21st century feminism: A wrong perception of equality

“With every big, historical movement comes the danger that we will swing too far to the other extreme, tipping the balance unhealthily in the other direction” -Anya Briggs.

Feminism is a movement that has over the years been introduced and widely adopted in Nigeria and the world at large as a mechanism that seeks justice for women and end sexism in all forms.

In many of its context, feminism seems to involve at least two claims, one normative and the other descriptive. The normative claim concerns how women ought (or ought not) to be viewed and treated and draws on a background conception of justice or broad moral position. The descriptive claim concerns how women are, as a matter of fact, viewed and treated, alleging that they are not being treated in accordance with the standards of justice or morality invoked in the normative claim. Together the two claims provide reasons for working to change the way things are; hence, feminism is not just an intellectual but also a political movement. This movement has been propagated by so many illustrious personalities of notable figure all over Africa such as Ghanaian-British documentary filmmaker, producer, and writer, Yaba Badoe; Liberian peace activist, women’s rights advocate and Nobel Peace Laureate, Leymah Gbowee; and Nigerian critically acclaimed author, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie; who have all identified themselves as feminists and has written and given speeches on various current topics relating to women’s issues in Africa and beyond.

In Beyonce’s Flawless (which I must admit is a very lovely song), Chimamanda defined a feminist as a person who believes in the social, political, and economic equality of the sexes.

Does this definition reflect its true meaning? This question continues to be a boggler while observing the situation of things currently faced by men in the society. Whenever gender inequality is canvassed, our focus is usually on women; that women should receive equal respect, opportunities, and payment as men, and have the right to choose what happens to their bodies.

These are terrible problems that women face to some degree in every country around the world.

However, gender inequality is an issue that affects men too. According to Emma Watson, an actress and Goodwill Ambassador for United Nations, in a speech at the UN general assembly, “fighting for women’s rights has become synonymous with man-hating”. I may be wrong but feminism has been so over flogged that women in some countries are now seen as superior beings entitled to some privileges when compared to men thus losing the true essence of equality between sexes. For recruitment in a banking sector, statistics has shown that banks prefer attractive women (and in few cases, attractive men) for posts which involve direct interactions with medium to high-profile clients.

I have never been to a bank and see more men than women on the counter accepting money and paying cheques given by the customers. I agree that this maybe uncomfortable for some attractive women in question especially those who are not aware of their hidden purpose for recruitment but even among those who are aware, many are offended, but only few are concerned. On one side, the banks are not necessarily at fault for being capitalistic and business minded, but its discrimination nevertheless because there are male graduates who are good at sales and communication but left to roam the street with their certificates all because they are not feminine.

The stereotype that exists is that men are tougher and are expected to take whatever misfortune they encounter like a man. So people assume women are weaker and indefinitely the ones who are harmed. 8th grade girls stripped a 5th grade boy with dwarfism and posted it on the internet.

The police labeled it a “harmless prank” but what would’ve happened if it were the other way around? Face the facts people, nowadays, women are paid more, given more second chances, sided more and are gaining too much of an advantage over men. A skinny guy can be ridiculed by girls, called a wimp, unmanly, womanly and every other thing you can imagine but if he dare open his mouth and point out a fat girl eating McDonalds, he will be flamed to high hell. When relationships fail, it’s a fact that men get tragically overlooked when it comes to getting custody of their children. According to statistics, women receive custody of children 92% of the time in cases of divorce and illegitimacy. People will argue that the children needs to stay close to their mothers but this astoundingly high number means that men are being denied the opportunity to become positive role models in their children’s lives. Consider as well that the average child support payment due from women is half the amount due from men. And despite this fact, women are twice as likely as men to default on child support payments.

Unlike women, society prevents men from showing emotions and vulnerabilities. While it’s perfectly permissible for women to be aggressive, the moment men let down their guard and cry they are accused of being effeminate. They have real feelings as well, but unlike women, they don’t have the freedom to express them openly without having their masculinity and even their sexuality fall under question. Women have been in space, fought in wars and have served as heads of state, so why is it that men are termed the bad guy if they fail to hold a door open for a woman? Has it ever occurred to you that the guy who devised the “ladies first” policy may have created it just to check out his girlfriend’s ass? When it comes to equal treatment and equal rights for equal pay, women make more noise than a backfiring Bulldog. So why is it that when it comes to picking up a dinner bill, these same women suddenly become mute? Ladies can’t have it both ways. Being equal means assuming equal duties. With great paychecks come great responsibilities.

Even in television series, men are mostly depicted as grossly incompetent. From Family Guy to the Simpsons to King of Queens. According to Marge, Homer “chews with his mouth open, hangs out at a seedy bar with bums and lowlifes, blows his nose in towels and puts them back, and scratches himself with his keys”. Similarly, Family Guy’s Peter Griffin is a lovable oaf who “isn’t afraid to say what’s on his mind; usually the wrong thing at exactly the wrong time”. The women in these same series, meanwhile, project an almost saintly glow as long-suffering wives and dedicated mothers. It’s a sad fact that we’re living in a world where unsubstantiated statements can be made about men, when these same claims would never be tolerated if they were directed at women. This unchecked bias can only impact negatively upon how men will be treated in future generations.

I once watched an Indian short film where a man entered a bus but because it was filled up, he had to stand while holding on to a bus-strap. Standing in front of him was a beautiful lady who was the envy of every other person in the bus. As the bus drove, it hit a deep pothole which staggered the bus a little bit causing the man to fall on the beautiful lady. Before he could apologize, the lady landed a heavy slap on his face and started raining curses on him backed up by other passengers who thought he had a hidden agenda (a passenger had to kick him out of spite). With humiliation, he quietly moved away from his position and stood at her front to avoid any other occurrence while nursing the pain on his cheeks. Still on the road, the bus hit another deep pothole. It staggered and the lady fell on the man. He immediately turned and without wasting much time, slapped her angrily as if he was waiting for that opportunity. The other passengers all opened their mouths in shock but couldn’t say anything including the lady who was left with tears rolling down her eyes. He quietly turned back, awaiting the bus to reach his destination.

Two thoughts came to my mind after the short film; firstly, I was innately happy that she got what she deserved but what would have happened if the lady was the first to fall on him and he in turn slapped her? Other passengers may either beat the pulp out of him before taking him to jail for abuse or even lynch him right where he stood. Am not in any way advocating for the physical abuse of women. God knows I can’t stand the sight of a man laying his hands on a woman. But I think women should practice what they preach. If they are against the abuse of women, they shouldn’t encourage the abuse of men.

Conclusively, I see no problem with women wanting equality. Personally, am a feminist and will always advocate for equality between sexes. But equality should mean equality and not twisted in a way to prioritize women over men. So next time, open the door for me and pull out my chair, then we can have a romantic outing that you booked and you pay the bill, or maybe if I feel like, we could just split it. Then maybe tomorrow you can go to work the entire day at the mine to pick up some pitiful salary while I stay at home with the kids and bask in their love.

Also, maybe you can learn to bottle up your feelings and not show any affection while I get cared for any time I cry. Maybe when we commit a crime and you get a harsher sentence for the same crime we both committed. Then because of the crime you could sue for divorce and I get the house, the kids and a check of your financial savings from time to time.

And then there is equality.

Uchegbu Ndubuisi Chiagozie is a writer, free thinker and a final year Law student in the University of Nigeria Enugu Campus. He is also the Executive Director of Prestige Anchors, a company focused on public speaking and event management. And a principal member of Advocate Movement, an exclusive hub of global thinkers and exceptional doers. He is not a football freak like most of his peers but you can’t remove wrestling from his DNA. He is also a lover of Music especially hip hop and Kanye is his man anytime, any day.

Op-ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija

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