Before I begin, I want you to study these two sentences:
1. Mike asked Angela out.
2. Angela asked Mike out.
Do you see anything wrong with any of them?
Do you feel one is not proper? Not supposed to be?
If yes, read this all the way to the end.
Last week, I was having a conversation with a friend of a mutual friend, and he said, "You are a feminist, so do you think you can ask a guy out?"
"I can't." I replied.
"I thought being a feminist meant that you are bold and liberated. I assumed it meant that you can act anyway you like, does saying no mean you don't really believe in that?", He asked.
I remained quiet.
Not because I didn't have anything to say, but because if I went on to explain, he might simply not understand that I can, in fact I have, but at the end, it was treated like I did something wrong.
A couple of years ago, I didn't see anything wrong in a girl telling a guy "I like you."
I felt it was cool to simply be expressive, when it came to owning up to how you feel about a guy you fancied, and vice versa.
So I asked a guy out, and it was going well till he started behaving oddly. I could tell there was a lack of commitment on his part, but I ignored it because I felt no relationship started out perfectly.
Then one day, we had an argument and he made a statement I can never forget.
"...I mean, I never asked you out in the first place, so I'm not really obligated to you...." he said smiling wryly.
I was in shock, not because I knew there was a problem, but I never thought I was the cause of it.
It finally really hit me was when I noticed he was already dating someone else.
To give a clearer picture of the situation, while I was dating him, he was dating her.
To cut the long story short, I decided then that I was never going to ask a guy out.
Now let us go back to the questions, I initially asked you to study.
In Secondary School, we are taught that a "subject" is the doer of an action(active) and an "object" is being acted upon(passive).
In the case of Sentence 1, Mike will be applauded for behaving like a man but the Mike in Sentence 2 has more chances of being mocked and ridiculed by most people, especially in his absence because he was asked out by a woman.
I'm sure a lot of girls would question Angela's decision to ask Mike out. Mike's mother, if she ever found out, may warn him to stay away from the loose, wild Angela.
She may even say Angela can't keep her legs closed.
Which leads me to my series of burning questions,
Why does our society believe women are objects to be acted upon?
To be liked or hated, rather than to like or hate?
To be accepted or rejected, rather than to accept or reject?
Who made this the ideal?
Who made this the culture?
Who made men believe they have to be the initiator of a relationship, for it to work out?
Who taught young boys and girls the things they could do, and the things they couldn't do?
The reality is we were never thought Gender Role 101, we just observed and followed suit.
We were raised watching men and women that internalized patriarchy.
The type of men and women, that adhered strongly to gender roles.
The men and women that refused to let go of this demeaning ideology. These were the kind of people that taught us how we should be. The models we had to emulate.
To change the cycle we have to change the way women are perceived socially. Boys need to accept that women also have the right to approach anyone they like, without being ridiculed.
Society should begin to see women also as initiators.
We need to begin to say to young girls, you are not just a choice someone has to make, you too possess the power to make choices.
We are not objects.
Words by Ebubechukwu Oguaju-Dike.
You can find more blogs from Ebube on her personal blog, here.