Bouchard’s twirl inspired my feminist epiphany

by | Jan 30, 2015 | Opinion

Comfort Obeng

A&E Editor


I’ve never really considered myself a feminist, but after watching a video of tennis player Eugenie Bouchard being asked to “give us a twirl” by a journalist at the Australian Open this week to show off her outfit, I lost my shit.

My reaction was primed by having previously watched a clip on a trending topic called #askhermore. It shed light on the fact that at red carpet events, females are always asked about their looks. More specifically, which designer they’re wearing, while men are asked about their aspirations and careers.

These things made me realize that women are still not viewed or treated the same way men are in the media.

Along with my epiphany came a flood of memories. Fragments of media reports, Boko Haram kidnapping hundreds of Nigerian school girls, Malala Yousafzai shot by terrorists for wanting all girls to be able to get an education and the use of women’s bodies to sell products in advertising. Meanwhile, some find it absolutely unacceptable to breast feed in public.

I recalled a time I went on a class trip in grade 11 to a Hindu temple. I was enrolled in an all girls’ Catholic high school at the time. There was a line drawn on the floor for the sake of separating men and women in the temple, so we had to sit behind our male teachers. This practice in segregation made me feel lesser. It made me feel mad. I felt the lesson of the field trip was that a woman should aspire to be a man in her next life, and that everyone knows to accept their seat in the back row.

There are so many double standards that still stand in our society today. Men are allowed to be promiscuous while women are shamed; men are expected to value their friendships (bros before hoes), while women find themselves competing with one another for male attention; the number of times women walk down the street and get cat-called by men is astronomical.

I know some people out there actually think it’s a horrible idea for women to be treated the same as men. My mother and father grew up understanding traditional difference as the norm. They’re both under the impression that the woman should always keep the home: cook, clean and cater to the man of the house. I’ve always been frustrated with that notion. I want a husband — not a baby. Everyone knows that babies are hard work. Can you imagine taking care of a man-child? I feel like I’d never be ready for one let alone the other.

I remember being in the kitchen with my mother a few months ago when my dad said I’d never get a husband if I couldn’t cook for him. I think until this day I’ve got puncture scars on my heart. This was coming from the man who didn’t want me to date until I was his age and already married. The fact that this was coming from him, of all people, scared me but at the time I said I didn’t plan on marrying a lazy man who would expect me to cater to him or worship him I told my African father that I would marry a man who could cook. Even my parents whom I told nothing to knew I couldn’t get a man. You can’t hide anything these days. But then again I’d still rather sleep in on the weekends than dress up to go out and meet people — which, by the way, is what most of my arguments with my mother are about.

I played it off, but my father’s words got to me. It wasn’t the idea of not marrying, having kids and dying alone that scared me. I don’t mind that at all. I was born on my own and I can die that way too. Yes, it would be sweet to have someone hold your hand while you wither away. Someone to tell friends and family your famous last words, mine most likely being “I’m melting, I’m melting.” But I could do without it I think. I have it all planned out: become a badass nun called sister C, win the lottery and adopt a bunch of children and change their lives.

Nonetheless I found myself on dating sites. A word of advice: just don’t.

One guy who started talking to me on this app asked for my number. I’m not someone particularly comfortable with giving out my number at random, so I asked him why. His reply wasn’t what I was expecting. He claimed I had a c*** attitude. Bye Felicia.

The day before my birthday I was talking to another guy who was in Toronto for work. He wanted to meet up right away. For all he knew, I could be crazy as hell (which I am). I didn’t want to be mean and say no, but didn’t want to ignore him either. I told him we weren’t looking for the same things. At the time, he accepted it graciously. Little did I know, I didn’t let him finish. The next morning I had a message from him saying I needed to get over myself because I wasn’t “no oil painting to say the least.” Happy birthday to me.

Being a feminist has become a sort of viral phenomenon in the last few years. Beyoncé is an example of an artist whose music has strong feminist messages. She recently sampled African feminist speaker Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie in the beginning of her song “Flawless”. I love Chimamanda. Not only is she funny but I can personally relate to what she says. Another artist I respect is Meghan Trainor. Her message to women is to love yourself and don’t get tied down by society’s expectations.

After a classmate hosted the video of Eugenie Bouchard being asked to give us a twirl, it was no surprise that I snapped. It really opened my eyes as to how women are still being treated in the media and all of the gender and inequality that happens all around me as well.

If someone were to ask if I was feminist now, I’d say yes. Who else is going to take our side!?