Random Thoughts

#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:

RASHEEDA BLACK BEAUTY

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.

THE ANITA ERSKINE

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.

Nigeria-Boko-Haram2

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?

Sigh…….

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.

Random Thoughts

#10. Feminism does not mean defending the bad decisions women make

…….and other bubbles about feminism that need to be burst

 

Every time a powerful woman missteps this comment creeps out, “Well, it seems the feminists are doing a bad job.” Or “better not comment else the feminists will get you” or “Just wait, the Facebook feminists will jump on it and attack you right now.”

feminism

This is Ghana in the 21st century and folks still don’t know that feminism is defined as 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. This includes seeking to establish educational and professional opportunities for women that are equal to such opportunities for men?? (Definition courtesy Mary E. Hawkesworth)

But how is that even possible? For such a contentious issue in Ghana’s media space, it’s confusing/annoying/amusing to me that many still don’t know this.

And my confusion/annoyance/amusement hits the roof when incidents like the following happen:

  • When the 2017 edition of the National Maths and Science Quiz ended with Prempeh College taking the trophy again, people asked “Why hasn’t a girls school won yet? I guess the feminists are not doing their job well.”
  • Or when MP for Dome Kwabenya stood before a cross section of her constituents and lied that she was responsible for the financing a senior high school in her constituency,  some people  “Some are saying the way she is being trolled on social media is above and beyond what male politicians go through. And some gender activists are saying this will discourage women from participating in politics. Hmm, it seems that I don’t know what feminism is about.”

 

And when it happens like that, I don’t know whether to scream or cuss or bang my head against a wall and keep banging until my brain is numb. Or maybe I should stop checking my Facebook; that way I won’t read these comments and get so heated up.

But all this theatrics goes on in my imagination. In reality, I take a deep breath and take every one of these instances as a learning opportunity and proceed to educate my friends.

I start with defining feminism and then explaining why their argument is so asinine ignorant.

Let’s start with the NMSQand the fact that a girls school is yet to win it : for years that trophy basically lived on Presec, Legon campus; the boys have a formula for winning that starts from form 1 and they have honed it over the years. The girls schools simply need to master the combination of book smarts, application under pressure and confidence to handle any question thrown at you before a crowd of several thousand (plus those who follow on social media)Performing at NMSQ is akin to public speaking – it takes skill and a warrior mindset and the ability to focus under pressure.

As for Adwoa Safo’s case…di33333….she did what all politicians do – she lied to her people to make herself look good because Congress is up soon and she needs to garner her support base. But then she got caught on someone’s smartphone; and he/she shared the information and now…..#Safolie is trending on social media with some of the most ridiculous and amusing quotes ever. My favourite is still this one:

ADWOA SAFO

 

Notice in both those situations my belief in women’s rights and gender equality didn’t factor in at all?

But somehow, with some learned people on Facebook, this was not the case. Somehow feminists and the feminism movement are somehow implicated in there…..somewhere.

Sigh.

So just to be clear – feminism is not about defending or supporting women who make irresponsible decisions; it’s about fighting disparities between the genders.

We good?