Just Because I Have Boobs Does Not Make Me Your Secretary

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These are the exact words I want to yell out every time I see a woman with a bachelor’s degree turned into a secretary by virtue of her mammary glands. I know I am male so it is kind of weird for me to yell those exact words out….but I have to…because frankly I am sick and tired of the status quo.

The status quo where women at work…especially Nigerian women are subconsciously turned into secretaries despite their many qualifications simply because they are female.

It starts with a simple “can you help me scan this file” and then escalates to “can you tell so so and so that I will not be around today and ensure that my schedule is free by 4pm.” Huh! Just like that you have become a “secretary.” Even though you have a bachelors degree from that university. Not to mention your primary work responsibilities, but somehow you are expected to start photocopying and faxing for the guys that are too lazy to figure out how those machines work. It’s like the boobs and long hair automatically turn you into secretary.

Whenever this happens around me, I always tell the females to tell the males, that they are not secretaries. Shoot! We are all in the same office so why the double standards.

Now I know some people will say all this is trivial, but it is not, it is the little things…the little cases of female discrimination that escalate into the more serious ones such as domestic abuse that is all too prevalent across Nigeria. The little things that subconsciously make any male with a dickree think that he can turn his female co-worker to a secretary, will automatically make him feel he can turn his wife into a punching bag.

We have to draw the line somewhere, actually we have to draw the line everywhere, because this attitude, the secretariaism attitude has to be stopped. Sadly, a lot of times the secretariaism issue is not as explicit as “go and make me a photocopy”…in most cases it is disguised. It could be a female engineer that finds herself constantly being asked to write documents or take minutes, while her male colleagues go out and work in the field. These little things that can transform a bachelor’s degree to a Primary School certificate!

So to the ladies out there, you are not secretaries, if you want to be a secretary secretary of state that is fine. But let no one turn you into a secretary by virtue of your sex. Push back…and if you need help reminding yourself of who you are, print out a copy of your school certificate with your highest degree and place it on your desk. So that it can serve as a reminder to you and those around you…that you are not a fucking secretary.

NOTE: If you have experienced this before…do share your stories. And if you have tips on how to combat this secretariaism attitude let us know. We would call your tips “anti-secretary tips”…

sketches done by @ofilispeaks

HIK cover faffing fullOfili is a recently transgendered male female who is unsure of his sex at the moment but is sure of the need of female equality no matter how trivial. Follow him her on twitter, Facebook or subscribe to his blog for more honest talk and as @ofilispeaks on instagram for more sketches and illustrations!

To bring Ofili to your school or organization as a secretary speaker simply go here. His Her third book is titled How Intelligence Kills Us and will be coming out in the second quarter of 2013 as soon as possible. Want her BB pin, then go here and ask for it =D



Words by Okechukwu Ofili of ofilispeaks.com
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45 comments on “Just Because I Have Boobs Does Not Make Me Your Secretary

  1. @oluwakemifully on said:

    Hahaha! I hope someone isn’t turning Ofili’s girlfriend into a secretary. Or what’s stirring this unusual honest anger in him. I like your way of yoking humor to serious issues though. Lol! Thanks for worrying about us. (I’m female.) And please make up your mind on your gender issue. I think u should stick to being a dude though. “Ms Okey Ofili.” Hian! Yulk!

    • Ofili

      lol…it was actually a friend of mine that triggered it. She was an engineer in one of those big Oil companies and they were sending her to book conference room and she was like…see my degree…it says engineer…you better go book your own damn room. THE END. never happened again.

  2. Hahahaha @ Ofili is a recently transgendered male female who is unsure of his sex at the moment but is sure of the need of female equality no matter how trivial.

  3. Okechukwu Jr. on said:

    As usual, Okechukwu Ofili has hit the nail on the head. This is a timely post especially with ” 4 (b)” still lingering. Thank you so much.

  4. Angel Doo Sablay on said:

    I’ve always luved ur bks. I read every piece when I get the chance to. Keep it up. They r all so true and so real.

  5. Sherry on said:

    Mr. Ofili, i do not know you but i officially love you for this post! As a female, I’ve been at the receiving end of this treatment a couple of times and You just spoke my mind, i wish we had many more men who think along these lines. Merci beaucoup!

  6. yep! i absolutely agree! i work in a foreign land, but not it is not even directed at the females, only the one with a specific skin colour (u get my point). When i was told to go get something from the printer by a new bie manager, i almost collapsed.. i did pick it, and as i gave it to him, asked if he knew where the printer room was, didnt want for an asnwer and spoke out the directions..
    Lets say that was the last time his legs failed him to the printer room..

  7. This is so true and happens over and over again, sometimes its subtle, sometimes its blatant. I remember when I first started working at a new orgamisation, I was the only female at a meeting of engineers and commercial people and was casually asked to take the minutes. I promptly informed them with outraged indignation that I am the lawyer and dont take their minutes. They never asked again

    • Cynthia on said:

      I can relate. Same thing has happened to me on two occasions. I am an engineer and the only female in my department. As a newbie, when we had dept meetings, the guys would turn to me to take minutes. First time, I obliged. Second time they did that, I told them, with a straight face and calm voice that am an engineer like the rest of them…anyone else could do it…but I wouldn’t. I haven’t written any other minutes till date.
      Men will always be men. I would know because I have four brothers and no sister. You learn to stand up for yourself pretty fast in such settings

  8. Finally! Someone sees why being “rude” to all male colleagues that asks for photocopies or files is “okay”.
    “Stay and answer the phone while we go to the field” the very sentence that got addressed PUBLICLY when the eternal patriarchal system at work place became the norm.
    A continuous resistance but totally worth it.
    Just because I have boobs does not mean I am a filer and clueless!!!
    Thanks Ofili.
    Good one
    Unen latest post is COURTING BAIDA VMy Profile

  9. Natalie Brooks on said:

    While I’m not sure that a male who treats a woman like a secretary at work will then go home & beat his wife, I do have a story to share.

    Last year I joined a team of 5 men; I was the only woman. A few months into the assignment, when I reminded the team to keep our team calendar up-to-date, one teammate told me that the previous person with my role (also female) did that for the rest of them. I indicated that I’m not anyone’s mother, but in hindsight, I’d say he was subconsciously treating me like a secretary. I’m disappointed that the female before me would even do that for the team.

    Another story… in a previous team, the supervisor always asked a female to plan our team-building activities. It would sometimes be the first female who was in her office as he walked down the hall looking for someone to plan it. Didn’t bother us, but we did notice that he only ever asked females to do so.

    • Ofili

      THanks for sharing story.

      On this “While I’m not sure that a male who treats a woman like a secretary at work will then go home & beat his wife” the point is not saying that. What I was saying was that the little things escalate to big things. A society that looks down on women, will tend to have more domestic violence issues. Sadly many will no tbe reported.

  10. I like a male feminist 😀
    Telling male co-workers not to treat you like a secretary does help…communication is a good thing.
    Men assume that women are supposed to be “submissive” to men. But even if you’re talking from a religious perspective a woman is only supposed to “submit” to her husband and not to all men.
    I had a manager who once told my (married) female co-worker that she should be bringing food for the single men in our department.
    Maybe the differences in parenting boys and girls has plenty to do with this perspective that most men subconsciously have.

    • Ofili

      Abeg leave that thing joor. Wives should not be submitting to Husbands! You can respect him, respect yourself and respect your family…THE END.

      Whish wan be submit…abi you be slave. Abegi.

      • Submitting has absolutely NOTHING to do with being a slave. But as Omei said, it is a privilege reserved for one’s husband. I honestly don’t know how men started interpreting it as women having to submit to all men in general. I find it irritating, and that is putting it mildly.
        Let me put things a bit into perspective: when the bible says women should submit to their husbands, it’s like having a team of contemporaries working on a project. And every input is equally welcome and regarded, however for there to be order there’s always a team leader. And like someone used to say, ” it’s not necessarily a position of authority but a position of responsibility.”
        God always knows what He’s talking about, it is we humans who misinterpret out of laziness and/or selfishness.
        nina latest post is WHAT IF I WERE A FIREMAN? OR A BUS DRIVER?My Profile

  11. Not just the work place, classrooms too, and especially in a male dominated field. You didn’t add the part where the women who decides to not take their crap gets tagged “troublemaker” or “talkative”.
    Some even go as far as advising you to be more “feminine” in your response next time. As if the word “female” equates “doormat”. *rme*

  12. Jumoke on said:

    Wow nice one Ofilispeaks. I believe our mothers are to blame here by virtue of the fact that the last generation of mothers raised boys to expect to be looked after by any and every female that is around. This is what escalates into we females being seen as automatic secretaries by men. If a woman doesn’t raise her son to respect male and female alike then we are raiding tyrants. Let’s start with teaching boys to also cook and girls to also change tires.

    • Ofili

      gbam! Well said ” Let’s start with teaching boys to also cook and girls to also change tires.” Even though I can’t cook except my ubber awesome kellogs frosted cornfalkes soaked in temperature warm milk…I do agree with the statement. I have guys that cannot clean their rooms themselves and they are waiting for their sister or babe to clean it for them…wtf (where’s the fork…hehehe)

    • Hahahaha @ the title. Jumoke, gbam!!! Mothers have a hand in this. Lately, I’ve been wondering what kind of sons we are raising Well said Ofili. It always starts gradually.
      Ogechi latest post is Taking StockMy Profile

    • Amaka on said:

      I have to agree. My mother in law raised her sons to be served by females. A female will cook, serve you food and carry your plate when you are done eating. I on the other hand was raised by liberal parents, everybody cooks, everybody does dishes, everybody washes car and NOONE but our parents get served. You can only imagine the clash of personalities when we got married.

  13. EreOluwa on said:

    Rightly and timely said Ofili! Wish more men, colleagues, husbands will read this piece and look at themselves and make the change!! Great piece man.

  14. I’ve been in a similar situation but this time it was in a classroom of Final year Electronic Engineering classroom where we were only 13 girls and 84 guys. The guys will be like ‘u girls have no home training, how do u expect us to sit in an unswept class’ I usually ignore them since its a guy that unlocks the class in the morning so why can’t he clean it up. Till one day, one was drunk enuf to call my name and drop a broom before me. I reminded him once again why I’m from Anambra state (for about 10 minutes). They now call me Iron Lady or Her Excellency.

  15. Ifeoluwa Falola on said:

    First of , How on earth do you think of these catchy titles? A friend of mine picked up ‘How laziness saved my life’earlier today and he honestly didn’t know where to start reading from, too many chapter titles caught his attention. The issue with the ‘secretary’ thing can’t be overemphasized, I think women should have a peaceful protest against issues like this if they are not bold enough to stand up for themselves individually. This issues should be talked about more frequently by the opposite sex, i think this would make women more spirited and motivitaed these issues and it would chabge the notion of all men being the same…Oh, and the ‘transgender’ ish had me reeling with laughter. Great piece!

  16. Tami Abusi on said:

    Love reading your posts. It is always quite refreshing. This could be true in some organisations but where i work i have observed with dismay that some ladies actually want to be treated like secretaries so that they could avoid challenging work. They love to play the feminine card that gets them of the hook so easily and the guys end up doing all the work.

  17. Sometimes female colleagues are just as guilty of this and not just in Nigeria too. I noticed my female colleague kept asking me to grab what she had sent to the printer yet when she was working with men she suddenly seemed capable of picking up her own printing. After a few blank stares she seemed to get the message: I didn’t slave at a competitive university to pick up your printing!!

  18. Tochukwu on said:

    The first time i saw Oga Ofili during LJC graduation this year in Abuja and i was like “what a crazy personality”. But a pleasant kind of “craziness” i must say.
    @ the topic, i work with guys(more like i am the only lady). It could be fun at times, but at other times, they are just filled with annoying gigs resulting from their supposedly superior species
    Their desks are always in disarray and just because you have boobs off course you should extend your feminine touch to their desk. Well, trust me, with time they have learnt their lessons. There is also this other attitude of the guys that is sooooooooooo annoying and makes me want to really shout at times (but i always handle it coolly, i speak mostly with my eyes and body language), the fact that you are a lady; YOU HAVE NOTHING YOU ARE DOING WITH YOUR SALARY. Therefore, you should always lend them money anytime they come knocking. Like seriously guys??

    P.S. By the way, Oga Ofili i really look forward to reading your books, i have not been able to lay hands on any of them in Warri.

  19. Your titles are always very catchy! Is this your “American” side talking or have you always been equality driven, lol. Anyway, the one thing I will add is instead of telling the females to tell their male counterparts that they are not secretaries, I suggest you do the talking. Sometimes it is most effective. My husband speaks up for the women in his organization all the time, not because they can’t speak for themselves, but the message is stronger coming from a fellow man and it let’s the woman know that not all men are “dickree” holders.

  20. yeah…you’re so right. I think it’s just the guys’ mentality and it’s crazy. It’s common with ladies in the so-called male dominated fields. Being a final year mechanical engineering student, i can say i have had my share of it (being one of the very few girls in class and working as an intern in some companies). People, even those you are not working with feel because you are a female, you should do some particular things and not any other thing. They make you prove to them that you can actually do whatever you want to do. It happens in other fields too. There are some really nice ones that encourage and help you though. It takes courage, confidence and passion for what you’re doing to be able to go on. Once they see the drive in you, there is little or nothing they can do. But seriously, guys and ladies need to change their thinking. Everybody has something to offer because each person is unique in his/her own way. …….. By the way, you’ve got nice posts and books. well done!
    Anu latest post is A NEW PERSPECTIVEMy Profile

  21. That is how during my cousin’s matriculation some years back, I travelled from my school to hers. I got there so tired and famished that my younger brother quickly offered to get me food. As he was dishing out the rice from the cooler, one Aunt started raking that how can I a girl cross leg and allow a boy to get me food, that I should “come on stand up from there!” I obliged ‘cos I was young. That kind rubbish no fit happen again o. I will find a very smart answer to give her with my legs still firmly crossed.

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