If you are on Twitter, you may have noticed that in the past few days, women circles have been quite active and the word “Feminist coven” trended. Several ladies now have the word “member feminist coven” on their bylines and are referring to themselves as witches. The furor which has seen the sales of tee shirts with the inscription soaring is in a bid to draw attention to rape issues specifically those surrounding D’banj and his accuser Seyitan and Dr Funmilayo and his accuser Anu and to help raise money for legal actions against the women.
I am a beneficiary of the power of feminism and I will be forever grateful to the women who have stood up for women rights without fear of their lives and to their livelihood, women like Emmeline Pankhurst who employed several controversial means in her attempts to create awareness for female rights, Mrs Funmilayo Ransome – Kuti who was credited with being the first female in Nigeria to drive a car and led protests leading to the temporary abdication of the then Alake from his throne, Malala Yousafzai who inspite of personal bodily harm has continued to fight for the education of the girl child.
Wikipedia defines feminism as a range of social, political movements, and ideologies that aim to define, establish, and achieve the political, economic, personal, and social equality of the sexes.
Feminism incorporates the position that societies prioritize the male point of view, and that women are treated unfairly within those societies. Efforts to change that, include fighting gender stereotypes and seeking to establish educational and professional opportunities for women that are equal to those for men.
Feminist movements have campaigned and continue to campaign for women’s rights, including the right to vote, to hold public office, to work, to earn fair wages, equal pay and eliminate the gender pay gap, to own property, to receive education, to enter contracts, to have equal rights within marriage, and to have maternity leave. Feminists have also worked to ensure access to legal abortions and social integration and to protect women and girls from rape, sexual harassment, and domestic violence.
However, notwithstanding the good feminism has wrought, it is one of the most controversial subjects and even among women there is a lot of disagreement as to what it means and the methods of engagement employed in driving the feminist agenda. This has resulted in a lot of women not wanting to identify with the tag “feminist” even though they agree that there ought to be equality between the sexes.
The reasons for the hesitation are not far fetched. Most feminist are very forceful and harsh in their condemnation of anything male and their brashness turns a lot of people away from the goodness of their actions. Sometime last week, the celebrated columnist Olusegun Adeniyi was vilified by members of the African Feminist Initiative (AFI) when he used a portion of their statement and names of signatories at the back of his book” Grades for Sex” without their consent or permission. Whilst he clearly had no authority to do so and should have known that he needed their consent by virtue of his profession, he was subjected to a lot of vitriol by the ladies who made rubbish of his apologies and abused him personally.
I read the thread and was dismayed by the utterances of the ladies who I felt should have used the publicity generated by the incident to promote the feminist agenda in a positive light. Rather, they reinforced the opinion that Feminists are rude, obnoxious and self serving.
The forceful nature of most feminists make both Men and women feel threatened as they do not seem content on only obtaining female rights but also seem to want to control men and bring about a power shift, overturning the established traditional , religious and economic roles in the world.
So what does a refined feminist mean?
As far as I am concerned, it means someone who is passionate about equality of the sexes without the decimation of any of the sexes, someone who believes that men and women are equal and that each roles are necessary, complementary and interchangeable. It means that whilst I believe that women and men have separate, though equal, roles in marriage, family life, the church, and elsewhere there are no gender restrictions on what roles men and women can fulfill in the church, home, and society. It means both sexes can be leaders in the home, support the home financially and can thrive in roles traditionally held to belong to the other sex.
In the words of Kathy Caprino “Feminism at its core is about equality of men and women, not “sameness.” So many people offer up the argument that women are not the “same” as men so there can’t be equality. In other words, because their bodies are different (many say “weaker” and smaller), and because men and women have different physical capabilities, these physical differences mean equality is not possible. It’s critical to understand that “same” does not mean “equal.” The issue here is about equal rights and equal access to opportunities. Men and women don’t have to be the “same” in physicality to have the right to equality.”
I totally agree with Ms Caprino and it is my opinion that feminism is mainly about the power of choice and the freedom it gives women to be free to make the important choices in their lives. That notwithstanding feminists need to know that both genders are important and play a role in society especially in the nurturing of children. The truth is that we need each other. Even women in Lesbian relationships are confronted with the fact that to have a child they need the input of a man and men in gay relationships also acknowledge that there are some things that come easily to women and are unique to women .
Finally, I do appeal to hardcore feminists to sheath their swords and take a good look at their strategy, yes I know patriarchy is quite a formidable enemy and that at times we must take what we want forcefully but I believe that we can always disagree without being disagreeable otherwise we may find that we have thrown out the baby with the birth water.