Life

THE F WORD

Once at an academic seminar, as a part of the closing speech, the girls were advised not to gather too many certificates and degrees, because we were going to get married. I waited to hear a similar admonition to the boys. I am still waiting.

Yesterday was International Women’s Day, a day that usually has me excited because… women!  There was also a lot more feminism in the air, which as expected made a number of people uncomfortable.

It is my utmost desire that you were not that person asking shameful questions like ‘What about International Men’s day?’ or ‘How many Women’s Day are there sef‘? These are very low-yield, 2/10 questions and I do not recommend.

Then there were those asking, ‘What exactly does feminism mean?’, as if they had just been awoken from a century-old sleep.

I will not be explaining what feminism is, because if you don’t know by now, it’s just plain mental laziness and the world needs you to do better.

Instead, I will address some frequently asked questions about this word a number of people definitely do not enjoy hearing. Someone once sat me down to tell me he sensed I was a feminist, and that if I was, then I wasn’t a real born-again Christian.

Why are feminists so angry?

Anger is only a legitimate response to the oppression we’ve been subjected to for millennia.

1 in 3 women worldwide has experienced physical or sexual violence in her lifetime. In India, a women is raped every 20 minutes. There are places in the world where women are not allowed to go to school, not allowed to drive: because they are female.

So you see dear, that women have every reason to be angry. I think the real question is why aren’t you?

One day at the market, some random guy catcalled me from his stall, ‘Lepa! Slim shady!’. As I passed, he tried to pull me to himself, and as I hastily walked past he shouted ‘See this one. Ashewo!’. I once shared this story with my male friends and the look of disbelief on their faces simply assured me that they were not paying attention.

So until I can walk the streets safely, without the fear of being groped or slut-shamed for no reason, I will continue to wear that anger on my head like a crown.

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My own problem is with the word. Why can’t they be called ‘equalists’?

It would be denying the specific and particular problem. Feminism advocates the emancipation of a gender that has been repeatedly oppressed and denied of rights. It would be dismissing that it women who have for centuries been excluded.

We all need a word to rally around, and the dictionary meaning of feminism covers it.

There are too many types and they all say different things.

There are over 20,000 Christian denominations, some with very funny practices and beliefs, yet I identify as one. Why? Because my faith matters to me more than the noise of a thousand factions, I choose my own definition and choose to own it.

Same goes for feminism.

Feminists seem like extremists who just like to make noise on Twitter jare.

Calling all feminists’ extremists would be dishonest and it would be discrediting the work of feminists who worked hard for what we have today. Women couldn’t vote until 1920. Until 1960, men and women were given unequal pay for equal work. Feminists fought to make all that happen.

I can assure you that Susan B. Anthony was not on Twitter. The Aba Women’s Riot did not take place there either. You should close that app and use a search engine.

Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti: was not on Twitter.

Why do feminists hate men?

They do not. Man-hating is a myth that has been used to discredit the movement, making it seem like they’re a group of irrational angry spinsters who are shouting slogans that women are superior to men. What they hate is systems of injustice that allow for prejudice against women and girls.

On a final note, I’d say that that feminism is not a perfect movement, but it has come a long way in fighting for the rights of women to speak, to vote, to have an education, and to be; and that’s good enough for me.

I hope it is for you too.

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