THIS THING CALLED FEMINISM

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“I hate to hear you talk about all women as if they were fine ladies instead of rational creatures. None of us want to be in calm waters all our lives.”  – Jane Austen, Persuasion.

“My own sex, I hope, will excuse me, if I treat them like rational creatures, instead of flattering their fascinating graces, and viewing them as if they were in a state of perpetual childhood, unable to stand alone.”
― Mary Wollstonecraft, A Vindication of the Rights of Woman.

The women above were expressing, albeit in the subtlest of ways, their dissatisfaction with some of the lowest forms of female-targeted gender discrimination – denigration and objectification. My immediate reaction upon reading these words is not just sadness, but also a fluid outpouring of sympathy, and shame. Because it is true that a lot of men see women not as humans but as appendages to manhood; appendages who have no business thinking or being intelligent.

What I however would like to dissect further in this post, is the rapidly-turning consensual presupposition that men are the one and only reason for denigration of the feminine gender and as a result, they must be punished so that total women empowerment can be attained. This line of thought leads us on to the popular and very controversial topic of Feminism.

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I have always held the opinion that what the majority of us know and practice as feminism is actually – and very ironically – a campaign for the continued denigration of the female folk. A lot of mothers raise their daughters with mantras such as, “Men Are Evil”, “You Are Better Than Them(men)”, “Never Let A Man Ride You” among others; and upon growing into adults, a lot of these women turn ‘feminists’. Their practice of ‘feminism’ is built on a coarse foundation of psychological self-enslavement, carefully disguised as a caring system which would have made all their dreams come true were it not over-run by these ‘evil men-folk’.

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From the start therefore, the girl sees herself as a victim and rightly so, acts like one; she cries foul at every slightest tip in the scale and yells “Me! Me!! Not them!!!”- like a victim; she fights rough, by hook or crook, fair or foul, demanding, beguiling, begging for rights, “the same rights they have”, rights which might have always been there for the taking – like a victim; and no matter how much is acceded, no matter how many victories she registers, she goes to her death whimpering about a world that always chose ‘them’ first and never gave her a chance – like a victim.

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Perhaps there is no better illustration of this psyche-malformation than in the July 8th article published in The Guardian under the title ‘Oscar Pistorius’ trial: Lessons for Nigerian Judiciary’. The writer, Bamidele Aturu cited one of such lessons from the conduct of the female judge who has presided over the Pistorius case thus far as follows: “…the lawyers freely referred to the judge as ‘my lady’ and she did not take offence as some of our female judges, particularly those at the Court of Appeal, do”, he noted. “In Nigeria…our female judges refuse to be addressed as ‘my lady’. They would quickly point out to you that they are not your lady in such a stern way that you would think that you had just called them, ‘my wife’”

Many lawyers in quick defense of this would quickly say that there is no ‘woman’ at the bar…really, there aren’t? Of course there are – if biological differences still exist, that is – women at the bar, so it is more a case of those women not wanting to be regarded as ‘woman’ than anything else. In that case, two options are viable: either ‘woman’ is now considered such a derogatory term that learned females abhor to be so recognized while in their official capacity or it is just a principle of the profession.

I am fairly sure it is not the latter because in addition to the example of South Africa cited above, other instances abound, namely: in England and Wales, judges are called ‘My Lord’ or ‘My Lady’ and magistrates ‘Sir/Madam’; Male judges in Germany are formally addressed as ‘Herr Vorsitzender’ and female judges as ‘Frau Vorsitzende’, which translate as ‘Mister Chairman’ or ‘Madam Chairwoman’ respectively; and in Brazil, the judges can be called “Juiz” or “Juiza,” the male and female versions of judge.

Aturu went on to write – and I agree – that “in other countries, the shift to the use of ‘my lady’ to address female judges was the outcome of the struggle to treat women as women and to respect them as they are. It is therefore, demeaning of womanhood for a judge, for that matter, to stick to a mode of address that denigrates women and reflects a reactionary disposition.”

I have deliberately made this point as plainly and provocatively – if you may – as possible because only in starkness, will truth shine out in its most benevolent glory. As our people say, he is a dead man who hides a festering wound, untreated, behind swathes of fine dressing. The healing balm of truth in this case, is that obsession with the crucifixion of the men-folk for denigrating the womenfolk is no way to conquer gender discrimination. As clichéd as it is, two wrongs still do not make a right; the practice of a victim mentality and the incessant preaching to nail the ‘balls’ to the board, all in the name of feminism are in truth, anti-feminist.

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Eleniyan is a Nigerian who wrote a very difficult to read, but insightful article titled ‘The Need for Feminism in Nigeria and Africa as a whole’ which was published on www.nigeriavillagesquare.com in September, 2009. If it matters to you, I am unaware of Eleniyan’s gender but the writer’s views on feminism shed more light on this very unpopular view of mine.

In the writer’s opinion, feminism “…is not ANTI-MEN! The problem with the anti-men agenda cloaked in feminism is that, in its effort to subvert the order of things, wanting to take power away from men, they forgot the fundamental differences both socially and biologically, between men and women. By peddling their “freedoms” or “anti-men” agenda that are artificial, self-destructive, and merely allow women to have superficial resemblance of equality, they hurt feminism’s aim to improve emotional and psychological relations between men and women and cultivate a genuine respect for women”

He/she went on to explain that this retributive agenda directed at the supposed hunters in flesh of men, has been mistaken for feminism. AND this singular factor is responsible for the many “road-bumps” against feminism in our society.

Feminism is a political, moral, social, and even now religious movement which aspires for equal rights and all-round protection for women. And often, the misconceptions surround the many different definitions of the term ‘EQUAL’.

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According to Eleniyan, “Equality is not sameness in treatment, but fairness in treatment” The idea is that while differences in human compositions and nature make it impossible for everybody to be treated exactly the same, the same differences must discourage unfair treatment of one over another.

I am helpless before the veracity of these words because fairness does not focus on stamping down on one person for another to be raised up; it might be necessary in certain cases, that a head must roll for another to sprout, but the difference is that equality fights against an initial, obvious and compulsive obsession for this to happen, while accepting it when it does happen.

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Fairness does not discard the needs, wants and aspirations of one person in favor of another’s; it accepts everybody – male or female, hunter or hunted – for who they are and treats them with respect. And the achievement of that for women, I believe, is the mission of feminism.

Nelson Mandela did not attempt to victimize the supremacist whites in South Africa in order to free his people of apartheid; he would have failed. He rather believed and fought for equality and fairness. He once was quoted as saying: “Let there be justice for ALL. Let there be peace for ALL. Let there be work, bread, water and salt for ALL. Let EACH know that for EACH the body, the mind and the soul have been freed to fulfill themselves.”

Even Martin Luther King Jr’s dream was not obsessed with demanding the heads of the white racists on spikes; his dream was “that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that ALL MEN are created equal.’”

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Equality. Fairness. Is the stuff it ought to be made of.

And now it is your turn to share, reader. Whatever your view is – hot or cold 😉 – pen it down in the comments section for us all to share. What is your view of This Thing Called Feminism?

 

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24 thoughts on “THIS THING CALLED FEMINISM

  1. I am presently a student of the Nigeria Law School. I find it quite annoying that the staff always proudly say that the law does not recognise women and then go on to refer to everyone as gentlemen. I am a woman. I do not take any pride in answering to something I am not.

  2. wonderful piece bro…as much as I would like to pen out my entire view on the issue, I couldn’t as it may seem like a repetition of most of what you’ve said. Tuale for you jare!!!

  3. ‘Equality is not sameness in treatment, but fairness in treatment” The idea is that while differences in human compositions and nature make it impossible for everybody to be treated exactly the same, the same differences must discourage unfair treatment of one over another.

    That right there killed it for me. It is the light most people on both sides of the feminist arguement have refused to see.

  4. Hmmm! If only they would understand! This piece is really,very insightful cos dat word, Feminism has bn totally misconstrued especially in our Nigerian society. For the life of me,why would a woman wake up one morning and fight as in really FIGHT to be treated equally with a man! For peace sakes u r a woman,human first,yes…..bt being a woman supercedes. The fact dat there are males nd females in d human specie creates and maintains order. If u decide to change it,chaos is inevitable. I really pray our ‘feminists’ would understand this. I felt sympathy for Ireti as I read her story bt in as much as d streets are d wrongest of places to get d right treatment,wouldn’t it have bn better if we don’t take it all out on d male specie?? Crying all day nd night of being victimised?? Truth be told,if u accept wholly that u are woman and understand what that means,u wld understand too that u are MORE POWERFUL than a man! It just is. If our Feminists would understand that feminism is about treating women fairly and not equally, then would be an understandable cause for the fight. Thumbs up,Marty!

  5. I am a chiwill-Children, women and the law- student. A second year course in unec..dts unn. Chiwil is mainly about women. Now if you read cases where women have been held as properties by judges and cases of disinheritance..Nzekwu v Nzekwu, Meribe v Egwu,Mohekwu v Mojekwu though they r kinda old..you would understand why it gets mixed up most times. Then there is affirmative action or positive discrimination; now based on sex it is saying that women who are EQUALLY qualified should be given an opportunity. Emphasis on equally. The law doesn’t help really refer to Item 61 Second Schedule 1999 const.( i don’t think said provision has been amended). Bow as relates the milady and my lord..now these societies r advanced as such the milady is even respectful. In Nigeria, yes Chisom, woman is still seen as derogatory. Reminding us that we are the weaker vessels. But you see i get your point. Look at it from the angle of those who have actually gone through this discrimination..when you go to the last hope of the common man and they telk your custom does not just favour you.

    • Lol…I was beginning to wonder if there was noone with a contradictory view. Thank you, Ezinma. I understand your point about those cases but I would like to think that those judgments were made on the basis of bias of the judges, not on the law. If the law supports such, then we’re all better off investing this here energy on the constitution first.
      I know ‘woman’ is made to sound derogatory in the court – even elsewhere, in the homes, kindred meetings à la ‘sit down, woman!’ – you’re the only one brave enough to admit it. Maybe if our lady judges admitted this rather than fight it, we could win. Because when they fight it, all they’re doing is agreeing that ‘woman’ is indeed derogatory. And it is NOT.
      Again dear, thank YOU

  6. I think many people tend to misconstrue the word “feminism” itself from the prints before them. It appears like a simple derivation from “feminine”, which when interpreted in the manner of “patriotism” (from “patriotic”) can simply mean glorifying the female gender, making the female species dominant/important, or something very close/revolving around feminine; not in the context of fairness.

    Good job!

    • I hear you, Joe but really I think it is more about the ‘how it translates’ than ‘what it translates to’ for most of our countrymen. Thank you bro

    • Yes indeed, bro…more men too. You’d be surprised how many men are killing the feminist struggle in the name of aiding it.
      Thanka for stopping by, Iyke

  7. I like to think myself a feminist…not the regular nigerian feminist tho. I dont fight to be equal to men. I rather fight to be recognized as a woman and respected as such. I dont want the same treatment men get. Hell no! Its damn too tough. All I want, all I ask is that I should be seen as human, with more to me than a vagina, someone with a mind and a will of her own, someone with dreams, emotions and responsibilities, someone who can make her own decisions.
    I dont want to be seen as a second class citizen. That’s not what God created women to be. Neither did he create us to me work mules. No! And that dear Chisom, is what I want the world to know.
    I want them to know that the fact that I am female doesnt make me bound to sweep a class that was messed up by males. No. They should learn…as much as possible to clean up their own messes.
    The fact that I am female doesnt also mean that I should let go of my wishes and aspirations all because the males in my life think it is not the best thing for me. For Chrissakes, I’m human; capable of thinking and deciding what is best for me.

    I am not an inferior creature or second class citizen. I am not equal to men either. Instead I have a role, a function quite different from that which men play. I have my own way of thinking, of acting and seeing things. I have my own pschology. I am different…I am a woman. I am female. And we…women, we want to be respected for who we are.

    Shikena!

    • And we have heard you, Chioma. But you all need to realize what feminism means.
      Using your sweeping example for reference; back in secondary school, we washed our classrooms every tuesday. On this particular day, our class girls decided that the class was too dirty because the ‘boys’ had messed it up. So they said they wouldn:t sweep all by themselves. We did not quarrel oh, we picked up the brooms and asked them to take the seats out as well as fetch the water for the washing – tasks which we guys took care of hitherto. I’m sure you can guess what happened eventually…
      That is the problem, my dear. Women and men are not the same and will never be. But they can both be treated equally and fairly by each other – that is the gospel of feminism

  8. First, Mr Ibu’s gotta be the fugliest ‘would be woman’ or trans-sexual I’ve ever seen! Eeewwww! Thank God he’s male! I love all of these illustrations, they got me laughing out loud! LOOL

    Wow! I love this piece, very insightful and enlightening! The world with its many ‘labels’. Listening to the lyrics of the mighty multi- talented superstar Cobhams Asuquo’s ‘Ordinary People’, I get so inspired and just think how very simple this life is and could actually be, if we humans just quit complicating issues and just live our lives as ordinary people. Cobhams asserts that if we can just all live our lives as ordinary folks, then; we’d have lived an extraordinary life. I’m not a feminist, have never been, will never be! I’m human and the only belief that holds true for me is that which stipulates that I should treat everyone as I’d like for ’em to treat me. To love my neighbour as myself. I’m ill at ease when it comes to the maltreatment of anyone, be they male or female. I will not condone violations of anyone’s rights’. That’s the way it oughta be, regardless of whatever gender it is! Thanks for sharing Chisom, I picked up a lotta lessons.

  9. If you absolutely needed my piece to segue into yours, you could have done so more accurately. The confidence with which you wrote what you did has me wondering if you live in my mind. Erm…if you did a bit of research on the ‘girl’ whose opinion you were exploitatively skewing, you wld find that the only other article I ever wrote on this matter talks about the culpability of women. I am not anti-men nor pro-playing the victim, but as you fortunately will never know, telling something that happens to you as it did will always be viewed as you did, by someone who hasn’t experienced it. If you are any iota the conscious person you try to project in this article, you would realize the fact that you are male handicaps your ability to relate to this issue, in which case you would see how ill-informed you sound. News Flash: it did, does, and will happen to ‘ME’. I refuse to be a victim (how you can even interpreted that from what you read has me wondering if we’re talking about the same piece)and that is the exact opposite of what that post was about. I do not appreciate the misrepresentation or presumption of my views for your article opening. One writer to another; I am not one of your characters, your poetic license does not apply to my reality, thanks.

    In other news this is quite the thing to discover on a Saturday night.

    • Hapygypsy…Ireti (right?), nothing about my piece was intended to attack your person or experience for that matter. It was merely a quote (with proper references attached, by the way) employed as an intro into the sensitive matter of feminism; I fear you may have grossly misread my intentions.
      I believe – as I stated in the piece – that women should ACTIVELY refuse to be victims, but I guess my being male invalidates that belief or any other opinions I may have on the issue.
      I therefore apologize for the fact that I quoted you, and it hurt you. If you wish, I can remove your views from the article; all you have to do is let me know by replying here. Thank you for taking the time out to read the piece and pen down your grievances; a lesser person couldn’t have.

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