Rejoinder to Sugabelly: Feminism, gender equality and the hypocrisy of it all

by Ayo – Bankole Akintujoye

feminism

Did Hillary Clinton run against Obama, or get appointed as Secretary of State because the Democratic party said it must be a woman? Was Okonjo-Iweala appointed to the World bank, Minister of Finance under Obasanjo and then Jonathan because the positions were reserved for women?

Let me first state that I expect to be condemned and hung on a stake like our Lord Jesus Christ was by those he chose to save. And like him, I am fully prepared for the battering that will come with this write up. It amuses me and burdens my heart when I see educated women, so called “feminist advocates” come forward to misinform their womenfolk, display nothing but sheer confusionist and distractionary tendencies on national TV, newspapers, and recently, social media.

This crop of women and in some cases men, are so obsessed and desperate about being viewed as “feminist advocates” that they go the extra mile to dish out half-truths and at times outright fabrications in the name of feminist advocacy. These days, we are not even sure what feminism, or gender equality is anymore.  From the last I checked, Feminism is aimed at defining, establishing, and ensuring equal social (religious, education, dressing, etc), political, and economic rights for women. Feminism was largely an offshoot of the era of female disenfranchisement, inequality in employment and payscale, gender neutrality in language (French, English and other major European languages), rights to property and other forms of inequality in a then largely patriarchal world.

Most of the issues that brought about feminist advocacy over a hundred years ago are no longer with us today. And different women groups the world over have adopted the name to gain relevance and grants from donor agencies even when their ideologies are contradictory to the fundamental idea of “Gender equality”.

It is true that several African societies still practice Patriarchy. But even the word has evolved over the years.  However, I’ll stick to Nigeria for the purpose of this discussion. The Nigerian culture (and I mean most ethnic divides) is a largely patriarchal culture, but then, so is Christianity and Islam. As I said, the use of the word has evolved, and there seems to be a conflict between our western indoctrination and our cultural reality. For example, should we say the Oba of Benin’s stool should be thrown open to women? Or the Sultanate of Sokoto? Or that of the Alaafin of Oyo? How come no feminist advocate has accused these centuries’ old institutions of patriarchy and anti-feminism? If we admit that these are traditions which should not be disrespected with gender equality chants and feminist hullabaloo, then why should we also question the role of the MAN in traditional African families?

Let us first start with illiteracy. How many feminist groups have provided massive education to those in rural communities who still engage in the long abandoned segregationist practices? How can an illiterate woman or man in the core north, east or west understand that the world has moved beyond “women as properties”? How do you blame a people that inherited the belief that women should not hold opinion, ask questions, own properties, but simply serve their husbands? The truth is, the only blame is with our government who has failed to educate its people and chosen to impoverish them over the years. The responsible thing for feminist groups to do is begin to push for the education and empowerment of the rural communities. Not just of the women, as the men also need education to enable them understand that women are not less human.

Now unto politics, what exactly is “gender equality’ in politics??  How many great women in the world got to their positions because of a quota system? Did Hillary Clinton run against Obama, or get appointed as Secretary of State because the Democratic party said it must be a woman? Was Okonjo-Iweala appointed to the World bank, Minister of Finance under Obasanjo and then Jonathan because the positions were reserved for women? Did Abike Dabiri Erewa make her mark in NTA and now in the NASS because of some gender quota?? Did Dora Akunyili accomplish her giant strides in NAFDAC because “the post was given to a woman to encourage them”? How about Condoleeza Rice, Aung San  Suu Kyi, Benazir Bhutto, Helen Sirleaf, Obi Ezekwesili, Joyce Banda, and many other women whose names are engraved on the sands of time even in the most culturally and religiously unfriendly climes to women? The lesson this teaches us is simple; the concept of gender equality advocacy is in itself hypocritical. If you believe we are all equal, why not go ahead and play on an equal playing field? Must there be a quota system reserved for women? Isn’t the quota in itself a display of inequality? That women are weaker and therefore need help before they achieve certain feats? Why then can’t we also create slots for men? Doesn’t that also relegate the issue of competence to the background? I am yet to see a truly competent woman who rode on the back of some gender equality slot to greatness!

Now to family, why do we keep living in the illusion that the role of men and women are equal in the family? Why are so-called feminists deceiving our women, and ruining several marriages with their gospel of equality? And why do we keep thinking that a woman who “bows” to her husband admits to inferiority? The truth is that marriage as an African institution has evolved; men are sharing more in financial roles with wives, women are getting more independent and taking charge than before, etc. But all these notwithstanding, ours is a man-is-the-head-of-the-family society. And who says it isn’t working for us? What is to be emulated in western societies where divorce cases are ever increasing? If the Bible and the Quran categorically place the man as the nonnegotiable head of the family, then are we saying God, or the writers of the Quran and Bible are also women haters, or anti feminists? Why then have our self-proclaimed advocates not taken up cases with the religious bodies? Or shall we say the act of praying separately in the mosques, is anti-women? Because this simply implies that we are not equal as far as the two holy books are concerned.

Lastly, Economics and finance. It has become common practice to label every woman doing good in the society as a feminist. And women advocates are always quick to condemn women who denounce feminism. Why is it so difficult for our women groups to understand that there are still strong intelligent women in the society who go to school, beat men in their results, get good jobs, make money, start businesses, and take giant strides without necessarily buying into feminist rhetoric? The biggest disservice that feminist advocates have done to womanhood is to assume that playing on equal terms with men and succeeding at it is synonymous with feminism, and thereby attempting to impose the term feminist on every successful, financially independent career woman. What is wrong with a woman being successful, and still bowing to her man? Why condemn a woman who humbles herself to her man despite her success? While her man also respects her for the good woman she is? Shouldn’t all these be about the woman’s rights to choose what pleases her? Must she adopt the lazy and convenient feminist stereotype image?

My dear advocates, your jobs are needed in illiterate poor communities where female genital mutilation is still rampant,  in places where under 15 year old girls are married out on a daily basis without anyone raising an eyebrow, where widows are made to shave their heads and do unprintable things to mourn their husbands. Not in cities where real women are taking up their careers in their hands, where there are equal rights to education and access to employment. Use the grants at your disposal to genuinely serve womanhood, not hypocritical  show-off campaigns on the mass media.

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Ayo – Bankole Akintujoye is a strategy consultant, political scientist, writer and advocate for social justice. More writings on www.ayobankoleakintujoye.blogspot.com

 

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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Comments

9 Comments

  • Mrs Folashade O. says:

    I almsot didn’t want to comment on this. Until I saw Miss Aduke’s comment and my heart blossomed! What’s happening to we women For christ’s sake? We are always so touchy on issues of feminism! Our reaction towards feminism is almost dogmatic! We are always scream to shout equality, yet we say “Ladies first”, we expect men to hold d door for us, etc! Isn’t that hypocrisy? Equality when it suits us? And we are always trying to be holier than d pope! But western than the american! Which of Nigerian ethnic group is it that puts the man second or equal to the man in the family? My husband is my husband dearies. The head of my family! I’m in my forties with two daughters and a son. And being a respectful wife to my husband has in no way subtracted from my womanhood! I am a senior manager in an audit firm. And with all modesty, a high flier at work. And this has in no way made me try to be the boss at home! We are africans my dear ladies. And except u choose to be an american, or choose to remain single, the man is the head of the family where we all come from! And lastly, please let’s be a little deeper in our criticisms, maybe I learnt this from years of auditing. This article is that of a feminine enthusiast who has condemned practices that reduces women’s rights and all. And also calls all our attention to the realities that most women groups are focusing on macro issues like participation in govt, etc. While the helpless women in rural communities still remain denfenceless! Why then crucify the poor lad? In my modest opinion, this sirs & mas, is a brilliant unbiased piece!

    • fisblak says:

      Its funny how these feminist groups actually tell women how to behave. Ladies and “gentlemen” know what u want and identify ur real enemies..this is a touchy issue and I applaude ayobankole for even attempting to address it

  • Miss Aduke says:

    But guys, have we noticed something in this article? That this guy is very much in support of equal rights for women? And why are we all quick to misquote him? Let’s look at his write up again. His criticism to me! Seems to be directed at those who use feminist advocacy to pocket foreign aids while only chasing shadows! This guy has condemned & pointed out examples of d challenges african women are still facing! And 666, even your criticism of ds guy is full of misrepresentations of something we can all read!! He didn’t say “most traditions in the world”. He said “African socieites”! Then u talk about developed countries not having monarchy anymore, for christ’s sake this guy was clear on sticking to African culture and Nigeria! And your number 5 point is definitely pointless! To be sincere, this guy is a realist, can men & women really be equal in african families?? And how has this got to do with churning out broken citizens? Is it not our socio-economic conditions thhat break us? The fact mentioned up here can be verified by one click on google! Divorce cases are more rampant in d west than here! And d two major religions were just examples bcos its most common in ds part! And for me, I think what this article tells us is that gender equality truly lies in women who can beat status quo & do well in societies, not those who scream feminism around with little or nothing to show for it.

  • Missouri says:

    In all honesty Ayo, this is a terrible article. I still don’t get your point after reading and reading and reading. You dance around the edges without stating what exactly you’re trying to communicate. Too bad!

  • Regina says:

    I’m glad you wrote this. You make so much sense! Now that women are enjoying the added benefits of “men sharing more in financial roles with wives” they should ask for nothing! F%^k those idiotic feminazis (it’s a dirty word, don’t forget to spit!!!!!2111!!!) who fight for government to focus on making sure that young women get educated, get equal pay for equal work, are recognised for their achievements, are not sold into sexual slavery, aren’t married as children, don’t give birth and then die before they are 18, aren’t raped or beaten and if they are the offenders are brought to justice instead of saying sorry and walking off with a slap on the wrist, have their genitals mutilated so they have a hard time liking S.E.X., treated like property, told to drink the fluids used to wash their dead husband was washed in, divested of their property when their husband dies, told to f_ck another man–who just might be carrying HIV by the way–immediately after their husband dies, told that they cannot own land, do not have equal rights when it comes to children, still need their husband’s permission to get passports for a child, cannot confer citizenship to a foreign spouse, are questioned if they are going to get married/pregnant before they are hired, are treated like human beings whose lives and opinions matter without a MRS attached to their name.
    Men of course are the natural leaders. They know more than equally educated women, and of course decisions men make are totally right and need no input from weak-willed spouses whose points of view lack the necessary understanding to make THE correct decision.
    As men leave their homes every morning, striking out on that journey to that far off workplace leaving their women to…also set off on their own journey to work, they (men) put their sweat, blood and tears to put food on the table while the women file their nails and wait for closing time. Then they get home at the same time and that selfish, lazy b%$ch should never complain that she has to cook a fresh meal, or clean, or manage children, or have give you a lap dance before you get busy. That is why you married her, is it not? To make sure you have a comfortable home and look stunning while doing it (your homely self, however, has a right to your pot belly; it is a sign of prosperity). Not for her personality, her heart, her willingness to share her life with yours.
    So rejoice Nigerian women! Enjoy these halcyon days of plenty, you have achieved greatness, thanks to the men in your lives telling you what you needed to do, and need to understand!
    As for religion, thank God we need to of course revert to traditional thoughts where women were unclean vessels of sin, (Hi, Leviticus 12!) thanks to the fact that they are women, and they give birth thanks to the filthy sex they had. For men though, they are pure as driven snow. Religious activity, be it divorcing an 18-year-old to marry a 13-year-old, honour killings, and the places of honour reserved for women in the places/institutions of worship have been champion in ensuring men’s rights are never harmed or intruded upon.
    Ayo, thank you so much for this well thought out, well reasoned rebuttal featuring the same rebuttals men always make when faced with feminism. You have saved women of Nigeria, everywhere.

    • 666 says:

      Finally! A Naija (I hope I’m right) woman who’s not afraid to reply and bash this horrible piece of trash article.

  • 666 says:

    This is a very terrible article. It’s rife with logical flaws and important omissions. One would think you are a complete misogynist. Your errors:

    1.Paragraph 3: “Most of the issues that brought about feminist advocacy over a hundred years ago are no longer with us today.” Are u kidding me? Even in advanced countries, gender inequality and other forms of inequality towards minority groups is still a problem. The Science and Tech. sector is a good example. In addition, the 2nd sentence was an unsupported claim. Kindly give us an example of such female groups.

    2. Paragraph 4: Almost all traditions in the world are patriarchal. How do societies advance? They take only the good stuff from their outdated traditions and discard the useless ideas such as human sacrifice, gender inequality, etc. You over-exaggerate those monarchical positions. Most developed countries don’t even have such monarchical positions anymore, the few that are left are nothing but figure heads.

    3.Paragraph 5: “How many feminist groups have provided massive education to those in rural communities…” Massive education? You must be joking. That’s the responsibility of the FG, and you even admitted to that. How contradictory of you! I’m sure that the Nigerian Feminist Forum must have carried out some enlightenment project, but they’re still a relatively small group… they have limited resources.

    4. Paragraph 6: I find it absurd that you think the objective of any feminist group is the creation of a gender quota system? They want equality and a purely meritocratic system, not pity! Any existing quota system (e.g in the scientific and academic world) is temporary, it’s just to tip the scale towards balance, as it ought to be.

    5. Paragraph 7: This is definitely the worst part of your poor article. I simply do not understand why you believe that marriages can’t work if there’s equality between men and women. What proof do you have? “And who says it isn’t working for us?” LOL. It is truly working for you, and other developing countries! Your “perfect” families are constantly churning out broken citizens who are only worsening the state of the country. And let’s not even move into religion at all, such arguments never end. But using 2 religious books to justify your belief in the inferiority of women is just a base act. I could also use it to justify slavery, etc. What do you think terrorist groups use to justify their actions?

    6. Paragraph 8: Your last point makes absolutely zero sense. If a successful female happens to give a lecture to other aspiring ladies (which is extremely probable), what do you think she’ll tell them? don’t you think she’ll, at one point or the other, say “Do not feel inferior to your male counterparts”?. Now, tell me, what she is if not a feminist?

  • Kenneth says:

    Ayo, thank you very much. Women don’t even understand what they want and some feminists decieve women to “revolt” against whatever culture says about men being leaders of the family.

    That’s how my girlfriend says: “We are equal” always, even though I’m older. I don’t think I understand the statement, so, I’ll just call it quits before “my idea” of what an African family is will be questioned in future.

  • solomon ahgo says:

    my friend you have spoken well not because am a man but because i see objectivity

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