Opinion: My struggle understanding feminism

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It wasn’t till I watched Chimamanda Adichie’s Lets All Be Feminists Ted Talks that I had any cause to give feminism and feminists a second thought. For me it was just one of those things that existed and while I will stop short of calling myself a feminist I can relate with the core of the feminist message and movement. Recently I decided to learn more about feminism, initially to boost my knowledge bank, but as I began to learn more it actually became more and more interesting. I still consider myself a novice on the subject and that is really why I am writing this, as an introduction to understanding feminism.

I do understand that at the core of feminism is the need for gender equality. I completely agree women have largely been given a more raw deal than men and feminism at its root is trying to at the very least bridge that gap. Equal rights, equal opportunities, equal respect and privileges. Unfortunately (from my little study), everything seems to be up to debate from this point. Before I tell you about the debates I encountered, let me just add that I strongly believe women don’t deserve to be put down in any way, shape or form solely because of their gender. These are what I have learnt so far.

  1. There are “man-hating” feminists, there are “less radical but still passionate” feminists, and then there are more conservative feminists. The difference between the three being how bad they perceive the gender equality to be. Some man-hating feminists actually believe there are secret meetings men hold to discuss ways to put down women, the rest just blame the wrong structuring of society and lack of enlightenment.
  2. I AM OF THE OPINION that feminists largely cannot agree on the specifics of feminism. Some believe that there shouldn’t be stereotyped roles based on gender (like men at work women in the kitchen at home) some others believe the roles are okay provided they are made very flexible to accommodate 21st Century realities. Another example is whether or not men are evil (yes this is a serious thing especially for the man-haters). Some feminists really doubt it’s impossible to attain 100% equality with men, others don’t even want 100% even if it were possible and then there are those that believe it and want it.

One feminist even told me equity not equality is the description of what feminists should be fighting for. Take for example a man and a woman doing the same job and earning the same pay even when the woman takes a long maternity leave. It could be considered as inequality on the man’s side. The person believed that the energy used in fighting for a society that wants to make men and women the same when they are biologically and psychologically different would be put to better use in fighting for a society that recognizes this differences in both genders, embraces them and puts them to use without discrimination or rigidity.

  1. I AM ALSO OF THE OPINION that feminists don’t always see eye to eye because the movement lacks leadership or a face at the very least. Mind you that a movement has leadership doesn’t mean there won’t be disagreement within the ranks but it gives some much needed coordination. Feminism doesn’t have a face in my view like civil rights did with Martin Luther King Jnr. and Malcolm X, or anti-apartheid had with Mandela. It appears to be a fully stretched arrow without an arrow head.
  2. I believe the most immediate obstacle to feminism is women although men aren’t far behind. A lot of women, especially in this part of the world aren’t opposed to “male domination” as long as the man brings home “money for soup.” Some blame it on a lack of enlightenment and I agree, I also think the wrong delivery of the message is to blame. When you start talking to a woman on a topic like feminism that is largely considered against African culture and anti-biblical in some circles by bashing the culture they have become accustomed to, I think you put them off from the get go. So I suggest pro-active feminists revise the strategies they use to spread this message. Try warming your way in and not bashing down doors and maybe it will get less push back from women. Shooting down fallacies from the man haters may also help.
  3. The most immediate obstacle is definitely the woman but the biggest is the man. I don’t think feminism will survive a head on assault with men without uniting the ranks amongst women and once again easing themselves as against bashing the door. I was told by a man that feminism is a sign of a dying world because men and women have never been equal even from the days of the bible. Anyway, everyone has a right to their opinion.

While I would still stop short of calling myself a feminist, I am definitely becoming more conscious of the plight of women being treated unfairly and as far as all the feminists debates go after all is said and debated, the bottom line and frankly the most important line is let’s give women a fair shot.


 

 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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