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Because You’re A Girl

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In the article “Because You’re A Girl” by Ijeoma A., she narrates her childhood in her native country, Nigeria, where she was raised by a set of rules and regulations described as the ‘Four Commandments’. These principles were created to define a woman’s responsibility to her family. Ijeoma grew up in a society where she felt the need to suppress her true identity. Throughout her childhood it was mandatory to take care of her brothers and cook meals for her family, while at the same time, attending school. Although Ijeoma knew the injustice she was going through in her household, she never disobeyed her parents. In school, Ijeoma found a way of expressing her true identity and taking control of her own destiny. The teachers played a significant role in Ijeoma’s life where they didn’t judge her based on gender, instead they applaud her academic achievements. Ijeoma later studied in America where she realized that she can be her own person, doesn’t have to be obedient, and can be treated equally as men. She revealed her true identity in America along with being able to drift herself away from men and understand the rules she was taught about women and how they should take care of a man. Ijeoma established a feminism with hopes that women of her country can understand even though traditions are restricted, she still believes that those women can take a stand as the feminists of America.

The idea in section relates to how Ijeoma is expected to be a woman and the way she emotionally feels toward her duties as a daughter and sister in the household (pg. 38-39). She despised her own submission, yet she consistently obeyed the rules, while withholding the truth of how she really felt. For instance, one night Ijeoma was washing the dishes while everyone was watching tv in the other room, when her cousin approached her in the kitchen and said “Hurry up with the dishes so I can take a drink”. Ijeoma, having to complete multiple chores and school tasks, suddenly felt frustrated and had an outburst. She responded “Well maybe if you learn to wash your own dirty dishes I wouldn’t have to listen to you whine like that over a glass!”. This is significant because in this situation Ijeoma starts to disclose a sentiment what she has been undergoing. This idea is useful because it tells us that Ijeoma’s traditional aspects requires the girl to maintain the household as she is preparing to become a woman. It is considered disrespectful to speak up against men, hence Ijeoma being punished for her actions. I support Ijeoma’s outburst because regardless of her cultures, women should not be objectified to men. Both men and women should be treated equally no matter what their status may be. Men are capable of serving themselves just as they would do anything else, so in this situation it’s leading toward sexism where it is believed that women are supposed to stay home and perform the duties of a housewife.

Another idea in this section relates to ways in which Ijeoma resisted gender expectations (pg 38-39). Ijeoma revealed an act of gender resistance at the family lunch where she ate the heart of the chicken. According to her customs, the heart of the chicken should only be eaten by the oldest man. She broke that custom when she couldn’t resist a sudden need to consume the heart. This scenario is important because it demonstrates another change where we see Ijeoma taking control of her identity. This idea is useful because it helps us understand Ijeoma’s gender resistance where it is against the rules for a woman to eat the heart of the chicken. She wanted to know what it felt like to eat the heart, yet in the end she was afraid of the consequences because she disobeyed the rules. I support Ijeoma’s act of eating the heart because she was taught to follow the rules of being a girl to becoming a woman, yet she couldn’t express her true self to her family and if she did, the outcome would lead to a punishment. She went beyond her limits of breaking the customs to know what it was like for a girl to eat the heart of a chicken and this is where we can see Ijeoma shifting toward her true character.

Gender inequality to this day, raises world issues, however these issues have been taken into consideration through the feminists movements. Today, workplaces continue to have the same issues where women are being paid less to perform the same tasks as men. This is where sexism comes into play where employers prefer to hire men rather than women, even though women are equally qualified, they would still be offered a smaller share. The roles of a woman has evolved throughout the years with more responsibilities than ever. Women were held responsible for maintaining their household as well as their children, husband and preparing food. Because of the feminist movements which begun in the 1960’s, women and married women started to enter the workforce. Now we see women playing multiple roles such as being the provider of the home, caregivers, chefs, employees, employers and so it continues.

In our society, males enjoy a socially dominant position, hence at an early age boys acquire a masculinity which allows them to remain in that position. On the other hand, girls are taught to grow up and have a submissive femininity. Thus, the difference between males and females character is described as innate. In some cultures women have no say in their own household. For instance, in Indian cultures parents make decisions based on the child’s career and marriage. The women would have to engage in an arranged marriage decided by the parent even if they are not attracted toward that person. Here the role of women are often seen as a weakness, having no power or control of their life.

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