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Nothing on earth is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity. For many years, a better percentage of African ladies have continued to embrace the erroneously flawed belief that feminism was all about an unseen rivalry between male and female genders. Anytime the concept of feminism comes into a conversation, they immediately conclude that they were up for some muscle-flexing game between opposing genders which is further fuelled by a desperate contrivance to bring men under control and end or suppress their chauvinistic posturing. This is all shades of wrong.
It is sad that people do not understand that feminism is plain basic human decency and common sense. Rather than instigating an unnecessary rivalry, feminism is all about finding ways to ensure that human beings are not deprived of their basic human rights simply because they are female. It is all about extending all the rights and privileges accorded men to women and ensuring that society thrives with less friction over the bickering that often arises from misunderstandings between men and women from time to time.
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Out of blatant ignorance, many African ladies have defined feminism as misandry and under the guise of being feminists, they have become misandrists or people who despise men. Owing to perceived age-long patriarchal advantages men seem to have enjoyed in society, this misconception has led to some form of venomous hatred for men which has done them no good in the long run.
The truth is that these misconceptions about the concept have led to the demonisation of feminism and ultimately feminists by people who ought to know better. Men who shouldn’t have had any reason to be afraid and mystified when conversations around feminism arise have been pushed to be so. Feminism is supposed to be the phenomenon that promotes girl child education, facilitates political emancipation for women, career progression for the female gender, and freedom from knotty cultural practices deterring women from advancing in a society, where the male is assumed to have gained unbridled control, recognition, and dominance. None of these is bad, however, the misrepresentation of the meaning has pushed many ladies into plain men-haters and this has further widened the gap between them and the goals of feminism.
Many ladies in today’s world do not know that even men can be feminists. There are men in today’s world who do not agree that women should be oppressed and men like that have often joined hands with women in solidarity to fight against it. Feminism has grown to become a global struggle against all forms of patriarchal oppression and anyone who believes in its ideals is a feminist. It is not supposed to be a breeding ground or meeting point for women who want to be given reasons to be strongly prejudiced against men. The hatred is supposed to be against the systems that enthrone patriarchy, not men. Patriarchy itself derives its power from the control of all economic, political, social, cultural, and religious systems and these standards were not set by the men they erroneously love to splash hate on.
Africa has had many great women such as Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti, Margaret Ekpo, Gambo Sawaba, and many others who despite not being officially called feminists, were actually, based on the ideals they stood for and what they believed in. It is difficult to have a good look at the lives they lived and not see the burning desire they had to see an end to the marginalisation of women. They didn’t have to hate men to make their case. That is what feminism is supposed to be about.
Most of the arguments which have been advanced by women who have a warped mindset about feminism have really been painfully mundane. What is supposed to be the big picture agenda of the feminist movement is simply to create a world in which all women (and men) can be very really productive, enterprising, and resourceful citizens. The feminist movement is supposed to be responsible for pushing issues relating to gender, development, and women’s human rights into global and local agendas.
Rather than expending scarce time, energy, and resources on the wrong narratives, feminists and people who believe in feminism will do themselves better good by advocating bills to protect women from violence around their locality which all women will surely benefit from, they can do better by using their voices to hold governments accountable for women’s reproductive health and rights, they can achieve a whole lot by supporting themselves to become better positioned in the society. There are up to 15m out-of-school children in Nigeria and 60% of them are girls. Granted majority of them are in Northern Nigeria due to the insurgencies and conflict there and restrictions on girls accessing education, but every state also shares in this burden due to the high attrition rate of girls, who drop out due to poverty or sexual exploitation, feminist should be seeking ways to correct this and not to breeding innocent misandrists all over the place.
Again, there is another misconception about feminism, feminists and non-feminists alike have not clearly understood. Feminism is not supposed to be an enemy of all cultures and traditions and traditions known to mankind. Feminism is supposed to be making strong cases against certain cultures which are dehumanising and no longer serve any purpose other than to hurt women and girls. Practices such as female genital mutilation, degrading widowhood rites, child marriage, and denying women inheritance, are relics from the past that feminism is supposed to be respectfully preaching against. Rather than playing the victims in these situations, feminists are supposed to be making a good case against some of these practices which were instituted hundreds of years ago. It is supposed to be about conversations and not bile and bitterness like we see today.
African ladies who are dissatisfied with the status quo or the place of men in society will be doing themselves a lot of good if they carry out more research to fully have a grasp of what feminism generally entails. Given the fact that feminism is against gender stereotypes, generalisations such as ‘men are bad’, ‘men are scum’, ‘men are dogs’ would actually fall under the category of ‘anti-feminist,’ comments since they are in themselves gender stereotypes. African ladies must wean themselves off these thoughts if they are ever going to stand the chance of pursuing feminist ideals.
In conclusion, African ladies must learn that feminism fights for equal treatment of women and men, not superior treatment of women, essentially, you do not have to be anti-man to be pro-woman. They must learn that feminism is supposed to be a struggle for due justice rather than a struggle for more power which they have forced themselves to erroneously believe. You don’t have to put men down to raise women up. It is sad that these misconceptions have led to having single, lonely, bitter, and angry African ladies who find ways to convince themselves that they do not need men, that mindset is dangerously flawed and will only continue to emit toxicity into our damaged world. This has to change.