They say all strong women in History carry an enormous strength. We had to believe a lot of that when we met Michele. At thirty, she is a mother of five, ambitious, yoga enthusiast, natural afro-hair lover, and plenty others. She’s made travels, representing great developmental courses, and has been adamant in bringing change and breaking pass stereo-typical concepts. Passion Fruit managed to have a word with the BusyLady. And you will love to know what she shared. See below:
Passion Fruit: Hello Michèle!!! The last time I heard, you were travelling the world and doing great things. Can you tell us your mission then and how relevant it is today?
Michèle: Hi Passion Fruit. Thank you for the honor and opportunity. A brief introduction on my background of course; I am a professional in Science, Public Health and Laboratory Science to be precise, with particular interest for harnessing technology to improve access to Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR). My mission then was representing women in STEM and acquiring skills through a network and mentoring program that is TechWomen. Of course you must have noticed I am particularly loud about gender equality. It is one of the components to tackle in order to achieve access to SRHR for women, one that is acceptable enough. It is even more relevant today realizing that gender equality holds more than access to sexual or reproductive rights. In its essence, it is one of the major keys to development.
Passion Fruit: What happened, Michèle?
A few years ago, you were just Michèle, doing the regular. Today you are an influencer! I still strongly believe you always had it in you but something had to poke it from the inside causing it to surface. So hook us up with that Juice! Let me strap-on my seat belt, LOL! What was the last event that led to this turning point in your life?
Michèle: (She laughs) I will rather consider myself an ardent advocate, albeit flattered. At the risk of confirming the cliché of the bitter feminist, here are the lemons I used for my lemonade. I had just had my 4th child, was simultaneously doing my MPH and had multiple field trips to rural areas for community health. My field trips taught me more than just community health. I learnt I was a lucky woman. I learnt a first pregnancy could have been all I needed to drop out of school, marry too young, be disowned, be relegated to childbearing, curtail my dreams and aspire to poverty until miracles happen. I learnt the girls in our day and age still understood that being married to the fisherman was an achievement, that they did not have to think on their own, that they had to smother themselves lest a man think they are competition, that they couldn’t contradict their counterpart or express themselves, that a rape was their fault, that their body was not theirs to decide for. They were deeply convinced it was okay, but yet, cried for help. That was ‘bow’ enough for my ‘arrow’, to think all these human resources were wasting because they were born female.
Passion Fruit: Now let us focus on your social media presence. We notice you are popular for reversing conventional quotes and phrases which in their original form, seemingly favored men. What is the purpose behind this?
Michèle: Reversing gender harmful stereotypes I call it, my favorite mental hashtag #flippingthescript. Feminism, like most stereotypes, prescribes among other things, equal rights for two genders. Of the two genders, male and female, one is privileged at the expense of the other. Mind you, privilege is a gift unbeknownst to he who possesses it. It is therefore difficult for our male counterparts to fully acknowledge their privilege. Inequalities will always be justified by traditions, biology or simply relegated as jokes. Reversing these stereotypes is a way of putting men in our shoes, sometimes putting them in front of a mirror so that they realize the enormity of the expectations they have of women.
Passion Fruit: Is your message directed to the world at large or is it for a specific target audience?
Michèle: My favorite feminist put it so well, “We should all be feminists”.
Passion Fruit: By the way, what about defining Feminism for us? Is the word “feminism” gender specific? Do you think the main concept backing feminism is a backlash on the traditional woman’s beliefs & vice versa? Should it be a thing of choice or is it a revolutionary concept to be adopted by a targeted sex or all sexes?
Michèle: Feminism is a fight for gender equality that seeks to achieve equal rights by dismantling patriarchy. Everyone and anyone who believes/supports gender equality is a feminist irrespective of their gender. Likewise, feminism ensures not only the rights of women but also that of men who will no longer have to carry on certain burdens “assigned” them, for example, the financial burden of households or responsibility in public office. If patriarchy reinforces traditional beliefs that are harmful for women, for example, excision, the burden of parental duties or unequal pay, then it will certainly be experienced as a backlash. Usually, while these beliefs and practices have consequences for females, it has benefits for their male counterparts. Defying them is interpreted an affront, that’s unfortunate. Thankfully, while I hope the whole world becomes feminist for the advancement of us all, I recognize the fundamental right to an opinion which determines personal choices.
Passion Fruit: Now, tell us a little bit about Michele behind the scenes – Your Hobbies? Family? And what is their stance as to your beliefs?
Michèle: Most people hear me before they see the barely 5 foot tall damsel that I am. I am a mother to 5 absolutely kind and warm little hearts. I drink tons of herbal tea, I hike, I yoga and I make my own hair products for the love of all things natural. My family is supportive but nevertheless surprised I am firm on my stance for equality. My darling parents are both feminists, so funny to note that they do not even realize it themselves. Of course, they raised us all feminists through no conscious efforts of their own. I am thankful for that.
Passion Fruit: About us/our audience/ demography/ personality/ type/ interests:
Just so u know, I found your recent posts quite interesting and I think I had conflicting views as an individual but when I fully synced me and my inner Passion Fruit, we got to thinking; isn’t it what we’ve been selling to our audience – A forum which promotes personal opinions, uniqueness and individuality, regardless of sex, race, tribe, or age – none superior over the other? So how different was that from what we saw you portraying? And then in conclusion, we said: we see you Michèle! And we will love to have you on our platform. Does that sink?
Michèle: Of course, Passion Fruit. Anytime.
Passion Fruit: Thank you so much Michele, but before we end, how would you want Passion Fruit and its ‘Nistas to remember you?
Michèle: The no-chill feminist. I just invented that. Thank you for having me on your platform. Looking forward to many more.
So you can find Michèle on: