Harmony Levin: Balancing up on feminism – the Naija perspective [NEXT]

by Harmony Levin

“If the first woman God ever made was strong enough to turn the world upside down all alone, these women together ought to be able to turn it back, and get it right side up again.”

If the quote above from Soujourner Truth’s “Ain’t I A Woman” speech rings a bell in your head, then methinks you are apt with feminism, and this article is just for you.

In a room full of undergraduate female feminists- mind you, there are male feminists. The other day, someone asked, “all you girls flaunting feminism and acting all Miss Independent, what has feminism fetched you?”. To my surprise the room fell silent. Is it really that hard to name a couple of recent successes? Though previous generations of feminists won clearer victories, such as the right to vote, or sexual and reproductive rights. Yet the movement has not lost momentum. In recent years we have drawn up a picture of feminism as: when she pays the bills, when she contests for a political office, or when she takes up a top shot job.

Organized feminism did not really kick off until the first women’s conference held in Seneca Falls, America in 1848. To begin with, the women’s movement evolved out of social reform groups­- women realized that in order to transform society they would need to fuel the trains that would move such transformation. They began to campaign upon a whole lot of issues including property rights, divorce, education, political suffrage, to mention a few.

In the Naija perspective, feminism is a movement that has over the years been introduced and widely adopted into the facets of our daily lives. In fact, feminism is only an inch away from clouding the beliefs of your grand or great grandmother in your very remote village, thanks to famous Nigerian feminists who have taken the pains of propagating the feminist gospel all over the nation. There are the likes of Buchi Emecheta of yester years, and Chimamanda Adichie of today (Nigerian feminists not subject to these two). You must have listened to the songs of one of the world’s top feminists: Beyonce. The stand out song for me is “Flawless”- which I must admit is a thought provoking song. Chimamanda Adichie did not just bare her mind on the song, her very famous TED Talk “We Should All Be Feminists” was sampled on the track. While Chimamanda’s address was to the world, within Nigeria it was met with mixed reactions which illuminate how far feminism has gone in Nigeria.

Now, when the phrase, Gender Equality, comes up, everyone looks to the feminine gender; however, gender equality affects men too. I may be wrong but feminism has been so over flogged that women in some parts are now seen as superior beings entitled to major privileges when compared to men, thus loosing the real essence of equality between sexes. I have never been to a bank before and seen more men than women on the counter attending to customers. Feminism has made it that in some select jobs, employers prefer “attractive women” for positions which involve direct interaction with customers; feminism has brought discrimination on the male gender nonetheless because there are male graduates who are better off on the job, but are left to roam the streets all because they belong to a certain gender; it has gotten to a point radio stations now create special female call-in lines!

Even when some self proclaimed feminists take the social media as a sword and shield to fight off distracters, we still wonder how long before they stop? It is believed that the greatest enemies of Naija feminists are men- the bouncer at the club who stops you from getting in because you came alone; the security guard at the hotel that asks you all questions before he finally lets you in; the landlord who refuses you a house because he feels it’s wrong for a young single woman to own a house. A Naija feminist by all means sees the male folk as the barrier, but I think that perception is wrong. Let’s make the hustle a little bit real, make the chant a little bit moderate, and watch as you take over Naija.

Harmony Levin (20) is a writer, speaker and social commentator. An undergraduate student of the University of Uyo, studying History and International studies, a feature writer and editor of Diplomatic Access. A creative director and idea innovator, with high stakes in literature, lifestyle and religion.He is on Twitter as @mactorrr

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