I recently went through Chimamanda’s article on feminism and truth be told, I was convinced that it is an ideology worth practising, howbeit with a few exceptions and disagreements to certain things about it such as the desire to completely change things as they are, and of course, the name itself which I feel does not do justice to the human race in the larger picture. In my opinion which I know is shared by many, the rightful term for ‘Feminism’ should be ‘Egalitarianism’ which simply means ‘equality of all races, religions and sexes.’
Many may argue that every good campaign or ideology has a title which invigorates the emotions of the followers, thereby building in them an unflinching and diehard feeling of ‘No Retreat No Surrender Until Our Grievances Are Met.’ But the title ‘Feminism’ as I said earlier is not one that can bring up these feelings in many an Individual, most especially the men, due to the fact that it sounds too feminine and also because to many, it only covers the rights of women and their whims (which is actually not true).
Despite the fact that I know what feminism is all about, it leaves a bitter taste in the mouth whenever the realization of what it has turned out to be in a world already hanging precariously on a line as a result of segregation. Feminism is meant to unite us all instead of being an object of division and ridicule (it is not uncommon for people to scoff when you mention the word ‘feminism’) and political imbroglio just like other ideologies such as ‘Negritude’, ‘Zionism’ and ‘Nazism’ (I am really sorry for including Nazism due to the world’s history with the dreaded Adolf Hitler because feminism has never been as brutal but I hope you get my point.) because what most women call feminism is simply radicalism or a thin line from it. In this part of the world, violence by a woman on a man is usually branded as feminism, a woman neglecting her instinctive duties as a mother is also addressed as feminism or some may say ‘Women Revolution’. You will hear things like ‘after all, men have always been doing it’. But like I always say, ‘violence is violence, evil is evil no matter the perpetrator’
Just like negritude, feminism should not be about a particular set of people, it should be about humanity in general and the respect for people’s rights as individuals. Despite the fact that we are likely not going to get a name change to this ideology, I still agree with Chimamanda when she said ‘we should all be feminists’ because truly, the women have been marginalized by various nefarious laws from countless ages ago, and also, the status quo which we all met that automatically places a man ahead of a woman irrespective of their qualifications. Laws that brand females as weaker vessels were probably once useful in the days when brute strength was needed for survival. But in this generation, these laws are quite useless because the trait needed for survival is simply smartness and this trait is not exclusively reserved for any gender. Leadership positions and employment opportunities should be acquired by merit and not by gender, age or race.
All these changes we expect cannot happen in a twinkling of an eye because it is a gradual process and must be practiced systematically because a die hard African man or male chauvinist will surely take an exception to a radical change in the status quo. That is, the belief of male superiority over females.
The first step to ensure this idea is bought by the majority is through ‘home training’. Boy should be taught from a tender age that girls are not toys. I know a man (I am not going to mention his name so I will call him Mr X) who has four children; two girls and two boys. The sons of Mr X are allowed to keep girlfriends and do absolutely what ever they like while his daughters are literally imprisoned by him all in the name of protecting them. This experience made me ponder on a lot of things ‘Why was this man teaching his sons not to respect girls in the name of training them to be independent young men?’ ‘Who was he protecting his daughters from? Men like his sons?’ ‘Who is protecting the girls being used like hand rags by his sons?’ Sadly, most parents are guilty of this, and that is why we have boys who grow up into ‘wife beaters’ because the idea of superiority over women has been implanted in them.
Girls also should be taught never to be dependent on boys for anything most especially money because naturally, the person who pays the bills also calls the shots when it comes to decision making. While many a lady is out there trying to get what they deserve and also trying to implement the doctrine of equality to the world, we still have ladies posting on social media, supporting the idea but still expecting the man to shoulder all the financial burdens in the relationship (hypocrisy at its highest).
Therefore, it is the duty of every parent to teach their children respect for every gender by setting a good example for the children to follow.
Another problem facing feminism in Nigeria is called ‘BRIDE PRICE!’ While I agree with the notion that every man should pay a certain amount of money to the bride’s family as a sign of respect and regard for them and perhaps our culture, it should not be seen as an opportunity to literally rip the man off. We see a lot a families collecting huge amount of goods and cash from the groom and this automatically places the woman under his control and in most cases, she will live the rest of her life trying to always please her man at the expense of her goals in life. How will women be regarded if the practice of literally selling them off continues? It is high time we stopped selling ladies into marriage because a buyer can use his goods the way he wants.
Feminism is surely going to be much more effective in our part of the world if certain things are fazed out such as the extra bit of affection awarded to male children over their female siblings, the unnecessary rigours men go through to marry in the name of bride price, and the existing state of affairs which brands it as the responsibility of every man to single-handedly pay the bills in every relationship.