Assuming nothing; questioning everything

Smashing patriachy is my cup of tea

When I finally embraced feminism, I was one happy woman. I’d had ups and downs with feminism for about 10 years of my life, dropping it and picking it again every so often in my 20’s. I was conflicted between fully embracing women’s liberation, while battling with the need to conform to what was required of me as woman, based on social and religious teachings.

After a four year feminism-drop, I decided to explore and open my mind up to feminism once again. This time I wanted to understand feminism, and at the same time be as critical of feminism as much as possible. After immersing myself in feminism for a while, I emerged as a true believer in the power of feminism to change the world, and make it better for women.

I found feminism to be personally liberating, taking off so many of requirements that society had placed on me, by virtue of being a woman. As I began to drop the gender related societal pressures, I wanted to share this new-found liberation with the world, and with the women around me.

So I started, with some of the people closest to me; enthusiastically sharing my new-found philosophy; sharing articles, videos and initiating conversations on feminism.

It didn’t take long for me to realise that my new ideas were not as welcome as I expected, in a world that has for a long time embraced patriarchy and sexist ideas of the position of women and men in society.

Contrary to the enthusiastic reception I expected, I was disparaged, and dismissed with Biblical quotations and remarks on feminism being an un-African concept. On one occasion, I was informed that I was the only one that needed feminism, and many African women were happy to be dominated, particularly in marriage, as long as their husbands met their obligations as providers and leaders.

I was accused of demanding women to compete with men, whereas God wanted women and men to complement each other. As a result, I was promised a position in hell, if I continued to question and mislead other women to disobey the word of God, which required them to submit.

Completely frustrated at the turn of events, I decided to start blogging. My blog was my way of talking to myself and imagining that the world was listening. I had no real expectations; but to get an outlet for all the conversations and questions I was having in my head, but lacking people to discuss with. My blog was the outlet of a feminist, outraged by injustice against women, and consumed with fantasies of a new world for women.

A few months since I started blogging, I must say that I have been pleasantly surprised. I have developed friendships with feminists from Kenya, Ethiopia, Rwanda, South Africa, Canada and Nigeria, some of whom I have met physically, others online. I have met some of these wonderful women over mojitos, over tea, and the occasional dinner, and we have had some of the most stimulating conversations imaginable.

I have also discovered other smart, funny, and bold feminist writers from across Africa, writing all sorts of interesting stuff on being women, on feminism, sex and sexuality, patriarchy and sexism, and politics among other topics.

When we found each other online with some of the feminists, we formed the Facebook group, Feminists in Africa; a platform that has allowed us to have deep, intellectual and mind blowing conversations. The platform has allowed us to find solace and support in each other, providing cyber-encouragement and creating a community of feminists in Africa. I have learned so much from this forum, it feels like I just went through a course on feminism.

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When I think about this short and exciting journey as a feminist blogger, I am completely awed at the power of social media. I get overwhelmed and excited when I think of what and how much could be done through social media. At the same time, I realise the limitations of social media in achieving social change.

While social media is key to organizing, it also has potential to exclude the same people we intend to include, particularly in contexts where access to internet is limited, and many women do not even have the skills to have discussions on Facebook, Twitter or discover some great feminist blogs.

Conscious of both the successes and challenges of social media in creating social change, techo-sociologist, Zeynep Tufekci in her Ted Talk argues that although digital technologies have made it easier for modern day social movements to organize, they are not registering highly successful results, in terms of overall social change. She opines that some of the benefits of doing things the hard way are being overlooked.

Zeynep tells the story of how the ruling Turkish political party, has succeeded in combining both online and offline organizing. Curious to find out what the key to their success was, she interviewed and official of the party who told her that “the key is he never took sugar with his tea.” He explains that, in addition to organizing online, his party met people in their homes, in meetings and other offline forums on a daily basis.

While meeting people in their physical spaces, he was often offered tea, and realised that if he was going to take sugar with all the tea that came with visits, it would pose a risk to his health and weight. He therefore had to stop taking sugar, as turning down the offers for tea would be perceived as rude. Zeynep concludes by saying, “to succeed in the long term, sometimes you need your tea without sugar, along with your Twitter [social media].”

The same applies to cyber-feminists. We are part of a radical movement, with power to transform the lives of women in this continent, but to succeed in that, we must move beyond the cyber space, and gradually get into the more lengthy, hard and demanding work.

It is great, but not enough that we write all these wonderful blogs, and create all these online spaces for us to discuss feminism and support each other. To succeed in the long term, we need to meet women in their physical spaces, and sometimes take tea without sugar, along with our cyber-feminism.

We can all do it

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Comments on: "Some tea without sugar for the cyber-feminists" (8)

  1. Wow amazing Cera. Kindly read mine as well. I just started and will use some opinions on do’s and dont’s. candylize.WordPress.com

    Feel free to talk to me on candylize@gmail.com

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  2. Ooooh, how does one join Feminists in Africa, it sounds rad

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  3. I swear your blog inspires my day by day. I’m not sure if I told you this but your blog post on “Why wasn’t my womanhood celebrated” will always be my favorite and I can’t help but keep re-reading it but anywhooo…. 🙂

    “I found feminism to be personally liberating, taking off so many of requirements that society had placed on me, by virtue of being a woman”
    This quote just summarizes it all. Before I embraced feminism, (like around the age of 12), I used to believe that I couldn’t be president because I as a woman wasn’t supposed to make more money than a man out of fear or being ‘left’. It wasn’t until I was introduced to feminism where I realized that I can be president, that no one, (especially your significant other), should lower down your status. From the moment I started embracing it, I realized that I should most definitely share house hold chores with my male cousins. I think feminism is about realization and change of mindset, which really is a wonderful thing, especially for women.

    Lovely Post, Keep at it Girl!!

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    • Thanks Cindy! I love your comments on my posts….always great and inspiring.

      I’m happy for you, that you discovered feminism at such an early age, and you are convinced and consistent about it. I on the other hand, was quite the confused feminism, dropping and picking it up all the time.

      Feminism is wonderful and liberating. I can’t imagine what my life would be like, had I continued to work towards fulfilling all the societal expectations and pressures of being a woman.

      When I finally embraced feminism I gave one long sigh of relief. You’re lucky you get to escape that from an early age, and realise you can be anything, once you refuse to be bound by gendered limitations.

      Thanks for letting me know that “why was my womanhood not celebrated” was your favourite of my posts. I’m glad you found it inspiring.

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  4. In real life I hardly ever find people who agree with me on some things like feminism. It has been wonderful coming to your blog and feeling like this is where I belong.

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    • Thank you Wangui. I’m happy to hear that you found a home here. Please keep coming 🙂 and sorry for the delay in responding. For some reason I didn’t get notification on your message.

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