#4 : Me and my ‘overrated feminism’
Feminism – a range of political movements, ideologies and social movements that share a common goal: to define, establish and achieve political, economic, personal and social rights for women.
Feminist – one who ascribes to feminism.
It all started with a picture on Facebook. A good friend of mine and former University of Ghana classmate posted a picture of a young woman smoking (what looked like) shisha and getting her groove on at a club. Not a particularly unique pose. But his caption though “This one too wants to be a mother someday”; that caught my attention.
And my blood immediately boiled over and steam poured out of my ears. I was tempted to wave it off; after all he’s the same friend who posted about women who look like Alicia Keys on Facebook and Wiyaala in real life (and I still can’t believe that he didn’t understand when I pointed out to him that his comparison was insulting). I didn’t want to get into it with him again. But I scrolled through the comments and found my friend Affi telling him to ‘get of his judgment throne.’
I couldn’t just leave Affi there all by herself; I had to pitch in. Otherwise who knows what other drivel would have followed to invalidate her comment. (Or try to. Have you met Affi? Her voice is soft but her skin is thick)
So I asked him that there are men in the club who are fathers, so what’s the point of his argument? From that point the discussion degenerated with him telling me my ‘overrated feminist posture’ made me lose the point.
In hindsight I should have asked him: ‘Do you think your mother was a saint before she gave birth to you?’
That would have shut down the conversation and brought out all the ironic male idol-worshipping of their mothers which doesn’t relate to women who are not mothers.
But that’s a conversation for another day.
People like to use the term feminism as a cuss word or an insult or a slur; especially if you’re a single woman who happens to be a feminist. In that scenario, you are the one people warn their married female friends about. Here are some examples :
“Don’t talk to her because she’ll advise you to demand your rights, fight with your husband and leave him. You know she’s jealous of you right? And the fact that you’re married?” So yeah don’t speak to your feminist friend; stay in your marriage were your husband beats the black off you every other day, then uses your money and has the gall to have sex with women half his age and get angry with you when you confront him on it. Don’t listen to your feminist friend, cos clearly she’s jealous of your ideal home life.
“If you’re in a relationship and your man is acting up, don’t listen to your feminist friend who will tell you to speak up for yourself and demand some accountability. Because she’s single and clearly jealous of your relationship and wants you to join her in Single Sister Land.”
“When you’re married you have to juggle house and home and the kids. And remember, your husband is your first child, he needs all the attention. So get ready to cook and clean and wash after him and the kids and manage your career and still look 22 otherwise a real 22 year old will snatch your husband away. And just because you work a 12 hour shift doesn’t mean you can’t stop what you’re doing and make the man a meal. Because you’re his wife. And please don’t listen to your feminist friend who tells you you’re not a pack mule and it’s okay to ask for help and ask your husband to help. Because if you do, hell, he might just do it.”
“Eish, you people should take it easy with this feminist thing oh. Otherwise your husbands will beat you.”
“You know my Reverend says that feminists are disrespectful and …don’t respect their husbands.”
These and so many others I hear from men and women and each of them have first degrees from sterling universities, some have masters, others run their own businesses, one I almost dated. People who I feel should know better.
Because I’m a Ghanaian woman who believes that other women should not be discriminated against and should be given equal opportunity and equal recognition for what they do.
And because I’m a Ghanaian woman who lives in a very patriarchal society, it is somehow an anomaly for me to want to believe that a society where men and women are treated as equals is impossible.
Question – why do so many people assume that to be a feminist means you have to be single and female? The feminists that I admire and look up to are married with children and careers. The first people who encouraged me to excel in my career and not worry about anything anybody says were men. Looking back, I realise how fortunate I am to have men as well as married women who are feminists to guide me to this path.
And yes, they are all Ghanaians. Each and every one of them.
So why is being a feminist a badge of honour for some and a dirty word for others? Is it because feminists are always trying to right a wrong? Is it because we always look angry with steam coming out of our ears at the masculine hegemonic bullshit posturing that we’re exposed to on a daily basis? Is it because for every success women chalk up, for every victory against discrimination there’s an incident of patriarchy that makes us realise there’s still so much work to be done? So much education that needs to be done?
Well, whatever the reason, I’m not giving up my place in the fight for a society that respects women as highly as it respects men, one which recognizes the contribution of women to society’s development and one which treats women and men as equals.
And if you don’t like it, take a deep breath, grab your matches and go and burn the sea.