate the food? What kind of woman are you?”

— MR President (@duchesskk) June 30, 2015

It’s shocking when you are beautiful and smart. Apparently they are mutually exclusive. #BeingFemaleInNigeria

— Ijeoma OgwuegbuUduma (@IjeomaOgud) June 30, 2015

#BeingfemaleinNigeria The vendor in traffic will put the Forbes Magazine behind and automatically offer you Fashion and City People.

— Ized Uanikhehi (@zegbua) June 30, 2015

#BeingFemaleInNigeria You can’t buy property.. Unless you are married first.. If not, you won’t find a good man.

— Eniola M (@EniolaMafe) June 30, 2015

#BeingFemaleInNigeria is building on this kind of amazing legacy.. ( pity ko, pity ni) pic.twitter.com/OZdDg4ZLRd

— Lesley Agams (@MzAgams) July 1, 2015

My favorite pic from #BeingFemaleinNigeria. Black woman – carrying black man load since beginning of time pic.twitter.com/6yfFfcUnDi

Whilst many comments were bittersweet, some highlighted the most brutal sides of misogyny in a country where almost one third of partners experience domestic violence:

— Vera Ezimora (@verastic) June 30, 2015

But Madam, what did you do for your husband to beat you like this? Why did you provoke him? #BeingFemaleInNigeria

— Strokahuntas (@sassylabelle) June 30, 2015

#BeingFemaleInNigeria your husband slapped you? Sorry. What did you say to make him angry? Go and beg.

The role of religion in stoking sexism came under fire, as did conservative attitudes to marriage:

— Somi Ekhasomhi (@SomiEkhasomhi) June 30, 2015

Having to remind people that the Bible makes man ‘head of the HOME’ Not office, not classroom and def not Lagos roads. #BeingFemaleInNigeria

— Julia Leadeham (@2015_warrior1) July 1, 2015

Reading #BeingFemaleInNigeria & I just want to cry! I will always blame religion (mostly) for this view that women are to serve men.

— Bunny (@_Alphawoman) June 30, 2015

#BeingFemaleInNigeria If you get pregnant before marriage, you’re useless. If you don’t get pregnant after marriage, you’re useless.

— Temie Giwa Tubosun (@temite) June 30, 2015

#BeingFemaleInNigeria When his family comes to tell you that he has to marry another wife because you didn’t give him a boy.

— ♛UBONG (@OMGits_Supetra) July 1, 2015

Burst my head 😂😂😂 so true”@ebuka_akara: #BeingFemaleInNigeria Nigerian parents don’t expect you to date but expect you to be married at 25.”

— Ijeoma OgwuegbuUduma (@IjeomaOgud) June 30, 2015

#beingfemaleinNigeria Nobel Prize, Law Degree, travel to the moon. No matter what you achieve, you’re nothing unless you’re married.

Some users paid tribute to Adichie. The Orange Prize-winner’s 52-page pamphlet was published in 2014, and ties global sexist discourse and her personal experiences as a Nigerian author.

— Minna Salami (@MsAfropolitan) July 1, 2015

Feminism is the answer. As Chimamanda said, “we should all be feminists” #BeingFemaleInNigeria



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