I like to think of myself as an intelligent woman. So, you can imagine my embarrassment when a women’s leader in Nigeria asked me what Feminism is and I struggled to define it. Did it mean Women’s Rights, or Gender Equality, and if it was Gender Equality, why is it so anti-male? Aren’t men as important to the actualisation of feministic goals as are women?
The definition of the word, took on a trivial connotation when I asked a 20 something year in old in London the meaning of Feminism, her response; ‘Isn’t that what Beyonce is?’
When asked if she considered herself a feminist, Taylor Swift demurred that she just isn’t into “guys versus girls.”
And according to Huffington Post poll, only 20% of Americans identify with Feminism.
Why does the word or the notion not have the effect it once had? A movement that defined and rewritten history, a movement that fought for and achieved women’s suffrage, equal pay for women, reproductive rights for women, one that advocated for workplace rights, including maternity leave, and helped eradicate sundry forms of discrimination against women. How does a movement that helped achieve such lofty heights evoke indifference in some and antagonism in others, as in a recent ELLE Magazine Campaign, when David Cameron declined five times to wear a feminist t-shirt.
One of its biggest failings lies in its demographic achievement, its focus on the West. It has become consumed at times from white/black, middle-class educated perspectives, or perspective, or celebrity perspectives.
Feminism has moved too far on and has become entrenched in places it has conquered and battles it has already won. It seeks no new grounds. It has become elitist, preoccupied, it seems, with breaking the glass ceiling and rising to Wuthering heights (which is all well and good), but paying little or no attention to the women at the bottom of the ladder.
What about the women in Africa, Asia, Middle East etc
Eve Ensler’s Vagina Monologues, for example, is completely given to the emancipation of the vagina, as necessary as some of its subjects may be, the focus on the vagina and its mostly lesbian affiliations, casts a narrow perspective on the modern concerns of Feminism. It has become Feminism Lite!
“The truth is feminism has been betrayed by feminists. It has grown so many branches; Radical Feminism, Liberal Feminism, Modern Feminism, Eco-Feminism, Cultural Feminism…, it is spiralling out of control. Feminism has moved its focus from its core objectives to the aesthetics of it, the ‘ism’ of the word, the need to belong to an Avant-gardist movement. It has become a cliché in parts and hijacked in parts by women who wear Feminism like a badge, paraded on streets of fame, writerly circles and other such presumptuous circles. Feminism no longer concerns itself with the things it once fought for.”
Truth is, there will be an issue with feminism until that blue and black faced girl realises that she can take off the shades and see the light;
Until that young woman is re-schooled and she understands that success is not designer bags and dresses and illicit affairs with ‘sugar daddies’;
Until women stop being surprised that another woman loves football, or Formula One, and stop this assumption that Mechanical Engineering is a male profession;
Until the police start taking domestic abuse and rape cases seriously;
Until men treat their wives and girlfriends with respect and teach their sons to do the same;
Until rape is no longer used as a weapon of war, or for ritual cleansing;
Until the saying; women are meant to be seen not heard, becomes; women are meant to be seen and heard;
Until a successful woman – especially in the more Patriarchal society – is not viewed with that ingredient of suspicion, as if her hard work is not enough, as if she is not smart enough;
Until slagging of women, is no longer used as an aperitif, by misguided older men, or freshmen, to stimulate their sexual appetites;
Until feminism is no longer viewed as a ‘HeforShe’ Campaign;
Until the birth of a female child is viewed with the same joy as that of a male child;
Until Feminism returns to its core objectives and losses its ambiguity;
This is my wahala with Feminism!
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