‘‘Not this feminism thing again especially not this one who claims she is not like the rest. What does that even mean?! Your whole lot is disrupting the way we love and date, blatantly being hypocritical about this movement of yours and expect us to take you seriously. ”
I understand your disgust, sincerely I do. But before you go on with your bickering, read that definition again and keep that in mind as you go on. Yes, my breed of feminism is simply one that advocates choices for women to live their version of a quality life backed by the support of government laws and very importantly, a friendly societal and cultural environment.
For the average Nigerian man or anti-feminist woman, feminism is the face of Lucifer. It a battle of the sexes, a competition of some sort between male and female (again, that ‘a woman can do what a man can do’ paradigm), a tug of war for supremacy. It is the face of everything our grandparents and parents weren’t. It is the face of the degradation of all the family values and roles they upheld and lived in peace with. It is everything but positive – an evil epidemic that we are gladly spreading amongst ourselves and although bloodied with failed insides, we sickly hand over our poison to the next woman or girl. Dating a feminist? God forbid (hand circles head and snap!) Today, feminists want a man who opens car doors and pays the bills and the next, she is Miss Independent, who refutes the idea that bills could be split in half too. Today, she desires a man who understands and treats her like porcelain but tomorrow, she doesn’t see why marriage is her crowning glory or why men treat women as the weaker sex in marriage. So much for gender equality.
Sadly, the mainstream and social media feminism movements have thwarted the ideology into a kitchen war and bickering of sexes much to everyone’s disgust and chagrin. Splitting bills, doing the heavy work, house chores, cooking meals, raising children in a home, submission (we throw this around a lot) and allowing your husband or partner be a man, it’s one petty war over another. Nigeria has the highest rate of child marriages in the word and someone’s idea of feminism is who pays the bills on a lame date?
Owing to these various misinterpretations and misguided wars, single men and anti-feminist women are lauding it from the rooftops – this feminism thing is ruining love and families faster and faster. These choices we seek to give women, they argue, just like the Gender Equality Bill which was slammed out the window by the lawmakers, is giving women “too much freedom” and usurping societal roles that kept our society sane decades ago.
Here is why I believe that ‘feminism’ is not the problem with our relationships regardless of what side of this prism you are looking from;
Feminism is genuinely not a sexist movement. If there’s a pitching of one gender over the other when it comes to the gender divide, it is the desire that someday, men and women will have equal rights. Not that one will be more important than the other but that both will be equally able to access equal treatment in various spheres of society. Most men believe that to date or be in a relationship with someone who identifies as a feminist is to put themselves right at the battle front of the Gender World War VI. A sexist has deeper issues to address beyond the self-identification as a feminist, you must realise this. A man-hater; someone who strongly believes all men are evil and should be wiped off the surface of the earth does not understand the struggle of the feminist movement.
The Hard Woman or Miss Independent myth isn’t as terrible as you like to think and you know it. Chimamanda refused to take her husband’s last name or wear a wedding band but again, these are personal prerogatives. Our mothers and grandmothers worked farms and traded extensively to support their homes and contribute to the family’s upkeep. Their husbands loved it. That you are married to a woman doesn’t mean she transfers her sole dependence on you. You will find that burdensome in the long run, if you are honest with yourself. That she is of the school of thought that agrees a woman should find something to do with her hands, get paid for it and utilise it in the successful running of her home should be a thing of pride and not contempt if you ask me. Who would you honestly rather date? A woman who calls you when she needs money for simple things as a hair-do or a woman who’s smart enough to teach you a thing or two about business? Some men might see this as phony and very ‘feminist’. What I find that we do today when it comes to issues and problems of gender in our society is that we take a defensive stand and start to pick sides. Instead of focusing on the real issues we face – domestic violence, lack of primary basic education, forced marriages, FGM, boy soldiers in volatile areas, molestation, equal work hours and unequal pay – we waste our energy beaming the light fiercely on our differences.
You claim feminist women are usurping the traditional roles of women in their homes and fighting to become lords over the men in their lives. I agree. You claim feminists have turned the precepts of the marriage institution on its head and have taken strange paths in raising their daughters and handling their homes. You claim women are not dateable these days because they have double standards – today they are here, tomorrow, they are there. You must understand that the word means different things to different people and while this shouldn’t be so, it is the reality of the feminist movement in Nigeria. Are they correct? Probably not. That isn’t the product of feminism, at least what it genuinely and originally is. Like I always say, when it comes to how you choose to run your home, it is your prerogative really. You cannot let society tell you how best to structure your home in a way that keeps you happy, enabled to pursue other areas of your life and not burn out.
So if feminism isn’t the problem, what is?
Dear Single Men and Anti-feminist Women, the reason your relationships are bumpy is because you are in a relationship with a human being, whose life patterns and upbringing have most likely directly opposed yours and whom with you desire to reach an intimate understanding with. I don’t see how smooth you might have envisioned this ride to be. The feminists who you believe have the idea turned upside down don’t have it turned upside down for no reason. It’s the sum total of our experiences good or bad after all, that make us who we are.
The Quiet One