First published on Medium, May 10th, 2018
I drove home today alongside my student, his uncle and a male teacher. I shared the backseat with my student and while his uncle (who drove) and the male teacher talked, we two chattered about viral funny videos. Then he paused for a while and asked loudly, ‘Ms Jennifer, are you coming back to the school next (school) year?’ I laughed and said that was amusing as we’d never discussed me leaving in the first place. Then the male teacher told him people can’t decide what would happen to them tomorrow and where exactly they will be. He added: ‘So if she becomes First Lady tomorrow, would you expect her to go back to being a teacher?’
Amidst enjoying the joke in that, I found time to add that, I might, as a matter of fact, become the president, not the First Lady. But the men were so sure that I have no chances of being a president, not only because I’m young, but I’m a woman. They both went on to explain how more likely it is for me to be a wife/First Lady than it is to be president. ‘You don’t say things like that. This is why people write feminism poems,’ I heard my student say. Recall the boy who on my last post said he was writing a poem on male feminism? It’s the same student. We ignored the men still talking about women and their inability to come to true power in a place like Nigeria and engaged in discussions about boys and girls. My student told me he agrees that women and girls are treated unfairly, but he worries that boys are being ignored in the fight for feminism.
While explaining to him that it is easier to solve a problem if it is isolated and that a win for feminism is in fact, a win for all — if well carried out, I thought about how times have changed and for a teeny second, I was grateful that I can have this conversation with a 12 year old. I think it’s important to know what our children think about things, to appreciate their stand and to elucidate, where need be.