#12. ‘Rasheeda’ + ‘Anita Erskine’ + ‘Boko haram feminists’
Just some of the terms that have been floating around ever since Rasheeda aka Rasheeda Black Beauty accidentally released her nude video. I haven’t watched that video but I have not been immune from the vitriol she has faced over it.
My two cents on her video are as follows:
Chile, what in the hell were you thinking? (say it in a Southern Black Woman’s voice) Did you think you were Kim-bloody-Kardashian with a mama called Kris Jenner who can spin any old crap into a money making venture? Did you think you were a white American and your whiteness would shield you from public ridicule and disgrace?? Okay – let me just ask, were you thinking about this at all?
Now that that rant is out of the way I will proceed.
People make mistakes, bad ones, terrible ones; and with my history of fuck-ups I am the wrong person to be throwing stones. But the difference between us is that I have been lucky enough not to have my stupid shit recorded and then shared thousands of times across social media platforms.
I’ve been very lucky.
And you dear Rasheeda have not.
But I like your attitude though; the way you bounced back and apologised via social media to your fans and supporters (#teamRasheeda/#malafakasquad) and (for the most part) we have forgiven you.
And to show how much we’ve forgiven you we’ve delegated one of our finest sisters to extend an olive branch to you to see how she can help you channel all your latent passion into something more useful.
Enter the second trending name of the week – The Anita Erskine. Internationally renowned radio and TV personality, MC extraordinaire, brand ambassador and all-round nice person; Anita reached out and did what hordes of teeming Ghanaians failed to do – she extended a hand of friendship, love and support to a young girl who made a bad decision and was in need of some guidance. And she did it using what John C Maxwell calls the ‘velvet covered brick approach’. She wrapped up her criticism and disappointment with Rasheeda with a warm sheen of affirmative words.
And why did she choose that approach ladies and gentlemen? Because honey still catches more flies than vinegar.
Which leads to the third and perhaps most controversial term I have encountered due to this incident – boko haram feminist.
This is a term used by award winning journalist Manasseh Azure Awuni to describe feminists who he describes as extreme in their thinking, liking them to extreme Christians or fundamentalist Islamists. In his blog piece, he added Anita Erskine to his lump sum definition of boko haram feminists because she chose to stand in the gap and offer support to a 16-year-old instead of standing on the sidelines and condemning her for her actions.
After reading Anita’s letter, Manasseh’s blog piece and a similar piece written by Austin Brako Powers, I realised that the two gentlemen had taken Anita out of context and misunderstood her stance. Which I suppose is a fair conclusion because it’s quite a nuanced letter and one would have to read it with a very empathetic pair of glasses to fully grasp the import of what Anita was offering.
And then there was the term ‘boko haram feminist’. Seriously? What the actual hell?
Of course I lost my temper when I read it but I was at work and couldn’t flare up the way I wanted to; so I stewed on it for a while. And whilst pondering over it I asked myself – and really, what is so wrong about being extreme in your beliefs? The Bible says explicitly that God can’t tolerate lukewarm Christians – you are either hot or cold; if you’re in the middle He’ll spit you out.
And really, come to think of it, how many causes or battled were won (or lost) by being moderately aggressive?
Was it the fight against segregation in the USA? Nope
How about the fight against apartheid in South Africa? Nee man.
Or the right for women to vote? Yep, there was some fighting there.
Or the fight for Ghana’s independence? Self rule now over self rule in the shortest possible time?
In every single instance mentioned off the top of my head, the battle was fought and eventually won by extremists; people who took a stand and sacrificed everything in order for it to come to pass. Some gave up their lives for ideals they could only dream their children will experience in their lifetimes.
Yes, there are crazy, sadistic extremists who have brought nothing but pain to the world; but for the most part, our world as we know it, the freedoms we (especially Black people) enjoy, is only because our forebears fought with ‘boko haramic’ intensity for them to come to pass.
So – that being said, who is a boko haram feminist?
Well, in my estimation, a boko haram feminist is one who has decided that equality between the sexes is a do-or-die affair for him or her and will not stop until it comes to pass. S(h)e has decided that the life s(h)e is living and the challenges s(h)e is facing are not challenges s(h)e wants their child to face. A decision was made, a line was drawn in the sand, and the resolve was set and the armour was strapped on.
No more…. there has to be a change….. we have to find a way to make the change.
And its through the work of the extreme feminists behind us that so many reforms have taken place and more and more women are breaking through the glass ceiling.
It’s time for all of us to leave no body behind – whether she’s a science and maths genius or a 16-year-old thrust into fame via social media.
There’s room enough for all of us to grow, blossom and shine.
Leave no one behind.