The #SilhoutteChallenge gives us an opportunity to interrogate our gender bias

So much has been written about the inherent bias with which we judge the actions of people based solely on the gender at the receiving end of said judgement.

Time and again however, we find ourselves back to it like it is second nature. This is a perfectly human weakness that rather than scorn should invite honest reflection on why this is. The recent #SilhouetteChallenge gives an opportunity to do so, to some degree.

While a percentage of the participants have been male – roughly 70% of the participants are female, the bulk of the criticism is for the women who first hopped on the trend. This logically makes sense because again, they first hopped on the trend, and could lead us to dismiss the blatant reality that the short end of the stick was not extended to the men who eventually joined and displayed the silhouette of their erect penises in so doing.

That alone puts men’s participation on a higher pedestal for the moral police to aim a better shot at, except that they didn’t; because men generally enjoy a higher hold on their bodily autonomy even in a society as conservative as Nigeria.

It may come off as nitpicking to point these seemingly minor things out, but these small biases are what stack up to the major biases we often complain about in everyday life. Interrogating a small bias like this that expects women to hold themselves to higher moral standard but doesn’t impose the same on men is important for women to attain greater freedom to be in the long run.

This greater freedom is essential for women to explore the fullness of their being which will open the door for women to break from the monolithic notion of womanhood that is the mainstay of respectable patriarchy.

As noted in this earlier piece about the challenge, women aren’t all the same and what might be empowering for one might not be for the other. Our response to the handful of men who partook in this challenge is a testament to our understanding of this truth – for men at least.

The call to action here is that we intentionally extend the same regard for women.

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