Employed to catalog briefs, Miss Prudencia Prim finds herself in a quint town firmly rooted in the past. Although a self –proclaimed atheist/feminist, she aches for a time before cell phones, a time when people discussed issues over a cup of tea or by the fireplace. The small village of San Ireneo de Arnois was just a perfect getaway. Little did she know that she would be forced to reconsider some of the philosophies that had shaped her life.

Her neighbors, transplants like her, and quite very eccentric were determined to preserve their little piece of haven from the ideologies of modern world. The women had a perfect understanding of what it really is to be a feminist. They had jobs that allowed them time to run their homes. For them a woman working over 8 hours a day is “anachronistic & intolerable”. This might not go down well with the gender equality lobbyists who see feminism as woman = man, but no matter how many hours we work, how much noise we make we can never be men. In the words of G.K. Chesterton, “ten thousand women marched the street of London saying “we will not be dictated to” and then went off to become stenographers.” This is the situation we have put ourselves in. The woman makes up for something lacking in the man and vice versa. When did we decide that there is an ideal human being prototype and it is male? We have been fighting this fight forever and it is taking a toll on us- on our peace of mind, our sanity and our careers. We are not men, we want different things and we can offer different things. Not recognizing these differences is just setting us up to fail.

And many homes have failed because we go into marriage with the idea that I am equal to my husband. Any nonsense from him, I am out! According to the 95 years old Mrs. Thibervilles who had outlived two husbands, “the basis of a good marriage, a reasonably happy marriage is precisely inequality. It is essential if two people are to feel mutual admiration. She continues, “if you reflected a little more deeply you would realize that you can only admire that which you do not possess, you do not admire in another a quality you have yourself, you admire what you don’t have and which you see shining in another in all its splendor. It is basic logic, if two people admire each other, they are not equals if they were, and they wouldn’t admire each other. They are different as each admires in the other what they don’t find in themselves. It is difference, not similarity that faster admiration between two people. Similarity has no place in a good marriage, difference does and claiming otherwise is pure foolishness which is so prevalent nowadays and typical of people who have not been taught to reason.” I am yet to find a better way to explain the complementarity between a man and woman.

Maybe it is time now to introduce our daughters to the truth of what it means to be a woman and teach them to never apologize for it. So I agree with the opinion that a well-used copy of little women is essential to a girl’s education. In the words of Miss. Prim, “I’ve always believed that a girl’s childhood is like a wasteland without that book!” Of course it will entail more than that but we have to start from somewhere.

We all can tap into the advice of ‘the man in the winged chair’ gave Miss Prim when our ‘yours truly’ realizes that she was not actually the super woman she thought herself to be.
“First of all, there is no such thing as definitive victory over one’s faults, Prudencia. It is not an arena in which mere will power works. Our nature is defective like an old broken locomotive, so however hard we try we are bound to fail. Getting upset about it is absurd and though it might make you angry to hear it, arrogant too. You won’t like this but when we fail, what we have to do is ask for help from the machine’s maker. And always allow the maker to improve things with a good application of oil from time to time.” 


‘The awakening of Miss Prim’ by Natalia Sanmartin Fenollera was just that: a much needed wakeup call and a great read. It opens your heart to the little things of life. Miss Prim’s intellectual journey brings her a lot of unanticipated worries, change of mentality, spiritual growth and eventually inner peace and joy. We all can learn from that.

Published by Afara Leadership Centre

Afara Leadership Centre was set up in 1987 to provide an enabling environment for total personal development as well as growth in leadership skills and values for young women in their years of secondary and tertiary education. It is located at 25 Thorburn Avenue, off Montgomery, Yaba, Lagos State, Nigeria. It is a project of Women’s Board of the Education Cooperation Society, a Nigerian not-for-profit, non-governmental organization. The spiritual formation given in the Centre is entrusted to Opus Dei, an institution of the Catholic Church

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