Figuring Out Feminism : Day One

I need answers

As a baby feminist I knew I needed a home to grow. Lucky me, #PepperDemMinistries took off just last month and these feisty, bold, outspoken women are really God’s gift to me. They smash every single negative stereotype about feminism into the ground and in over five weeks, they have forced negative gender narratives to the forefront of Ghanaian social media.

Sorry, let me introduce them to you : #PepperDemMinistries is setting out to dismantle the wall of sexism, discrimination and inequality between the sexes by first and foremost, forcing Ghanaians to acknowledge that there is inequality and it is most prominently found in the words and phrases used to describe women as compared to men. Currently, the activism is purely via social media but there are plans to initiate hands-on programs for young women and men in society.

In fact,over the past month as we (yes, I joined in) #FlippedTheScript, #UnlearntToxicNarratives and #Peppered negative statements mercilessly, Ghanaians really sat down and thought about gender in a bold, fierce, passionate, aggressive way.

Of course, #PepperDemMinistries wasn’t going to exist without opposing factions; hence the sprouting up of #gingerdemministries, #oniondemministries, #sugardemministries and #pamperdemministries. As for #ginger and #onion I really don’t know much about them beyond the fact that they taste great in stews and soups.

#Sugardemministries is actually the hashtag for an association called Patriarchy Princesses International and #pamperdemministries has set out to encourage men and women to treat each other like royalty in order to foster understanding.

Riiiiight.

Recently, Patriarchal Princesses released a press statement that somehow was published on the online portals of at least three Ghanaian media houses. The woman who wrote the press release is a friend from high school and via Facebook so I read through a copy on my newsfeed.

Then I read it again.

Then I put my coffee down, took a deep breath and read it a third time.

Here’s the statement in full:

*PRESS RELEASE*

*WOMEN SHOULD BE SUBMISSIVE-PATRIARCHAL PRINCESSES INTERNATIONAL (PPI)*

We the members of Patriarchal Princesses International also known as *Sugardemministries* are calling on all women to be submissive to men.

As an all female purpose- driven Organization, it’s our ultimate priority to conserve, restore and uphold moral values to enrich the human experience for the benefit of all.

We are making this clarion call because it has come to our notice that, some people are polluting the minds of other women by preaching false doctrines in the name of “feminism”.

Throughout history, we agree some men abused their purposes and mistreated some women terribly. It was so unfair.

Again, We know a section of society took the intrinsic differences between males and females and distorted them. We don’t support that.

Last but not least, we believe some of our cultural hang -ups about women were wrong.
We feel bad about such dehumanizing activities.

But in our spirited and noble efforts in searching for peace in our homes and the public space, we should not antagonise men and the society!

Its high time women understood that, aside dominion that God gave both the male and the female equal rights, the purpose and design of Men are far different from Women.

Men no matter their age, have the legal mandate to ” Lord” over women and it is the role of women to submit to men.

God in his infinite wisdom gave both the male and Female dominion to subdue the earth. This means both the male and the female are at liberty to achieve their aims on earth to the highest level to the Glory of their Maker.

Nonetheless, high academic laurels and elevated social status doesn’t give a woman legal grounds to maltreat, attack or be disrespectful to men.

A woman must submit to a man’s authority. Submission doesn’t mean a woman should be weak, compromise her moral values or tell lies.

Submission simply means to “SERVE” instead of being “SERVED”. Servitude is not Slavery, its mandatory for women. Women are multi- tasking; Men are not.

Again, Married women should cook for their husbands, wash dirty dishes, clean their homes, lay their beds etc without murmuring.
Keeping your home is key

To sum it all, we urge all women to be submissive to all men around them to enhance quality lives and harmony for all as we age.

*LONG LIVE GHANA*,

*LONG LIVE PPI*,

*LONG LIVE WOMEN*.
#sugardemministries
#wearehumble
#webelieveindialogue

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I couldn’t, in all honesty, read that piece and not respond. Remaining silent during controversy is not in my DNA. So here’s my response dear reader, all 13 sections of it. Kindly grab a cup or glass of your favourite drink, you’ll need it to fully enjoy my response.

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AN OPEN LETTER TO THE LEADERSHIP OF PATRIARCHAL PRINCESSES INTERNATIONAL

 

Good evening Osonoba Shay,

I’m sure we know each other because we both attended Archbishop Porter Girl’s Senior High School but I have since forgotten your name. (Not because it’s not important to me but because you use your nickname on Facebook which makes it a bit difficult for me to remember your first name.)

The reason for this open letter is to ask you about the press release from Patriarchal Princesses International (PPI). I have some questions about it and I sincerely hope you will indulge me and answer them.

Let me start with your name – Patriarchal Princesses. Well, I’m a bit confused as to why a young woman who has been educated beyond high school level will be comfortable with calling herself that. According to the Chambers dictionary, patriarchy is defined as a system of society or government in which the father or eldest male is head of the family and descent is reckoned through the male line; (and) a system of society or government in which men hold the power and women are largely excluded from it. Thus logically, if you call yourself a Patriarchy Princess, not only do you subscribe to a system where you are largely excluded from the decision-making process, you’re also prescribing it as the ideal situation.

I’m not sure you’d be comfortable living in a society where you cannot work outside the home, vote, buy land, buy clothes, open a bank account, drive or pay for surgery (among countless other restrictions) unless it is endorsed by either your father or your husband or the first son in your family.

Or would you? Forgive me more for presuming you want a life more fulfilling than that. Perhaps that is the ideal you are striving for?

Pg1.

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 We the members of Patriarchal Princesses International also known as *Sugardemministries* are calling on all women to be submissive to men.

As an all female purpose- driven Organization, it’s our ultimate priority to conserve, restore and uphold moral values to enrich the human experience for the benefit of all.

Your first and second paragraphs outline the driving vision of your association. Firstly, you are calling on all women to be submissive to men. This is rather broad – does this imply that women are to be submissive even in the face of sexual, physical, mental, emotional abuse? Should the submission be extended to disrespect from women? What is the age range for the men in question – starting from age 18?

Your second paragraph frankly made me grin with irony. Sorry about that, the grin escaped before I could stop it. If you endorse patriarchy and ascribe to total submission of women to men, how do you then ‘conserve, restore and uphold moral values to enrich the human experience for the benefit of all’?  (emphasis mine)

 

Pg2

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We are making this clarion call because it has come to our notice that, some people are polluting the minds of other women by preaching false doctrines in the name of “feminism”.

Paragraphs 3 gives the reader more details, but alas, I still have questions.

When you say ‘some people’ do you mean #PepperDemMinistries who got Ghanaians debating gender stereotypes frankly, passionately, angrily and aggressively on social media for 4 weeks and counting? Oh I beg your pardon – am I being presumptuous again? My apologies. You mentioned they are preaching false doctrines in the name of feminism. Let’s break that down a little, shall we? What really is feminism?

Once again, Chambers to the rescue. Feminism is the advocacy of women’s rights on the ground of the equality of the sexes. Wikipedia expands on this a little bit more: feminism is a range of political movements, ideologies, and social movements that share a common goal : to define, establish, and achieve political, economic, personal and social equality of the sexes. This includes seeking to establish educational and professional opportunities for women that are equal to such opportunities for men.

Goodness, Wikipedia is wordy isn’t it? My question to you then is ‘how has #PDM portrayed a false doctrine of feminism when for five weeks (and counting) its members threw light on unfortunate gender stereotypes by poking fun at it (#FlippingTheScript), sharing anecdotes and vignettes from friends and loved ones about ways they were discriminated against (#UnlearningToxicNarratives) and boldly calling out phrases and practices that are unhelpful to a society striving to provide equal opportunities to both sexes (#PepperDemMinistries)?

Pg3

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Throughout history, we agree some men abused their purposes and mistreated some women terribly. It was so unfair.

Paragraph 4 piqued my curiousity a bit. Some men abused their purposes and mistreated some women throughout history? Hmm…well, teenage girls forced to choose between having sex with their teachers and failing their class; women forced to have children against their will; wives forced to have sex with their husbands; women harassed at work; widows having their hair shaved off; 60+ year old women beaten or thrown out of their communities because they are witches; married women denied jobs if the HR thinks they are going to leave the workforce to have children; women having to go with their husband or male relative to buy land from a traditional chief; women called ‘ashawo’ if they venture into politics; women slapped by bouncers at bars; women denied entry into plush hotels if they arrive on their own under suspicion of being high-class escorts; women denied passports because their skirts are too short; women insulted whilst driving…….Since these incidents I’m recounting occurred (at least) within the last five years in Ghana, I’m going to play it safe and assume you used the term ‘history’ loosely.

Pg4

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Again, we know a section of society took the intrinsic differences between males and females and distorted them. We don’t support that.

Paragraph 5 reiterates paragraph 4. I like the way you insist that it was a section of society that took advantage of the intrinsic differences between men and women. It’s a nice turn of phrase but unfortunately, it erroneous – when you say ‘a section’ you are politely denying the fact that society is made up of people. And people develop cultures and people imbibe cultures, grow them, nurture them and change them when they see fit. After all, for the longest time, some West African cultures killed twins because they were seen as freaks of nature. But now, it’s not so. When you say ‘a section of society’ you narrow discrimination, sexism and (dare I say it?) patriarchy to an elite group of people. This is untrue; for a system like that to be so pervasive and so unquestioningly adhered to for hundreds of years, it needed disciples. And every man and woman in our society played an active role in nurturing and perpetuating it.

Pg5

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Last but not least, we believe some of our cultural hang -ups about women were wrong.
We feel bad about such dehumanizing activities.

Paragraph six is touching but may I ask – which dehumanizing activities do you feel bad about? Because you needn’t go far out of the capital city to encounter them. In fact, a large majority of the ways women are discriminated against (kindly check paragraph four) occur right here in Accra. Are you doing anything actively to reduce and eventually eliminate such acts? There is a saying “watch your thoughts for they became your words…..and eventually your actions.” It is a well-known fact that revolutions begin in the mind, heart and soul – have you begun advocating for victims of such activities through every medium available to you?

Pg6

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But in our spirited and noble efforts in searching for peace in our homes and the public space, we should not antagonise men and the society!

In paragraph seven you mention that women should not antagonize men and the society. How can you antagonize men when the ultimate aim is to ensure equality and mutual respect between the sexes? I apologise. My feminist leanings spoke out of turn. Patriarchal Princesses International is more focused on spiritedly and nobly searching for peace in homes and public spaces. How you’re going to do that without stepping on some people’s toes though? Seeing as there’s a large swathe of the population which is trying to end the patriarchal system and ensure equality and mutual respect between the sexes? (And that population is composed of men and women)

 

Pg7

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Its high time women understood that, aside dominion that God gave both the male and the female equal rights, the purpose and design of Men are far different from Women.

Men no matter their age, have the legal mandate to ” Lord” over women and it is the role of women to submit to men.

 

In paragraph eight you called on women to understand that the purpose and design of men and women are different. Are you, by this statement, saying that women lack a tacit understanding and knowledge of their biological, psychological, intellectual, emotional and spiritual composition and the unique ways it different from a man’s?

In paragraph nine you mentioned that men, no matter their age (yes! Thank you, you answered this question) have the legal right to Lord it over women. Sorry to be such a Grammer snob, the word you’re looking for here is lord (small ‘l’) and it’s the woman’s role to submit. Question 1 : which law in Ghana’s constitution stipulates that men have the legal right to lord it over women? Question 2: which law in Ghana specifically stipulates that women are legally mandated to submit to any man regardless of their age?

Pg8

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God in His infinite wisdom gave both the male and female dominion to subdue the earth. This means both the male and the female are at liberty to achieve their aims on earth to the highest level to the Glory of their Maker.

 

Paragraph ten is absolute truth; God is very wise like that. However, I can see where you will lose the interest of atheists and traditional believers in Ghana. Or are they not invited to join Patriarchy Princesses International?

Pg9

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Nonetheless, high academic laurels and elevated social status doesn’t give a woman legal grounds to maltreat, attack or be disrespectful to men.

I agree with paragraph eleven too, I have a question though – does your position still hold if the sentence was inverted?

 

                                                                                                                                    Pg10

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A woman must submit to a man’s authority. Submission doesn’t mean a woman should be weak, compromise her moral values or tell lies.

Submission simply means to “SERVE” instead of being “SERVED”. Servitude is not Slavery, its mandatory for women. Women are multi- tasking; Men are not.

Paragraph 12 is where you order women to submit to man’s authority; since I have already asked for the legislature backing this assertion I won’t repeat myself. I am however curious about your addendum about telling lies, being weak and compromising moral values – your entire portfolio is built around male supremacy, how on earth will any woman be anything but a quiet submissive mouse in the face of these instructions?

 

Is paragraph 13 your way of sugar coating the fact that you’re basically endorsing the return of women to the status of quiet, submissive mice with no say in anything in society? Is servitude also mandatory for men? (Sorry – don’t answer that. I was being mischievous. My apologies). And since when have the words ‘submission’ and ‘multi-tasking’ become interchangeable? Kindly forward me the memo that stipulates this so I can use the two words properly.

 

Pg11

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Again, Married women should cook for their husbands, wash dirty dishes, clean their homes, lay their beds etc without murmuring.
Keeping your home is key.

 

As a single woman, paragraph 14 made me pause. So…….married women are to work 12 hours, come home and do all the house chores without help? And they can’t grumble about it even once? Question 1: Why can’t married women ask for help from their husbands? Question 2 : I thought marriage was a partnership between equals, or it’s not? Or has another memo been sent out and I wasn’t copied? Question 3: can the wives at least get house helps to assist them? I know I’m a shameless feminist but I do read my Bible and the Proverbs 31 women managed a large number of workers to maintain the home and the fields (whilst her husband sat in the midst of the City elders and received praise for her good works). So – is a house help/ nanny an option?

Pg 12

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To sum it all, we urge all women to be submissive to all men around them to enhance quality lives and harmony for all as we age.

In conclusion, women are to be submissive to men to enhance quality lives and harmony as they age. Forgive me, but what exactly are you trying to say here? I mean this literally, because the grammar here was all over the place. Are you trying to reiterate the fact that women should be submissive to all men regardless of age or social status and that by being submissive they will enhance the quality of their lives; with the added bonus of giving harmony to all as we age? Why did you mention the words ‘submit’ or ‘submissive’ five times during your press release; is it because you know it’s a hard sell?

Pg13

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Thank you so much for your time and patience Madam Shay and your team. I’m sorry I asked so many questions but I’m sure you or someone from your PR team can answer the questions. I’m sure this letter will bring greater understanding between us as well as ensure a steady stream of polite, intellectual dialogue.

Best regards,

Jennifer K. Akuamoah

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Yep, that’s my letter. I haven’t received any answers yet; but hopefully she’ll respond to them.

If you have any suggestions for answers to any of the questions I asked, don’t feel shy – drop a note 🙂

 

 

 

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