A Facebook friend of mine unfriended me. Before unfriending me, she mentioned that she had observed that I had started a blog on feminism, and made a point of being offensive about the fact that I was an active feminist. She told me that she didn’t believe in feminism and that although she championed for the rights of women, she would not want to be associated with feminism, adding that she would be offended if she was ever referred to as a feminist.
I had just started writing my blog at that time, and I was getting a number of interesting, sometimes ignorant and other times damn right offensive responses. I was getting tired of explaining myself, and she found me at the point where I had learnt to be less defensive about what I believed in, and sometimes even listened to responses that made no sense, or added no value, for the sheer fun of it, and maybe write about it someday.
I guess she mistook my silence for interest, and continued to tell me that told me that she thought feminism was demonic, and the devil’s agenda to destroy the family, and spread ungodly practices such as lesbianism and homosexuality. The Sodom and Gomorrah case got mentioned somewhere in between the demons and the ungodly practices that feminism sought to spread in society.
Feminism, she said was teaching women to reject femininity as they desired to be more masculine. She went on about how proud she was of her femininity, how she loved dressing up and looking beautiful, and feminism was denying women the opportunity to be feminine and beautiful.
From her unsolicited and rather ignorant opinion, it was clear that my blog and posts on feminism made her rather uncomfortable, and I was not surprised when she later unfriended me. It’s been eight months now since I started running my blog, and every so often, I am amazed at how feminism generates discomfort in just about every quarter.
The discomfort is to a large extent driven by ignorance, fear of losing power by the privileged, and uncertainty over what a society where women are regarded as fully human, and not subordinate to men would look like. Society is yet to accept that African women are embracing an ideology that has often been described as unAfrican, because it seeks to liberate African women, who have for the longest time been considered sub-human and accorded secondary status in society.
Those that have long enjoyed the benefits of women’s subjugation are afraid that feminism will turn the tables, and human beings regardless of gender will now be equal. They misconstrue feminism to be about women competing with men, and tell us that this is not the way African culture should be. They argue that there is a place for the African woman in society, which unlike everything else, does not evolve with time, and feminism is destroying that.
The number of times I see feminism appearing in sermons that seem to have an agenda to take women back to 1950 is surprising, disturbing and annoying. I reckon there are people praying and fasting against the “spirit” of feminism.
The fact that feminism is questioning religious norms that teach that God created man to provide, rule and dominate, while the woman was created to obey, serve and submit is likely to destabilize status quo, and therefore not a surprise that it generates a lot of discomfort. We are told that feminism is destroying God’s intention for women to “care” and “nurture”. God apparently created woman with “special” genes known as the nurturing, caring and domesticity genes, which are easily destroyed by feminism. Geneticists need to help us with these twisted biology lessons.
I must say that I am not surprised at the discomfort. When people question things that seem so fixed such as gender, and the position of women in society, it generates discomfort because then there is fear that people might begin to question other structures including religion, politics and education; tools used by a minority to gain and maintain power to oppress a majority.
Because the feminist movement threatens to destabilize status quo, question traditions that have long silenced, subjugated and oppressed women in the name of religion and culture, it is no wonder discussions left, right and center are exaggerating the empowerment of girls and women, and claiming that this is contributing to the disempowerment and subjugation of boys and men.
Feminists are being advised to urgently shift attention to the boy child who is seriously threatened by the emancipation of the girl child, otherwise, these girls will have no one to marry them. Never mind that violence at home, school, work, on the streets and even on social media is something that many girls and women confront on a daily basis. And that women are still highly under-represented in business, politics, leadership and ownership of property.
Women, like the Facebook friend who unfriended me, have bought into this patriarchal thinking, perpetrated by culture and religion, and are up in arms, protecting “femininity” from feminist destruction. Their ignorance on feminism doesn’t help either.
The discomfort created by feminism is not fun for a feminist, because this results in trolls, unsolicited advice, sermons that make me want to weep, and anti-feminist discussions that make me question the ability of human beings to reason. But the discomfort also tells me that feminists are probably doing something right, and rather than be cowed by the discomfort, it is time for feminists to speak louder, more wisely, more intensely and more articulately than ever.*
The fact that the feminist movement is growing like wildfire, with many young, intelligent and outspoken women openly identifying as feminists is not a comfortable position for society. Society is having a difficult time with women speaking their minds, and using their voices to challenge society as we know it. But society has to come to terms with the fact that women are leading this revolution, or otherwise bask in this discomfort, because there’s no stopping this revolution!**
* Adapted from a quote by Neil Gaiman
** Adapted from a quote by Alexis Templeton